It seems as though everywhere you turn on network news these days, there are “experts” discussing the Ground Zero mosque, an Islamic cultural center set to be built two blocks from the 9/11 attack site. Proponents of the center say it is an expression of their freedom to worship, which is guaranteed in the First Amendment to the Constitution. Opponents claim it is disrespectful to the memory of those who perished on that faithful day, seeing as how it is the same religion as the terrorists, and the Imam who runs it, Feisel Abdul Rauf, has been critical of American MidEast policy. It has become an all consuming issue today, and like every issue, from the economy to the president’s daily diet, could have an impact in November.
What I have witnessed these past few weeks is that the left-wing media doesn’t really get the argument. They launch attacks of racism, intolerance, and a sweeping condemnation of those who protest such a center without realizing why people are protesting it in the first place. This is not a matter of First Amendment rights; like all other people, Muslims deserve to worship in whatever fashion they seem fit. They also have a right to build a center for their religion wherever they want, and that includes two blocks from Ground Zero. However, just because you have a right to build something somewhere, doesn’t mean you should. I have a right to carry a sign saying “Martin Luther King Jr. is rotting in Hell” while wearing a KKK costume, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay for me to do so.
Building this center near Ground Zero would be like building a German cultural center near Auschwitz, and have it be run by a man who believes the Holocaust could be blamed on the Jews themselves for whatever reason. While it wasn’t all Germans that took part in the Holocaust, it would still be a constant reminder to those who lost family during the genocide, as well as it being run by a man who refuses to condemn the actions of the Nazis, and would be met by an army of very angry, and probably violent, Poles. Even though not all Muslims are terrorists, and that the people responsible for the events are not representative of the Islamic faith, it’s very hard to justify to the numerous families of the victime that a “mega-mosque” for the religon of the terrorists will be placed that close to where your love d ones died. Adding to the controversy, Imam Rauf has spoken repeatedly about how he thinks American culture and policies are responsible for the 9/11 attacks, as well as his refusal to condemn Hamas as a terrorist-supporting organization, so it is very unclear what this man will preach in this center.
The sensible thing to do is to talk to the investors behind this center, and simply say “We recognize your right to build this center, and we agree that it is your First Amendment right to build it. But there is a lot of uproar about you putting your center in this place. Could you consider putting it in another location in the city?” By simply asking that, the investors get their center, and the site remains respected. If they refuse, given the size and intensity of the protests, there is a real chance the center could be attacked, which could impact the safety of everybody in Lower Manhattan, especially those in the immediate vicinity. So it then becomes a safety concern, and no building is worth that.
So the long and short of it is that they should be allowed to builf their cultural center, but every attempt should be made to dissuade the investors and clerics behind the mosque to move the location away from the area, and to a less controversial location.