August 22, 2010

YOU CAN TAKE YOUR OWN TEMPERATURE BY ASKING WHY YOU AREN'T UPSET ABOUT PUTTING AN OFFICE BUILDING AT THE EPICENTER:

Taking Bin Laden’s Side (NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, 8/21/10, NY Times)

[O]pponents seem to be afflicted by two fundamental misconceptions.

The first is that a huge mosque would rise on hallowed land at ground zero. In fact, the building would be something like a YMCA, and two blocks away and apparently out of view from ground zero. This is a dense neighborhood packed with shops, bars, liquor stores — not to mention the New York Dolls Gentlemen’s Club and the Pussycat Lounge (which says that it arranges lap dances in a private room, presumably to celebrate the sanctity of the neighborhood).

Why do so many Republicans find strip clubs appropriate for the ground zero neighborhood but object to a house of worship? Are lap dances more sanctified than an earnest effort to promote peace?

And this is an earnest effort. I know Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife, Daisy Khan — the figures behind the Islamic community center — and they are the real thing. Because I have written often about Arab atrocities in Darfur and about the abuse of women in Islamic countries, some Muslim leaders are wary of me. But Imam Feisal and Ms. Khan are open-minded and have been strong advocates for women within Islam.


Untold story behind the so-called 'Ground Zero mosque' (Ahmed Rehab, 8/20/10, NY Times)
Those opposed to American Muslims practicing their right to build a religious and cultural center on their private property near Ground Zero and in concordance with all laws and regulations reluctantly concede that they have no legal grounds to challenge it. So they argue instead that the Muslims should voluntarily forgo their right out of sensitivity for the sacredness of that site.

This is a particularly disingenuous line.

If it is about sensitivity for the sacred, then why aren't those same people opposing the deli, bar, coffee shop, and offices, or strip club for that matter, that are open for business in that same sacred vicinity?

What is particularly indecent or insensitive about American Muslims building a house of peace, community, and worship that doesn't apply to the New York Dolls gentlemen club?

Let's be blunt: it is only indecent and insensitive if you buy into the canard that American Muslims are somehow collectively guilty for 9/11. That is the coded message at the heart of opposition to the center. It is a message we reject on its face.


MORE:
Couple behind Ground Zero mosque a model of tolerance (Walter Ruby, August 18, 2010, Jewish Telegraph Agency)

In my testimony at the hearing, I said that since our organizations began cooperating three years ago, I have consistently found both Feisal and Khan to be unequivocally opposed to violence and terrorism and deeply committed to the American values of democracy and pluralism. These are values, Feisal argues in his book, “What’s Right with Islam,” that are intrinsic to Islam as well.

For this reason, our foundation has consistently supported Feisal’s effort to create an Islamic community center in New York that will serve as a high-profile platform from which to articulate that vision of peaceful and pluralistic Islam to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Months ago, he and his wife told the president of our foundation, Rabbi Marc Schneier, that they hope to create a center for Muslim-Jewish dialogue at the Islamic community center in cooperation with our foundation and the larger Jewish community.

Over the past three years, Rauf and Khan have taken part in an annual event sponsored by our foundation known as The Weekend of Twinning of Mosques and Synagogues Across North America, during which mosques and synagogues offer one-on-one programs focusing on and celebrating commonalities in our two faith traditions.

From what I have learned, when Feisal set out during the past few years to bring to fruition his decades-old dream of creating an Islamic community center with a strong interfaith component in New York City, he was never much concerned about where the center would be located. Yet, when a space large enough to fulfill his vision became available two blocks north of Ground Zero, he saw special significance in the site. He argued that the building of an Islamic community center there dedicated to non-violence and mutual understanding among faiths would represent a deeply felt gesture of compassion and healing by the Muslims of New York to the entire New York community, including those who lost loved ones on 9/11.


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Posted by Orrin Judd at August 22, 2010 7:53 AM
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