July 22, 2010


If You Build It, Nothing Bad Will Happen: May the mosque go up near Ground Zero, and thrive in peaceful coexistence with all members of its new community. (Conor Friedersdorf, 07.22.10, Forbes)

The closest strip club to Ground Zero happens to be two blocks away, a fact that has nothing to do with our reverence for the place where so many Americans were killed by terrorists. As you've probably noticed, it doesn't even make sense to call it The Ground Zero Strip Club.

But it makes no less sense than naming an Islamic community center "The Ground Zero Mosque"--as much of the media have done--because it's going to be located a couple blocks away. Even worse, opponents of the project are opportunistically invoking the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, even going so far as to appropriate their imagery. "Join the fight to kill The Ground Zero Mosque," intones a video advertisement released by a group called National Republican Trust PAC. "A mosque at Ground Zero must not stand. The political class says nothing. The politicians are doing nothing to stop it. But we Americans will be heard. "

As an American in good standing, I'd like to be heard--and to make sure that James Madison, a colleague of mine in citizenship, is heard too. The fourth president of the U.S. once wrote, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." It's a line that National Republican Trust neglects to remember. Perhaps "the political class" isn't doing anything to stop the construction of an Islamic community center because the Constitution forbids it. Even worse, the advertisement I've mentioned engages in just the sort of religious bigotry that the First Amendment is meant to guard against. "On Sept. 11 they declared war against us," the narrator says. "And to celebrate that murder of 3,000 Americans they want to build a monstrous 13-story mosque at ground zero."

It's the word "they" that's doing all the misleading work. The people who declared war against us on Sept. 11, 2001, were al Qaeda radicals led by Osama bin Laden and his followers. Who are the people trying to build a 13-story Islamic community center that includes a single floor of prayer space, a swimming pool, a library, a child-care center, a concert hall, a gym, a culinary school and a restaurant? "They" are an Islamic group that has long run a mosque in the area for New York City Muslims. On 9/11, "they" found their community under attack, too. It is slander to assert that they've declared war against us, or that their motive in building a community center is celebrating the murder of Americans.

One last line from the advertisement is notable: "Where we weep, they rejoice. That mosque is a monument to their victory, and an invitation for war." Talk about defeatism! The al Qaeda leaders responsible for 9/11 are either dead or hiding in caves. The U.S. remains the Earth's most powerful and prosperous nation. The hysterical cowards at National Republican Trust are nevertheless ready to concede victory to our terrorist enemies if a group of peaceful Muslims succeed in building a prayer room, a swimming pool and the balance of a community center.

Let's be sure that no one gives them a white flag.

Putting a place where Muslims can gather and worship freely right at the heart of the quintessentially American business center of the world is actually a perfect symbol of everything OBL hated.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 22, 2010 4:44 PM
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