Less Than Ground Zero

Last week ,I linked an article by Wayne Gladstone from Cracked on Facebook and Twitter. It’s about the proposed “ground zero” mosque. I was amazed that the most poignant coverage I’ve seen on the matter has been from Cracked, a comedy website that specializes in dick jokes, and The Daily Show, a comedy show that specializes in snark and sarcasm…and dick jokes.

If you’ve read anything on this site you know it’s about pop culture. Stuff that, in the long run, isn’t really that important. I don’t intend to politicize this site, and I hope that this will be my only political post. But I felt compelled to write something after hearing ignorant rhetoric upon ignorant rhetoric. Reading that article gave me the push I needed to go through with writing this.

I completely agree with Gladstone and Jon Stewart. It’s un-American to oppose the building of this Islamic community center, which happens to include a mosque. It appears as if a majority of Americans oppose it, though. I can see the reasoning behind that. Three-thousand Americans died on American soil due to a terrorist act born out of hatred and cowardice. It was something that hadn’t been seen since Pearl Harbor.

It was something that was unthinkable at the time. It was something that made you question your own safety and mortality. It was something tragic.

It was a day I’ll remember forever.

I remember exactly where I was when I heard that the Towers went down. I heard the first rumors of it in third period Geometry with Mr. Eschmen. It was confirmed ninth period in Honors Ancient Civilizations with Mr. O’Brien. I even remember what I was wearing: a black Quicksilver t-shirt, faded green khaki carpenter pants and a pair of gray Globe shoes. I don’t think I can say that about any other day in my 23 years on this Earth.

So, I understand the emotional connection with that day and event. However, we, as a country, can’t continue to let our emotions blind us and allow us to infringe on the rights that this great country was founded on.

Ground Zero

The name “ground zero” mosque is deceptive, and intentionally so. I would be confused too if a mosque was literally built on top of the smoldering ashes of the Towers. But that’s not the case at all. In fact, the community center (I’ll get to this in a minute) is being built several blocks from ground zero on private property. Not exactly the same thing, huh?

It’s like Gladstone said, “…Of course, no one was on board. That just made no sense.” It was a ploy by politicians. They played on people’s emotions and memories to manipulate them to agree with an agenda. It was, and still is, dishonest.

Not to mention, there’s already an Islamic community center four blocks from ground zero, Masjid Manhattan. Should that be vacated? Of course not.

As I was watching The Daily Show, Stewart showed several clips of hyperbolic politicians and commentators saying that building a mosque in Manhattan is inviting the enemy into our den. They said it would be a hub for a terrorist cell, and it would be the perfect place to plan another attack.

Bullshit.

That argument supposes that terrorists need to be near, even right down the street from their target, to plan an attack. The 9/11 attacks were planned transatlantically, in several countries, on at least two different continents when a camera phone was still a luxury. Al-qaeda could plan something from Siberia with the technology that’s available today. So I don’t think that argument, or thought, holds water.

Also, it would be a stupid place to plan another terrorist attack. With all the attention and controversy surrounding this place, you don’t think people on both sides of the argument are going to be watching it like  hawks? It would be the most conspicuous terrorist cell on the planet. And I know they say sometimes it’s best to hide out in the open, but not if that place in the open has a damn spotlight on it 24/7.

One more thing about the location, some people say it’s fine if it’s built, but the proposed location in lower Manhattan is too close. That line of thought is a slippery slope. And trust me, I’m not one for slippery slope arguments, but after seeing the fervor around this issue, I’ve made an exception. So, if Manhattan is too close, than New York City will be too close. If NYC is too close, than New York state will be too close. If New England is too close, than the East Coast will be too close. Pretty soon it will just devolve to (and excuse the language), “Get the fuck out of our country!”

Moving on…

The Name

“Ground Zero Mosque.” When you hear that you probably imagine a couple of minarets and the Iron Sheik putting Uncle Sam in the Camel Clutch. Islamic community center doesn’t really have quite the same ring. In fact, it sounds kind of like a YMCA. Well, that’s because it is kind of like one. Yes, there’s a prayer space but it’s not strictly a prayer space. It’s a community center mainly. And, I mean, there’s going to be a damn basketball court. I guess terrorist do like some things about out culture; I never guessed it would be basketball, though.

Sometimes google image search is clutch.

It’s not as menacing when you describe it in those terms. It sounds like a place a parent  might drop off his kid to keep him from stealing street signs and banging in the back of a ’92 Honda. But that’s the point. Islamic community center doesn’t fit into the fear driven narrative that these politicians and commentators have constructed. As mentioned before, it’s manipulation. It’s a slight of hand used by politicians who know their supporters and constituents won’t independently investigate anything and will believe everything they say.

Rights

As Gladstone points out, you cannot acknowledge a right and simultaneously dismiss it. Because if you do that, you’re never really acknowledging that right in the first place. My head is going to explode if I hear,”Well, yeah they have the right to, but should they?” one more time.

Pictured: Sarah Palin, no doubt explaining her deep understanding of the Bill of Rights.

“There is no debate about the right of these Muslims to build whatever they want there. The real question is whether they should.” That very sentence was printed in the editorial section of the newspaper I work for.

Yes, yes they should build it. They should absolutely exercise their First Amendment right to freedom of religion as Americans. You can’t deny someone a right because you don’t like the implications of exercising that right. As Glandstone put it, “Under what authority do you propose we stop them?” They’re private citizens building something on private property. There’s no legal basis to stop them.

What do you think this says to American Muslims? If they were real Americans they would convert to Christianity and build a church rather than exercise a right guaranteed by the United States Constitution? Of course opponents of the community center wouldn’t come out and say that; it wouldn’t be in line with their misdirection approach.

No, instead you get something such as this, “I know most Muslim’s aren’t terrorists and I have Muslim friends, but it doesn’t change the fact that the terrorists were Muslims,” or “I know they can build a mosque there, but it’s a little close to such hallowed ground. Can’t they just make this one concession.”

The first statement just uses concern, however earnest it may be, to mask xenophobia, however subtle it may be. And if you really do have Muslim friends (which you probably don’t) then you must not respect them very much if you’re making that sort of statement.

Yes the terrorists in question were Muslim, but they were also insane and violent. They are the exception not the rule. And I doubt anyone would complain if a church was going into that space, even though the Catholic church has probably killed millions of people between the Spanish Inquisition, Crusades and witch hunts.

What? He blew up a building? But he doesn't look Muslim?

Where do I even start with the second statement? Gladstone put it well, “There is no ‘unless you’re a Muslim within X yards of a national tragedy exception’ to the free exercise of religion.”

But what concerns me more is that, because they’re Muslim, politicians and commentators are acting like they aren’t Americans too. Why can’t Muslims make a concession? Well, because they’re Americans first and foremost and real Americans (which they are) wouldn’t back down in defense of their rights. They watched that tragic event almost nine years ago too, but it’s not hallowed ground for them because they happen to be brown or pray to Allah?

Also, if politicians want to preserve the sanctity of ground zero and the surrounding area, why aren’t they protesting to get rid of the all the porno theaters in lower Manhattan? It’s just a guess, but probably because the proprietors of  The Whack Shack are white.

If this community center isn’t built it could set a disturbing precedent where freedom is restricted based on public opinion. The Bill of Rights should not be subject to this type of exception or concession.

And let me say this, some think the terrorists want to see another building explode, and that might be true, but I bet they would really love to see us squabbling amongst ourselves.  I bet they would love for us to prove that we’re sanctimonious hypocrites. Well I sure as hell don’t want to prove any terrorists right, so I’ll defend the right to the build the community center because unlike the talking heads on TV, I actually know what it means to be an American.

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3 thoughts on “Less Than Ground Zero

  1. Olivia says:

    Well, as much as you politicized it, you still left your stamp on this post. It was a pleasure to read, and it’s nice to know that there are still people out there with a lick of sense.

    I mean, “Schoolhouse Rock” taught me all about the Great American Melting Pot. These assholes who oppose a community center must’ve missed that one.

  2. Noor says:

    Today, I discovered this site and I can’t help but say I am glad I did. In the last hour or so, I have read numerous posts and you have made me laugh more times than I can recall. As an Ahmadi Muslim, I thank you for thinking this way and not being ignorant. As an American citizen, I thank you for standing up for the rights that those that we elect often forget. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is persecuted, and as a 16 year old member born in Pakistan where the constitution forbids us from calling ourselves ‘muslims’ and our places of worship ‘mosques’, I realize how important it is to not only have the right to stand up for ourselves, but also practice it.

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