Friday, August 20, 2010

My one and only post on the "Ground Zero Mosque"

I wasn't going to do this. Like the president himself and (a few) bloggers across the country, I wanted to stay out of this debate entirely (and I will); but I feel the debate itself could use a little ... reframing.

Cracked.com, a site that is normally devoted to any and all things humorous, posted an article today on how the debate about Muslims who want to build a mosque near the site of the fallen World Trade Center has become perverted the more people talk about it. The author points out three things that are often misconstrued about the issue: one, it's near the site of the 9/11 tragedy, not the site itself; two, it's a community center, not a mosque; and three, they have a right to build there that the government simply cannot ignore.

All those things are true; but even those three things distort the debate. One, hardly anyone still thinks they want to build on the site of the Twin Towers; two, it's an Islamic center, whether it's "strictly" a mosque or not; and three, it's not about wanting the government to step in and stop them, but rather simply about not wanting the building to be there at all.

This was the response I posted to Cracked's article (and please note, I don't say whether I think the center should be built):

Just because you can do a thing doesn't mean you should do a thing.

No one is saying the government should stop them from building a community center or even a mosque there. They're not saying it's illegal; they're saying it's wrong. Plenty of things that are wrong aren't necessarily illegal. Just like the West Baptists standing just outside the legal range of a funeral for a soldier killed in battle and shouting how glad they are he was killed, sometimes you just have to use common sense about when and where to exercise your "freedom".

Yes, it's a community center; yes, it's in a place where you couldn't even see the Twin Towers if they were still standing; and yes, politicians who have never even been to New York City have no place in this; but other people who oppose the project do have a place in it. While plenty of people who lost loved ones on 9/11 actually support building this center, there are plenty more who don't. You can't build a community center in a place where the community doesn't want it.

I say, leave the vote to the community. If New York City wants a mosque, a synagogue, or a three-ring circus built on the site, then I say let them have it; but if they say "get the hell out of our city", then I say get the hell out of their city.

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