It’s about being neighborly

There are so many issues surrounding the proposed Community Center/Mosque, called “Cordoba House” near Ground Zero that I don’t know where to start. A list seems like a good idea, as the issues pop to mind:

  • It’s very close to Ground Zero – only two blocks. Some estimates place it at around 600 feet; the group refused an offer to move to state-owned land offered by Mayor Bloomberg
  • Mayor Bloomberg offered state-owned land for a distinctly religious building
  • Imam Rauf, leader of the Cordoba Initiative, has made charged and insensitive statements regarding the United States and 9/11; he refuses to condemn Hamas for human rights violations, or to classify it as a terrorist organization
  • The Imam has stated that he will consider funding provided by Muslim countries, including both Iran and Saudi Arabia
  • Those who campaign against it are called ‘racist’, ‘xenophobe’, ‘intolerant’ and other hateful names
  • Nancy Pelosi has called for investigation into the “funding” of those opposing the mosque, while Mayor Bloomberg has said that investigating funding for the mosque is “un-American”
  • Permits for this project appear to have come easily, yet St. Nicholas Church, a Greek Orthodox Church (Christian) which sat in the shadow of the World Trade Center and was destroyed on 9/11, has been unable to secure the proper permits to rebuild

I’m sure there are other points, but those were the first that came to mind.  And here is my take on the whole shootin’ match.

The community center itself isn’t the problem. It never has been. I don’t think placing a mosque in that space would be a problem.  But the way it came about, and the Cordoba Initiative’s basic ignorance of the “good neighbor policy” that so many of us live by… THESE are the problems.

Legally the mosque can be built wherever the zoning laws permit, and the Imam and his group have apparently secured the necessary permits to do so.  Whether rules were bent or not is still up for debate – some who support the rebuilding of St. Nicholas Cathedral have alleged a double standard. The cynic in me tends to agree that palms were greased here, along with a concerted effort by officials to “not offend” the Muslim Community.  Ironically, that ‘don’t offend’ stance has backfired most spectacularly. The part of me that is trying to only consider the facts simply doesn’t know who to believe.

Constitutionally, the Imam and his group have a right to worship in any way, and anywhere they please, according to the First Amendment, which guarantees not only the ability speak and to practice religion freely, but also the right to organize a peaceful assembly of followers.

But there is an unspoken policy, a tradition if you will, in our country, and that’s the “good neighbor policy”.  In a simple example, let’s say that I’m a truck driver and I own my rig.  It’s a big rig, a noisy diesel that spews that nasty smelling exhaust.  It’s how I make my living – I drive over the road, and am gone for days at a time.  I also own a tidy little house in a suburban or small-town neighborhood.  I have a driveway, a front and back yard; plenty of space in which to park that truck. It is also legal for me to do so.  But I don’t park it there.  I leave it at the freight yard where I pick up most of my loads, and drive my little puddle-jumper home.  Why?  Because that big rig tractor, while completely allowed in my neighborhood, would be an annoyance to my neighbors.  The noise of the rumbling engine as I’m coming down the street, or warming it up for an hour on winter mornings before I can drive it, is deafening.  The smell of the exhaust will irritate the little girl next door who suffers from asthma.  So, out of consideration for my neighbors and because I like being a good neighbor, I don’t bring the truck around.

This mosque has become a “big deal” NOT because we don’t want Muslims to have a place to gather, to worship, to hang out.  The mosque has become a “big deal” because the Imam who is putting it there seems to be thumbing his nose at those who are intimately connected to the site where members of his own religion carried out the mass murder of three thousand people, nine years ago. We’ve had problems with “sleeper cells” hiding in mosques – remember the one outside Buffalo, NY? Yes, it was several years ago, but should we not learn from that incident? Why shouldn’t we ask questions?

Does it make me “racist” or an “Islamophobe” to oppose this mosque?  Does this make me “intolerant”? I don’t think so, and here’s why: Islam has a dual identity.  On one hand, it is made out to be a ‘peaceful religion’, and those who practice the moderate form of the religion eschew Shariah Law.  But on the other hand, Islam IS Shariah Law.  The two are inextricably intertwined in places like Afghanistan, where an 18-year old girl had her nose cut off for fleeing abusive relatives, and Iran, where women are sentenced to death by stoning because they have been accused of adultery. One of the goals of Shariah Law is to take over, to “kill the infidels” – and anyone who is not a Muslim is an “infidel”.  Within Shariah Law, even Muslims can be an infidel, subject to death if you violate one of the many laws outlined within Shariah and the Koran. Imam Rauf’s own words: “In America, we have a Constitution that created a three-branch form of government – legislative, executive and judiciary. The role of the judiciary is to ensure that the other two branches comply with the Constitution. What Muslims want is a judiciary that ensures that the laws are not in conflict with the Quran and the Hadith.” Questioning the intent of this Imam and this group does not make me intolerant, it makes me a realist.

To date, all calls for official investigation into the funding of this Mosque have been denied.  Mayor Bloomberg even called them “un-American”.  But Nancy Pelosi has no problem saying that those who oppose the Mosque should be investigated.  Why?  Because the concept of “tolerance” has become so perverted as to not be recognizable.  It has come to mean “you shall not offend”.  And in this case, the Powers that Be will not investigate this Imam because they do not want to offend him or Islam.

But here’s the thing… it’s a quote from Gilbert K. Chesterton, a prolific writer who lived at the turn of the 20th Century. He said, “Tolerance is the virtue of someone without conviction.” All of those who stand behind this project with no investigation whatsoever are acting without conviction.  They are acting out of fear.  They don’t want to offend, so they turn a blind eye to the many realities of the situation. Those of us who question this mosque are not “intolerant”.  We are standing on our convictions.

We’ve been hit before by the bullying side of Islam.  Why is it so offensive to be sure that those bullies aren’t the ones at the core of this community center?

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22 Responses to It’s about being neighborly

  1. Joy says:

    I’m putting in here what I said the other day and I think it kind of sums up how Laura feels. It’s all a matter of getting along and like she said, being neighborly.

    My mom has told me many times over how bad she feels about how she felt about the Japanese when she was growing up. She is the least prejudiced person I know in the world but when she was growing up, they just bombed Pearl Harbor and back then, all the Japanese were rounded up and put in camps. She said to this day she feels bad for those Japanese people who were born here but they had to do that because we were scared of them. They had help from somewhere in this country or they wouldn’t have known where all those ships were located. We didn’t know who we could trust. That’s a fact.

    Do you think the world hated the Germans after Hitler?

    I feel the Muslims have the perfect right to worship to the God of their choice. A lot of our ancestors came here for religious freedom. Given that said, America is afraid right now. 911 was the single worse thing that’s every happened to this country. Do they really need that “there?” Isn’t there a way to respect all of us? If this is bothering so many people, can’t it be moved a mile one way or the other? Isn’t there any way to make everyone happy? This is about American’s respect to me. It’s not got one thing to do with politics in my heart.

    I feel people are fighting just to fight. We have so many other issues that are more important. This just pisses me off.

  2. mssc54 says:

    Oh no you didn’t!

    This one may take me a while. I’ll be back later.

  3. SKL says:

    There is no honest way that it can be argued that the decision of what to build at Ground Zero is merely a matter of zoning and private contracts. If that is the case, why is anyone besides the owner of the land having anything to say about what sort of “memorial” gets put up? Think about all the debate about what is an appropriate memorial for the 9/11 victims, i.e., the firemen who ran up and down stairs carrying people until they died of smoke inhalation, or the people who jumped out of the windows after speaking to loved ones on their cell phones for the last time, or the people on the planes that crashed into the buildings. Can anyone tell me that this is not the business of the entire community of terrorized and bereaved Americans?

    Well, it is obvious to me that this “community center” is one group’s idea of the best way to memorialize the terrorist acts of 9/11. It is on a property that was actually hit and damaged by parts from one of the exploded planes. Therefore this IS part of ground zero. Next, who can deny that there are still anti-US Muslims who celebrate 9/11 and would like to see more of it? Who can deny that this landmark to their faith will be a victory monument in their eyes? And who can honestly deny that some of those US-haters are included in the group that is pushing this “community center” at this location? And we’re supposed to be OK with this? Why don’t we just put up a huge billboard saying “YOU WON, ALLAHU AKBAR”?!

    Even Muslims – peaceful, pro-US and otherwise – admit that this building proposal is a huge and intentional provocation. American Muslims who love the USA do not want this mosque built there.

    When I saw that story about Nancy Pelosi wanting to hold an inquisition about the source of the evil sentiment against the mosque, I almost couldn’t believe it. Since when do American citizens get investigated for expressing an opinion – and a mainstream one at that?? They are actually trying to intimidate Americans into saying they are OK with this anti-US victory monument! If the Dems follow through on this inquisition, I will be very worried for our country.

    Surely someone is going to holler “discrimination” right about now. But people who know me know that I have absolutely nothing against Islam. I have read the Koran many times from the perspective of a world citizen who wants to understand the spiritual foundations and glean the best from all religions. I have never spoken / written against Islam and I doubt that I ever will, because I respect it and find much to like about it. I have Muslim friends and I don’t treat them any differently from anyone else. Oh, and this issue has nothing to do with Muslims having a place to worship. That isn’t even a residential area, and there are many, many mosques in New York. Most Americans even said they would be OK with a mosque near their own homes; just not at Ground Zero. Frankly, this whole issue has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with giving aid and comfort to the enemy – the enemy that happens to be Muslim and that has declared Jihad against the USA.

  4. That the proposed building of this provoked this much of a response at all from the People should say alot to the initiators of such an idea, but it doesn’t. How much ya wanna bet something happens to that mosque if they do build it? Just sayin’

  5. Just a Mom says:

    I was watching the news with both of my daughters, 18 and 11 years old, the other night about this and we got into a pretty good debate. For the record, all 3 of us hate the idea of where this mosque/community center is being built. To me it seems like a slap in the face.
    BUT… They have the right to build where they want as long as they do so legally. I don’t want the government coming in and saying “No you can’t build this religous building here.” On the flip side the people who do not want it there have the right to peacefully protest the heck out of the place!!!

  6. Joy says:

    How can nobody have any thoughts on this? If you disagree, it’s okay to say so. I’m very surprised this hasn’t sparked a discussion yet when we talk about what’s in our purse we get all kinds of comments. It’s a little disappointing from a writing point of view. A good debate is fun sometimes.

    • Nikki says:

      I don’t get that either!!!! This is an important issue, and people have to have an opinion!! Say it people…we won’t hurt you! It’s okay to disagree with the author, or other commenters….it’s called discussion!

  7. SKL says:

    I think that if this mosque goes forward in this location, there will be more tension in store for US Muslims, not less. I for one will boycott and turn my back on everything having to do with it, until the day I die. For most people, every time they see it, this will reopen the wound and remind them that there are many Muslims around the world and in the USA who hate America and Americans. It will be difficult to have a friendly conversation with someone you know is Muslim but don’t know whether or not they love the USA. Kids in school will punish their Muslim classmates for the anger this is causing in their families. This is why those Muslims who don’t hate the USA are opposed to this move. But it looks like their views are not being acknowledged.

  8. Nikki says:

    I have always said…to each their own, when it comes to religion, politics, sexual preference, ect. I am all for having people worship the god they choose to, or not worship at all. I literally could not care less what others do, or how they feel. This is about respect. It is as simple as that. 9/11 was the worst thing that has ever happened to our country, that I have been alive for anyways. So many were lost, so many still to this day grieve for the ones they lost. Why do they have to put their mosque that close to something so incredibly devastating, and important to just about every American alive. I would not want to walk past that Mosque on my way to Ground Zero. And that has nothing to do how I feel about their religion or the people who practice this religion in a truthful way. But the ones that did this to our people, our country are of that religion, it should just be a thing of respect. I do not agree it should be built there. That is MY opinion, and it may not be all smart, and educated, because well I’m not. It’s how I feel in my heart of hearts.

  9. Karen Joy says:

    I’m not an American but I sure do have an opinion on this anyhow. Appalled! Absolutely floored that a mosque would be built there!It is a victory monument as SKL said.I have more I could say but I’ll leave it at that!

  10. Karen Joy says:

    Well I wrote 2 comments here and I see neither.I thought the first one I didnt hit “post comment”Can you dig my second one up maybe?Thanx:)

  11. Sue says:

    I think it’s wrong. To me it shows they have complete lack of respect for all those who died and all the family left behind that have to deal with crap like this. And the fact that state owned land was offered really irks me! The whole damn thing should be investigated, both sides put through the ringer to see what the real motives behind these thinkings are.

  12. mssc54 says:

    I’ve given this subject more than a little thought.

    On the one hand I agree with the rights of property owners to do what they are legally entitled to with their poperty. On the other hand, just because you CAN do something legally with your peoperty doesn’t mean that you SHOULD!

    Don’t tell me you want to reach and be a “bridge builder” to a community when you KNOW full-well that the community you are reaching out to does not want what you are selling! If the intent TRULY was to build healthy relationships with the community then the press release would read;

    “WE HAVE SEEN JUST HOW DEEPLY OUR COMMUNITY FEELS ABOUT THIS PROJECT AND HAVE DETERMINED THAT IN ORDER TO BUILD TRUST AND SHOW THAT OUR INTENT IS TRULY ALTRUISTIC, WE HAVE DECIDED TO SEEK ANOTHER LOCATION FOR THIS PROJECT.

    WE SINCERELY REGRET CAUSING ANY FURTHER PAIN TO THE CITIZENS OF THIS COUNTRY AND TOO THE PEOPLE OF THIS FINE PEOPLE OF NEW YORK CITY.”

    If I owned property across the street from this proposed project and I had the legal right to open a MEGA PORK PROCESSING PLANT should I do it? After all it IS MY RIGHT! I would like to think that I would “do the right thing” and seek other options for processing dead swine! 🙂

    Furthermore (personally) I just don’t trust that ALL the tens of thousands of MUSLIMS who would attend that center would be of like mind and have peaceful intent.

    I further understand that NOT ALL MUSLIMS ARE TERRORISTS but 99% of ALL TERRORISTS ARE MUSLIM!!!

    AND I would not be the least bit surprised that if that project moves forward that there will be a little shrine in the exact spot where the landing gear from the SUCIDE PLANE landed. “Here, the landing gear from Flight XXX landed. Praise be to Alah!”

    Just my (correct) opinion.

  13. Laura says:

    I think the biggest problem that I have with the entire issue boils down to this:

    Why is it un-American to want to know exactly who the people are, who want to build the center in the first place? Nobody from “the left” seems to have a single problem with Pelosi’s assertion that “those who oppose should be investigated”, but those same people scream “religious discrimination” when ‘the right’ wants to know more about the Cordoba Initiative, their leaders, and their backers.

    If the investigation took place and came back that the Initiative was squeaky-clean and had no ties to “militant” or “radical” Islam, then I think the sentiment of those 80% (or whatever the number is now) opposed would change in a New York Minute.

  14. joe says:

    What are your thoughts about the mayor of New York “Micheal Bloomberg and pals” denying a permit (9 to 0) to rebuild the Greek Orthodox church which had been built in 1922 – what do you suppose his reasoning is behind this decision…

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