Sidewalks by Tom Deignan
It's a right mosque mess at Ground Zero
Posted on Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 10:36 AM
- Mayor-elect de Blasio blundered by not including Catholic on transition team
- Kennedy’s greatest legacy: proving that the Irish could be American, too
- The hypocritical Irish American right-wing anti-immigration reform “Lynch” mob
- Don’t cheer just yet, Pope appoints new bishop who went after outspoken US nuns
- Irish America’s other Halloween, the Ragamuffin’s of Thanksgiving
Charles Wolf’s wife, Katherine was among the thousands murdered in the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.
But Wolf is not among those outraged that there are plans to open a Muslim cultural center near this hallowed ground.
"The Muslims are not responsible for 9/11. There have been extremists in all religions," Wolf recently told the BBC.
"Denying them the ability to build a mosque… would be like London denying the Roman Catholic Church the opportunity to build a church during the years of the IRA bombings."
It’s debatable, of course, whether or not Irish Nationalists who took up arms were fighting strictly for their religion, the way the 9/11 terrorists claim they were doing Allah’s work.
The point, though, is that an entire religion should not be dismissed because of a few fanatics.
Now, many families who lost loved ones that awful day -- a large number of them Irish Catholics -- do not agree with Wolf. That does not make them Islamaphobes or bigots.
Emotions simply run raw when it comes to the future of Ground Zero. Still, this is getting out of hand.
On Monday, a Tea Party political leader blasted Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer as "a Jewish Uncle Tom who would have turned rat on Anne Frank," because Stringer does not oppose the development of the Muslim cultural center, which will reportedly include a mosque.
The New York Post ran an ominous report about how the imam behind the proposed center will have to “turn to Arab and Muslim nations around the world to help finance the estimated $100 million project.”
If this sounds like creeping Muslim influence in the lives of everyday New Yorkers, imagine if we really started doing business with such rogue states.
Perhaps by, say, purchasing billions and billions of gallons of oil from them, to the point that we became dependent on the precious fuel.
At this point, only one group is benefiting from the rage and rancor of this mosque mess at Ground Zero -- atheists.
This mess seems to vividly illustrate the way religion can divide people, rather than bring them together.
Irish American Franciscan priest Brian Jordan (pictured above) -- a well-known crusader for the rights of workers and immigrants, not to mention a member of the same order as the martyred Father Mychal Judge, the first official victim of the 9/11 attacks -- recently wrote an article claiming, indeed, that a Muslim cultural center near Ground Zero could bring people together.
“What brought the towers down were 19 men who were deeply misguided and brainwashed by an ideology that is not blessed in the teachings of the prophet Mohammed in the sacred Koran. To believe otherwise is to equate Catholicism with the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 by Irish American Catholic Timothy McVeigh, or to connect Judaism with the 1977 Son of Sam murders with a Jewish American, David Berkowitz,” Jordan wrote in an article he penned along with a Jewish and Muslim leader.
The developers hoping to open the 13-floor Islamic cultural center also claim it will teach New Yorkers about the true nature of Islam. Maybe. But the bitter emotions of 9/11 may make such lofty goals impossible.
There is, however, another reason why it’s kind of pointless to oppose this Muslim cultural center. The proposed structure is not located at Ground Zero.
If it ever does open, it will open several blocks away on Park Place. You can’t expect 9/11 families to be happy about such a place.
But where does it end? Is a symbol of Islam acceptable five blocks from Ground Zero? Ten blocks? Anywhere downtown?
Should Muslim vendors not be allowed to sell t-shirts -- or bow to Mecca -- in the vicinity of Ground Zero?
You can’t force people whose lives have been forever changed by terrorism to swallow optimistic declarations about the brotherhood of man. But as was often said in the days after 9/11, the business of New York must go on.
Religion and real estate are part of that business. If an imam wants to open a legal house of worship a few blocks from Ground Zero, it may not be a wise or sensitive thing to do.
But doing dumb, insensitive things is pretty much business as usual in New York, isn’t it?
(Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/tomdeignan)