I can still remember walking up on September 11, 2001, and being told to turn on my TV. As I put the news on, I saw chilling images of a single plane, which had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. It would be another 10 minutes or so until the entire country witnessed the second plane hit the South Tower. There was little doubt at that point that our nation was under attack.
I tell you this as a reminder. September 11, 2001 was a day that every American, and many around the world, will never forget. A defining moment, when we will all remember exactly where we were and what we were doing. It was the most deadly terrorist attack against Americans anywhere in the world, and certainly on our own soil.
Enter, the Cordoba House. This $100 million Islamic cultural center will be built a mere 600 feet from where the Twin Towers stood. Included in this 15-story monument to Islam are a mosque, a 500-seat auditorium, swimming pool, restaurant, and bookstore. The Imam behind the project, Feisal Abdul Rauf, who was quoted on March 24, 2010 as saying “I do not believe in religious dialogue,” insists on the Park 51 location despite uproar from many organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, the Center for Islamic Pluralism in Washington, and the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. These aren’t exactly right-wing organizations. Less than three weeks after the September 11th attacks, Imam Rauf went on 60 Minutes and said, “United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened,” and that we have been “an accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world.” He went on to say that “Osama bin Laden is made in the USA.” He would not answer a question about whether Hamas is a terror organization, and he made it clear that “The U.S. must acknowledge the harm they have done to Muslims before terrorism can end.”
Funding for the “Mosque at Ground Zero” will come from Arab and Muslim nations around the world, according to Imam Rauf. Which Arab and Muslim nations? It doesn’t matter according to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who believes it is not the government’s concern.
These are the facts. There are no emotions, no buzzwords – just facts.
An Imam who blames America for 9/11 and refuses to classify Hamas as a terror organization, will raise $100 million from Arab and Muslim nations, to build a 15-story Islamic cultural center which contains a mosque, 600 feet from Ground Zero where 3,000 died at the hands of Islamic extremists less than 9 years ago. It’s called the Cordoba House, a reference to the great mosque at Cordoba, which was built on the foundation of a Christian cathedral after Muslims conquered what is now Spain. Is the name symbolic of triumph? Perhaps. At the very least, it is one of the worst marketing concepts of all time in light of the circumstances surrounding the location. It certainly does not reassure opponents of the mosque that there are no hidden motives.
Enter New York Governor David Patterson, who offered to help find an alternative site for the mosque, on state-owned property further away from Ground Zero. The Cordoba organizers declined the offer. At the time of this writing, there was renewed hope that an arrangement could be made between the parties to give up on the Park 51 site. Only time will tell.
Last week, Greg Gutfeld, host of Red Eye on Fox News Channel, announced that he was planning to build a gay bar next to the proposed mosque location. The bar, potentially known as “Dialog” (Gutfeld is building ‘Dialog’), would cater to Islamic young men, and help “reduce deadly homophobia in the Islamic world,” through dialog. After refusing comment, the organizers of the mosque issued a comment via Gutfeld’s Twitter page: “You’re free to open whatever you like. If you won’t consider the sensibilities of Muslims, you’re not going to build dialog.” If those behind the Cordoba House won’t consider the sensibilities of Americans, New Yorkers and the families and victims of 9/11, why should Greg Gutfeld consider the sensibilities of Muslims? Doesn’t this approach hypocrisy?
So should the Islamic Community Center (and mosque) be built at the Park 51 location? While this is not a political issue, like everything else in our country it has become one. Republicans are largely opposed to it, and Democrats are mostly supportive. Polling shows that 68% of Americans oppose the mosque, while only 29% are in favor, clearly illustrating which political party is more in-line with mainstream America. Given the insensitive nature of the location, only 600 feet from Ground Zero, I believe it would be better if those behind the Cordoba House project chose a different location.
So is this issue about religious freedom, as many on the Left maintain it is?
Do Christians have the religious freedom to oppose same-sex marriage? Not if you ask those on the Left. Were the Prop 8 opponents who protested outside Mormon temples in California in 2008 adhering to the freedom of religion clause? Or those who refuse to allow prayer in schools, including a moment of silence set aside for that purpose? Let’s face it, modern-day liberals have been trying to remove God from our currency, our Pledge of Allegiance, our schools, government buildings, the presidential oath of office, and just about everything else they can think of. Why now, is freedom of religion so important to them?
Could it be that yet another issue, like gay marriage, health care reform and so many others, has become more about winning than doing the right thing?
Conservatives and Republicans who have weighed in on the issue in opposition of the mosque have been accused of racism, xenophobia, and even hypocrisy for dismissing the freedom of religion clause in our Constitution. Most of these charges have been levied by those on the Left (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here are just a few examples) who believe this mosque is anything but an affront to American culture and sensitivities surrounding the 9/11 attacks. How can 68% of Americans all be xenophobic bigots?
This week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and New York Representatives Michael Arcuri (NY-24), Mike McMahon (NY-13), Steve Israel (NY-2) and Tim Bishop (NY-1) – ALL DEMOCRATS – came out against the proposed mosque. Are they also xenophobic bigots? And what about Islam? Arab and Muslim nations in the Middle East who practice Islam and subscribe to Sharia Law routinely condone honor killings, the abuse and oppression of women, and the murder of those suspected of being homosexuals. Does that also fall under religious freedom? Are mosque supporters homophobes?
Once again, those on the Right are painted as racists, bigots and other unflattering terms by those on the Left, simply because of a disagreement in ideology. The views of most conservatives, and 68% of Americans, are not rooted in hatred, but in common sense and decency. Because many on the Left can rarely win over mainstream America with facts, they resort to name-calling and emotions to win the war of messaging. Unfortunately, they win that war far too often.
A grandiose Islamic community center (with mosque) built 600 feet from the spot where 3,000 died on 9-11-01 is simply offensive to many people. Even if the goal is to build dialog, it won’t happen if it is built at the Park 51 location. Proponents of the mosque will continue to claim that this is an issue of religious freedom obstructed by the fear of Islam, but the reality is much simpler. Rational people are not questioning the legal right to build a mosque, only the location. The fact that those behind the Cordoba House project are thus far unwilling to accept an alternate location shows their true level of desire to build dialog and foster a good relationship with the community.
The Left has glommed on to this issue as a vehicle to further label the GOP as racist and bigoted. But this time, they will fail, because Americans rightfully don’t see this as a partisan political issue. For some reason, these newfound fans of religious freedom in America cannot understand why people wouldn’t want something built in the neighborhood around Ground Zero.
Maybe they’d understand if it was a Wal-Mart.