How to Foster Tolerance Near Ground Zero

Someone made a point to say that strip clubs operate near enough to Ground Zero, so why aren’t those concerned by the Park51 mosque worried about these clubs? This would be a fair point if strippers had flown planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as a means of exacting revenge against the uncles that touched them when they were seven. As it was, Muslims went through all the trouble, so old Uncle Paul is off the hook.

The Ground Zero mosque will be constructed two blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood. In lower Manhattan a city block is 264 feet long, meaning the mosque would be located roughly 528 feet from spots where human beings chose to pancake themselves against pavement because, as they saw it, jumping from the 103rd floor seemed a logical alternative to the hell raging at their backs. Whether a mosque should exist so close to the scene of Islam’s greatest crime is too serious a matter to be cheapened by the question of whether the outraged remain outraged by chicks with self esteem issues.

The legal right for the mosque (recreation center, foot bath, et cetera) to exist is not in dispute; if the land was purchased and is developed within the law, there is little to be said about it. The debate is over whether, as a culture consistently reminded to be sensitive to the world’s every whim, it would be nice for someone to return the favor.

Speaking of sensitivity: Asked about this last Sunday, George Will proved uncharacteristically color blind. “You can always tell a fundamentally weak story because it turns on sensitivity; is so-and-so being sensitive to someone else. Sensitivity’s overrated. When you have an entitlement to have everybody be sensitive to everyone else, that’s how you got speech codes on campuses, so we would not have speech that would offend somebody. There is no right to go through life without your feelings being hurt.”

Will is right, of course, in saying that America has devolved to a kind of touchy-feeliness that is intellectually sickening. (It is how we fight our wars, by the way, and you see how well that is working.) I am the first to agree that when one’s point of view is lead by emotion, it should become suspect. But campus speech codes were (and remain) only tangentially about sensitivity; they were (and are) first about silencing opinions the Left finds unpleasant. George Will is smart enough to understand the difference between simple, feminine sensitivity and reasonable sensitivity tendered in response to an insult.

If you take offense at Westboro Baptist Church’s protests, then you have a base understanding of the Park51 unrest. You shouldn’t build this mosque for the same reason you shouldn’t carry “God Hates Fag Enablers” signs outside a dead soldier’s funeral: it demonstrates a classlessness people should just know better than to endorse. Opposing the mosque doesn’t mean you hate Islam; it means you have an adult understanding of how civilized people ought to behave.

To that point, no logical person is saying the mosque shouldn’t be built (please note the use of “logical person”). No logical person is saying its construction should be politically or legally blocked. Those of us in the opposition are saying: If the true purpose of the mosque is to foster understanding and tolerance, what better way to show it than by not building it at a site where it would take on the unmistakable air of a victory flag plunged into the earth?

Author Bio:

Brian S. Wise used to be the lead columnist at IntellectualConservative.com and a fairly well known pundit; now he’s just some dude. He has cool ideas for books and columns, but hardly ever stays out of bed long enough to get started on any of them. He is available via email at brianwisedotcom@gmail.com and via The Twitter at @BrianSWise
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  • dennis yee

    I agree with this post. The mosque organizers may be americans who have no connection to terrorism, but they should have some respect for the sensitivities of the people who think they do.

  • Lydia

    First, it is not the Park51 mosque. It is the GROUND ZERO MOSQUE. It is the equivalent of spitting in the face of the victims and survivors, and those who are building know that quite well. They are mocking us while trying to preach to us about tolerance. I really like Bernie Goldberg but when did he go politically correct?

  • http://none William

    I’m amazed that you permit some to equate the mosk at Ground Zero with religious freedom.
    It has much more to do with good breeding. Well bred people are considerate of the sensitivities of others. Why do you never ask one of these whether they believe in good breeding? Of course Mohammedans do not and I have the experience to prove it.
    Many years ago as a young seaman, I visited Karachi. One day an Augustinian Monk came aboard our ship for visit. His cloak was covered with Spittle. It seems that as he walked the street the more moderate Mohammedans spit on him. The extreme ones threw stones.
    This is their culture. It is ironic that they now cry crocodile tears about their religious rights and our media go right along.
    Mohammedans, (the “moderate” ones} are fiercely intolerant.
    El Cid was right. A statue of him belongs right across the street from the “Cordoba Project.”

  • Chris

    “The debate is over whether, as a culture consistently reminded to be sensitive to the world’s every whim, it would be nice for someone to return the favor.”
    You treat Islam as if it is one giant monlithic culture. Islam is a diverse and pluralistic as any other religion. I doubt the average Muslim ( 1.6 billion muslims total in the world and GROWING)is especially sensitive about South Park making fun of Mohamed or Danish cartoons making fun of some aspects of Islam.
    And why is the attacks on 9/11 seen as Islam’s crime and not RADICAL Islam’s crime? There is a sharp distinction between the two-tradional/moderate Islam, which represents the great majority of muslims, has been hijacked by extremists who pervert Islams message in order to fulfill their own hateful and violent desires. I really feel it is misguided and even intellectually dishonest to call 9/11 “Islam’s crime”-when in reality it was radical muslims who carried out that heinous attack on our country.

    Finally, why do we invoke collective guilt on muslims? Should all Iraqis hold Americans in collective guilt for the U.S sanctions against Iraq in th 1990s that led to tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children (United Nations report say the death figure is at 600,000)? Should all Africans and Native Americans invoke collective guilt on whites for all of the terrorist attacks whites have committed over the last 400 years( TENS of MILLIONS died as a result of white terror attacks on Indians and Africans). Should black americans be allowed to invoke group guilt on whites for jim crow and slavery? Are all christians responsible for people who believe that god tells them to shoot up abortion clinics?

    Of course, invoking group guilt in these aforementioned cases would be absurd- just as doing so to muslims is absurd. Truth is that all groups have done horrible things in the name of their race, ethnicity, and religion. Muslims in general are not responsible for 9/11-and thus we should allow Muslim americans to have a mosque there. They are just as American as anyone else.

    • Brian S. Wise

      Tell you the truth, I got about a paragraph into your message and tapped out. The best I can think to tell you is to read opinion columns for what they say, instead of what you think they say, or want them to say.

  • Brian S. Wise

    @ CCNV. Listing things you find unpleasant doesn’t mean the law can (or should be) be selectively ignored. Adherence to the law is what separates us from savages. It is important to note that the construction of the mosque is all legal enough, but those of us who are opposed are asking that other things be considered.

    • CCNV

      Brian, hey, I’m on your side!! I, too, believe this is a not so much a ‘legal’ issue, as one of being ‘sensitive’. I was just making a point to those who state the mosque can/should be built there – asking how they’d feel if those things (listed in my previous comment) were next door to them. Would they protest these things, or would they sit back and accept that these things have a right to be there because they are legal? (My guess is they’d protest to the high heavens.) Point being, just because it’s legal doesn’t necessarily make it ‘right’. I suspect the Iman (and I use that term loosely) is quite pleased at the division he’s created within the US.

  • Brian S. Wise

    “Many years prior to 9/11″; in other words, they were not built after the attacks and could not, as I mentioned, ever be mistaken as a victory flag being plunged into the earth. Generally speaking, I do not dispute the right of anyone to practice whatever silly, fanciful superstition that happens to grab them; in this case, it is an insult – I believe an intended one – and I would prefer it be built elsewhere. Nothing more or less than that.

    • Chris

      “Many years prior to 9/11; in other words, they were not built after the attacks and could not, as I mentioned, ever be mistaken as a victory flag being plunged into the earth”

      Why would you even ASSUME that this mosque being built near ground zero is a “victory flag?” LOL are you really that paranoid? The Iman simply built the mosque their simply because he COULD and that he has a RIGHT to do so. Trying to radicalize this Iman because he doesnt share your view of the world or has made “controversial statements” is really downright silly

      • Brian S. Wise

        Quote: “Why would you even ASSUME that this mosque being built near ground zero is a “victory flag?” LOL are you really that paranoid?”

        In the column I recommended “not building it at a site where it would take on the unmistakable air of a victory flag,” and in my first response to you wrote the older mosques “could not ever be mistaken as a victory flag.” I would suggest this is quite different from a far-reaching, paranoid declaration of “Mission Accomplished” being declared at Park51.

        Secondarily, the best I can think to tell you is the same I wrote elsewhere above: you’re best served to read the columns for what they actually say, not for what you wish they said, or think they’re saying in some hidden way. Ulterior motive writing is tiring.

        Quote: “The Iman simply built the mosque their simply because he COULD and that he has a RIGHT to do so. Trying to radicalize this Iman because he doesnt share your view of the world or has made “controversial statements” is really downright silly”

        And in the column I say, “The legal right for the mosque … to exist is not in dispute; if the land was purchased and is developed within the law, there is little to be said about it,” and then go on to explain opposition on alternate grounds. Sorry you missed that.

        Lastly, I did not once quite the Imam. What he says doesn’t especially interest me, in the same way the utterances of any religious leader don’t especially interest me.

  • CCNV

    How would you feel about a child rapist, Walmart, prison, gas station, race track, or low income housing apartments, being a “neighbor” right next to your property? Would you welcome any/all of these things with open arms, no questions asked? After all, these things are 100% legal according to local ordinances…and safe. Heck yeah, of course you would embrace any of the things listed above because you are tolerant, and sympathetic to the cause. As a matter of fact, I would have NO problem with any of these being right next to your house either!

  • Nicholas

    Since we’re so sensitive about having a mosque near Ground Zero (why still escapes me) how about looking at this:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/14/nyregion/14mosque.html

    Did you know that there are two mosques within blocks of Ground Zero that have been there for many years prior to 9/11? Should we tear down those mosques too, since they could also be training grounds for terrorists or funneling money to terrorist sympathizers?

    Or maybe we can tear down all the mosques in New York City just to make everyone feel safer knowing that Muslims can’t congregate behind closed doors and conspire to take down America.

    This is what you sound like. Sounds a little childish doesn’t it?

    • Chris

      Excellent post Nichlas. I agree with 100% of what you wrote.