While the rest of the world ignores the topic, focusing instead on Snooki and steroids in baseball, I've been giving a lot of thought to the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque".
Yeah, right. This story is everywhere, and everyone is chiming in. When I opened my email this morning, no less than half of my new mail was somehow related to this topic. Either emailed news reports, or the always helpful and enlightening (/sarc) chain emails one gets from friends and family promoting their side of the hot-topic-du-jour.
For my part, I've been quietly turning the issue over in my mind. There are so many facets to this, and I'm one of those folks who tends to overthink anyway...
And now, my kids are asking about it. Turning to me for my opinion as compared to what they're seeing and hearing in the media and real life. I've had to organize my thoughts, and come up with my best answers for them. So... here's the result of my mental gymnastics, and the gist of how I handled it when I had to present a coherent and reasonable as possible viewpoint to the people who matter most to me. Ahem...
To my mind, there's no question whatsoever as to whether the developers of this would-be Islamic community center have the constitutional right to practice their faith. In fact, I've yet to see a single article stating that they don't. (Although I saw ONE comment on an article suggesting we ban the building of all mosques in America.) And personally, I'm that rare atheist who believes people of faith should be left alone to follow and practice their faith, regardless of the recipient of their prayers.
But... BUT... As many have said in the past weeks, having the right to do something doesn't make it the right thing to do. Take Fred Phelps. Or Code Pink, for that matter. These are people who disgust me with their views and actions. Yes, they have the constitutional right to their views and their displays. No, I would not advocate stifling them. But I do wish they would discover the concept of simple human decency and stop their hurtful behaviors.
Not gonna happen. Apparently, not in New York, either. Next argument.
While 9/11 was national - no... global - it was first (for New York) local. And I'll be frank, I don't know a single person who was lost on that day. While I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing and the fear of the moment, I did not suffer personal loss. I've never even been to New York. That makes it extremely difficult to put myself in the shoes of someone touched on a personal level by 9/11. But that's what I had to do, what we've all had to do.
After thinking about this, reading about this, hearing about this and finally, being asked by my most important audience about this, I've reverted to my initial gut reaction upon first learning about the proposed mosque/center/gym/national ass-ache.
THIS is the first thing that came to my mind. THIS is the mental picture that accompanied the news. And THIS is why I ultimately told my kids I think it's a bad thing... and that while I'm not a New Yorker, I don't think I'd want to deal with this mosque:
This is what happens when a brain dead bureaucrat schedules a photo-op involving a jet and New York. And this screams to me (as it did on the day this little gem first hit the news) that New Yorkers haven't healed. America hasn't healed.
It's the very first thing I thought of. And it's the image that returns to my mind every time I consider the mosque. I can't get past it. While I'm sure there are deeper considerations and subleties I haven't thought of, those frightened citizens running and screaming as their nightmare flies overhead sums up the entire issue for me.