At least one thing can be said for building an Islamic cultural center that may also provide prayer space for 1000 - 2000 Muslim worshippers in the shadow of a property, an American symbol actually, destroyed by Muslim terrorists. That would be tasteless. Yes, whether you like it or not, it's like building a memorial honoring Robert E. Lee in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. The issue is not that the Arab-American co-developer of the project can't build it. It is, should he build it there? Whether you side with the 46% of Manhattan residents polled by Rasmussen/Quinnipiac in favor vs. the 31% opposed, or the 54% of Americans across the country against it vs.the 20% in favor, the issue is not as simple as left vs. right, 'though these days, we do like our arguments in neat little packages.
The issue is trust. Where are the Muslim spokespersons willing to stand up and decry terrorism? Where are the ones willing to step up publicly and explain the Islamic basis for female genital mutilation? Where are those willing to say Shar'ia law has no business becoming the law of the land since it stands in favor of one religion and thus against the Establishment Clause in the United States Constitution?
This is probably a very unpopular position. But, someone needs to ask the question. Why? Why when the dust has literally still not settled over the scene of America's greatest terrorist attack on its soil, would someone want to build a mosque while a Christian church nearby still awaits its fate? Symbolically, it is like that hypothetical memorial to the Confederate general erected in the middle of that predominantly black neighborhood.
I have heard Christians and Jews, agnostics and atheists stand up and oppose the stoning of women, their mutilation at the hands of their families and others calling for reform in the Islamic world. But, I have not heard one Muslim here in the United States comment either way. Why is that? Is it because, while I have the right to freedom of speech, a Muslim- American may be hunted down and killed for the same thing?
Don't say it's racist and barbaric to pose these questions and far from the liberal's view of the world. Be assured, I am far from a racist. Nor am I alone. In the brief and hardly scientific poll I took regarding this issue of readers who commented on the previous article, 22% seem to support the project while 78% oppose it. And of the latter, consistently on the grounds of blatant symbolism. I want to understand why Islam is a religion of peace when all the evidence I have seen, read and heard weighs to the contrary.
I would welcome the input of Muslim-Americans from whom we have not heard. This would be a good time to tell us what you really think. Is it a good idea to build an Islamic center very near the Ground Zero site? Is there a moderate voice of Islam?