First, to establish some facts about the mosque at ground zero.
It is, in fact, at ground zero. Not near… at. Pieces of airplane fell through the roof of this building and were extracted from the basement. People who fell to their deaths from the World Trade Center buildings fell farther than the distance from those buildings to the proposed site of the new mosque.
Intended location of the Ground Zero Mosque
Further, the developers of the mosque, or Islamic cultural center as it is sometimes called, refer to the site as “Ground Zero”. This is clearly evident in tweets from Daisy Khan. Khan is the wife of Imam Feisel Abdul Rauf, Chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, the group heading the ground zero mosque project.
The term “ground zero mosque” is also found frequently in the Cordoba Initiative’s web site. It is abundantly clear that Imam Feisel, as Chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, and Daisy Khan, as head of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, specifically intend to associate this project with 9/11 and ground zero.
Erick Erickson at Red State says it well:
…this is sufficient to demonstrate that the “Ground Zero mosque’s” stewards aren’t unfairly tarred by the phrase: they wanted it. Everyone discussing this issue should face this fact squarely and honestly. It’s the “Ground Zero mosque” because it was conceived and intended as the “Ground Zero mosque.”
In spite of Cordoba’s apparent ease with the term “ground zero mosque”, the Associated Press has taken it upon themselves to rid the term from the media to the extent that they have the power to do so. In a “Standards Memo“, AP editors have decreed that the terms “ground zero mosque” and “mosque at ground zero” will no longer be used in AP stories or headlines. Since the AP feeds stories to news outlets large and small across the country, this sort of collusion stands to have a far-reaching effect.
We should continue to avoid the phrase “ground zero mosque” or “mosque at ground zero” on all platforms. We should continue to say it’s “near” ground zero, or two blocks away.
WE WILL CHANGE OUR SLUG ON THIS STORY LATER TODAY from “BC-Ground Zero Mosque” to “BC-NYC Mosque.”
In short headlines, some ways to refer to the project include:
_ mosque 2 blocks from WTC site
_ Muslim (or Islamic) center near WTC site
_ mosque near ground zero
_ mosque near WTC site
Now, having established the fact that it is indeed a mosque at ground zero of the attack on the United States by Islamic extremists, the question is: why?
The banner at the top of the Cordoba Initiative’s web site proclaims that they are “Improving Muslim-West relations”. Though born in Kuwait, Imam Feisel was educated in the west and must surely understand western culture. He holds a degree in physics and a master’s degree in plasma physics… he’s not stupid. In any case, it doesn’t take a genius to understand that planting an “Islamic cultural center” at the site where three thousand people were murdered in the name of Islam will not engender warm and fuzzy feelings. If the building site at ground zero doesn’t logically fit with its stated purpose then the question is, what is the real purpose in choosing this particular site?
There are certainly Muslims in Manhattan who simply want a place to bring their families to pray, who are horrified by the murders perpetrated in the name of their religion by power-seeking lunatics. There are Muslims who would like to say “[expletive] you, Bin Laden; you don’t own my city or my religion.” Imam Feisel is not one of them. In fact, Imam Feisel has suggested that blame for the 9/11 attacks falls, at least in part, on the United States. He also stated that there was “insufficient evidence” to implicate Muslim extremists in the attacks. How’s that for improving Muslim-West relations?
Even the name “Cordoba House” as the Mosque was initially to be called, carries with it ominous implications. Cordoba, Spain was the cultural center of the “Golden Age of Islam” in the tenth century. Often cited as a time of “peaceful coexistence” it was rather a time when Jews and Christians were subjugated by the ruling Muslims.
For almost four hundred years the Jews lived in Al-Andalus amid the moderate Islamic rule based in Cordoba. Later came the insurgence of the Muslim fundamentalist Almoravides in 1055, and not long after their enemies, the Almohades in 1147. Both groups brought with them radically stricter controls over the infidels (non-Muslims). During this time Jews continued to work as moneylenders, jewelers, cobblers, tailors, and tanners. Soon however, they would be mandated to wear distinctive clothing, including of the wearing of a yellow turban to distinguish them from Muslims. These changes were a foreshadowing of the stricter controls that would soon be put in place.
As the origins of the Cordoba House’s name became known, the ground zero mosque’s name was changed to “Park 51”. The statement that it makes, however, is unchanged as is the Cordoba Initiative’s determination to move ahead with the project even as prominent muslims advise against it. Doctor M. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy puts it this way:
To put it bluntly, Ground Zero is the one place in America where Muslims should think less about teaching Islam and “our good side” and more about being American and fulfilling our responsibilities to confront the ideology of our enemies.
Khan and Rauf avoid discourse on reform and political Islam. Instead, they simply give us the familiar, too vague condemnation of “extremism and violence.” They seem to conveniently view 9/11, al Qaeda and every manifestation of militant Islamism as simply a public-relations problem for “Muslims in the West.” Imam Rauf has even gone so far as to bizarrely say that the 9/11 terrorists were “not Muslims.”
In the end, I can’t support a legal block to the building of this affront to the memory of those murdered on 9/11. Our Constitution affords Imam Feisel the right to believe as he wishes and to peacefully practice his religion accordingly. My hope is that pressure from the 70% of Americans who oppose the idea as well as the opposition within the Muslim community will eventually prevail. Failing that, New York construction workers may simply refuse to build the damn thing.
(A humble tip o’ the hat to KingShamus for the aerial photo)