I don’t see a good reason to be against the building of a mosque/cultural center two blocks from Ground Zero. In fact, the arguments in favor sound quite reasonable to me. But, then again, I don’t hate and fear Islam. I see the truths in Islam – what I know of it, and, yes, even all those bellicose, xenophobic passages, too – just as I do in many other religions and worldviews to which I’m not devoted. “Every thing possible to be believ’d is an image of truth.”
Moreover, it’s my impression that two blocks in downtown Manhattan is the equivalent of around ten miles culturally in a normal city, a whole continent for non-urban cultures. And, anyway, what Manhattanites do with their neighborhoods I do not take as my business – kind of like the state of my next door neighbors’ marriage and home decor aren’t my business either, nor the very heady aroma that sometimes wafts from the open front door of the other neighbor’s home.
But two blocks from Zero is way too close for some people (commenters), many of whom clearly live thousands of miles away. Quick summary: “Fight and slay the Muslims wherever you may find them.”
The building proposal is from one perspective taken as an act of cowardly surrender – the construction of a monument to honor an enemy turned ideological conqueror. This view is embodied in an item like this campaign video from Rick Barber for Congress in Alabama. From the alternative perspective, the same one that I presume led to the Manhattan Community Board voting 29 to 1 in favor of the project, Barber represents the unwanted return to the national stage of the self-righteously enraged – bellicose and xenophobic – bigot.
I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they find an excuse to nix the project – there’s talk about an historic site that would have to be destroyed to make way for it – now that the intrinsically meaningless approval has been offered. In the meantime, we have the explosive, fiery collision of two self-contained and radically opposed worldviews, the acts of each seeming to the other to prove its own point. It’s an ideological pantomime of the kind of war we have so far avoided.