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Journal Journal: 3 Reasons the "Ground Zero Mosque" Debate Makes No Sense

I donâ(TM)t usually write about politics. Itâ(TM)s important, but something I want no part of â" kind of like a raw sewage treatment facility. But frankly, I havenâ(TM)t been this upset in a long time. And itâ(TM)s due to the logic-hating, herd-mentality rhetoric that some have been flinging in opposition to the so-called âoeGround Zero Mosque.â For the uninitiated, there are plans to construct an Islamic Community center in lower Manhattan. And, of course, lower Manhattan is where the World Trade Center stood before terrorists destroyed it, thereby murdering 3,000 Americans. I was working in New York City at the time. As was my father. As was my pregnant wife. I remember the day well. And the days that followed. I think most of all, I remember standing on the Staten Island Ferry, coming home with 200 other silent, reverent New Yorkers of every age, race, and religion, as we watched our city still smoldering a full week later. And it is with this backdrop that I can say to every politician spouting off and opposing the construction of this Islamic community center: âoeShut up. Go away. You hate America.â

Iâ(TM)m talking about people like professional political tumor, Newt Gingrich, and future worst President ever, Sarah Palin, who have both slammed supporters of the Islamic community center with rhetoric so flawed, Iâ(TM)m afraid even linking to it might impair your computerâ(TM)s higher functioning circuits. But itâ(TM)s not just them. Due to the wave of misinformation being spread, apparently 68% of Americans also oppose the mosque.

How did this happen? Well, basically a complacent or a complicit media helped perpetuate three ideas that are either outright lies or intellectually dishonest arguments designed to bring out the very worst in all of us. And as you continue to hear themâ"and you willâ"take out this column which you will have already printed and laminated, and recite thusly:

1. Itâ(TM)s Not at Ground Zero
The proposed structure is not on the hallowed ground of the former World Trade Center. Itâ(TM)s at an abandoned and private building blocks away that used to be the Burlington Coat Factory. That means that if every one of the âoegâ(TM)sâ that Sarah Palin drops when sheâ(TM)s talkinâ(TM) folksy were 10 by10 feet large, you could still stack over 120 of them from Ground Zero to this community center. Easy.

That sort of makes all the difference, doesnâ(TM)t it? I know, when I first heard they were building a mosque at Ground Zero, I literally said, âoeWhat the fuck.â Like out loud and everything. I didnâ(TM)t even pull a âoeWTFâ despite years of writing for the Internet. Thatâ(TM)s because for the last nine years, we New Yorkers have listened to countless proposals and plans and ideas of how to best rebuild the area while honoring the memories of those who died. And suddenly it seemed we were being told, âoeYep, itâ(TM)s all decided. Mosque. We want a mosque here. Just feels right.â

So yeah, of course, no one was on board. That just made no sense. What happened to that proposed waterfall and wall of names? Nothing happened. Because no one was ever building a mosque on that site. Itâ(TM)s just a lie that was told to you by people who wanted you to be afraid, upset, and hurt. People who wanted to manipulate your tender emotions to inspire contempt for the government. Itâ(TM)s about as intellectually dishonest as manipulating debate footage to make it appear that âoeDrill, baby, drillâ is Sarah Palinâ(TM)s stance on partial birth abortions. Itâ(TM)s just wrong.

And to those who say that any location in lower Manhattan is too close for a Muslim structure, let me remind you that right now, in the shadow of what would be the former World Trade Center, thereâ(TM)s a Halal Meat Hot Truck with a multi-denominational line that wraps around my building every day at lunch time. And Iâ(TM)m positive thatâ(TM)s owned by a Muslim. And Iâ(TM)ve even suffered at his hands. (Spoiler alert: avoid the goat rhoti). Should he move a few more blocks away too? Of course, not. That would just be silly, right? Is it different? Why? Because mosques are religious and the 911 terrorists perverted Islam into something violent and hateful? Guess what? Those knights did the same thing to Christianity for the 300 years of the Crusades, and no oneâ(TM)s saying that churches shouldnâ(TM)t be built anywhere in ⦠Europe.

2. Itâ(TM)s Not Strictly A Mosque
A mosque by definition is a purely religious structure. This is a large proposed community center, open to the public and set to house, among other things, a basketball court. Yes there will be a prayer space inside it as well, but you donâ(TM)t call St. Maryâ(TM)s Hospital a church because it happens to have a chapel inside it, do you? Well, maybe you do. You read about politics on the Internet from a guy who claims not to write about politics, so maybe youâ(TM)re functionally illiterate. But the point is, you shouldnâ(TM)t.

But âoeIslamic Community Center open to the publicâ doesnâ(TM)t have the same ability to scare people the way âoemosqueâ does. I mean, you hear âoemosqueâ you think mosquito, you think STING! You hear âoemosqueâ you think âoemask,â you think DECEPTION! You hear âoecommunity centerâ you think âoeOK. One more place Iâ(TM)ll never go.â So, yeah, clearly the decision was made by those who hate you to call this the âoeGround Zero Mosqueâ even though itâ(TM)s not at Ground Zero and not technically a mosque. Why are we still discussing this? Why havenâ(TM)t you already asked Sarah Palin if sheâ(TM)s the devil on her Twitter account? Oh, thatâ(TM)s right. Because the devil is supposed to be good at lying.

3. You Canâ(TM)t Simultaneously Acknowledge A Right And Insist That Your Government Suppress It
But the real reason Iâ(TM)m writing is not just because of people like Sarah Palin, but because of shameful, spineless panderers like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Hereâ(TM)s a statement from each of them designed to give the appearance of being tolerant while adhering to good old-fashioned common sense values:

From Sarah Palinâ(TM)s Twitter Feed:

âoeWe all know that they have the right to do it, but should they?â

And from Harry Reidâ(TM)s spokesperson:

While respecting that Muslims have a First Amendment right to religious freedom, Reid âoethinks this mosque should be built some place else,â his spokesman Jim Manley said Monday.

Let me make something clear. In order to make these statements you must hate two things: logic and America. There is NO way to say that an individual has a protected right to do something and simultaneously criticize your government for not suppressing the execution of that right. There is no way for President Obama or any other president to put a stumbling block in the way of the free exercise of religion without violating the sanctity of that freedom. Should I say it more simply? OK.

You canâ(TM)t legally stop people from obeying the law.

The Burlington Coat factory is private property. Those who want to build on it are private citizens. They are violating no law in wanting to build a community center. Under what authority do you propose we stop them? There is no âoeunless youâ(TM)re a Muslim within X yards of a national tragedy exceptionâ to the free exercise of religion. Do the Gingrichs and Palins and Reids want to start a precedent where you can compel people not to exercise the freedoms guaranteed under our Constitution provided enough people donâ(TM)t like you?

And what are we saying to Muslims? That if they were good Americans they would willingly give up their rights? I canâ(TM)t think of anything less American than that? This is America. We do what we want. And all you have to do to have that right is be a citizen here. And if youâ(TM)re a traitor, well then we will prosecute you for treason and penalize you for taking up arms against the greatest country in the world, but we will NOT start curtailing your freedoms based on mere speculation fueled by lies about what youâ(TM)re building and where youâ(TM)re building it.

In the days following 911 it was very popular to say that we couldnâ(TM)t do anything differently in America or âoethe terrorists would win.â We canâ(TM)t stop driving gas guzzling cars. We canâ(TM)t stop supporting dictators in other parts of the world for financial or political gain. We canâ(TM)t vote for a Democrat. Most of that was rhetoric. Some of it was probably true. But one thing is definitely true: if we ask our leaders to start dishonoring the freedoms that make this country great, the terrorists surely will have won. And I donâ(TM)t want to see that. Because unlike those with power and influence who would lie to you, I love America.

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"There are some good people in it, but the orchestra as a whole is equivalent to a gang bent on destruction." -- John Cage, composer