Monday, September 13, 2010

Ground Zero Mosque Discussion, Part 2

I figured that while I was in NYC, I'd visit 45-51 Park Place, future site of Cordoba House, known to some as the "Ground Zero Mosque", and former site of a Burlington Coat Factory. I wanted to see what any protestors might have to say, in the hopes that I could add something useful to our discussion, aside from my own irritation.

I was expecting huge angry crowds overlooking the ruins of the World Trade Center, but it was down this side alley, and there was only this one old guy in a suit with a big cross around his neck. (It was Saturday, and I guess the throngs come out after church.) He had like four signs on large flimsy boards and there was enough stuff written on them that he seemed like a kook. I was going to avoid him, but as I walked past him the wind took his signs, and so I helped him out.

I asked him what he was doing there, and he mumbled and fumbled and handed me a card with what I know now to be the Serenity Prayer. He then went on to talk about Hamas, and how they weren't all bad, in the beginning; and that Christians and Muslims can and should get along, and I said probably; and then he said that everyone should treat each other with dignity, and while I saying that I could get behind that, he said "Except for the Jews, and Zionists, they are evil and will be judged" and then I kind of said good day and moved on.

I realize that this one fellow, or the people protesting Cordoba House don't represent all of Christianity, just like the 9/11 attackers don't represent all of Muslimdom. Problem is, when it comes to religion, it seems like the kooks are the ones doing all the representing, so it's easy to see why things get out of hand.

If that comparison (protesters to hijackers) seems out of line, you're super-wrong. I think the "Ground Zero Mosque" protestors do far more violence to the idea of America than Al Qaeda could ever hope to. The way I learned it, this country was founded (at least in part) on principles of freedom of speech and religion; on the idea of live and let live. I look at those complaining about this building, and I can't help but think of how completely unAmerican these people are. What could be more unAmerican than attempting to deny others liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? (and in the case Odori pointed out, life)

It's funny, because when I hear the far right throw around the term "unAmerican", it's about not blindly supporting the president during wartime, or chipping in on keeping our citizens healthy, or having sane assault rifle regulation. My conclusion: My America is better than their America, by kind of a lot.

(At this point, I find myself standing and saluting the American flag Steve Rogers-like, but I am aware that traits I equate with decency and goodness are not unique to these United States. I acknowledge that many people in countries such as South Korea, Canada, the Republic of Kenya, and Iceland are also not busybody assholes cowering in fear, desperate in their need to prove that their magic space boss is tougher and more real than some other guy's magic space boss.)

Apologies for not chiming in on the other post. I thought my rant might take up too much space (turns out I used up a lot of my space with the thinly-related story about the lone guy standing in front of Park 51), and I wanted to see the protesters for myself (and again, all I saw was that guy). I totally agree with what you guys said; all of it. Anyone trying to stop this community center should be ashamed. If they succeed in stopping it, we should all be ashamed.

Anyway, later that day, this happened.


Lungclops said...

Whoa there, Pony: did you just use the term "better?" What about everything you taught me about how it depends on one's goals? I am totally disillusioned.

Mr. Pony said...

Surely I taught you better than that. You should read my words through the lens of my goals.