So I've been thinking about this Islam cultural center that seems to be the big political controversy right now. In case you live under a rock, or watch nothing but E!, or whatever, Muslims are going to build an Islamic cultural center 2 blocks from ground zero. And a whole lot of Americans are pretty pist about it. Many argue that putting it there is insensitive to those affected by 9/11. That it is simply too close. Others argue that Muslims can put it wherever they choose, because of religious freedom and whatever. And there is also the question of, "how close is too close?" Which, honestly, I think is the only REAL question. Answer that question, and that will solve the problem.

If they were building it 10 blocks away, would that be too close? Or 5, or 8 or 20? Where is the real line by which this culturally sensitive question can be measured? Where does it go from making a so-called mockery of those who died on 9/11, to being just another place for people to pray on rugs facing east?

Sometimes, I wish they (they being "The Government,") would just call a random person, and say, "Hey, is this Phil?"
"Uh yeah, I'm Phil."
"Hey Phil."
"Anyways, it's us, 'The Government.'"
"Oh. Hi."
"Anyways, hang on, let me transfer you to a different department. I'm actually just in charge of getting a hold of people."
"Wait, what's this..."
"Hold please."
Then, about 10 minutes later, (due to the efficacy of "The Government,") "The Government" is ready to ask Phil the big question.
"Hey Phil."
"Still here."
"Great. Hey, it's me, "The Government" again."
"We just have a question for you. Were going to just let you decided the outcome. Whatever you randomly decide, that's what were going to do. Follow your big, American gut. Now, I'm going to ask you this question, and then put you on hold for the agency that will receive your answer."


If I were Phil, and "The Government" asked me about how close was too close, I think I could come up with a pretty simple equation for figuring that out, that would probably satisfy most Americans.

Put a New York Yankee on the very top of the freedom tower (that doesn't yet exist.) Now, it needs to be an American citizen. No Mexicans. Probably not even a Puerto Rican. And not just some naturalized player. A real live multi generational citizen. Now, let that Yankee drop hit a baseball as far as he can, from the tip top of the non existent freedom tower(s), and where that ball lands, is the closest that any Mosque may be built.

I feel like the whole argument has digressed about to that point. Can we fix the economy, and THEN maybe worry about how close is too close?


Andrew and Becca said...

eh, it's kind of a question of how close is too close. But as john stewart kindly points out, it looks like tennessee and california and wisconsin are all too close, because people are getting pretty pissed about potential mosques those places too. the "how close is too close" discussion seems to be masking the real one about how people don't feel comfortable living among practicing muslims - and frankly, just need to get the hell over it.

Dave said...

hilarious. Best idea ever.

I shared your post out loud with someone at work. that's probably never a good idea. It seems like I always end those conversations saying "you have to know this guy. He's really funny."

Seriously though, I don't see the problem with the mosque. I get that victims families do not want to see a shrine built to their loved ones murderers on the spot of the murder, but that reasoning shows precisely the misunderstanding that we should be vigilent to avoid. Not all Muslims were the 9/11 killers. The muslim religion generally was not behind 9/11. Why should all muslims "pay" for something that some crazy people did? If some crazy mormons killed some people in Dallas saying the Mormon god told them to do it, and then the city or state said no mormon churches can be built here or in a 10 mile radius or whatever, that would show bad reasoning -- it wasnt the church that did the crime, it was some crazy people.

Lindsay said...

there are plenty of places to build a mosque in new york city. the fact that they are demanding to build it in that very specific location just seems fishy (no pun intended!), like there is a point to be proven, a message to send, and not a nice one. their concern isn't if they can have a mosque in new york city, its that they want it there and no where else. thats weird. thats disrespectful. thats just common courtesy. this is america people. hah.. but really.

Dave said...

I know this isn't a political blog, so I promise this will be my last comment on the subject.

I agree with Lindsay that the fact that they are set on building a mosque RIGHT there shows that they are trying to send a message.

But I disagree that we can conclude that the message is not a nice one. I think ground zero represents a lot of things to a lot of people and most Muslims would prefer that it not represent their religion and worldview. They may feel that Bin Laden has usurped their right to speak for themselves and has left a very visible statement of his version of Islam right in the middle of Manhattan. Understandably, they may be willing to spend whatever it takes to buy some land VERY close by that site to express their rebuttal to Bin Laden's version of Islam -- to give their side of the story, so that visitors don't leave ground zero hating Muslims. What better way to counter a message of hatred and violence than to build a house of prayer?

I agree that the Mosque at ground zero is a message, but I think it is supposed to be a countermessage to Bin Laden's version of Islam. I also agree that it is risky and could be (and probably is) a misinterpreted move. But again, going back to the hypothetical example of the crazy people who kill people for the mormon god, wouldn't the mormon church want to send missionaries to the area that occurred and set the record straight on what we believe? esspecially if it were an area that mormon beliefs were already largely unknown or misunderstood?

The Muslims cant let Bin Laden have the last word on what Islam believes.

Fish Nat!on said...

I get your point Dave, but I also think that had some fundamentalist Mormons murdered an assload of people at a specific place in Dallas, and the church happened to own property right near that place, I don't believe the church would actually build a visitors center right there, if 70% or more of Texans were against the idea. They may offer to build some sort of memorial or something, but I think they would leave the decision up to the people of Dallas.

I'm not saying all of the public anger is the right thing, but the fact exists that there IS a lot of public anger, and this is a pretty touchy subject for a lot of americans. Honestly, when all is said and done, I don't really give 2 shits if they build it there. It doesn't affect me, and I think there are bigger things to worry about. However, a lot of people DO give 2 shits, and I think understandably so. Even if the intention is to spread Islamic peace around the site of the most notorious Islamic extremist attack ever perpetrated, I think maybe they would be wise to rethink the decision. Again, I feel like they have the freedom to do what they want, but I also think that maybe being courteous to the feelings of the people whose family members were killed by extremists might be the more prudent thing to do here. Call the people who oppose this bigots if you want, but had the Japanese tried to build a big cultural center right next to Pearl Harbor a few years after it occurred, I'm pretty sure there would have been a lot of pist of Americans and a lot of opposition, and lets be honest-nobody would be calling anyone a bigot.

Fish Nat!on said...

Also, I always feel like reading something out loud makes it difficult to convey the humor. I never read my blogs out loud to people, because they don't even sound funny to me, when read out loud.

Dave said...

This comment is going to be in a few parts:

first of all, we both agree that legality and wisdom are different questions. Nobody is serioiusly arguing about what is legal. Nobody is arguing that Muslims should or should not be "allowed" to build a mosque anywhere they can buy the land. We all know that is not the debate.

The debate is the wisdom of the building, its advisability.

I am not saying it is advisable or wise. It's just a PR move, like any other PR move -- cigarette companies donating millions to cancer research, etc. We can debate the advisability or appropriateness of any PR move.

I am sure it will (does) offend many people. I am just saying that the Muslim PR guys are making the bet that in the long run it will do more good than harm.
I am sure they foresaw the immediate reaction, and I am sure that they are betting that it would eventually die out, but after it does, the mosque would still stand and they could have a positive impact on the city that a crazy person devastated.

Again, I am not saying it is a GOOD idea, I am not trained in PR, so I don't know if it's a good move. (I should watch more Mad Men.) I am just saying, this could be a legit reason for doing it.

It seems that many of the 70% that you reference think there is no legit reason for this mosque, they think the only reason why Muslims would adamantly decide to build on ground zero is to send the not-nice message of "suck it, America!"

Putting up a statue of Bin Laden at ground zero WOULD send that message. But that's not what this is.

I get the feeling that many people don't see the difference. To me, the fact that they don't see the difference between a hypothetical shrine to Bin Laden and a Mosque shows that they don't see the difference between Bin Laden and the Muslim religion, and (call me a bleeding heart liberal but ...) that IS bigotry -- I mean, think it through: there are more than a Billion (with a B) Muslims in the world, you can't expect one person's interpretation of the Quran to speak for the religion.

Bin Laden =/= muslim faith. To equate the two is blind and prejudicial, in other words, bigotry.

It may be that, from a PR standpoint, combatting bigotry is precisely the reason that non-violent Muslims may want to build a mosque right where that bigotry may be strongest.

Dave said...

I get that your argument is that if something is unpopular -- even if that unpopularity is fallacious or based on misunderatanding -- then it is not a good PR move. In other words, PR should follow the majority, whether the majority is "right" or "wrong." You have an excellent point in the business world.

The only place that point doesn't work, is in religion. In religion, majorities often matter less than what the leaders feel is "right." (Think: Prop 8 backlash against Mormons).

Another possible explanation for the decision to build a mosque at GZ could be that some leader, somewhere, while acknowledging the unpopularity of the decision, feels that it is the right thing to do. I can't say why he (it most certainly is a he) feels that way. But that changes the "advisability" calculation too.

Like you, I don't care where they build. I DO care that other people care so much. That shows a deeper problem. And, in fact, it is the same underlying problem that caused 9/11 in the first place -- misunderstanding and intolerance. PLEASE dont misconstrue my last statement (which is just BEGGING to be misconstrued) I am not saying that people who are offended by the idea of a mosque at ground zero are murderers at heart or even that they don't like muslims, I am just saying that if they tried to articulate a legitimate reason for their distate of the project it would probably show that they conflate Bin Laden with the muslim religion, and that is a misunderstanding, which will lead to intolerance.

So, in summary, I guess what I am trying to say is, I think your baseball idea is a good one. Not because it will be popular, but because it is the right thing to do. And I will tolerate it.

Fish Nat!on said...

I hope by "misunderstanding and intolerance" that caused 9/11, you mean extremist intolerance. If you meant something else, you are treading murky waters indeed.

As to your previous comment, if you were the mold for the [B][M]illions of gingers that exist, I would love all gingers. Unfortunately, most aren't 'Dave's' so I guess that's why I am a bigot.

Fish Nat!on said...

Also, (not defending bigotry here) I think if ever there was a broad sentiment of bigotry that "makes sense," (don't crucify me here, I'm not defending it, just saying I understand it) it is this. I mean, the towers were dropped by Islamic extremists destroying the Christian infidels. I mean in reality, (and this IS a reality) Islam is pretty intolerant of christianity. Good luck building a christian church in Iran. Or Saudi Arabia. Or wherever. I understand that we are in america, and we don't do shit like everywhere else. My only point here is I GET the bigotry. Again, let me emphasize I am not sympathizing with or supporting it. I am just saying that, is it really a surprise? Does it necessarily mean that there is a deep seeded, disturbing problem in America? I think a lot of negative press by dudes blowing them selves up, cutting off heads with knives, and blowing up soldiers with road side bombs is making it difficult for a lot of Americans to see the peaceful side of Islam.

I think you are right, that many Americans in opposition to the mosque do equate Bin Laden with Islam, which is a fallacy. However, I think it is also true that many people CORRECTLY equate Islam with intolerance. So maybe it is a little hard to feel bad about being intolerant of an intolerant religion, for a lot of people.

But, on the same token, I'm not saying christianity is completely intolerant. We have our struggles, obviously. But, there are a hell of a lot more mosques in "christian" countries, than crosses in "Muslim" countries.

Just a thought.

Dave said...

racist bastard. gingervitis is a debilitating disease that hundreds of people are born with, and we can't do anything about it.

Please see:


For the facts

Roxy said...

I started reading the comments, but they just became too long. And serious. Your idea trumps all other ideas. That close is too close. The church would never create that kind of controversy, simply out of the respect of the citizens. There are bigger fish to fry out there. So many fish they are practically floating to the top of the gulf. From what I hear.

Fish Nat!on said...

I wish I was a fisherman in the gulf. It would be so easy, just scooping them off the top. I don't know what they are all bitching about down there. Seize the day, fishermen.