The 5-Minute Mosque: The Ground Zero Mosque

Everyone and his dog has felt compelled to issue an instant opinion on the prospect of a $100 million mosque being built near ground zero. Sophisticated progressives have predictably come down on the side of building the mosque and lecturing the hoi polloi on their intolerance. Now the NY Times comes up with a timely article about Tea Parties protesting mosques "around the nation"
While a high-profile battle rages over a mosque near ground zero in Manhattan, heated confrontations have also broken out in communities across the country where mosques are proposed for far less hallowed locations.

In Murfreesboro, Tenn., Republican candidates have denounced plans for a large Muslim center proposed near a subdivision, and hundreds of protesters have turned out for a march and a county meeting.

In late June, in Temecula, Calif., members of a local Tea Party group took dogs and picket signs to Friday prayers at a mosque that is seeking to build a new worship center on a vacant lot nearby.

In Sheboygan, Wis., a few Christian ministers led a noisy fight against a Muslim group that sought permission to open a mosque in a former health food store bought by a Muslim doctor.

At one time, neighbors who did not want mosques in their backyards said their concerns were over traffic, parking and noise — the same reasons they might object to a church or a synagogue. But now the gloves are off.

In all of the recent conflicts, opponents have said their problem is Islam itself. They quote passages from the Koran and argue that even the most Americanized Muslim secretly wants to replace the Constitution with Islamic Shariah law.

These local skirmishes make clear that there is now widespread debate about whether the best way to uphold America’s democratic values is to allow Muslims the same religious freedom enjoyed by other Americans, or to pull away the welcome mat from a faith seen as a singular threat.

“What’s different is the heat, the volume, the level of hostility,” said Ihsan Bagby, associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky. “It’s one thing to oppose a mosque because traffic might increase, but it’s different when you say these mosques are going to be nurturing terrorist bombers, that Islam is invading, that civilization is being undermined by Muslims.”

You know, whatever. All these people calling for "tolerance" probably have the right idea because tolerance is all anyone determined to build a mosque at Ground Zero deserves. And by "tolerance," I don't mean pompous speeches from Mike Bloomberg and an annual Pride Parade. I mean, real tolerance of the grit-your-teeth/don't-say-anything-if-you-can't-say-anything-nice variety. Honestly, am I saying anything controversial if I point out that the the level of anti-Christian/anti-American bias in the Muslim world is exponentially greater than the equivalent in the United States against Muslims? I hope not. See, it's hard to be tolerant - or even particularly welcoming - when you know the same courtesy would never be extended to you.

Still, you know what would make a Ground Zero Mosque go down better? How about a freakin' Ground Zero Memorial? Yeah, I know there's one that's going to be there at some indefinite time in the future. But, right now there's just a hole in the ground. It's been nearly nine years, and no one can seem to figure out how to replace the buildings that were knocked down or remember the thousands of innocents who died on that terrible day. Is there any doubt that the Ground Zero Mosque will be open for business before anything else gets done?

There are a thousand reasons, I'm sure, for the dilatory resolution of Ground Zero development. Ask anyone in the Bloomberg administration, and you'll doubtless hear a lot of hushed talk about the many stakeholders involved, the bureaucratic red tape, the landowners, the Port Authority, and the catch-all "sensitivities." All true, I'm sure. But, the exact same people who seem to be unable to cope with the competing interests in Lower Mannhatten, have gone out of their way to rush the Ground Zero Mosque through the permitting process. That's what really irks.

It's another example of our brave new "can't do" society, where a legal thicket exists to thwart the will of the people, while the politically favored are ushered in past the line to the best table in the house.

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