Mosque is ‘a kick in the teeth’

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It is astounding that opponents of the mosque at Ground Zero have to explain their position when it is so plainly apparent to common sense: Ground Zero was created by a theologically motivated, well-organized, well-funded and trained faction of Islam that set out to murder American citizens. They ended up killing 3,000 people in the bloodiest terrorist attack in history.

Building a 13-story mosque and Islamic “community center” no more than 600 feet from that sacred ground is an outright affront. When the majority of New Yorkers and Americans say they are offended and they oppose that particular site for a place of Islamic worship, it is as simple as that — they are offended.

Those who say these feelings are motivated by bigotry only deepen the wounds, casually dismissing and tarring opponents as being morally deficient. Consider that even the families and friends of 9-11 victims are lumped into this characterization, and that truly is a moral outrage.

Bigotry is not the issue, but this project definitely could fuel ill-will toward Muslims. One New York City construction worker who is among many who refuse to work on the planned mosque explained his position perfectly and rebutted the bigotry charge: “Hell, you could do it next to my house in Rockaway Beach, [and] I would be fine with it. But I’m not fine with it where blood has been spilled.”

Precisely. If the mosque were being built anywhere else, just as hundreds have been across the country, there wouldn’t be a peep about it in the news. Freedom of religion is alive and well.

All this talk about the Ground Zero Mosque being justified by the constitutional right to freely worship is peripheral nonsense on more than one level. For starters, no one has a “right” to build anything anywhere they want, even a place of worship. There are planning and zoning boards across the country that constantly make decisions about what is appropriate to build in certain locations, and that was the case with the mosque; backers had to get local approval and they did, despite the opposition of most New Yorkers.

But even then, the controversy only begins: The issue is not just the right to build, but whether it is respectful and decent to do so.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the supposedly “moderate” cleric who is the main force behind the mosque, is remarkably stubborn in recognizing this question, declining to send representatives to meet with New York officials last week for discussions about an alternative building site.

Rauf has maintained the project is about “promoting integration, tolerance of difference and community cohesion” and that the mosque would promote “compassion, generosity and respect for all.”

Well, he’s off to a really bad start, judging from the cascade of news and commentary on the matter. The Ground Zero Mosque is, for many, a kick in the teeth that has no compassion, generosity or respect.

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