nimby pimby

8/16/10

I’ve been asked to put up a blog about the “mosque” (actually an Islamic Cultural Center) that’s being put up (actually just proposed) at Ground Zero (actually two blocks away), and I suppose I have some fairly unpredictable feelings about it that don’t normally mesh with my usual political leanings… but before I do, I’m more interested in how you, the general reading public, feels about it.

Be honest, pick an anonymous animal if that allows you to speak more freely, and bust it wide open.

0 thoughts on “nimby pimby

  1. Kelly in NC

    I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about since I haven’t paid a huge amount of attention to this issue. But why let ignorance get in the way, right?
    These people (whoever they are) have every right to put their Islamic cultural center wherever they like within the bounds of local zoning laws etc. It’s a free country, freedom of religion, all that.
    But I do question the wisdom of pursuing such a provocative location. Just because you *can* do something doesn’t mean you *should*.

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  2. Sean

    Actually living in New York, this whole thing is utterly assinine. It’s New York. You very often have to travel as much as a half block before the entire neighborhood changes. If they decided to build a mosque that covers the entirety of Ground Zero, then it would last about a month before the guys running the joint would fail to pay the rent.
    There’s no question about this. Two blocks from my house is a dentist, and the entire awning is in Arabic. On Easter the Greek Orthodox church four blocks from our house set off fireworks *AT MIDNIGHT*. We just shrug it off.
    The longest running show on Broadway doesn’t have an awning. It’s the radical black muslims in Times Square talking about the white man and Jews. Everyone just walks by. It’s New York.

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  3. LFMD

    First – Ground Zero was the final resting place for thousands of Americans. I do not think anything should be “built” on the spot at all. If we must build, then create a thoughtful memorial site, not another giant skyscraper.
    Second – I do not want the mosque near Ground Zero. My reaction is a knee-jerk one based on gut emotion. “Free country, freedom of religion”, etc. arguments don’t work on me on this issue. Put the mosque elsewhere, please.

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  4. Anne

    We are bigger (as a people, as a nation) than this. This is not (AFAIK) a branch office of Al Qaeda. It is a community center and place of worship. Show the world what we’re made of, and I hope what we’re made of is tolerance and freedom. That being said, I do agree it’s a bit tone-deaf as a proposition. But life is never guaranteed to be about easy choices.

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  5. Bud

    I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the construction of a Christian Cultural Center had been blocked in Kabul, Islamabad or Tehran – those cities aren’t in countries founded on freedom of religion.
    New York is, so unless the proposed center violates some zoning law, I say let it happen. Let us continue to be a shining beacon of openness and tolerance. Maybe other religions can also open cultural centers nearby so that we can all spend a little time learning about each other instead just reiterating our prejudices.

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  6. littlerattyratratrat

    Religious bigotry, plain and simple. It’s not the Moslems who hate us for our freedom, it’s Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich and their ilk, the ones who’ve taken a non-mosque not at Ground Zero and made it into an excuse for preaching religious hatred for their own political gain.

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  7. bashful badger

    Maybe I’m being obtuse about this, but I don’t understand the issue. Well I do… but I don’t.
    Is the problem that 9/11 is still “too fresh”? Could they build the mosque/cultural center two blocks away from Ground Zero if they waited 5 more years? What about 10? 50? How long do Muslims have to wait before something like that is okay? What’s the statute of limitations?
    Is the problem the proximity to Ground Zero? Two blocks is “too close”… how about 5 blocks? 6 blocks? How far away does it have to move until it’s okay?
    Like I said, I don’t really understand the issue. I understand what people are claiming the issues are… but I have yet to hear any really compelling arguments against it that don’t include anti-Islamic remarks or sentiment.
    Is it important to know where the funding is coming from? Sure. But do I care if they want to build a mosque at, near, around, far away from, or beside Ground Zero? No. I also don’t care if they want to build a church, a synagogue, a Chipotle, a McDonald’s, a Forever 21, or a Target.

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  8. tregen

    What is it that people mean when they say “They hate us for our freedoms?”
    What rights do we send soldiers all over the world to protect?
    Why, despite all the bitching and groaning, will the people of this country rise and fight like know people in history… if truly threatened?
    I believe that most Americans truly believe in the bill of rights. More specifically, first amendment rights of separation of church and state, freedom of Religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to assemble, and the right to redress redress. The concepts become part of our personality and belief systems, regardless of which political side your own, your religion, or or sexual orientation. Everyone accepts these rights and cherishes them.
    So, what can we do as a people to recognize and honor those motherfuckers who hijacked those planes and rammed them into our hearts? We can turn our backs on those principles above. Fail to stand up and fight for freedom of religion. Adopt their bigotry and hate and tell Muslims all over the world that, in fact, those fringe fundamentalist crazies, were right.
    I believe the our strength is our resiliency. Yes, we get mighty pissed off and yes, we strike out and get violent when we get knocked down or sucker punched, but this country always gets back up, looking just like that Statute in NY harbor, and says, “Fuck You…. is that all you got?”
    I tear up every time I think about 09/11 and it hurts me to think about those times, but please, please, please remember those hundreds of thousands have given up their lives for those principles and we should not so carelessly throw them away like a used tissue because of the pain in our hearts. Rather, I propose, to build that Islamic Center any to celebrate it’s opening and prove to those who don’t want to believe it, that we stand behind those principles that make this country.

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  9. another anon

    I’ve never lived in NYC. My brother lives there, and the city is very dear to me, but I don’t pretend to know what it must have been like for New Yorkers on 9/11 or what it’s been like for them and victims’ families since then.
    What I do know is that most of the objections I’ve personally heard from people around here are based solely on religious bigotry and hatred.
    One of my coworkers (a self-proclaimed “patriot” who claims to love his country and the Constitution) said yesterday that if it’s built, every New Yorker should go by and leave a pound of bacon on the steps of the “victory mosque” as a “welcome to the neighborhood” message for them.
    That’s not the kind of America I want to live in, and it’s exactly why I’m okay with building this cultural center. Like Anne, Bud and others said… show the world what we’re really made of (and what we were founded on) – religious tolerance, and freedom to practice whatever religion you like.

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  10. Chuck B.

    I live in NYC, and I believe strongly that they should be allowed to build it. Plain and simple, the government should not be in the business of deciding which religions can build structures in which locations. Others have raised some of these points as well, but let me debunk a couple of arguments being used by those opposing the building:
    – The “sacred ground” theory: Within two blocks of Ground Zero, there is a strip joint, a horse-betting parlor, a McDonalds and countless places selling shitty luggage. The notion that some buffer zone of approved businesses is required around Ground Zero is silly. As Bashful Badger said, why not 5 blocks? Why not a mile? Why not ban Muslim facilities from Manhattan altogether?
    – The “there are no churches permitted in Tehran” theory: Oh great, now we are holding ourselves to the standards of one of the most oppressive regimes in the world? That’s a race to the bottom I don’t want to run. The US is supposed to hold the high moral ground, to do the right thing for freedom and liberty, even if that is difficult or offensive to some groups. We are supposed to be the standard that OTHERS aspire to, not the other way around.
    – The “But Muslims were the attackers” theory: Timothy McVeigh was Christian. If someone wanted to build a church within 2 blocks of the Oklahoma City bombing site, would you oppose that as well? The religion of the perpetrators of this horrific terrorist act should not disqualify other Muslims from being able to worship freely.
    I understand the emotional impact of having a Muslim center close to Ground Zero, but our commitment to religious freedom cannot be compromised by emotions. It must remain steadfast even in the face of difficult decisions.

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  11. michelle

    What Bud, another anon, and the others said, and then some. I was a New Yorker living below 14th Street during 9/11. This doesn’t make my opinion any more or less valid. But the level of compassion and understanding that erupted in that city immediately post 9/11 is the Coastopia in which I want to live. I too haven’t heard one argument against the mosque that isn’t (not even thinly veiled) racism and intolerance and ignorance. Like Jeannie said, we don’t persecute Christians as a whole when they pull really wretched shit, but we are SO happy to persecute Muslims or any other religion that isn’t Christianity. I find this sad, boring, ridiculous. I was so happy to see Obama endorse the building of the mosque – it showed balls that he’s been missing of late.

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  12. Steve Williams

    The argument that this development should not be allowed, or even that it isn’t “wise,” can only be based on a belief that all Muslims share responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. And that’s bigotry, pure and simple.
    The ADL’s argument is that it will make people uncomfortable. By that argument, it would be OK to keep Jews out of your neighborhood.
    I don’t know what the heck Rick Lazio was trying to say on the News Hour last night, but it was amazing and distressing to watch Gwen Ifill try to keep him and the Muslim mayor of Teaneck, NJ, on topic:
    http://twitter.com/sbw/status/21370351674
    Yes, to me it seems the people behind the development are being provocative. But so was Rosa Parks. Sometimes making a point is the right thing to do.

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  13. MarkC

    Seriously, I mean seriously, we are spilling ink over this “issue.” One of the founding principles of this country, even before it was a country, was religious freedom (the Mayflower landing (1620) was over 150 years, before the Constitution’s First Amendment 1791). The Daily Show had a great line last night about painting an entire religion by its worst adherents, and then raised the question of whether Catholic Churches should be “allowed” to be located near playgrounds. Worth watching.
    We have plenty of things we need to be working on as a country, and this is just a stupid distraction by people trying to generate a campaign issue by appealing to base emotions and ignorance among the electorate. It is things like this that make me wonder just how stupid the people of this country are, they never seem to fail to shock me with their lack of sophistication.
    Now speaking of the Mayflower, let’s not forget that their descendents gave us the Salem witch trails, should we ban Christian Churches from Salem, Mass? I mean I just think it is insensitive to the ……

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  14. dean

    I see both sides of this issue — although the Muslims have a RIGHT to build the mosque there, I don’t think it is WISE.
    I tend to defer to the people that are most affected by some of the saddest chapters in our nation’s history. For example, I understand why folks in NY/NJ/CT don’t want the mosque, especially when the mosque’s imam is not exactly Mr. TLC.
    I understand why folks in HI may not want something honoring the Japanese. I understand why African-Americans may not want the Rebel flag. I understand why American Indians don’t love The Trail of Tears. I understand why a decent human being wouldn’t want anything pertaining to dook.
    In these example, it can’t be said that ALL Japanese were evil, that all Southerners were evil, or that all Americans were evil. Similarly, all Muslims are not evil. The last example . . . ok . . . whatever.
    The woman that lives next door to me is a widow. Her husband died soon after being diagnosed with bone cancer. He dies too damn soon. Since then, all the other men on the cul-de-sac are instinctively protective of her. We all pitch in and help her with various things and we all also make sure no unruly kids are loitering near her house. We don’t HAVE to do this, but we subconsciously understand that it is natural to take care of the people that have been unfairly victimized.
    In the case of the mosque, NY/NJ/CT has been unfairly victimized. In the balacing test of this issue, I am ok with leaning towards taking care of them instead of rigidly protecting the First Amendment rights of this Imam and his folks. They can build a mosque elsewhere.

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  15. dob

    The fact that we’re even having this debate makes me sick to my stomach.
    I never thought I’d look back on the Bush administration as a high point for compassion and decency on the part of the GOP. Note that says far more about the demagogues running the GOP now than it does about the merits of the Bush administration.

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  16. Chuck B.

    Several items in Dean’s response are worth addressing, I think.
    “Although the Muslims have a RIGHT to build the mosque there, I don’t think it is WISE…. They can build a mosque elsewhere.” Yes, they CAN build it elsewhere. No one is arguing that. The question is, MUST they build is elsewhere? Once you decide that the government would be overstepping its rights by forbidding it, then the rest of the discussion become irrelevant. Do I wish they build it elsewhere? Yes. Do I think the government should interfere and forbid them from doing so? Absolutely not.
    “All the other men on the cul-de-sac are instinctively protective of her.” I don’t think this analogy holds up to scrutiny. There is a big difference between what private citizens volunteer to do to support a victim and what a government mandates. What you and your neighbors are doing is admirable. It has nothng to do with the issue of whether a single religion should prevented from doing something any other religion would be permitted to do.
    “I am ok with leaning towards taking care of them instead of rigidly protecting the First Amendment rights.” Perhaps this is the crux of the issue, and honest people can disagree on this. I for one believe that the First Amendment SHOULD be rigid, and that we should strive to apply it consistently and fairly in all circumstances. Once you start deciding who gets First Amendment rights and who doesn’t, I think you totally lose the plot of what freedom is supposed to mean in this countrry. I hate that the KKK has the right to publicly protest in front of NAACP offices. That offends me greatly. But taking away their right to do so offends me more.

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  17. kevin from NC

    I agree with Kelly from NC. I have no problem with it. Due to its timing, it has become a political issue that the president should have stayed clear of and helped escalate.
    I read there is a mosque 4 blocks away already. Honestly, I think had the issue come up in January it would hardly be noticed.

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  18. dob

    Kevin: The president should have remained silent in the face of this religious demagoguery from the right-wingers? They’re the ones that made this a political issue. The president re-affirming his commitment to the Constitution is, I think, quite literally the least he could do.

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  19. Anon

    For me, the point here is that had the right wing nuttjob blogosphere (amplified by Palin and Gingrich) not picked up on this, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.
    The community center would have been built (or not) in accordance with the local zoning laws of NYC. Once built, the local community would have welcomed it (or not).
    Instead, Palin and Gingrich picked up on this from the blogs, smelled blood in the water, and pounced.

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  20. d

    I confess to not understanding this issue. Not for lack of effort. I have yet to read or hear something that offers a coherent explanation of why it wouldn’t be “right” or “wise” or “fair” to build a muslim community center downtown. I’m not being sarcastic — I seriously don’t understand the issue. leaving aside the legal aspect — which everyone seems to agree on — that they have a right to build both under local zoning laws and under first amendment grounds, what is the reason for saying that it shouldn’t be built? because its proponents and congregation are muslim so therfore it would be a “tribute” to the terrorists? I think this is a sad and all-too-common monolithic american view of islam and muslims: all for one and one for all jihad forever, right? why is this sort of thinking condemned in other aspects but not here? I don’t even get why the proposal to build is viewed as tonedeaf. I am a lifelong new yorker, am sickened by the paralysis of the port authority and silverstein 9 years later (but that is the subject of another blog post), was personally touched by 9/11 in ways that need not be recounted here, but are only referenced to add why I would expect to understand both sides here, but I really, truly, have yet to hear a reason from the opponents of the project that provides any legitimate or even rational basis for the position. please enlighten me.

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  21. Piglet

    Last time I checked, the government didn’t have the right to tell people where and how they were allowed to worship. The Republican Party is demanding that the government regulate religion.
    Further, my understanding is as follows:
    1. The building in question is a 13-story, multi-use cultural center, a couple of floors of which will be used as a mosque. It is not going to be a big domed building identifiable as a house of worship.
    2. It is not at Ground Zero. It’s in a nearby neighborhood as distinct from the financial district as Harlem is from the upper west side.
    3. The mayor and the zoning commission have already approved the building. Most of the population of NYC doesn’t give a ripe turd about the project, and most of the opposition is coming from people in different states.
    4. The site was formerly a useless, vacant shell of a building. The rest of the block it is on is presently mostly useless, vacant shells.
    Given all that, it’s embarrassing that the project is considered controversial. Shame on the Republicans who are deliberately misrepresenting the project, and ESPECIALLY shame on the people who choose to believe it.

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  22. Palin for Alaska '12

    1. It’s a shame that otherwise intelligent people (many of whom are on this list) cannot distinguish between radical fundamentalists and people of the Muslim faith. They are night and day, yet so many people go with a “gut instinct” on it, no matter how wrong they are. Scary. Truly scary.
    2. It’s a shame that otherwise intelligent people would choose to have the Constitution turn flaccid on THIS issue, so that a mosque would not be built, but the very same otherwise intelligent people would stand strong and erect by the Constitution when it comes to things THEY cling to, like THEIR Christian religion or their guns.
    3. Can you imagine how these otherwise intelligent people would react if efforts were being made to get the government to intervene on a Christian church building project? They would be the first to cite to the Constitution and make all of the arguments the posters here have made. It would look like a medieval Crusade. This is why it hurts my head and I lose the ability to have discourse with anyone who buys into Palin and those of her ilk.
    4. It’s a shame that we’re still talking about this ‘hole in the ground’ like sacred earth nine years later. Something should have been done to the area, collectively referred to as Ground Zero, years ago. If it stirs such a collective passion in so many–most of whom aren’t even New Yorkers–then channel that energy into making something happen. Until then, you’ve made Ray Nagin look like a prophet and the Port Authority look like a false “profit”.
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/09/07/september11/main1984326.shtml

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  23. Owl

    Random observations from someone who has worked across the street from the proposed site since 1994:
    1. New York City presently has about 100 mosques. No matter what anyone says, this one will always be “The WTC Mosque.”
    2. One of the buildings at the site, then a Burlington Coat Factory, suffered a punctured roof when struck by aircraft landing gear on 9/11.
    3. Next door to the site is “The Dakota Roadhouse”: purveyor of alcoholic beverages and bacon cheeseburgers; favorite bar of burly, patriotic construction workers from WTC site.
    4. If the Cordoba or Park51 or whatever they are calling it now is built, I can watch all the tolerance from my office window.

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  24. John Galt

    I’d like to see someone follow the money behind this proposed project, but won’t be holding my breath waiting for it to happen. I’ve spent only a limited time in The Big Apple, but have an idea that the purchase and maintenance of two square blocks in Manhattan might be kinda expensive. Who is paying the bills? And if all they want is a mosque/community center, wouldn’t there be another place to put it that wouldn’t cause such a stir, and might actually be a bit more affordable? Muslims are famous for overreacting to any little slight we infidels make against them or their prophet. We’re expected to be cautious about offending them, yet they can pull something like this with impunity…
    I have an inkling that there is much more going on than what the folks planning this thing have let on. Doesn’t pass the smell test.
    http://www.tabletmag.com/news-and-politics/42700/why-cordoba/

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  25. Sean

    @John Galt – the title of your link is a bullet point from Gingrich’s speech, and unfortunately, it’s as ignorant. The “mosque” in Cordoba was turned back into a church. In the 1300s.
    They got the building for a little over 4 million, which is insane for New York real estate. Why so little? Because business down there is DEAD, it’s a ghost town in the blocks surrounding the WTC. And this center will bring commerce to the area. Much in the way the real John Galt would have wanted, and not some coward who hides behind his name.
    “Doesn’t pass the smell test” and “I just feel it with my gut” and “it’s a no-brainer” and “We all *know* what’s right, no matter what the facts are…” These are all tools of subversion that evil people use to control the imaginations of weak-minded people.

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  26. jp

    Ian, I might cry if you somehow come out against this mosque.
    As a good progressive who spent a couple of years living in Egypt, I gotta say I have no problem with it whatsoever. And, really, am incredibly irritated by the protests (especially given that two blocks in a big city can make a big difference). But, again, Muslims, to me, are pretty much just people who happen to practice a certain religion. Some of them are nuts, most of them are not.
    So the problem I see hear is with racism/Islamophobia/xenophobia whatever. Makes me sad.
    The only good part of this was hearing Bloomberg and Obama support it.

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  27. Salem

    I think the Mosque is a huge time and energy suck that cannot possibly create enough value to justify the time and money that will be wasted.
    Sure, they absolutely have the right to build their Mosque anywhere they wish. I believe they should have that right. I believe it’s a stupid ^$#%$%# right to want to exercise. We may be killing Muslims in war, but in America they are not being sent to segregated schools. They are not being denied equal treatment under the law. They are not being denied the right to marry. We are not burning down Mosques across America. There is simply more important shit to do.
    I fully expect Oliver Stone to film a documentary proving that Rupert Murdoch financed the effort to build the Mosque. It would be the perfect evil genius plan to keep our Country wasting time and energy.
    There are high school kids fighting more relevant fights than this BS.

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  28. Salem

    Why does a bad idea get to steal the national dialog?
    Sometimes you need to fight on principle.
    Sometimes you need to fight to defend your rights. Sometimes you need to take your bad idea and go home.

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  29. John Galt

    Sorry @sean; I didn’t catch Gingrich’s speech. Lemme get this straight; Gingrich brings up a point in a speech, and the idea — regardless of its veracity — is automatically discredited by the connection. And all along I thought it was the right-wingers who were the knee-jerk reactionists. Thanks for straightening that out for me. And for the record, cowardice is not my issue, just parents at a loss for what to name a kid; I would’ve picked something different.
    Love you too, T.J.

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  30. Piglet

    TJ, I think the “bad idea” Salem referred to was the batshit-insane “Let’s have government dictate religion” opposition to the cultural center, not the building of it.

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