It’s really very simple.
Feisal Abdul Rauf has a perfect right to build an Islamic community center 2 blocks from Ground Zero. He has a legal right, and he has a moral right. He has a fundamental constitutional right.
Nobody has any right to stop him from building that community center. Not even the family and friends of 9/11 victims. Neither a legal right, nor a moral right.
And it may be true that some family members of 9/11 victims who have made a name for themselves as professional exploiters of 9/11 have opposed the Cordoba House community center. However, that is hardly even close to being — as the media would have you believe — a majority opinion among family and friends of 9/11 victims.
For example, September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, a group of more than 250 families, has “strongly” supported the community center. Funny how you never heard about that, isn’t it?
Josh Marshall points out that “none of the 9/11 Families groups who actually seem to be membership organizations made up of families of the victims seem to have taken positions on the mosque issue at all.”
Michael Daly of the New York Daily News, had five friends who were New York city firemen. All five were at the twin towers on 9/11. Four died; one survived, and he has filed a lawsuit against the Cordoba House community center project. Daly wrote an emotional piece for the New York Daily News, explaining why he strongly disagrees with his surviving friend:
As I stood at the planned site of the mosque near Ground Zero Saturday morning, I remembered nights laughing at a big round table in Zinno’s restaurant, a newspaper guy with five friends from the Fire Department, the finest, bravest and most fun people I ever knew.
I could see them all, intensely alive in the way of the FDNY’s very best, Mychal Judge, Pat Brown, Terry Hatton, Dennis Mojica and Tim Brown.
All save Tim were killed on 9/11. Tim was a brother to Pat not by blood, but spirit, as he was to the four others.
Tim and Terry embraced just before Terry headed up into the north tower. Tim went to the south tower, where he saved lives and somehow escaped with his own.
Since then, Tim has retired from the FDNY, but continued to be a brother to his comrades, honoring their memory and doing whatever he possibly could for their families.
With the truest of hearts and the protectiveness of a brother, he has remained suspicious of those planning to build the mosque near Ground Zero. He has asked why they want to put it there and where the money is coming from. He has not been satisfied with the answers.
After the city Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the project, Tim filed a lawsuit to stop it. He remains one of the leading voices in opposition.
How I wish I did not so strongly disagree with him and agree with our mayor and now our President.
Nobody could sway me more than Tim when it comes to Ground Zero. But I cannot help feeling that if we block this mosque we will not only be doing what Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh want, we will also be doing exactly what Osama Bin Laden wants.
On the day it murdered Mychal and Pat and Terry and Dennis and so many others, Al Qaeda was looking to hijack more than jetliners. The killers’ ultimate goal was and is hijacking Islam itself.
…to reach its ultimate goal, it still needs us to convince the majority of Muslims that the war on terror is really a war on Islam.
We are only helping the bad guys if we declare that the religious freedom at the core of our democracy does not apply to a mosque too close to Ground Zero.
Maybe it is my own anger at the murder of my friends that gives me such a visceral reaction against doing what it seems clear the killers want us to do.
Of course, the likes of Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh don’t care if they end up doing Osama bin Laden’s work for him. Palin cares only about exploiting this for divisive political purposes and for raising money. Limbaugh cares only only about exploiting this for higher ratings and making more money. And they are perfectly willing to fan the flames of stupid and idiotic bigotry in order to achieve their ends.