The Muslim Mosque Set-Up: A Project You Cannot Possibly Be Against

by Martin Peretz | August 6, 2010

Now that Tom Friedman has endorsed the construction of an Islamic center at Ground Zero no one can be against it. But since he has not even made a real argument for it, aside from recounting his experience at a Broadway jamboree in the White House where the only Muslim name was the president’s middle one, which is nothing more than a non sequitur, the column stands alone with neither evidence nor logic. 

Still, everybody is for it...except Abe Foxman and the Anti-Defamation League who are correct but had better keep quiet lest they bare the stigma of prejudice that comes from being against something whose only justification is that it has no reason.

So what is the real positive excuse for a mosque at Ground Zero? Perhaps to demonstrate that we don’t hold anything against the men who did it. Or to show that we have nothing against the culture from which they came. And nothing against the societies across all Islam which cheered the news of the three thousand dead. But, of course, these are not accurate assertions of our emotions, then or now. Even as we try to understand them we despise them. No mosque built on the ground where mothers and fathers, children and grandparents, relatives and friends and lovers were sacrificed will ever console or conciliate. At best, it will remind of the cool brutality and fierce passion that animated these ghoulish people of faith to murder on a scale so huge almost to daunt the imagination. Ironically it will backfire because it will (rightly) remind the visitors of the religious identity of the perpetrators. And, of course, the imagination was daunted only by the conscientious American decision-makers who deprived the polis of the true images of maimed bodies, broken limbs, desperate souls flying through the air perhaps to land where the kadhi will intone the principles of the Muslim faith which almost no one believes are as Barack Hussein Obama says they are.

Given the absence of a logical explanation for this mosque, the ex cathedra reason is that it is a monument to the American credo of the freedom of religion. But that is surely insincere, at least on the part of the Islamic prayer house sponsors who are more motivated to slip under the First Amendment protections here than to make them their own anywhere else. Islam in New York would have been just as free ten blocks away

In fact, the presence of an Islamic place of prayer at the sight of the human catastrophe of 9/11 will be an insult to the dead, our dead. It would be as if Japan were to erect a museum about its delicate treatment of women, and to erect that museum precisely in Nanking, China. Or Germany to establish a series of Goethe Institutes where the Vilna Ghetto and the concentration camp of Maidanek once stood. Or, for that matter, Serbia might be accommodated to construct a monument to its sufferings under the Nazis in Srebrenica where it later murdered 10,000 Bosnians.

I am as much for understanding and reconciliation as the next man. But there are dark places where the only appropriate emotions are anger and grief.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/the-spine/76845/the-muslim-mosque-set-project-you-cannot-possibly-be-against