I’ve never done a “low quality webcam video speaking to camera” thing before, but felt compelled to do so on this issue. I’m surprised more people haven’t spoken up.
If you get bored or hate videos, here’s a loose summary of the what I had to say:
- Feelings of anger, loss, sadness and fear about 9/11 and the resulting wars are real – and are worthy of acknowledgment, empathy and respect.
- One definition of wisdom is care in choosing how convert feelings into actions. A valid feeling can be used as motivation for actions which we regret or betray our better natures.
- Freedom is not convenient. The idea is not just the pursuit of our freedom, but recognizing, despite how inconvenient or unpleasant it is for us, that it’s critical others can pursue their freedom too.
- Private property law is clear. The building is being sold by an owner of private property.
- The Bill of Rights – The first amendment says, in part, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”.
- If you don’t agree with 4 or 5, your argument is not with this mosque. It’s the same law that allows the other churches, temples and other places of worship to exist in NYC and elsewhere. And explains why the Mayor of NYC, who actually lives there, is in support of the Mosque (video / transcript). What is legal is not necessity right – I agree. But for American citizens we should be erring on the side of granting rights.
- Al Qaeda is not a nation. It’s not a religion. This is not 51 Al Qaeda place. If it were, the argument “don’t let known terrorists build buildings”, near WTC or anywhere else, would be universally supported. If it turns out this building will house criminals or terrorists, or illegal behavior of any kind, we could stop it purely on those grounds. And being under the watchful eye of the same NYPD whose heroes died on 9/11, and who watches over the other mosques in the neighborhood seems like good choices. And more positively, if the occupants are peaceful and good for the community, wouldn’t that be best for everyone involved? Wouldn’t that be the last thing our enemies would want to see?
- It’s bad logic to confuse the act of one person with acts of an entire group, nation or religion. Even if the majority of a group behaved in ways not to our liking, a law-abiding American citizen should still be judged based on their own actions. We wouldn’t object to a Christian shrine near Oklahoma city, despite the affiliations of the people who caused that tragedy (see comments).
- Approximately 3000 people were killed at WTC on 9/11/2001. There were 16000 murders in the U.S. last year. Since 50% of American’s are Protestant and 23 % Catholic, we can assume most of these homicides were done by Protestants and Catholics. Should we ban those kinds of temples near the burial grounds for those people? Ask that they not be within a certain distance of where certain murders occurred? Even if somehow the poor logic of #8 is defended, it’s not consistent with our behavior for other tragedies and for good reason.
- The WTC was more than 2 buildings – it’s a 16 acre site. This is enormous for any city, much less the extreme density of NYC. The proposed mosque site is 2 city blocks away – about 600 feet (see this potent map here). In your neighborhood two blocks might not seem far, but In NYC this is a large distance. There are many things you might find equally disrespectful to you, or a memorial, in the same radius: from strip clubs, to off track betting sites, to empty and abandoned buildings. The culture and standards for this area are incredibly diverse.
- A better focus for outrage is the WTC site itself, which after 9 years still has no proper memorial, and is still locked in planning debates. I suspect much of the outrage at the proposed mosque is misplaced outrage for the owners and organizers of the WTC site.
- We are all prone to error. And given the choice of erring to a) slide into choosing which Americans have which freedoms within how much distance from what kinds of special places, vs. b) having to deal with the existence of something some people don’t like a few blocks away, where they can easily avoid it (or might never even stumble upon it altogether), seems like an easy trade. We will make mistakes in either direction, but mistakes towards b are far less dangerous.
- Rather than expending energy protesting and being angry about things you do not like, a better application of that same energy might be putting it towards something good – I’ve spent hours thinking about this issue which helps no one – So I decided to do something good and donated $250 to fund a group that supports the families of injured or killed NYC Police and Firefighters, the actual heroes of the event at the center of this entire debate .