Friday, September 10, 2010


And that, of course, is a big part of the problem. Nine years on after the savage anti-civilian terrorist attack on downtown New York City, there is still a giant emptiness where the World Trade Center used to stand. A combination of turf battles, political grandstanding, and architectural one-upsmanship in a competition for new frontiers in bad taste have left the healing of this devastating destruction not only unfinished, but essentially unbegun.

There are many voices (and I add mine) saying that, had those charged with the World Trade Center renaissance actually done their job in a reasonable amount of time, and were the gaping hole in the Manhattan skyline even partially filled with a building project of respectable and meaningful design, today's controversy over the building of a nearby mosque, and the scheduled 'Operation Savonarola' Pseudo-Baptist Tent Revival and Koran Roast might not be headed for white-hot tomorrow, as they spill over into what should be a day of sombre remembrance and contemplation.

My own thought on this controversy has evolved. When I first heard about the plan for the mosque I felt resigned to its coming, in the name of the basic American principles of freedom of religion and private property rights (subject to all the standard and universally applied local regulations, blah blah).

I didn't like the idea -- I hated it with a passion, in fact, as I pondered the establishment of an ongoing presence of thousands of voices chanting 'Allahu Akbar', in chilling echo, week in and week out, of the words repeated by those who had their hands on the throttles of the fatal airplanes in three locations on September 11. But I could not see any rational way, within law or logic, to argue against, much less prevent, the building of this ill-conceived worship-cube.

What turned me around, and provided what I think is the best argument for putting a stop to the project, is the mounting evidence that the man behind the mosque is one whose associations and pronouncements should preclude him setting up any sort of institution, on grounds of being a potential national security risk. It seems fairly clear-cut that this is one bad dude.

The 'jihadist triumphalism' aspect of his having laid hold of this particular piece of real estate also seems pretty clear-cut, though that in itself, repugnant as it is, is probably not enough to justify stopping him. But it is enough to so thoroughly peeve the vast majority of the American populace, that what could have been justified was a swift and tidy designation of the 150-year-old building as a historical landmark and thus off-limits for transformation into the Big Glass Mosque. But the committee found itself in line with Mayor Bloomberg, and declined the designation. So here we sit.

It's enough to make some people want to go right out and burn a Koran. How many people? Fifty or so -- maybe a hundred if the Fred Phelps crazies join up with the Terry Jones crazies (which apparently has been known to happen).

And what these five score whack-jobs have set their minds to has caused countless folks in places high and low to denounce their plans and implore them not to go forward -- folks right up to and including the Commander of US Forces Afghanistan and everybody else in uniform over there, General David Petraeus.

My view of this situation has evolved a bit too -- or perhaps revolved. At first I was cheering on the denunciations from people like Petraeus. Then all sorts of voices chimed in with the notion that it is absurd for such prominent people to make a huge public response to the dumb-arse antics of a couple of obscure crackpots. Osama bin Laden, of unhappy memory, once described the United States as 'the weak horse', and it can be argued, persuasively, that the horse couldn't possibly look weaker than in a moment where the top military commander is begging restraint of some hick preacher, in order to protect his own troops.

Well, there's some truth in that. Perhaps the General would be less concerned about violent reaction to Pastor Jones if he had enough troops and a firm commitment from his Commander-in-Chief, sufficient that he could confidently turn around and vaporize anybody who decides to go medieval on his guys.

Of course, part of the concern that has the President and others appealing to Pastor T.J. to call off the torch brigade is the belief that repercussions may be felt, and innocents cut down, all over the globe, not just in the United States or its theatres of war. And, yeah, nobody wants to see that. But the more I thought about that, the more I had to admit that if other countries, like Britain or Denmark or Spain or wheresoever, have left themselves so vulnerable to civil unrest as to fear the consequences of the Reverend Loopy-Tunes' bonfire of the inanities, is it really our problem?

What has happened here is that we have a vague contingent of Islamo-fascist thugs, of unknown number, across the globe, who are holding intimidated societies for ransom -- and we are carrying on discussions as to whether it is morally necessary, or completely degrading, to try and head off the coming church-parking-lot-tailgate conflagration in order to avoid their wrath. It's come to this. And the arguments on both sides make some sense.

Imam Rauf, guiding force behind the mosque, gives lip service to 'sensitivity' and the 'healing' purpose of what he wants to build, but nobody's buying it, nor should they. When Donald Trump's offer to buy him out of the property is turned down flat, and he goes on television to warn the public of the consequences if he is thwarted, we know exactly what is riding on this project for the Imam and his cohort.

This thing should not happen -- because the mosque is religiously unnecessary (there's another one 10 blocks away, and several more in the city), and the man behind it is unfit for the privilege of constructing the scenic illusion within which he will clothe himself as a prophet of good will, understanding, and compromise. Bollocks and bah humbug. There should be no Ground Zero Mosque.

There are those who say we would not care so much if we had built more on the WTC site than a couple of beams of light.
I disagree. Imam Rauf would not be welcome to promulgate his skewed ideas even if he were to build his glass victory monument in the shadow of a hundred stories where the emptiness is now -- not welcome on the ground where pieces of the fatal airplanes smashed through the 150-year-old building and made it ripe for plucking down by this opportunistic deceiver.

September 11, 2010. Let us pray on this day for all those who lost a loved one on that day, pray especially that nothing will be built of glass and steel and stone which could only press the pain upon their hearts with ever greater weight and permanence.