How a strip club “at” Ground Zero doesn’t cheapen the sanctity of Ground Zero, while an Islamic cultural center does, is only something a wannabe conquistador could fathom.
Robert Spencer is enraged at the wording used by Politico’s Ben Smith in describing the so-called Ground Zero mosque as “actually a few blocks north of the site…” For Spencer, anywhere you can see Ground Zero may be hallowed ground.
In the first place, the mosque will not be a few blocks away. I have been to the site, and can tell you: walk half a block down the street from the Burlington Coat Factory that is set to be the site of the mega-mosque, turn left, and you will see Ground Zero. Smith and Haberman have apparently never been to the site, as no one who has could characterize it as “a few blocks north.” It is actually just 600 feet away from Ground Zero.
See, since you can walk a half-block down from the proposed mosque site and then turn to your left and see Ground Zero from 600 feet away this means that the mosque is actually “at” Ground Zero. Right.
So next time you’re looking over the New York skyline from the Empire State Building, remember that you’re standing on hallowed ground even though you’re a mile away from Ground Zero. Or hey, looking at Ground Zero from Google Maps could even make your bedroom hallowed ground.
This is a game of semantics. Spencer is arguing that the mosque is not a few blocks away from Ground Zero, but a mere 600 feet away. So? The implication is that by being 600 feet away, the mosque “near” Ground Zero is in fact “at” Ground Zero. Therefore, the mosque shouldn’t be there. What’s silly about all this is that “the actual mosque location is surrounded by delis, coffeeshops, bars, offices — not to mention a strip club a few feet away from the proposed site,” as Danial Luban points out. None of these trivial and even erotic sites enrage Spencer like the mosque does. How a strip club “at” Ground Zero doesn’t cheapen the sanctity of Ground Zero, while an Islamic cultural center does, is only something a wannabe conquistador could fathom.
Spencer goes on:
But also, and more importantly, the Burlington Coat Factory building is in a larger sense part of Ground Zero. The landing gear from one of the jetliners hijacked on September 11, 2001 flew into the building that the Islamic supremacists want to tear down to construct their mosque. That makes this building part of the 9/11 attack site, and will make the mosque — in the eyes of the Islamic world — exactly what the Dome of the Rock is: a mosque of victory built right on the site of the Muslim defeat of the Infidels. The Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, built on the site of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, are declarations of the superiority of Islam over Judaism, and its victory over Judaism. The mosque at the Burlington Coat Factory site, built on the site — not near it, but on it, because of that landing gear — of the Islamic jihad attack on September 11, 2001, will be seen as a declaration of the superiority of Islam over the United States, and its victory over the American economic machine.
First, Spencer argues that the site of the proposed mosque is somehow “part” of Ground Zero because a piece of one of the planes landed on the building of the proposed mosque. So if a piece of one of the planes landed on Yankee Stadium, would that make Yankee Stadium “part” of Ground Zero? What about all the debris and dust that covered blocks and blocks of Manhattan after the World Trade Center collapsed – shouldn’t that sanctify and make those areas of Manhattan parts of Ground Zero? Of course not. This is to extend the definition of Ground Zero beyond reason. Just because a piece of one of the planes happened to hit the building where the proposed mosque sits doesn’t make the building a part of Ground Zero anymore than if debris had hit Yankee Stadium would make Yankee Stadium a part of Ground Zero.
Next, Spencer gets loonier with his suggestion that the Islamic world would view the building of a mosque “near” Ground Zero as “a mosque of victory,” just like the Dome of the Rock is viewed by Muslims as “its victory over Judaism.”
It would be one thing if the Muslims building the mosque near Ground Zero were putting up a bust of Osama bin Laden or a statue of Ayman al-Zawahiri, but the proposed mosque is designed to be a cultural center that will build bridges between people of different faiths – something completely at odds with the beliefs of Islamic extremists. And last I checked – and I did check – the Muslims defeated the Byzantine Empire, who were Christians, to take over Jerusalem back in the 7th century. And then, Spencer suggests, they built the al-Aqsa Mosque – to declare superiority and victory over the Jews. Huh? Well, I had to check again – and I did – and the Muslims built the al-Aqsa Mosque because they believe that it is where the Prophet Muhammad stopped off to lead prayer with the other prophets on his way up to the heavens on his night journey (al-isra wal miraj). There was no mention of the Muslims building it because they wanted to stick it to the Jews – or anyone else. Maybe Mr. Expert on Islam should check his sources.
Finally, Spencer wraps up his diatribe with this:
The Burlington Coat Factory building, 45 Park Place, which was severely damaged by that part of one of the 9/11 planes, is Ground Zero, as is the former World Trade Center site. That’s why the Islamic supremacists want that building, and only that building, and why they have rebuffed Governor Paterson’s offer to help them move elsewhere, and why they persist in their plans despite a rising chorus of public disapproval and public anguish that shows up their claims to be “building bridges” with this mega-mosque.
Any Muslims, in Spencer’s imagination, that don’t hold the same views and outlooks as he does are automatically labeled “Islamic supremacists.” Even when they want to build a mosque and community center that is “dedicated to pluralism, service, arts and culture, education and empowerment, appreciation for our city and a deep respect for our planet. Park51 will join New York to the world, offering a welcoming community center with multiple points of entry.”
Let’s be real: this has nothing to do with hallowed ground. If it did, Spencer and other crazy right wingers would have opposed the strip club in the same area. It has nothing to do with the sanctity of the location. It has everything to do with bigotry and pure hatred of Muslims. It also doesn’t have anything to do with care for the families of the 9/11 victims. After all, it was the same right wing in this country that rejected the health bill for 9/11 responders, which would have provided “$7.4 billion in aid to people sickened by World Trade Center dust.” It seems that the profound empathy that right wingers have for 9/11 victims, their families, and responders, stops short of actually helping them out. Their suffering is merely exploited to further fan the flames of hatred.