Manhattan Masjid, or YMCA


I originally hesitated to comment on this, wondering if this was the appropriate venue to talk about a couple of pressing things. If it’s not a stretch, the subject does involve shared spaces, complex systems, and perhaps narrative storytelling. Don’t be alarmed, I’m quite a mild commentator, perhaps you share some of these views also.

Headlines usually have a short lifespan for those not in them, but often we don’t realize that most headlines involve all of us. Most particularly in the case of the “Ground Zero Mosque” — which, by the way is a misnomer. Now that I’ve said this subject is relevant to this space I may leave all that behind and share my point-of-view from here forward. This would be Aaron now, not FORTPORT (you may now place your recording devices on the table).

It’s a Rec Club, not the Taliban

First, let’s be clear. Here is a map of the proposed Muslim community center:

The community center is in red, the actual location of Ground Zero is at the World Memorial in blue. Even from the furthest tip of the lot where the towers once stood it is two blocks to the community center, but more accurately from Ground Zero, it is four blocks. From the WTC Tribute Visitors Center it is six blocks, and from the WTC Memorial Fountain also six blocks. In essence, the term Ground Zero Mosque is a falsehood.

The notion that any such Muslim-oriented building would be looming down upon Ground Zero was probably stated by someone who has never been to Manhattan. The size of the buildings obliterate any chance of seeing 45 Park Place (the address of proposed center), in fact to see this location one would have to deliberately walk to 45 Park Place, or never know it existed.

In addition to being located away from actual Ground Zero, the alleged Mosque is actually a Community Center. Indeed, for it to be a Mosque (or Masjid) only worship could be conducted there. In the 13 stories proposed, only the top two are reserved for prayer space. The floors beneath will include basketball courts, and a culinary school. Once again, the term Ground Zero Mosque is inaccurate, and likely used to alarm you. It would be more accurately labelled a Muslim YMCA, or Muslim Rec Center.

Islam equates to… our enemy?

Now that we know exactly what we are talking about I’d love to discuss the idea of the presence of a Muslim Community Center insulting the victims of 9/11.

We all know what happened. Our grandchildren will know what happened. But two glaring logical fallacies erupt when confronted with the idea that building a Muslim Community Center is wrong at this location:

1. We were not attacked by Islam.
2. If our purpose was to invade Iraq to liberate Muslim Iraqi’s from a dictator,
why don’t
we offer them the same compassion in Manhattan?

Our brothers and sisters in Islam are crucial to defining ourselves, and our survival. Without them, we are less, and without us, they are less. A place of worship, prayer, and community sounds exactly like something I’d want near the burial ground of my family members. It is a far, far cry from the terrorist training camps it is being called. Alarmism grossly distorts what is actually happening, and we are left to decide between falsehoods, the fate of a people who literally want to cook and pray together, or perhaps shoot a few hoops.

Now, I am not naive enough to think that fundamentalism hasn’t resulted in violent acts. But, fundamentalism in any creed or in any country has violent cells, perhaps because the nature of fundamentalism sometimes wakes in us the desire to enforce our view. Perhaps the question is, are we being fundamentalists by disallowing Muslims to pray and cook and shoot hoops in a building that has been abandoned & vacant for 9 years?

In this instance, the headlines affect us all. There is great turmoil over this subject because we are growing as a nation, growing as a people. There will be unrest. The path to inclusion, abundance, and wholeness is a steep climb.

I hope we offer all Muslims better than we offered the Apachee, Blackfeet, Catabwa, Chikasaw, Choctaw, and Comanche peoples. Better than was given to the Crow, the Cowlitz, Deleware, Cherokee, Shawnee, Hoh, and Hopi men and women. Better than was served to the Iowa, Me-Wuk, Kickapoo, Klamath, Makah, Miami, and Mississippi communities. Better than was offered to the Navajo, Nez Perce, Omaha, Osage, Otoe-Missouria, Paiute and Puyallup, Quechan, Quinault, Redding Rancheria, the Sac & Fox, Samish, Santa Rosa, Sauk-Suiattle, and Seminole. Far better than was handed to the Snoqualmie, Tonkawa, Tohono O’odham, Utu Utu Gwaitu, Winnebago, Wiyot, Yurok, Yselta Del Sur, and Zuni families.

partial list of our previous exclusions

We must confront our inner Muslim. And when we do we’ll find nothing more than a family member, homesick for the same place we are.

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