The story flaming across the headlines about that little slice of otherwise anonymous private property a couple blocks away from Ground Zero has certainly summoned emotions; both sides of the issue have made sound and succinct arguments on their respective behalf.
Those believing this is wholly about private property rights make a good case; it matters little what people do with their private property so long as they do so within the rule(s) of applicable law. Despite a generation of Liberal-creep on our private property rights, most Americans can agree on this point of law. Yep-check one for the pro-Islamic center (or whatever they're calling it now to deflect hysteria amongst the general population).
Those believing the very idea of putting a symbol of Islam in such close proximity to that place where 3,000 innocent civilians died at the hands of a few Muslims using their faith as the rationale for executing them, calling it "insensitive", are also correct; why allow placement of a zero-value-added thumb in the collective eye of people that will never forget (and in some cases never fully recover from) what happened that day? It feels like they want to make a shrine to what the Martyrs accomplished 2 blocks away. Yep-check one for the anti-Islamic center...they're right too.
Both sides have a point, and both sides are right. What to do then?
Howard Kurtz has a piece over at WaPo that does a decent job of linking and pull quoting the most relevant (though I accuse him a little of cherry picking to help make his personal point) reactions from both basically coherent sides of this issue.
What is not mentioned in Kurtz's piece, or anywhere else for that matter, is the real driving factor behind all this emotion; there is no foundation on which to place any trust that the Muslims behind this plan aren't up to some nefarious "other" agenda... remember, it was proven on 9/11 that we can never be 100% sure of anything.
We were told in the days immediately after, and for 8 years hence, to be ever-vigilant but to go on with our lives. Of course that guy doesn't work here anymore-he's been replaced by one far more interested in apologizing to Islam for American transgressions than in coming together WITH Islam to help them rid their ranks of those still seeking to out-DO 9/11.
We've learned because of 9/11 that we're never completely safe, we're never completely secure, and we're never fully immune to acts of terrorism all around the country at any time and in any place. This is the innocence America lost that day, and to be asked by supporters of this plan to forget all that we've learned now is just to ask too much. And, it should be lost on no one that those who defend the development of this so-called Park51 project on the grounds of fredom of speech and religion are the very same people who mean to exempt opponents of the plan from exercising these same rights in expressing their opposition to it.
Most unfortunate for everyday Americans is that we've had control of the discussion taken away from us by Politicians. Instead of allowing this dialog to finally take place amongst we, the People in the aftermath of that horrific day of inhumanity, our Political heroes have seized the topic to make a few points of their own in hopes of making big scores against their opponents and trying to find the right side to be on in order to garner a few more votes...midterms are not that far off you know.
We know we've been told since 9/11 that Islam is a religion of peace. We we've been told to move on; the whole of the Nation of Islam is not our enemy...only a small segment is...and that we should embrace this religion as openly as we do every other religion in America because it's who we are as a People. Of course, who ELSE we are as a people is a society that expects mutual respect and understanding one with another alongside that tolerance we're expected to show.
And here is where the argument continues to break down. Islam continues to fail at cleansing itself of that small percentage of its membership we accuse of being radicals or fundamentalists or whatever the term is these days. Islam continues to choose silence on the issue of this "small number" of its faithful, and it continues to seek concessions from America and Americans while making no effort to offer concessions it return.
America is many things, but Americans...in light of all the public trust our Government has squandered...seek to trust AND verify. The Imam(s) asking us to trust them on this Park51 development proposal are asking this without giving us any reason to. They are hiding behind the laws, and under the skirts of the Politicians in support of this development plan, and many of these same Politicians are calling us bigots hoping to shame us into shutting our mouths about it...this is no way to conduct a national dialog on an important issue.
They do a lot of that whenever we oppose a thing they think they can curry some favor with in the polls.
Personally, I see the completion of this development project as a boon to all of us who have seen our religious freedoms destroyed in recent years by these very same Liberal mouthpieces who are so hell-bent on seeing Muslims exercise theirs in Lower Manhattan. I hope the Liberals know what they have asked for at Park51, because they are certainly going to get it...we really meant it when we said "Never Forget."