Response to a Park 51 objector.

One of my Facebook friends recently posted a long post about how Park 51 is not about religion, war, or inequality, but about remembering those who lost their lives on 9/11; and that nothing other than a memorial should be placed anywhere near Ground Zero. She also chose to ‘shame’ the president, the governor, and any other supporters of Park 51. This is the first time I have responded to any of my FB friends verbal oppositions to the Islamic Community Center (and there have been a lot), and I doubt that it will be met with kindness, but I’m still proud of it. It’s one thing to oppose it because you are still angry about 9/11….but it’s another to try and outright say that it is not at all about religion. So, here’s what I have to say on the matter:

I have been trying to avoid speaking my mind about this subject because I don’t enjoy being attacked. I don’t think you’ll attack me, but I know your position comes from passion, and it can be testy. 

Park 51, erroneously referred to as the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ is not only not located on Ground Zero, it’s more than two blocks away from the edge of the corner of where the twin towers once stood…it is more than 5 blocks away from the proposed 9/11 memorial. 

The building is currently an abandoned Burlington Coat Factory, and has been abandoned since 2002 and the wake of the tragedy hit fully and essentially made the surrounding area of the twin towers a ghost land. And while the actual Ground Zero site is bustling with tourism of people coming to pay tribute, five blocks away it is a primarily empty street which is habited by porn shops and abandoned buildings. 

While I understand the sentiment of those who are opposing the building of the Islamic Community Center (which is not a Mosque-which can only be used for worship, this will be open to all the community, complete with pool and community meeting space), but I do feel like the primary objections are based in misunderstandings of the details. I mostly wanted to respond in case you didn’t know these things, and if you know them and still feel the same way, that’s fine, but I also think we should learn all the facts before we condemn people who support a project. 

Also, the Islamic Community Center, or Park51 (they’ve already compromised on the name to be less offensive to those who are protesting, it was Cordoba House), was voted on in a public democratic election by the politicians and citizens in that community, where proponents and opposers were able to speak their peace….and while 9/11 affected our whole country, it is not our jurisdiction. The citizens that live here want this. There is also a mosque that is closer to Ground Zero and has been there for 30 years. This will serve the community in a similar way that the Gordon Jewish Community Center in Nashville provided some of the first community relief in the May floods, it is almost an exact set-up. 

It comes down to the fact that if this was a church being built, or a Christian Community Center, or a synagogue there would just simply not be this much opposition. It is, therefore about religion.

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