A Few Closing Questions Regarding the New York “Mosque”

Burlington coat factory Let's get this one out of the way first: Why is Sarah Palin upset about anything that happens in New York City? She’s already made it clear that she doesn’t consider New York part of the “real America.” So why does she care what happens there?

Sensitivity question #1

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was not a religious believer. He was assassinated by a fanatical follower of Orthodox Judaism. Yet the Orthodox Religious Council and Rabbinate is located less than two blocks from the site of his assassination. Should it be moved – out of sensitivity for his widow’s feelings, and those of his supporters?

Sensitivity question #2

Two people died when Christian extremist Eric Rudolph bombed the Olympic Centennial Park. One of them was Melih Uzunyol, a Turkish cameraman who suffered a fatal heart attack. He was presumably not a Christian. Nevertheless, a church called the Baptist Tabernacle is located immediately next to the park. When should it receive its notice of eviction?

Out of sight, out of mind

The so-called “mosque” is actually planned as a community center – which prompted Al Franken to speak of “Muslim point guards” in its gym. It would include a prayer room, which is supposedly part of the problem. But Muslims pray anywhere.

How far away must Muslims be in order to perform the act of prayer? What if they only pray inwardly? Would a Muslim community center be permissible if no prayer was conducted?

Airports are sacred, too

There are interfaith prayer rooms or chapels in all major US airports. Should we station armed guards at the door to make sure they're not used by Muslims?

Such a deal

I worked in the World Trade Center neighborhood for years. Friends of mine died there. So I remember the Burlington Coat Factory that once occupied the planned site of this so-called “mosque.” Occasionally you could find a good deal, but frankly most of their merchandise was crap. Would it be permissible for Muslims to open a store that sold mostly crappy clothing, instead of a community center?

Hear me out: The old Jewish guys on Seventh Avenue could sell wholesale merchandise to the moderate Muslims downtown, who could then sell it retail. If my grandfather the tailor were still alive he could mend the clothes. The whole thing could be a beautiful interfaith experience.

But I still wouldn't wear those ugly overcoats they used to sell. You know the ones I mean, the brown ones with the fake-fur collars? Ech.

Bad seed

The “Reverend” Franklin Graham says that Barack Obama carries the “seed of Islam” because his father was a Muslim. But Obama's father was an atheist. For how many generations does this “seed” and its presumed curse survive? Should we forbid people descended from Muslims from congregating near the World Trade Center?

A few more questions for Reverend Graham: Are you suggesting that “Muslims” like Obama who convert to Christianity aren't real Christians? That they're not equal to born Christians like yourself in the eyes of the Lord? If so, where does that leave the twelve disciples?

And a last question for the Reverend: Why did it only take one generation for Billy Graham's “seed” of basic courtesy and tact to disappear so completely?

Disappearing act

The Anti-Defamation League was formed after World War II on one of the most inspiring of premises: The Jewish people, who had suffered the most massive and horrifying act of institutionalized hate in history, would create an organizationto fight discrimination – not only against themselves, but on behalf of all victims of prejudice. Once it would have responded to this controversy by bringing people together to address the survivors' pain and overcome bias. Now it opposes the building of this “mosque” near the World Trade Center, a position that's premised on the collective guilt of the world's billion Muslims.

Will there be a memorial service to mourn the beautiful thing the ADL once was?

Penultimate question

For “moderates” and the news media who keep this controversy alive: When can we start talking about the economy again? Or the climate? Or the war in Afghanistan, which on last report is still killing people?

Compromised positions

The last question is for “moderate” liberals like Howard Dean who think the community center’s founders should “compromise” and move somewhere else:

If you guys had been in politics in 1955, would you have suggested that Rosa Parks “compromise” by sitting in the middle of the bus?


“(S)egregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority … (S)egregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man's tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? …An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself.”

–Martin Luther King, Letter From a Birmingham Jail