Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Knee Jerk Philosophy

It was a sunny morning, and I was trying to meet a deadline. I had started a new job Three weeks earlier and I was deseperate to inpress my new boss. I had left construction sales behind after unexpectedly losing my job and entered employment with a small design build firm. They were taking a chance on me by training me to become a field construction supervisor and project manager. I was looking over a set of plans for a water drainage construction job and I wasn't really confident in what I was doing. A co-worker entered my office and said "a plane has flown into one of the World Trade Center Buildings, it might be a terrorist thing." I was numb. Not in our country, I thought. I became angry, scared, and uncertain. I got the same feeling a few weeks ago when I heard that a Mosque was being considered for construction near Ground Zero. Several weeks later, I am proud to admit, I don't feel the same emotion.

Several hundred years ago, thousands of outcasts began coming to a New World in search of better lives. Lives free of monarchial rule that took so much fo their livelihood. Lives free of religious persecution that took so much faith from their Faith. Building this mosque near Ground Zero would be the symbol on and of what this country was founded, tolerance.

Is it the sensitive thing to do? No, not even close. I think it is sound, reasonable thought to ask that it not be built. Yet, if the answer is no, then it should be built. Then, each of us should think hard about why it's ok. I have railed for years about the culture of the offended. Everyone gets bent out of shape over the smallest and largest of things. One could argue that walking on eggshells over the Islamic religion is fruit of that tree. The problem is, the United States isn't Saudi Arabia. We are not about iron fists and hard, inflexible principles. Our own Constitution encourages tolerance.

I believe it's fine to be upset about a mosque being built near Ground Zero. It rubs me the wrong way and I am far from a politically correct. What so many Americans don't realize is near Pearl Harbor, another dark mark in our nation's history, are two, not one, but two Shintoist Temples that have never been argued about and many Hawaiians visit them every day.

No where in this post have you seen the words Republican, Democrat, politics, left, right, or the names of politicians including our President. To me, the Ground Zero Mosque isn't a political issue (yes I realize the irony and the naivete) but a cultural one. We can not claim to be the greatest nation on the planet and live in fear. We can not gloat that we are the beacon of light in a dark time and dark world if we don't let symbols of religious tolerance live and breath.

I've tried to avoid the soapbox. I hope I have injected reason. I love a good debate and so far regarding the mosque I haven't heard much more than name calling and rhetoric. Maybe those of you who give me a minute or two of day to read what I write can find a way to discuss this better than the "experts".I will admit that my knee jerk emotion in 2001 and three or so weeks ago was natural. What I will not do is fall in line with knee jerk philosophy. Build it, and they will come.


  1. The right to build? Solidly protected by the first amendment. Government intervention cannot, and should not even be a consideration. I don't know that anyone can dispute that point.

    But it is a culturally insensitive idea on a massive level. Anyone being intellectually honest with themselves has to admit that the nineteen piles of human excrement who ushered our country into the brotherhood of nations who have suffered terrorist attacks on their own soil were not acting on behalf of Muslims everywhere. Much like Fred Phelps and the backward crazies of Westboro Baptist Church do not speak for all Christians, so Atta and company did not speak for all Muslims.

    But still...to attempt the construction of this building, less than ten years after that horrible day, is a display of cultural insensitivity that renders the wishes of its builders for peace and understanding as worthless as the paper they were printed on.

    My two cents.