Someone made a point to say that strip clubs operate near enough to Ground Zero, so why aren’t those concerned by the Park51 mosque worried about these clubs? This would be a fair point if strippers had flown planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as a means of exacting revenge against the uncles that touched them when they were seven. As it was, Muslims went through all the trouble, so old Uncle Paul is off the hook.
The Ground Zero mosque will be constructed two blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood. In lower Manhattan a city block is 264 feet long, meaning the mosque would be located roughly 528 feet from spots where human beings chose to pancake themselves against pavement because, as they saw it, jumping from the 103rd floor seemed a logical alternative to the hell raging at their backs. Whether a mosque should exist so close to the scene of Islam’s greatest crime is too serious a matter to be cheapened by the question of whether the outraged remain outraged by chicks with self esteem issues.
The legal right for the mosque (recreation center, foot bath, et cetera) to exist is not in dispute; if the land was purchased and is developed within the law, there is little to be said about it. The debate is over whether, as a culture consistently reminded to be sensitive to the world’s every whim, it would be nice for someone to return the favor.
Speaking of sensitivity: Asked about this last Sunday, George Will proved uncharacteristically color blind. “You can always tell a fundamentally weak story because it turns on sensitivity; is so-and-so being sensitive to someone else. Sensitivity’s overrated. When you have an entitlement to have everybody be sensitive to everyone else, that’s how you got speech codes on campuses, so we would not have speech that would offend somebody. There is no right to go through life without your feelings being hurt.”
Will is right, of course, in saying that America has devolved to a kind of touchy-feeliness that is intellectually sickening. (It is how we fight our wars, by the way, and you see how well that is working.) I am the first to agree that when one’s point of view is lead by emotion, it should become suspect. But campus speech codes were (and remain) only tangentially about sensitivity; they were (and are) first about silencing opinions the Left finds unpleasant. George Will is smart enough to understand the difference between simple, feminine sensitivity and reasonable sensitivity tendered in response to an insult.
If you take offense at Westboro Baptist Church’s protests, then you have a base understanding of the Park51 unrest. You shouldn’t build this mosque for the same reason you shouldn’t carry “God Hates Fag Enablers” signs outside a dead soldier’s funeral: it demonstrates a classlessness people should just know better than to endorse. Opposing the mosque doesn’t mean you hate Islam; it means you have an adult understanding of how civilized people ought to behave.
To that point, no logical person is saying the mosque shouldn’t be built (please note the use of “logical person”). No logical person is saying its construction should be politically or legally blocked. Those of us in the opposition are saying: If the true purpose of the mosque is to foster understanding and tolerance, what better way to show it than by not building it at a site where it would take on the unmistakable air of a victory flag plunged into the earth?