Enlightened, tolerant sources within our society would have those of us who object to the idea of a Mosque…excuse me “Islamic cultural center”, being built within walking distance (even for Floridians) of Ground Zero, painted as intolerant thugs, ignorant of our Constitution’s protection of the free expression of everyone’s religious beliefs, and probably fans of Sarah Palin to boot.

Sarah Palin aside, though I am a fan, the idea of a shrine to Islam so close to the site of the most horrific attack on our nation in the history of the Republic has been bothering me for days, as it appears that finally something has managed to dislodge my libertarian inclinations.

To a degree, those enlightened, tolerant accusers are right; I do seem to be engaging in a bit of knuckle dragging on this issue. I don’t want that “center” built there…period.

In this, it seems that I am at odds with a good portion of the liberal establishment, not an unusual place for me to be, but the unusual seating arrangement at this party is worthy of mention: defending the builder’s Constitutionally-protected religious freedom to build this “center”, we find an array of “progressive” thinkers, the very same people who cringe at the slightest public sighting of the Christ Child during the Christmas Season, across from them, everyone else in the country.

The progressives argue, coincidentally advancing the very same propaganda being disseminated by “moderate” Imams across the United States (a moderate Imam being one who instructs others on the most effective way to throw the rocks at a stoning, as opposed to actually winging them himself), that this center is being built with the noble purpose of promoting cross-cultural understanding between Islam and the West, and to assist in the healing process of a city deeply wounded by the attacks of September 11, 2001, with the long-term, more grandiose purpose of “Americanizing” Islam.

At least, that is the sentiment expressed by Michael Rowe, over at “The Huffington Post”:

I freely admit that I myself initially flinched at the thought of a mosque so close to the site of the worst terrorist attack in American history, an attack that was intended to engender a primal and visceral feeling of terror. It’s the same part of me, again entirely primal, that occasionally flinches when I see men and women in Muslim garb at airports before I board my flight.

At the same time, I realize that the part of me that feels that way is not one of the better angels of my nature, and certainly not the part of me I’d ever want to be defined by.

On some level, I know that those feelings can only be a form of symbolic and emotional internment of the millions of moderate American Muslims that want nothing more than to raise and educate their children in the same American dream shared by their Christian and Jewish neighbors.

Beautiful and moving indeed, but shouldn’t the first thought of those moderate American Muslims be to actually BE a good neighbor to New Yorkers?

Certainly they must be witnessing the reaction of their Christian and Jewish neighbors to their edifice?

So why not seek inclusion by respecting their neighbors?

These moderate Muslims certainly understand that the memories of the attacks remain an open wound in the hearts and souls of Americans, even more so in the case of the people of Manhattan. Salting the wound is not healing it, and it certainly isn’t a neighborly act.

If you move into a nice neighborhood, and put up a 1978 El Camino up on cinder blocks in your front yard, the Welcome Wagon isn’t going to be so welcoming.

Other, more interesting “progressive” thinkers’ high-road position asks that we suspend reality.

The Washington Post’s Gregg Sargent among them:

Either it’s justifiable to see the act of building an Islamic center near Ground Zero as provocation, intentional or not, or it isn’t. If you endorse the former, you are in effect supporting the view that it’s defensible to vaguely associate Islam as a whole with the attacks. If people want to endorse that view, fine: Just say so. No fudging here. It’s one or the other.

“Vaguely associate Islam as a whole with the attacks”?

Perhaps Mr. Sargent is alluding to the idea that not all Muslims are terrorists, and in that, one can’t help but wholeheartedly agree. Yet, by the same token, it is plain as the nose on those forbidden pictures of The Prophet’s face that the overwhelming majority of terrorist attacks within the United States, or against Americans abroad in the last thirty five years have been carried out by Muslims.

This is not a “vague association”, this is a solid connection between Muslims and terrorism that can’t be avoided.

Let’s put this in perspective.

Let’s say that I was driving home after last year’s Holiday office party, and that I’d had a bit too much to drink.

Let’s say that on the way home (God forbid), I lost control of my vehicle and struck a van carrying a Mom and her children home from Christmas shopping, instantly killing them.

Imagine the unbearable pain that husband and father underwent. Imagine that I experienced a level of pain that, while not anywhere near as excruciating as that husband and father experienced was real, and strong.
Imagine even further down the road, once I had paid my debt to society, and served my time, I had in me a real need to in some way express my regrets, and find a way to help in the healing process of that husband and father whose life I had impacted with such monstrous intensity, healing myself along the way.

Would inviting him out to a bar for a few drinks seem to be far less than the right way to initiate this process?

THAT is what this “Islamic cultural center” represents.