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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Political Beacon

This summer a great deal of ink has been spilled talking about one particular building project in the Financial District of Manhattan. The proposed building, a community center along the lines of a YMCA or a JCC, only gained national prominence after some people decided to make it a prominent issue that would speak to the heart and soul of America. However, there have been a number of falsehoods about the project and the building. Below are some attempts to set the record straight. Myth: Some radical Muslims are building a mosque at Ground Zero! Fact: There has been a mosque within about a block of the World Trade Center site since before two planes were hijacked and flown into the towers. No terrorists go there. It is not a big deal. The proposed community center, Park51, purchased the lots at New York City fire-sale prices, two blocks from the World Trade Center site. Many businesses close to the site have gone under. Last I knew two city blocks in New York City still takes a few minutes to walk even if the lights are all green for you. Myth: More radical Muslims will come to this mosque and try to kill us! Fact: This is not a mosque. A mosque is devoted primarily to prayer. Park51 has over a dozen floors. Two of them will be devoted to prayer, about what you might find at some more religious YMCA and YWHA buildings. Last I checked, the YMCA was only a church for bodybuilders who dress up like the Village People on weekends. Park51 will have a social center for people to relax and watch movies, enough exercise equipment to choke a herd of moose, and be a place for people of all religions to peaceably assemble – it has strong ties to local Christian and Jewish Y’s. It will focus heavily on the local and visiting Muslim community, which is filled with plenty of law- abiding citizens who are just as worried about their kids’ grades, next week’s newest twist on Law and Order: The Next Generation and what to eat for supper as anybody else. The most dangerous thing about the center will be the loads of soiled disposable diapers that visiting mommies will put in the trash for pick-up later in the week. Be glad you aren’t that trash collector! Myth: These radical Muslims are trying to desecrate the memory of the people who died on 9/11! Fact: Many Muslims lost their lives during those attacks. Honoring their memory is a non-denominational exercise. So is remembering to shoot off illegal fireworks on the Fourth of July or hiring an Elvis impersonator to officiate your Las Vegas wedding. Myth: Radical Muslims are trying to turn our great nation into a war zone and they’re going to start at this mosque!Fact: The imam in charge of religious practice in this community center, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, has helped both the Bush Administration and the Obama Administration reach out to Islamic society as a moderate and a peace-maker. He’s probably high on Osama bin Ladin’s hitlist in the US. Wait, put an ‘s’ at the beginning of ‘hitlist’. Yeah, that’s better. Myth: The radical Muslims are building a mosque on sacred ground! Fact: The site that Park51 owns is a shuttered Burlington Coat Factory. Two gentlemen’s clubs are as close or closer to the World Trade Center site. Obviously these are more holy than a mosque to some people. Unless somebody considers a shuttered franchise of a clothing concern to be holy ground, the site currently has nothing sacred about it. Not even worship of the almighty US Dollar could save the Burlington Coat Factory, though the Pussycat Lounge nearby apparently still does a brisk trade in mostly low-denomination bills. Myth: Islam is a religion filled with hate, I mean look at all their terrorists! Fact: Islam is a religion with people of varying religious and political views, much like Christianity and Judaism. Christianity should not be viewed just on the basis of its extremist terrorist fringe; neither should Islam. If you want to see a real terrorist fringe, go look at Osama bin Laden’s prayer shawl. Myth: Muslims and Islam are so weird! Fact: You may already know some Muslims and they’re as normal as you and me. Their prayers might sound a bit different but they pray for peace, justice and Halal-certified apple pie. Well, as normal as you, I’m pretty strange. After all, I have no problem with a moderate Islamic cleric building a community center on land his group owns a couple of blocks away from where some nutjobs crashed a couple of planes. Think what his no-plane-crash insurance rates are gonna be! Myth: Only Christians are friendly and tolerant! Fact: some Christians have recently publicly called for burning heaps of copies of the Qur’an, the holy text of Islam. One wonders what these self-same Christians would say if some Muslims called for burning a heap of Christian Bibles – which, as People of the Book, would definitely go against the grain of Islam. Thankfully most Christians have more sense than this. The Pope has a fantabulous library, for example. Myth: The rights of life, liberty and property apply only to people we like! Fact: Aside from the shameful exception of slavery and the generational crimes against Native Americans, our Founding Fathers did not put any limitations on who may have rights in the Constitution. These are inalienable rights. Yes, even the aliens at Area 51 get these rights. So should the people building Park51.