Thursday, August 19, 2010

Josh Carples: American values at risk near Ground Zero

  Some may still not know that there is no mosque at Ground Zero. The controversy surrounding the Park 51 Islamic community center has been elevated from a local zoning issue to a national, and in some ways international, discussion. Maybe “argument” is a better word.

  If we take away emotion and begin to search for facts, the first glaring fact we will notice is that the phrase “Ground Zero Mosque” which has been in many news headlines is wrong. Many news outlets, to be more precise, at least added the word “near” as in calling it a mosque “near Ground Zero.” More specifically, it is two blocks away.

  To some, two blocks is not far enough.

  It is also more than a mosque, as it is reported to have a basketball court and culinary school. The center is also said to be open to people of all faiths.

  More facts to consider include the deaths of many Muslims on 9/11. Yes, there were Muslims working in the World Trade Center, along with people of many other faiths. There were also Muslim first responders on the scene helping.

  Yet even more facts include news reports of Qur'an readings, Ramadan celebrations and Muslim prayers being offered in services held at the Pentagon. These have been going on since 9/11 without widespread protests or controversy, even though the Pentagon was a target on 9/11, and many people lost their lives.

  Other news reports and commentary mention the presence of other, smaller mosques within a few blocks of Ground Zero (five and 12 blocks, according to a report by the Associated Press), one of which has been there since before the construction of the Twin Towers. Of course, the “hallowed ground” that, for some, goes blocks beyond Ground Zero also reportedly includes a strip club and a gambling hall.

  Even with this information, there will still be those who are uncomfortable with the idea of an Islamic center being built there. Some call it “inappropriate;” some call it worse. But while anything related to 9/11 is sure to bring up a multitude of feelings and emotion, we, as Americans, must not forget our core values.

  If we seek to discriminate against a group of people based on their faith, or deny them the same rights afforded to others, are we not, in the process, forgetting our principles?

  I truly hope not, for if we ever give up our core values, that is the day terrorism will have won.

  About the author: Josh Carples is the managing editor of the Capital City Free Press.

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