That Mosque

Lughnasa                                          Full Artemis Moon

Today the orchard, tomorrow…the vegetable patch and the orchard.  Kate and I will take up the carpet laid down for paths in the orchard (it keeps weeds down and mulch gets distributed over it), clean out the weeds that have infiltrated, lay the carpet back down and add any to spots that need it, preparing the whole for the wood chips delivered yesterday morning.  Tomorrow Kate will guide Ray, our lawn mowing Andover junior, while he covers the paths with wood chips.  Meanwhile I’ll mulch the areas in the vegetable garden that Kate and I cleared out over the last week.

Over the weekend we’ll put the honey extractor together  and try it out in advance of our first full day of honey extraction on Monday.  This should be entertaining.  Mark has shrunk our Artemis label by a third and modified the glasses based on his realization last Monday that the specs he’d designed didn’t quite match mine.  I already have the PDF from him with the new design and smaller labels.  He’s a pro.

OK.  I understand that some people on the right believe the mosque near the old World Trade Center is offensive.  They feel it pokes a finger in the eye of the whole country and especially those who lost relatives on 9/11.  Their line is, “Just because you have the right, doesn’t make it right.”  True enough.  Doesn’t make it wrong, either.  So the question comes to down message.  What message will a mosque near the ground zero send?

Will it communicate rank insensitivity and disregard for injured feelings?  Will it intentionally stir the pot of an already angry public?  Or.  Will it communicate, as I said before, that we know the difference between terrorists who use Islam as an ideological justification and those for whom Islam is a religion of moderation and peace?  Will it show that our First Amendment freedoms, those that developed in light of religious persecution in Europe, persecutions that, ironically, sent the first settlers to Massachusetts, apply today as they have for over 200 years?  I know which message I want to send.

Now, having said that, is there a way to ameliorate the inflamed feelings of those who have been led to see this as a provocation, an insult?  I don’t know, but I would hope there is.  Next year will see the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center disaster, so some concern probably focuses on this upcoming date.  I wish there was a way to sit down and discuss this, acknowledging the feelings of betrayal, anger, incredulity, fear, grief, sharing our mutual dismay at the act and the struggle with the terrorists since then, while allowing the Muslims for whom this was an equal disaster and one compounded by rejection and xenophobic reactions to open up their feelings.

Or, is the gulf between the right and the left so vast that there is no bridge?  Are we so far apart in our partisan camps that dialogue is no longer possible?  If it’s true, and there are times over the last decade when I’ve felt it was, then our country will have succumbed to the terrorists after all because, as Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

I’m not trying to get to a kum by ya moment here.  I would relish, though, genuine conversation between citizens of differing views.  How can it happen?

Here’s an excerpt from a CBS report that gets to where I’d like to go:

Society|Thu, Aug. 26 2010 07:59 AM EDT
Some 9/11 Families Show Support for Mosque Near Ground Zero
By Nathan Black|Christian Post Reporter

A group of religious and civil rights groups and family members of 9/11 victims announced on Wednesday the formation of a new coalition in support of an Islamic community center and mosque near ground zero.

Calling themselves the New York Neighbors for American Values, the coalition stood near City Hall in lower Manhattan defending religious freedom and diversity.

“We share the pain … and yes, even the lingering fear caused by the September 11 attacks. But we unequivocally reject the political posturing, the fear mongering and the crude stereotyping that seek to demonize the project whose goal is to build bridges among the faiths,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

“We are committed to resisting the efforts to push Park51 out of downtown and we reject the refrain of ‘freedom of religion but not in my backyard,'” she added.

Talat Hamdani lost a 23-year-old son, a paramedic, in the 2001 terrorist attacks. But she said supporting the Islamic center and mosque “has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with standing up for our human rights, including freedom of religion,” as reported by The Associated Press.