'Cordoba House' revisited

There has been a lot of talk about the Park51 facility and the purportedly dark and Dr. No-ish intentions of its bankrollers and founders. The so-called “Ground Zero mosque,” is on the verge of becoming this election season’s rhetorical blackhole. It’s unclear what comes out the other side in November after Democratic and Republican wannabeinWashingtons pass its event horizon, but some Republican strategists are growing concerned that the party’s eager grilling of this particular red meat could backfire (which is fine because they could grill it at the end of that metaphor).

Park51, the “mosque,” in quotes here because it is not really a mosque but a large community center which would include a prayer facility of some kind (sort of a mosque in a box) was previously known as “Cordoba House”—its founders and funders apparently hoping to evoke old Cordoba’s reputation as a center of dialogue and cultural synthesis, and not, as it came to be perceived, the lost pride of Islamic Iberian dominance. It has become all anyone wants to talk about, maybe because everyone (and by that I mean everyone in the media) was getting tired of talking about Afghanistan, the sinking economy, Iraq, Moscow and climate change and all that other depressing stuff.

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Anyhow, plenty of folks want us to be ascared of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, this would be Dr. No himself, but I’m having trouble finding anyone who appears in videos on BeliefNet all that scary. Plus the Iman is a Sufi, a mystical branch of the Muslim family tree that emphasizes spirituality and asceticism and is engaged in outreach to other faiths, as are many of the folks involved with this project. I don’t know why that fact has not generated more commentary, (I wrote this before noting William Dalrynmple in the NY Times: "The Muslims in the Middle") especially when you consider how much commentary this subject has generated in the last two weeks. Anyways, your standard Sufi is not exactly the 9/11 Islamic maximalist type. In fact, Sufis are frequently the target of oppression and terror from Sunni and Shite groups themselves. They know what it’s like to be in the crosshairs of hyperIslamicists, and I’m pretty sure they don’t like it. The Sufi history has some less than pleasant moments and plenty of Sufis globally are also proponents of Sharia law, so it’s unclear how definitively contemporary Sufism embraces the wider world, at least to me. I invite corrections from actual Islamic scholars. (And thank God I belong to a religious tradition free from internecine bloodshed and miscellaneous historical blemishes.)

But the folks who are proposing Park51 seem genuine to me in their intention to use the facility as a Muslim 92nd Street Y, to reach out to other communities and start a real dialogue that is altogether lacking and obviously necessary given the ignorant and un-American comments emerging during this controversy.

Here are a few of the intentions expressed in the Park51 mission statement: “Uphold respect for the diversity of expression and ideas between all people,” “Cultivate and embrace neighborly relations between all New Yorkers, fostering a spirit of civic participation and an awareness of common needs and opportunities,” “Encourage open discussion and dialogue on issues of relevance to New Yorkers, Americans and the international reality of our interconnected planet,” “Revive the historic Muslim tradition of education, engagement and service, becoming a resource for empowerment and advancement,” “Commit to social justice, dignified human development and spiritual growth for all . . .”

Isn’t this exactly the kind of active, engaging expression of the Islamic tradition folks in the West claim they are seeking to encourage and support wherever it rears its kindly, benevolent head? Isn’t the State Department spending more than a few bucks to promote this expression of Islam and build this bridge to the contemporary Islamic world?

I know this is an easy thing for me to say because I did not lose any loved ones on 9/11—and I say it with some trepidation because of the pain so many have suffered at the WTC—but seen in a different light than the pontificating Kliegs directed at it just now by political opportunists around the country, I would argue that the two-block proximity of this facility to the edge of the World Trade Center campus is not an offense or a triumphalist provocation but appropriate to the peaceable encounter we say we seeking with Islam. Whether or not that encounter is treated with reciprocity is irrelevant. If we truly want to promote the rule of law and tolerance, we need to practice it with enthusiasm and patience. But perhaps that’s all talk and we are just as set on this Clash of Civilizations winding down to an inevitably ugly conclusion as some on the other side. I hope not. I’ve already seen the Kingdom of Heaven (thanks Ridley!). I don’t want to be an uncompensated extra in its contemporary remake.

God doesn’t will this.

 

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David Nickol
8 years 1 month ago
I don't know this for a fact, but I can only assume the reason why no one is offended by the presence of a strip club near Ground Zero is that the strippers are good Christian women. 
8 years 1 month ago
''There is also already a real mosque around the block from Cordoba House''

I believe Daisy Khan was unaware of this.  I believe there is another one also only a few blocks away.
Jim McCrea
8 years 1 month ago
Park51 will be a community center with, among other things, a mosque in it.

The current building on this site is used for, among other things, a worship site for Moslems.

The Pentagon has had a site used for Moslems to worship; it was there before 9-11 and remains there ever since.

Is there some restriction to the number of Moslem worship spaces allowed in Manhattan?  If so, does that apply to Christian and Jewish worship spaces?
Tom Maher
8 years 1 month ago
Time magazine poll that came out today, August 19, 2010, shows 61% of Americans oppsed the "Ground Zero Mosque", only 26% support it.  70% believe that building the mosque so close to ground zero is an insult to the 9/11 vitims of the attack on the World Trade Center. 

In other words politically people are very opposed to the mosque.  ?
James Lindsay
8 years 1 month ago
Whether people oppose the mosque or not is a a non sequitr, since the relgious rights of others are not subject to majority vote or approaval.
Marie Rehbein
8 years 1 month ago
I suspect the controversy is the result of people feeling (perhaps only vaguely) that they are being shown up by Islam.  Therefore, the appropriate response from political leaders should be to go on about the glorious replacement being planned for the World Trade Center and the impressive memorial to the innocent victims and our nation's devotion to religious freedom that will be incorporated there.  Any politician who is doing anything different from this does not deserve our attention or our votes.
8 years 1 month ago
There are no religious rights being violated by asking them to move their proposed building.  The has never been any religious rights that were infringed.  That issue has been a red herring since the beginning and those who still claim it are mis-informed.


Some have tried to get around this by saying it is not a mosque but a community center with some prayer rooms.  If that is so then there are no religious rights associated with it since any building could have a prayer room.  It sill should be moved and the name changed.
8 years 1 month ago
The Howard Dean interview on MSNBC by Olbermann is interesting.  Olbermann stresses that Dean does think they have a constitutional right to build the Islamic Center but he would prefer that they build it farther away.

Olbermann does not do the same service for conservatives where he says it is all about hatred.
ed gleason
8 years 1 month ago
Joe. K....So Dean wants/prefers that the  mosque be moved! he is a pandering pol.. because the right has stirred up the mosque issue to use in the Nov. election . The mosque/cultural center  is $100 million short of funds to build.. some claim they have only 18k in the bank..not enough for sidewalk signs..  I bet the issue will be dead dead before Nov.... Dean is pandering to the polls for nada. ALL Republicans are against the mosque being built.   so much for their love of the Consitution and Bill of Rights. . Their Next issue will be anchor babies. the Consitution be damned.      
8 years 1 month ago
I agree with you that Dean is a ''pandering pol'' (this is one of the main arguments for smaller government).  My post had more to do with Olbermann who is not a ''pandering pol'' but a leftist media personality.  For some reason he is easy on Dean but venomous to the conservatives on this issue.
8 years 1 month ago
''There is at least one salvific exception to the president's general lack of integrity, and that's his program for standards and reforms in our disastrous public school system, although even that is limited by his likely union payoff to fight vouchers.''


I wonder if President Obama would approve of what is happening in New Orleans.


http://reason.tv/video/show/nola-vouchers 


I wonder who the governor is that they went to him to thank him. 
James Lindsay
8 years 1 month ago
There is also already a real mosque around the block from Cordoba House.  My question is, are they related, so that this is an expansion rather than an establishment?
James Lindsay
8 years 1 month ago
I just checked.  Masjid Manhatten is in no way affiliated with Cordoba House (and they lost their lease and had to move two doors down and are still looking for permanent space.
ed gleason
8 years 1 month ago
Mattingly; what a rant. I  feel sorry that you will have to endure your present mental emotional uproar for at least 30 more months as the Senate and Executive will certainly remain in the hands of the Democratic Scourge. Meds... 
8 years 1 month ago
Mr. Clarke,



There are so many things in your post that could take hours to answer and I am not sure you would like the answers.  Given the nature of this site, long discussion are not the vogue.  It seems what is wanted here is a nod of the head and not a debate on issues.  After 9/11 i spent several weeks reading about Islam, the Muslim conquests, the Crusades, the Arab supremacy, the origin of Sunnis and the Shia, the so called Muslim enlightenment and their treatment of others.  I found very little to respect and admire.  Especially from a Christian Western point of view.  Maybe from a point of view of other cultures there is something to be admired but not from what we have been steeped in.


It is not that there is nothing.  There are some things worthwhile in  the 14 hundred years of the existence of Islam.  I have been to Granada and North Africa and have seen the Muslim art there and a friend of mine sent me many pictures from Samarkand and I like them very much.  But I have read all the supposed accomplishments of Islam and they are slim.  The people are generally nice and friendly but one never knows what they are really thinking especially when one understands what they are taught and believe.



Their religion while an abrahamic religions is nothing like Judaism and Christianity.  Love is at the center of Christianity.  Submission and conquest and deception are essential parts of Islam.  So when we try to engage them we are talking different languages or different world views.  Without that understanding there can be no real dialogue especially when deception is an integral part of their culture and anathema to ours.


So many people including me would look at your reasoning as well intentioned but incredibly naive and as such what you propose should be abandoned for a more reasonable approach.  One that they could understand as well as us.  Why you go to the wall to keep the proposed building at the current site with the proposed name and proposed design is beyond me.  Move it a mile away and change its name and it will all go away.
8 years 1 month ago
Mr. Clarke,


Thank you for your response. 


''There are people posting at this discussion and others on this site who seem to be cheerleading a limitless confrontation with about 1 billion fellow earthlings in a cultural-imperial struggle for supremacy-played out almost exclusively via military might-that will surely bankrupt this nation is every way possible and I am naive for thinking this is a fool's enterprise?'' 


That no way describes what I believe is necessary nor have I seen any other poster come close to such a stance here.  The dispute is on how to avoid any such future confrontation.
8 years 1 month ago
"Bottom line: this is a private matter, you and I do not get to say where Park51 (they have already changed the name as I noted above) gets located nor does the state get to say where it is located, not unless we do not believe in what we say we believe or we are not the people we say we are. I thought at first it would be a better idea that the "mosque" be placed further from the WTC site just to avoid this hoo-hah"


You are correct that they have a right to build it but others have a right to be offended.  And yes they could have avoided the "hoo-hah".

I live far from NYC so I really don't have any emotion about the matter and I am very comfortable with the Islamic Center down my block.  But I do understand the emotions on both sides and I wish BOTH sides could come to some compromise.

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