One of my normal rhythms when not running for public office is to watch the Sunday morning talk shows. Today, I had the chance to watch the new ABC This Week with Christiane Amanpour – I’ve been looking forward to the show with Christiane as host for a lot of reasons, one of which being her global perspective, which, by virtue of her background, is necessarily less America-centric. Today’s program hit a home run.
Christiane interviewed the wife of the Imam for the Cordoba House Islamic center in New York, and a representative from Jewish Community Centers, who is working with the Cordoba House to help it become very much like JCC’s all over the US. Finally, a real discussion based on facts.
First, I had no idea that JCC’s were working with Cordoba House to this degree. A JCC is like a public recreation center on steroids. It’s Jewish in the same way the YMCA is Christian – almost imperceptibly Jewish, but very certainly Jewish. If anyone has been to a JCC, you know that a JCC is one of the most community centric, family oriented, warm fuzzy thingies in the world. This is what Cordoba House will be, and hopes to be.
Good. This is the kind of cross cultural cooperation that we need to embrace, not reject – moderate elements of religious groups working together to do good things. And yes, in the long shadow of the World Trade Center. Right there. Because that’s the message we want to send to the Muslim world, moderate or extremist – America’s ideals cannot be destroyed by terrorists of any stripe, and Cordoba House sitting a 3 minute walk from the new World Trade Center will be a victory lap around terrorism, not a surrender.
Many decades ago, County Council District 7 used to be the beating heart of the Jewish community in Cleveland. Today, there are many Muslims living and worshiping here, and trying to better their community from the ground up. If America sends a message of moderation and tolerance, that can only help those efforts on the ground in places like District 7. If we send the opposite message, it breeds extremism. That is wrong.
As for the argument against Cordoba House, what exactly is it? That we should avoid having our feelings hurt? And that a demonstrably good and useful example of moderate Islam should help us avoid having our feelings hurt by moving uptown? Really? This is the level of whining cowardice the extreme right has come to? You people need to grow a pair.
And by the way, how many of these morons have ever been to Lower Manhattan? Do you know how far a 3 minute walk takes you from Ground Zero? You end up in Tribeca, which is where Cordoba House sits. Completely different neighborhood – more residential, less financial industry, an epicentre of hip New York, a quiet nook of restored cast iron warehouses from which you cannot even see Ground Zero. It’s a different world altogether, so maybe YA’LL oughta go see the place, trust me, it’s great, and gimme a call when you get lost trying to get to Ground Zero from Cordoba House’s front door.
The Cordoba House should be built right where it sits right now. Period. It’s what the founding fathers would have demanded. No compromise location. The First Amendment protection of religion does not compromise. It will be a victory lap around the tatters of extremist arguments, on both sides. As it should be.