Perhaps, some of you are wondering what is Left with Balls position on the planned Islamic Center near Ground Zero.
I won’t deny that when I first heard about it I could not believe it. WTF? – I thought. It seemed to be the biggest insult to us, New Yorkers, a way a victor in war establishes his way of dominance in the conquered land, or the worst act of provocation that feeds on our tolerance. Then I thought, sure, let’s build a mosque, there, but not before we build some churches or synagogues in Iraq or Saudi Arabia. You know, for the purpose of good will and reconciliation. I think I went through all the stages of grief – shock, denial, anger, etc. But in the end, if you think about it, it all comes down to a simple legal matter – they have a right to do it. Whether we like it or not. It’s a free country and as a result some of us here, hell, all of us here have to live side by side with others who do things we don’t like. As long as it is legal there’s nothing we can do about it. I still would prefer this country to be the country of laws and not mobs, because if today the mob comes for somebody you don’t like – tomorrow it may come for you. If today we ban mosques because somebody is too uncomfortable or because it touches the raw nerve, then what would stop us to, say, ban Michael Moore or, God forbid, Rush Limbaugh for having the exact same effect on the others?
Having said that, this mosque does touch a lot of raw nerves and people are right to be upset. It does have a flavor of provocation similar to that Confederate monument in Selma that I wrote about in my previous post. However, that monument was moved eventually to a more appropriate place after the public outcry. But the difference between the mosque and the monument in Selma was that the monument wasn’t presented as an act of reconciliation – and was an obvious act of provocation. But here, in New York, I’m eagerly awaiting to see what Muslims can teach us, bleeding heart liberals, about tolerance and reconciliation. Perhaps, there’s something we don’t know.