My column of the year: Building a mosque at ground zero is a mistake

Dwight Hobbes

Keith Ellison ran for congressional office as an agent for humanitarian change. On winning, Ellison assumed a sense of politically correct entitlement to step on a soapbox and market his religion as a Muslim. Somebody had to say something about it. So, I did in the column below.

Each September, scores of Americans climb back up on the cross, wallowing in the conceit that this nation, by God’s personal anointment, was, is, and always will be above such tragedy as took place with the destroyed World Trade Center and the loss of nearly 3,000 lives.

Other countries have suffered horrific assaults on innocent civilians, not the least being Japan, which saw more than 100,000 innocent citizens ruthlessly murdered by, in fact, America’s infamous weapon of mass destruction, the atomic bomb. Yet you don’t see, every first week of August, an indignant ramming down the world’s throat of what a wretched deed was done and a self-righteous recounting of the toll it took on Japanese hearts and souls.

The U.S., though, is incapable of coming to grips with its catastrophe and wants everyone everywhere on Earth to know it. A lot of people in this land need to get over themselves and the idea that by divine right this country’s suffering is more important than that of others — that 9/11 is somehow a singular, incomparable crime and ultimately the most heinous sin to ever be perpetrated against anyone on the planet.

Americans need to place themselves in perspective as yet another nation on which tragedy befell. This includes that nitwit Pastor Terry Jones and his supporters who actually voiced plans to burn copies of the Qur’an on 9/11 because it was Muslims who flew those airliners into the Twin Towers. There is no point insulting every member of the faith.

On the other hand, this business of a proposed Islamic center and mosque near the site of the terrorist attack is hardly a sensible way to go about things. It is arrogantly insensitive to people who lost loved ones in the attack to choose that very place to put a mosque, not because there’s anything wrong with being Muslim, but because it goes out of the way to rub salt in people’s wounds.

This is not anti-Muslim thinking; it’s common sense in the name of common decency.
Congressman Keith Ellison ignores this common sense in his melodramatic posturing all over national television to the effect that those who are against the proposal are “proponents of religious bigotry.” He told a Twin Cities newspaper, “This series of events has given me a new shot and a renewed commitment to make sure America’s doors stay open, and we won’t ever say we have somebody we want to throw under the bus.

Not the Japanese, not the Catholics, not the Jews, and now not the Muslims.
“We’re not going to do that,” said Ellison. “We’re going to stay a country that prizes its diversity.” He is being deliberately obtuse, refusing to respect people’s sensibilities in order to peddle politically correct doubletalk: What the hell does any of this have to do with folk being let in America or anybody being tossed under a moving vehicle?

He’s also seizing the chance to opportunistically proselytize, stumping for his religion as a Muslim. Ellison claimed, “Somebody’s got to say it’s not OK. If we start setting up these are ‘the OKs’ and these are ‘the no goods’ in America like this along religious lines…I’m going to be found speaking against it.”

Hogwash. There is a huge difference between religious persecution and reasonably deferring to the fact that more than few Americans quite understandably see it as a slap in the face that, of all places to erect an Islamic center and mosque, this is the site that was chosen.

As for President Barack Obama strongly supporting the proposal, well, it’s pretty hard to take him seriously about anything anyway. If there’s a social issue to be discussed, you can count on him to be on the politically correct side, trying to be all things to all people.

The closest he’s come to going against the accepted grain was to call that Boston cop on being “stupid” by racially profiling Henry Louis Gates, hauling Gates out of his own house for no good reason. At that, Obama chumped himself with a punk’s apology that he had Gates co-sign as the three of them sat down to make nice in the backyard at the White House.

America truly ought to realize that reality strikes and, sad a blow to humanity as 9/11 was, our suffering is no deeper, no more immortal, than anyone else’s. It doesn’t mean, however, that insult should be added to injury.

This commentary originally ran in the September 22, 2010 issue of the MSR.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to