I am sure getting tired of talking and reading about this damned Mosque. Every time I think the issue has quieted down, someone comes along and gets me all riled up again.
First, let's get something straight. This Mosque is only any of my business because people have made it so. I do not live in New York and I am not Muslim so I 'have no dog in this race' (and, by the way, neither do most of you reading this now). Second, this thing is way out of control. Until temperatures go down and people start talking to one another (and by that I mean Talk, not Shout), it will never settle down.
Let's take a second to see how we got where we are. First and most obviously, a few very evil people masquerading behind the Muslim religion and fired up by extremist Islamic rhetoric decided to attack the United States and managed to kill about 3000 people --- and really, really pissed off Americans everywhere. A lot happened as a result, most of which we don't need to go over endlessly so we'll skip forward to "now".
We have a few Muslims who get together and worship in an old building a couple of blocks from Ground Zero. No big deal and perfectly legal and acceptable. Many people know about this and a lot of people even verbally support the idea (several have now conveniently forgotten their comments or are trying to redefine what they said at the time).
Unfortunately for the Muslims at the Mosque something happens. A few people find out and they don't like it so they begin protesting. They ask questions like "do they have a right to do that?"; "It's too close to the Memorial site"; and "It's offensive to the memories of our loved ones, can't they move it?". Instead of sitting down and discussing the situation -- instead of making declarations of support for the families or soothing fears by assurances that no one at the Mosque approves of terrorist organizations and that they support American values, they waive the "Constitution" and say "How dare you question us?" "We have a right and you don't". People are called bigots and told they only ask questions because they hate all Muslims. Instead of opening dialog, people just piss each other off even more. Anger generates anger generates suspicion and hatred. The fanatics on both sides start seeing this as their 'daily cause' and use it for their own purposes. The issue is hijacked by left wing loonies and right wing crazies -neither of which truly give a damn personally about the Mosque or the families and who will now keep the argument going just as long as they can influence another vote with it.
OK, so what happens? How do we fix this? We don't. This is not going away. The people in the Mosque are hiding behind their "constitutional rights" and the other side will use every trick in the book to force them out. The temperatures will rise and people may even get hurt -but nobody appears willing to talk it out or compromise.
Eventually the American people living in Spokane, Washington and New Haven, Idaho will get tired of it. The pundits and political agitators will find new causes and move on. Even I will get tired of reading and writing about it and everything will settle down.
The Muslims who want to use that as a community center will have to accustom themselves to close scrutiny and even remote connections to a group like Hezbollah or Hemas will be splashed across the newspapers. Every dime of support will have to be accounted for. But, in the end, it will just die down.
As for building the center -that is a different question. I think they are going to face a lot of challenges getting it done. Their funding will be watched and questioned. Permits may be hard to get --and getting union labor is going to be very costly. I think it will eventually happen, but they should be prepared for it to cost a lot more than they think and take a lot longer than they realize.
There is a lesson in all of this, one which we would all be wise to heed. This could have all been avoided if people had just started talking, really talking, to each other. People need to be willing to answer the hard questions without being too offended. People need to listen to each others concerns without calling each other names. And, perhaps most important, people need to realize that people's rights often conflict with each other and when that happens it is best if both sides are just ready and willing to compromise a little --just to get along.