In the current political landscape, the Republican party is like a really bad prop comic. They reach into a trunk full of hut-button issues, pull one out, and rattle it in front of the crowd for laughs, because it’s a lot easier than having ideas.
The latest prop being used by the Blueberry Heads in the GOP is the Ground Zero Mosque. A more accurate name would be The Couple of Blocks from Ground Zero Muslim Cultural Center, but no good comedian lets the truth get in the way of a good punchline.
The joke, I mean, argument goes something like this: Ground Zero is hallowed ground and therefore can not abide the presence of a Muslim-y thing in its vicinity. My counterargument is this: Go fuck yourselves, you hypocritical human garbage.
The real prop here isn’t the mosque itself. It’s New York City. Neocons have used New York as a prop for the last nine years, and will doubtless continue to use it for as long as they can. The terrorist attacks were the rationale for everything on the Republican agenda during that entire time. Flash pictures of Twin Towers collapsing, then tell everyone we need to invade Iraq. We need to curtail civil liberties. We need to waterboard suspects. We need to shoot elderly men in the face. Why? Because LOOK WHAT HAPPENED TO NEW YORK IS WHY!
Of course, this concern over the fate of New York doesn’t extend to making sure the state gets its fair share of federal money, particularly when it comes to Homeland Security funds. Hey, why would we want to protect the city that’s already been attacked and will surely be the number one target for future attacks? And it certainly doesn’t extend to ensuring the health and well-being of first 9/11 responders.
The Republicans don’t give a shit about New York. They hate it, because it’s full of dirty foreigners and liberals, the kind of people who don’t really care if there’s a Muslim center two blocks from Ground Zero. They just recognize that this issue can galvanize people and maybe win a close election or two this November. If the GOP could gain one Senate seat by nuking all five boroughs, they’d do it this afternoon.
I was in Manhattan on September 12, while the streets were still filled with eye-stinging smoke as far north as 14th Street and you needed a face mask to breathe and I was more terrified than I’ve ever been since I was a child. And a Muslim community center near Ground Zero doesn’t bother me in any way.
If you lived in New York then and were directly affected by it, I won’t tell you how to feel. But people who don’t live in New York, and weren’t in New York on 9/11 have no right to dictate what happens here. Don’t tell me you have to stop this project from going forward because of some Magic Heroic Dreamspace that Ground Zero occupies in your brain. For most of the people who are upset by this news, downtown New York might as well be Narnia.
You’re like Star Wars nerds arguing over what George Lucas did in the prequels. Actually, you’re worse, because Star Wars nerds had to see the prequels. I don’t give a shit if you don’t like the idea of a mosque near Ground Zero when YOU WILL NEVER HAVE TO SEE IT.
Why don’t I pick a random construction project I don’t like and protest it? Boo, Waffle House being built in Charleston, South Carolina! There’s already a perfectly good Waffle House just up the road! I will probably never go to Charleston but this angers me deeply! My personal feelings trump your ability to decide what’s best for your own town!
And boo to Harry Reid, who’s apparently trying to win his election by kowtowing to these morons. If you’re trying to out-crazy Sharron Angle, don’t bother–it can’t be done.
Not to mention that the area immediately around Ground Zero is about as un-hallowed as New York gets. Fast food restaurants and OTBs and strip clubs, and all the other kind of garbage that litters the touristy areas of Giuliani’s Manhattan. The tourists who flock there are so humbled by the sacred ground that they buy cheap t-shirts and postcards and prints and coloring books about 9/11 sold within in its glowing aura.
I remember going to a printer’s conference in the Midwest. This was at least two years after 9/11. When I told other people on the conference that I worked in New York, they got all quiet and whispery. What was it like? they asked, low and conspiratorial, as if curious about some strange sex act they’d never tried before. It, in this case, was That Day, which they couldn’t even bring themselves to say.
They wanted all the gory details I could provide, just so I could assure them that living in some place safer was the correct way to live. Like I had chosen to live on some terrorist fault line. Oh you know, I could never live in New York, what with the traffic and the noise and the Islamo-fascists flying planes into things…
That’s all this “debate” is. A way to dredge up the Terror Envy that every other city felt in the early 2000s. Scare ourselves with the reflective horror of 9/11 one more time. And then forget that New York still has a huge gaping hole in the ground and thousands of people who died and became ill when that hole was made.