Friday, July 23, 2010

Park51 and the Longest Comment Thread of All Time

Additionally, my post on Sarah Palin's unwelcome (in my opinion) intrusion into the NY mess prompted the longest comment thread in the seven year history of this website.  It was a fascinating exchange between myself and several folks -- reasonable, intelligent people, all -- who are as staunch in their opposition to the center as I am in favor of it.  The comments flew fast and furious and stretched from Monday morning to Wednesday morning.  It's the kind of open conversation that I think happens all too rarely in these days of the sound bite culture, and it should be encouraged at every opportunity.

Unfortunately, said discussion was carried out entirely on my Facebook wall, meaning it would likely go unread by many of the people who follow this blog, which I thought was a shame, as I do think it's worth having out there.  I've pasted the entire forty-some comment FB thread after the jump, with nothing changed or redacted from my end other than, for privacy's sake, the names of the participants involved (other than me, that is).  Again, by way of context, this was all prompted by that Palin post linked above.  And now, grab your popcorn, get your soda, and enjoy the show!

meh. she made a mistake. happens with this informal method of writing. She's not an intellectual giant. then again, she might know there aren't 57 states :P
July 19 at 11:55am · Like · 

It's a perfectly cromulent word.
July 19 at 12:57pm · Like · 

I just wish Sarah would learn that a noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.
July 19 at 1:39pm · Like · 

What D said...Hah!
July 19 at 10:08pm · Like · 

Your last sentence in your review sums it up the best. Seriously---does she not realize she lost the race? Go home already!
July 19 at 10:41pm · Like · 

If we're gonna harp on her for that, then Joe Biden should just go find a dark room and hide for a few years. His mangling of words, phrasing and "inappropriateness" make Palin look like Indira Gandhi.
Tuesday at 1:57am · Like · 

Well, it's less about her elastic use of the English language and more the casual bigotry and underlying ignorance of her comments that bothered me.
Tuesday at 2:06am · Like · 

Again. Go back and study Joe Biden's more, shall we say "casual" comments of the past two or three years. Or some of Obama's appointees' very racist comments. Or Obama's assigning racism to that situation with the white cop/black professor a year or so ago. Or some of his own subtly racist insinuations before he was a senator, addressing groups like ACORN. Well and fine to be offended with the Palin incident, but for credibility's sake - maybe a little less selectiveness and/or prejudice is in order.
Tuesday at 2:24am · Like · 

And ya know what? She's right on at least two points:
1) the Ground Zero mosque is NOT necessary. Is there a good reason for locating it there, rather than some other prime real estate?
2) for millions of Americans, including pRably many Muslim Americans, building a Mosque there must seem senseless AND a stab in the heart.

If she's insinuated  that only violence-loving Muslims are the ones supporting this, then yes, she's erred and needs to address that impression. But this is a baby and bathwater situation. We don't need a church on that site, we don't need a mosque, we don't need a synagogue. We need a memorial and we need new towers that reach to the sky. Analogies to demonstrate the wrong-headedness of building this Mosque are far too easy. You can think of plenty yourself. So why do it at all? And why castigate her for having the guts to make it a point of legitimate debate, even if her syntax and word-invention is such easy fodder? That's childish for anyone else, and well beneath your own capacities.
Tuesday at 2:34am · Like · 

It doesn't have to be either/or. Certainly I thought Obama was very wrong to have inserted himself into the Henry Gates incident, and as far as those other issues go, I'm happy to provide an opinion if asked. However, this latest incident with Ms. Palin is something that I have a more direct connection to, which is why I chose to address it on my forum.
Tuesday at 2:35am · Like · 

I get that. And I duly appreciate your castigation of terrorists and the damage they cause for Muslims everywhere. But Sarah Palin is not your enemy. Your enemy is the inaction of the Muslim community at large in the world who are peaceful in practice, but like the Germans during the Jewish ethnic cleansing of Nazi Germany, do not condemn or demand their Mullahs condemn, the actions of extremists. A woman like Palin is simply a mouth vocalizing frustration. If more Muslims vocalized their frustrations in concert with their fellow Middle Eastern, European and American citizens, Al Qaeda would fall out of power faster than you can say Burghermeister-MeisterBurgher.
Tuesday at 2:39am · Like · 

First, the entire "Ground Zero Mosque" argument is erroneous, because it's not a mosque. It's a cultural center that will also have a mosque in it. That might seem like a distinction without a difference, but in my view it's an important one that shows the role that the center is intended to play. 

Secondly, this is exactly the type of thing  that folks in the Fox News crowd clamor for when they accuse quote-unquote "moderate" Muslims of not stepping up and speaking out against those who've hijacked their faith. 

The Cordoba project is aimed specifically at healing cultural divides and fostering understanding, and its place in the heart of America's Metropolis is a key factor thereof. Yet, when it's attempted by sincere people of conviction, we have folks showing up at town halls to shout it down and call it a "monument to terrorism." 

Yep, Joseph Heller would love this.
Tuesday at 2:42am · Like · 

‎(And BTW I appreciate your comments in this thread, C...always enjoy tossing ideas back and forth with you.)
Tuesday at 2:47am · Like · 

Why THERE, Zaki? There's no good reason to put it right there. 
At all. America's Metropolis is a big place. Why not in Brooklyn, on the river? Plenty of cheaper land there.

Here's why people are concened. The CIA and NSA have discovered evidence of several homegrown terrorist enclaves groomed and protected in other Muslim "cultural centers"  and schools around the country. They can't even keep up with the money laundering going on in some of these places, that ends up going to support terrorists outside the USA. Regardless of the sincerity of those igniting the program in NYC, precedent is not on their side, vis a vis, credibility.

And the location is just - it's just an utterly stupid choice.
Tuesday at 2:51am · Like · 

And..this is hardly a Catch-22. There IS a rational solution. Build the thing somewhere else and then keep an eagle eye on its administrators to ensure it becomes a shining beacon of peace.
Tuesday at 2:53am · Like · 

I appreciate your comments too. I'm just gonna keep giving you something to think about once in a while, and you'll do the same for me. ;)
Tuesday at 2:56am · Like · 

Insofar as location goes, I think we'll just have to agree to disagree there. It's not ON Ground Zero, it's near it, and to my mind the Cordoba folks have just as much right to want the center there as anyone else. As far as I'm concerned, it's the "monument to terrorism" folks who are wrong on this one.

As to the other point you raise, I'll  grant that issues of fundraising and allocation have been a concern with some other sites in the past (a relative few, I should point out, in proportion to the number of Islamic centers across the country), and I sure hope the Cordoba folks have covered their based on that score.
Tuesday at 3:02am · Like · 

Given what I know, I sure hope so too.
Tuesday at 3:04am · Like · 

Zaki, are you able to see that there may be a larger group of people between your position and the "monument to terrorism" folks? While it may not be technically putting a mosque at Ground Zero, it is, in my mind, akin to building a liquor store next to an AA center. Ground Zero is still a place of grieving, no matter if we're a decade out from the event, and rightly or wrongly, much of the responsibility of 9/11 is still laid at the feet of Islam. At the very least, it displays a glaring lack of understanding on the part of the Cordoba House planners, while they claim to be "fostering understanding". You don't foster understanding by telling people you are completely ignoring their point of view.

And did you know it's no longer called "Cordoba House", but rather Park51? Perhaps too many people were noticing that the name Cordoba represents a symbolic Islamic conquest to many Muslims. A little too "on the nose" for my taste.
Tuesday at 4:51am · Like · 

Sarah Palin is an idiot, plain and simple. More interested in fleecing the gullible with her pseudo-politics than really doing anything positive for this country. If she were president she would sell it to the highest bidder the day she took office.
Tuesday at 6:42am · Like · 

‎@D...I fully acknowledge that there's plenty of real estate between my position and the "monument to terrorism" one, but I'd also argue that their thinking is still rooted in the kind of ignorance that the center is expressly aimed at addressing. 

And I'm glad they changed the name. That said, had Park 51 been the project's name from the  outset, those who oppose it would have found a way to slam THAT too. That's the point I'm making when I refer to this as a Catch-22. 

I agree that Ground Zero is still a place of mourning (for America's Muslims as well as everyone else) but this isn't being built at Ground Zero. If it were, I'd be the first to say it's inappropriate, as would most Muslims in this country. That's not even an issue. 

The complaint then is that it's a few blocks down. I'd submit that even if it were SEVERAL blocks down, or even ACROSS TOWN, folks would still complain abouts it being in the vicinity of Ground Zero, because of the generally hostile environment for Muslims among certain (not all, and not even a majority) quarters. How do I know?

Both are far, far away from NY, yet both are trafficking in exactly the same brand of hate and fear that Ms. Palin gleefully tweeted out.

The old chestnut is that the "moderate" Muslims haven't done enough to repudiate violence among Muslims. Let's set aside the fact that this is a ridiculous standard that no other religious group is subjected to, it's also repeatedly and demonstrably false (just like the OTHER chestnut about "Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims" is also repeatedly, demonstrably false). And yet it's not enough.

And it never will be, because that's not the narrative that exists out there. I don't hang it on any partisan stripe, but it is a symptom of the times in which we live. Cordoba House, or Park 51, is a way for America's Muslims to publicly and openly take back the reins of their religion from a hateful minority of a minority, and yet the very people who should applaud such a move are condemning it. Just seems counter-intuitive to me, is all I'm saying.
Tuesday at 11:08am · Like · 

Here's my stance: If folks were complaining about a site across town, or in another state, I'm right there with you. But this is two...not a few...two blocks away, in a building that has been vacant since being damaged by the 9/11 attacks. I can't stand with you and say "why are people so upset about this?" Understanding is a two-way street, and the decision to put "Park51" so close to Ground Zero only serves to reduce that street to a one-way path of anger and confusion. If fostering understanding is their goal, they have an absolutely piss-poor way of facilitating it.

I would also disagree that other religions aren't held to account for the actions of minority elements within them. I'm sure more than a few Catholic priests are getting pretty tired of hearing pedophilia jokes hurled at them right about now.
Tuesday at 11:37am · Like · 

Zaki, your assignment of the "Old chestnut" as a ridiculous standard, or demonstrably false, falls short of demonstrable algegbra.

When the lions share of horrific terrorist activity and/or bloodshed suddenly shifts (back) to Roman Catholics, then Roman Catholics will be expected to condemn such acts. To say the standard is unfair is patently  ridiculous and avoids the obvious - simple math.

No, not all terrorists are Muslims, but the VAST MAJORITY, at the present time, ARE. The rest are mostly PETA whackjobs.

This generation has abandoned algebra. It's very sad.
Tuesday at 12:32pm · Like · 

‎...your assignment of the "Old chestnut" as a ridiculous standard, or demonstrably false, falls short of demonstrable algegbra. 


It's a ridiculous standard because, as I said, it's asking American Muslims to prove a negative. It's like when Keith Ellison was on Glenn Beck's show, and Beck asked him to "prove he's not working with our enemies." That's the mentality I'm talking about.

I can provide list upon list of imams, scholars, teachers, and everyday Muslims who've spoken out repeatedly against terrorist acts by so-called Muslims since 9/11. I've even participated in such statements, and yet the bar for what's considered an "acceptable" degree of protestation is as nebulous and ill-defined as the nature of the critique. 

As to the notion of that "the vast majority," I stand by my assertion that it's provably false. To wit, this study published by CNN in Jan:

"Muslim-American communities have been active in preventing radicalization," said Charles Kurzman, professor of sociology at UNC, in the statement. "This is one reason that Muslim-American terrorism has resulted in fewer than three dozen of the 136,000 murders committed in the United States since 9/11."

(And just to be fair, the link also describes the number of such incidents as "small compared to other violent crime in America, but not insignificant.")

But like I said, it'll never be enough. If it wasn't the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" (which we've already established as a false appellation on both counts) it'd be something else. So it goes.
Tuesday at 1:10pm · Like · 

Seriously - and this is not said in spite: I'd love to see that list, Zaki. I think a lot of people would love to see that list. In France, a poll found 37 percent of French Muslims viewed suicide bombings acceptable so long as they were committed against Jews. This tacit passivity/racism comes into play when good people say nothing. 

When's  it enough? When it's OBVIOUS. When it's out loud. You've got Muslims protesting lyrics in ALADDIN and silliness like that, with vociferousness, but when have we seen THAT kind of passion applied to condemning the homicide bombers? The terrorist cells? The racist demogogues on the streets of New York and Detroit? The abominable treatment of women and children who dissent in American families?

And using the figure of 136,000 murders is disingenuous. We're ALWAYS going to have murders. They're not typically assigned to terrorism. That's what makes terrorism an anomaly to civilized cultures - it requires assent to CONSPIRACY, and silence by a CONSTITUENCY. 

I'll concede that perhaps some measure of retrenchment is due to growing activism on the part of more responsible Muslim leaders, but it's nowhere near enough.

Right now, I don't think a lot of people would deem me intellectually dishonest to say that the vast majority of America's Muslims - and the WORLD's Muslims, are as "in the closet" on their condemnation of terrorism, as, shall we say, certain gay Celebrity Scientologists are in the closet with their own nagging albatross.
Tuesday at 3:42pm · Like · 

Here's one list. Leaders, scholars, ordinary Muslms, op-eds.

Here's another list:

Another one:

And one more:

It's far, far, far past time this myth was put to bed.
Tuesday at 3:50pm · Like · 

In the initial comments about the cultural center, the builders of it highlighted the Mosque and the close location to Ground Zero. When the backlash started-and not a tea party backlash a 9/11 victim family member backlash-then the mosque was dropped from the rhetoric and suddenly the fact it was a whole two blocks lol from the ground zero site was also emphasized. 
Tuesday at 3:58pm · Like · 

and hey, people can build where they want. Considering the level of infighting this has caused though, it might have been smarter to make it a bit further away. from a public relations stand point.

meanwhile we have a city that cant even build anything at Ground Zero. Unbelievable. 3 terms, Mr. Bloomberg and nothing.
Tuesday at 3:59pm · Like · 

Agreed on that point, R. Pretty shameful.
Tuesday at 4:00pm · Like · 

I dont really see Palin's statement here as bigoted. i think that's the wrong term.
Tuesday at 4:04pm · Like · 

I remember when Pataki and Bloomberg laid the cornerstone! In November i will be on my 4th governor since then. Ok, so we had a sex scandal and incomptence to blame for two but still :P
Tuesday at 4:10pm · Like · 

Thank you for the lists, Zaki. I'm going through the links, but you should be aware that quite a few of them are no longer functional. Either they've been removed or something... and quite a few (at least in the first list) are quite old. I'll be curious (and cheered) to find a pattern of sustained (and current) condemnations.
Tuesday at 5:02pm · Like · 

C, that gets to the point I'm making. It's not our job to wag our finger every single time some a-hole decides to do something stupid, anymore than I expect all of Christendom assembled to roundly protest Fred Phelps whenever he shows up at a soldier's funeral saying "God hates fags!"

It's understood that he doesn't speak for the majority , just as it should be understood that OBL or any other of his ilk doesn't speak for us. That's what I mean when I say that Muslims in America are (sometimes) held to an unreasonable standard that can never be met. That "proving a negative" that I talked about earlier.

Just as a ferinstance, when this whole South Park thing happened in April, how many Muslims did you see or hear protesting? One group. Of like six guys. With a web page. But how did the story play in the media? "Muslim Group Threatens South Park Creators" There's a narrative already in place, and all it takes is one idiot with a persecution complex to undermine all the Muslims (i.e. the vast, vast majority) who DIDN'T protest it, and who immediately condemned said group (i.e. me).

If asked, I'm happy to condemn terrorism in all its forms, just as I'm sure most Muslims would be and are, but the charge that such acts haven't been denounced in the strongest terms possible in the past is demonstrably false, as I've shown. However, even when that proof is provided, the goalposts are moved and it's discounted with some kind of an "out" that makes the whole exercise a net negative.
Tuesday at 5:34pm · Like · 

BTW, these quotes from Hamza Yusuf and Noah Keller, both of whom I consider my teachers, are some of the best such condemnations that I've seen:

Hamza Yusuf, American Muslim leader:

“Religious zealots of any creed are defeated people who lash out in desperation, and they often do horrific things. And if these people [who committed murder on  September 11] indeed are Arabs, Muslims, they're obviously very sick people and I can't even look at it in religious terms. It's politics, tragic politics. There's no Islamic justification for any of it. ... You can't kill innocent people. There's no Islamic declaration of war against the United States. I think every Muslim country except Afghanistan has an embassy in this country. And in Islam, a country where you have embassies is not considered a belligerent country. In Islam, the only wars that are permitted are between armies and they should engage on battlefields and engage nobly. The Prophet Muhammad said, ``Do not kill women or children or non-combatants and do not kill old people or religious people,'' and he mentioned priests, nuns and rabbis. And he said, ``Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees and do not poison the wells of your enemies.'' The Hadith, the sayings of the Prophet, say that no one can punish with fire except the lord of fire. It's prohibited to burn anyone in Islam as a punishment. No one can grant these attackers any legitimacy. It was evil.” 
San Jose Mercury News, September 15, 2001

Nuh Ha Mim Keller, American Muslim author: 

“Muslims have nothing to be ashamed of, and nothing to hide, and should simply tell people what their scholars and religious leaders have always said: first, that the Wahhabi sect has nothing to do with orthodox Islam, for its lack of tolerance is a perversion of traditional values; and second, that killing civilians is wrong and immoral.” 
“Making the World Safe for Terrorism,” September 30, 2001
Tuesday at 5:47pm · Like · 

Zaki, the South Park story didn't turn on the "Muslims threaten Cartman" angle, it turned on the "Comedy Central capitulated" angle. THAT's what riled people up. Up until that point, you had a reaction to those guys, but it was more like "We're not going to be like the Dutch". Then, the channel caved, and it generated a lot of anger, unfortunately not enough of it was placed at Comedy Central.

You don't have to condemn every act of terrorism. You don't even have to condemn Park51. But can't you see some facet of the other side in this situation? I'm opposed to this decision, but I would hope you don't think I'm some kind of frothing Islamophobe any more than you want to be thought of as a terrorist sympathizer.
Tuesday at 6:46pm · Like · 

D, let me state clearly and without equivocation that I can see those facets you speak of. I truly get it. However, I also truly feel that this center is a gateway whose very function is in overcoming the grievances many site as the key to their opposition. Those who are gripped not by bigotry, but by fear of what they don't understand.

More than that, it's a chance to show the rest of the country and the rest of the world what America is about. We're a nation that prizes symbols, and the symbolic power this center can potentially wield is to tell the terrorists they've failed. And as long as we stay true to our core principles (many of which are in lockstep with Islamic values), they can never win.
Tuesday at 7:17pm · Like · 

Zaki... I thanked you for your list and it will take some days to go through. But I'm hopeful it's full of many RECENT condemnations, keeping up the dialogue and pressure against such evil.

But I take issue with something you contend. So long as a huge contingent of the world's terrorists are doing this in the name of Islam, so long as parents  are murdering their disobedient children in the name of Islam, so long as more and more bloodshed is committed in the name of Islam, yes, I think it's your responsibility to do all you can to snuff it out. Because I and others will always be "the Infidel" Who must, according to a conservative interpretation of the Quran, many times over and over, be ostracized and/or killed (if I don't convert), and so we'll always be viewed with a qualification, or with suspicion. Simply put - I can't do what Muslims can do far more effectively, so the onus is on you. Sorry. Life's not fair.

Christians, Jews, Mormons, Hare Krishnas, Buddhists aren't really organizing in enclaves to kill anyone - except for some pockets of Africans killing gays over on that continent. And I've condemned them and almost every public figure in Christendom I can think of has condemned their actions as well, and the tide of pressure swells. The religious leaders who avoid the subject have lost my respect altogether.

My point simply is that those with the closest connection to whoever is doing the murdering CANNOT be silent. The silence of the Germans before and during the Holocaust will forever haunt them, as well it should. Silence is unconscionable. Silence is acquiescence.

On paper, you've proven that Muslims have been very vocal about this, but I think their howls needs to be much louder. Because I'm kind of a news junkie - and believe me, this stuff is not getting play. When 78 percent of media professionals in the USA describe themselves as liberal democrats, you'd think this sort of thing would get more play IN the media.

An awful lot of voices are out there, protesting all kinds of things, and I see/hear them all the time... but I'm not hearing or seeing Muslims en masse. They form the single biggest religious group in the world, and yet... crickets. Where are the vigils? Where are the special memorial events? The assemblies in amphitheaters denouncing Al Qaeda? Denouncing family violence and patricide?

Will I find those on your lists? I trust we'll find a few, at least.

One can't be a vocal activist for Global Warming, or Socialized Health Care, or Legalized Drug use or other, lesser issues, and NOT be a vocal activist against people killing innocents in the name of Allah. It's utter lunacy, this dichotomy.

Just my opinion.
Tuesday at 8:00pm · Like · 

So long as a huge contingent of the world's terrorists are doing this in the name of Islam, so long as parents are murdering their disobedient children in the name of Islam, so long as more and more bloodshed is committed in the name of Islam, yes, I think it's your responsibility to do all you can to snuff it out.


Of course it is. I  think it's how we define "all you can" where we part ways. Just because I don't rush out a press release every time Abdul in Jakarta decides to turn himself into a firecracker doesn't mean I'm not doing my part to combat such actions.

Further, there are plenty of organizations out there doing their part as well, domestically and abroad, to address the issues you cite, even if their efforts aren't plastered all over the front page (or the back page, for that matter).

My responsibility as both a Muslim and an American is to embody the faith as best I can in myself, my children, and to those around me. To enjoin what I see is right and condemn what I see is wrong. And yet, every time some act of Muslim-perpetrated violence crops up, here's the dance we go through:

Those condemnations that I listed are out there as part of the record. Most are about as unequivocal as it gets, and yet here we are splitting hairs over their recency. This is the constant shifting of goalposts I refer to. It's not like these statements have expiration dates on them, so how often do they need to be reiterated to be considered acceptable? Is it concomitant on scholars, imams, and average Muslims to renew them every year like wedding vows?

While it's not a bad idea, it seems to me the same thing that's happening here would happen then. The bar you're describing is one that's impossible for any Muslim to circumvent, and I'd argue it's engineered as such so we can collectively point the finger and say, "See? Not doing enough."

Here's Hesham Hasaballah, an acquaintance of mine, on the matter of the perpetual need for condemnation:

"This framework implicitly accuses ordinary Muslims of complicity in said acts of violence if they do not shout out condemnations every single time some Muslim somewhere does something wrong. This is untenable."

Here's Ali Eteraz, another acquaintance, on the myth of condemnation (or lack thereof):

"There is something wrong with the basic premise of the idea that Muslims must condemn terrorism, because at the end of the day there is no such thing as The Muslim Collective. If we as a society are going to make collective demands on a group, then we are implying that collective punishment is appropriate as well. So while learning about all the Muslims who have condemned terrorism is nice; its nicer if we started to move beyond that point."

It's for the reasons cited in the excerpts above that I feel your premise is rooted in a faulty foundation. The onus, contrary to where you place it, is on those who cry "no condemnation" the loudest to seek it out. It's ready and waiting, a Google search away. More than that, they should seek out a Muslim and have a conversation with them. They may well be pleasantly surprised by what they learn.
Tuesday at 10:42pm · Like · 

I hear your points, and I understand your grief, and I believe your sincerity on the issue.

However, Six Million Jews, thousands of homosexuals and others died at the hands of the Nazis, because whatever protest the German citizenry DID make, was not vociferous enough, organized enough, or willing enough to wipe out evil in their midst.

Honestly, I don't think my frustration here is with American Muslims so much as it is those in Europe and especially in the Middle East. Given that so much of this rage starts in sermons preached from the more hard-core orthodox mosques in the Middle East and Asia, it's tough for me to get over the notion that the majority of the people could wipe this stuff out, if they truly had the force of will to do so. The peaceful Muslims exponentially outnumber those seeding violence - and yet, we - Western Governments - are spending billions to root them out of caves, decrypt their e-mails, identify them through satellite photos, and support the troops who tag and do the dirty work.

I'm not setting a bar when I ask for recency, and I'm not asking for an expiration date as if condemnations were a jug of milk. I'm asking for relevance in protests - and it may be out there, but it's frustrating not to find it deafening, or (seemingly) very effective.
Wednesday at 2:13am · Like · 

That's because the Germans were mostly complicit in whats going on.
In Britain something like 25% of Britsh Muslims said in a poll at one time they supported or could understand the London bombers. 1 out of 4. That's shocking.
Wednesday at 5:07am · Like · 

Zaki said earlier:

"The Cordoba project is aimed specifically at healing cultural divides and fostering understanding"

All well and good, but I can't help noticing how everything they're doing regarding this project serves only to exacerbate tensions with Muslims, rather than attempt to heal them. Mosque yards away from Ground Zero? In a  building damaged during the 9/11 attacks? Opening the damned thing on September 11th, 2011? Every single step there should have been realized as a bad move from simply a PR perspective. If the goal is indeed healing cultural divides, they are doing a spectacularly bad job right from the outset.

The only other relevant analogy I can think of is if the Council for Japanese-American Relations wanted to open an office in Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1951. You simply can't offer to foster understanding 
while at the same time completely ignoring the concerns of the people you claim to be reaching out to. And if you offer conciliation, and the offended person's reply is "No thank you, not right now", you don't try to give them a big bear hug anyway.
Wednesday at 6:32am · Like · 

D makes a good point. It's kind of like intentionally building a hot dog stand within sight of the gravesite of a loved one who choked on a hot dog at that company's OTHER hot dog stand. It's a fairly ass-backward bit of reasoning to consider it a "tribute."

There is such a thing as sensitivity. Creating a holocaust memorial at Dachau, fine. But they leave the horror there, intact, unvarnished. They never put up basketball hoops or wired it for satellite TV.
Wednesday at 10:49am · Like · 

R had a fantastic analogy in Zaki's other thread comparing it to the NRA holding their convention near Columbine High School. Charlton Heston had a very similar justification for the choice:

"We're often cast as the villain," NRA President Charlton Heston told the unexpectedly large crowd. "That's not our role in American society, and we will not be forced to play it."

The NRA eventually canceled the event out of "profound sympathy and respect" for the victims of the Columbine shooting.
Wednesday at 11:02am · Like · 

Guys, I do appreciate your contributions in this discussion, and I think it continues to be one that's worth having. However, by now we've gone 'round and 'round and 'round again, and pretty much everyone has made their positions on the matter clear. You feel it's inappropriate, I feel that it couldn't be more appropriate. Neither of those positions are likely to shift much, so at this point I'll respectfully bow out of the debate. Thanks again for the cordial exchange of ideas, and for helping to make my FB wall a really happenin' place to be!
Wednesday at 11:20am · Like · 

I've outlasted another argument. VICTORY!
Wednesday at 11:23am · Like · 

That's like sweet ambrosia to you. :)
Wednesday at 11:23am · Like · 

Wednesday at 11:25am · Like ·

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