Friday, August 20, 2010

A Ground Zero Mosque That Isn't at Ground Zero

See that big empty space in the photo? That's ground zero just a few months ago. That's also where the mosque you've been hearing so much about lately will not be built.

That's because no one's actually proposing the mosque be built at ground zero. In fact, the mosque would be in an old Burlington Coat Factory two blocks away.

To out-of-towners, two blocks doesn't seem that far. In New York, it might as well be a whole other neighborhood. Actually, in some parts of the city, neighborhoods do stretch only two blocks.

Bay Ridge, where I live, is a nice area of Brooklyn. It's crowded but certainly not the densest part of the city. You want to know how many people live within a two block radius of me? I can't count that high. Seriously? I would guess about 2,500, and I'm probably underestimating. Oh, and that's not even counting all of the restaurants and stores in the same proximity.

Take a look at the map below. Zoom in if you want. I'll wait. I've marked the location of the proposed mosque and community center in relation to the World Trade Center site.

View Larger Map

Can you honestly say that the mosque would be at ground zero? What about the Verizon, Hilton and Century 21 right across the street? And you must think I work at ground zero, too -- my office is almost exactly as far away from the World Trade Center site as the mosque would be. Last I checked, I wasn't working in a construction zone.

But maybe you just don't like the idea of a mosque so close to ground zero. Sorry. There's already one mosque 4 blocks away from ground zero and another 12 blocks away, according to the New York Times.

But you know what? Even if none of that were the case -- even if the backers wanted to build the mosque right in the middle of ground zero -- I'd say go for it. What would we prove by nixing it? Just that we can wave the Constitution and pontificate on the glories of the first amendment when it's easy. But when there's a real challenge -- well, go ahead and pass us some freedom fries.

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