Friday, August 20, 2010

Hallowed Ground Zero

by Dick Mac

I have never quite understood the notion that the site of the former World Trade Center is special in a religious way. I share the collective outrage and believe the people who died at Ground Zero will be memorialized spiritually and architecturally.

What appears to be a very nice memorial park has been designed in the redevelopment of the site, and I often consider sponsoring a cobblestone for the project.

Some people take the notion a little too far however, and attach religious sentiment to the crime scene. I think it's inappropriate to attach religious significance to the site, because literally every religion was represented by those who died. Sadly, those controlling the redevelopment, and the hysterical Republicans surrounding them, see the religious aspect as specifically Judeo-Christian, ignoring the many Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, etc., as well as the atheists and agnostic, who perished at the site.

I am OK with there being religious events and religious sentiment attached to memories; but I fear religiosity as a basis for making decisions about commerce and development.

The right-wing (more and more accurately described as the anti-American wrong-wing) has raised a fuss that a Muslim community center, including a mosque, completely unrelated to Ground Zero development is being developed four blocks away from the site.

The alleged holiness of the Ground Zero site is already deeply compromised by the inclusion of a shopping mall and an office building thereon. In my book, you do not build a shopping mall at a holy site. The shopping mall, however, is a huge piece of the planning and development. So, those who are trying to demonstrate that this is sacred land need to explain to me why it's OK to put a shopping mall there. They can't, of course, because they conveniently ignore the offensiveness of free-marketeering in a holy place (something Jesus specifically spoke against). In America, to be a conservative now means that you spout religiosity when it conveniently condemns those you dislike, and you ignore the same teachings when it means there is a buck to be made or another political point to be won.

The former World Trade Center that was opened in the mid-1960s was a monument to American capitalism (which is why it was twice selected as the target for jihadist crimes), and it's connection to any religion is a tenuous connection, at best.

I know that the holiness is not related to the buildings, but to the Innocent (and guilty) who perished on September 11, 2001. Still, the construction of buildings after-the-fact represents how we feel about it today, and represents the religious and non-religious in many ways.

We have chosen a memorial park, a shopping mall, a transit hub, and an over-sized office building. Two of these structures are specifically unholy, especially in the context of declaring this hallowed ground. I hear nothing from the hysterical right-wing about this conflict between their religiosity and their politics.

It is OK with right-wingers to build a shopping mall on hallowed ground. However, when American taxpaying citizens want to erect a house of worship four blocks away, the bigoted right-wing turns on its hysteria machine and condemns a Muslim community center and mosque (a holy place of prayer) four blocks away.

The hypocrisy is chilling and laughable at the same time.

Blogger Daryl Lang has exposed the foolishness of the opposition to the community center at his "History Eraser Button" blog. His entry of August 16, 2010, is a collection of photos of other establishments within a four-block area of the very holy site, the Hallowed Ground of Ground Zero. There are a strip club, a betting parlour, McDonalds, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, street vendors, and a pub. Now, if this area surrounding such hallowed ground cannot include a house of worship, how can it include a strip club and Dunkin Donuts?

It's time for the hysterical right-wing, their leadership in the Democratic and Republican parties, and their mouthpiece at News Corporation to drop it. You are barking up a tree that ignores you.

See Lang's photos here: Hallowed Ground

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