Many opponents of the
mosque Islamic community center known as Park 51, particularly those who wish to remain in the mainstream of society, insist that there is nothing inherently anti-Muslim or anti-mosque about their position. It's just this specific location that bothers them it's too close, and, some point out, a piece of one of the planes fell through the roof on 9/11. This particular building is not a good place for a mosque. Of course, it's logical to ask, as Mayor Bloomberg did last night in another great speech, how far away from ground zero a mosque would have to be for it to no longer be considered "insensitive." After all, there is already a mosque four blocks away from ground zero, and nobody is saying that it should move. So maybe four blocks is the (arbitrary) proximity limit, then?
Mmm, no. Not quite. The Daily News scouted out a few alternate locations for the mosque in downtown Manhattan all of them at least half a mile from ground zero and asked some prominent mosque opponents whether they would be satisfied with the new sites. The responses were truly astounding. Here's the former firefighter Tim Brown, "one of the most strident anti-mosque voices":
"I don't know. ... For me to say two blocks, 10 blocks, 100 blocks, that's not my place."
Wait, 100 blocks? You can't say whether a mosque 100 blocks from ground zero is okay?
Construction worker Andy Sullivan, another vocal opponent, said he could accept a mosque built 5 miles away.
Five miles!!! That's, like, the Museum of Natural History. Anything closer than that is too close to ground zero? You're making Newt Gingrich look reasonable. Do you hear yourselves? It's as if you think ground zero covers all of Manhattan or something. Wait ... no ... really?
Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles died aboard the hijacked plane that hit the Pentagon, said Ground Zero extends beyond the 16-acre World Trade Center site.
"You had destruction from river to river," said Burlingame. "People had body parts on their window sills. ... The idea that you can just mark off an area and say, 'That's what Ground Zero is,' is crazy."
What's crazy is that, up until a few months ago, the term "ground zero" was understood to mean the former site of World Trade Center by, literally, everyone. Now, suddenly, ground zero is undefinable. It's everywhere. Or at least everywhere someone wants to build a mosque.