The New York Times reports that the developers of the “Ground Zero Mosque” are mulling an alternate development project: an “interfaith” center on the current property, sans mosque, with the needed mosque built elsewhere.
It’s not clear to me why you float this idea now. The battle is over. As we predicted months ago, fundamentalist ire dissipated as quickly as it flared up, with nary a mention since October, except on niche hate blogs, and CPAC, an event increasingly indistinguishable from the same. Fundamentalists do not have very long memories, and with the fight over, Park51 is in a position to decide who won. Giving up will send a very poor message about America, and the prospects for religious diversity in her most immigrant-friendly city. While pushing through to construction might re-raise the right’s anger, it would be exactly as fleeting.
Moreover, to the extent that the battle continues even now, this concession will please precisely no-one. Like your average schoolyard bully, fundamentalists don’t respect compromise, and moreover, don’t recognize the value of “interfaith dialogue.” The compromise project effectively invites fundamentalist Christians to a middle-ground that they refuse to acknowledge even exists. People like Pamela Geller want nothing less than the eradication of American Islam, and are on record arguing that Islam cannot be “civilized.” (Cf. Hitchens “The taming and domestication of religious faith is one of the unceasing chores of civilization.”). Why should we not take her type at her word? And if we do just that, there can be no compromise with her pervasive ideology of hate. Instead, just as Toby explained with Islamic fundamentalism, the only way to “compromise” is to win. They — Christian fundamentalists — will like us when we win (YouTube).
I’m very sad for my city. With Park51, New York’s Muslims extended an open hand in friendship. For God’s sake, they were going to build us a public swimming pool — a real, usable public swimming pool, not like that city-backed monstrosity on 23d Street!! — just to demonstrate how unthreatening American Islam truly is. And we slapped that hand away.
The interfaith compromise project can only be explained as an attempt to meet America’s right more than half-way. It’s truly heartbreaking in its naïveté, its futility, and for what it says about how far we as a nation have fallen. Once again it’s the American right — not Islam — that threatens our core beliefs.