‘Ground Zero mosque’: How close is too close?
In writing about the mosque/Ground Zero flap today in The New York Times, Clyde Haberman brings up a point that has been bothering me too:
…we have learned that many people must have been out sick the day the teacher taught prepositions. The center is routinely referred to by some opponents as the “mosque at ground zero.”
. . . There’s that “at.” For a two-letter word, it packs quite a wallop. It has been tossed around in a manner both cavalier and disingenuous, with an intention by some to inflame passions. Nobody, regardless of political leanings, would tolerate a mosque at ground zero. “Near” is not the same, as anyone who paid attention back in the fourth grade should know.
This elicits a question: How far away must the mosque be before the Newt-Sarah-Jihad Watch brigade would be satisfied? Richard Land, who heads public policy for Southern Baptists, played games with the at-near difference in a recent column for the Washington Post. He provided a most interesting comparison.
Having a mosque at Ground Zero would be the equivalent of having a Japanese Shinto shrine built next to the USS Arizona. Do the followers of Shinto have a right to have a shrine in Honolulu? Yes. In close proximity to the USS Arizona? No.
From what I could tell on Google Maps, the closest Shinto shrine to the USS Arizona is 6.7 miles away. The closest Baptist church (not strictly Southern Baptist, mind you, but neither was Truman) I could find in Hiroshima was .5 miles away from their Ground Zero.
Yes, the proposed ‘mosque’ (Haberman points out that it’s probably not what you imagine) would be closer than both of those examples, but not ‘at.’ Here’s the map of the where the Islamic center would be in relation to Ground Zero, as provided by the developers’ web site.
And one reminder: The distance between Ground Zero and Al Qaeda headquarters, where the attack was planned, is over 6,000 miles.
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