Guy W. Farmer: Ground zero mosque is a needless provocation |

Guy W. Farmer: Ground zero mosque is a needless provocation

Guy W. Farmer

Although I respect and understand fellow columnist Eugene Paslov’s defense of the proposed ground zero mosque and cultural center in New York City’s Lower Manhattan district, I strongly disagree with his opinion because I think building a mosque just two blocks from where Islamic terrorists murdered nearly 3,000 innocent people is a needless provocation. It’s like shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

I recognize, as does Paslov, that our Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and that Muslims have a constitutional right to build a mosque on private property near ground zero. But having a right to build it doesn’t make it the right thing to do. That kooky Florida preacher had a right to burn the Koran (thank God he decided not to), and I have a right to burn the American flag in front of the Capitol. I won’t do that, however, out of respect for the feelings of the overwhelming majority of my fellow Americans who think that flag-burning is a despicable act that constitutes an egregious and gratuitous insult to our country. Go ahead, accuse me of being overly patriotic. Thank you.

In his recent column, Paslov blamed right-wing Republicans for fanning the flames of religious intolerance by opposing the ground zero mosque, but he failed to mention that most New Yorkers and more than 60 percent of the American people – including his hero, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) – also oppose building a mosque on that hallowed site. Paslov may think Reid is a “conservative,” but he’ll never qualify as a right-wing Republican, and neither will I.

Many American Muslims recognize that a ground zero mosque would represent a needless provocation to the vast majority of their fellow Americans, and have urged the imam who is promoting the project to build it elsewhere in the city. The imam claims that the structure will promote religious tolerance and reconciliation, but I think it would do just the opposite. It would be like erecting a huge cathedral in a Muslim holy city (which will never happen), or putting up a Japanese memorial at Pearl Harbor. Let’s bring some common sense to this discussion.

Many family members of victims of those horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks have spoken out against the mosque project, saying that it would be extremely painful for their families. I agreed with a mother who lost her firefighter son when she said that a ground zero mosque would constitute “a grievous offense to the sensitivities of 9/11 families,” as she defended her right “to speak out against something … so wrong, so hurtful and so devastating.” Well said!

• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, is a retired diplomat.