This is Not Our Finest Hour

Their rally wasn’t held on the block of the proposed community center, it was a block away, and closer to the WTC site. I went with someone from the Census. When she asked attendants where the mosque should be they were silent.


Said by one of the speakers at the rally: The sections of the Constitution about religion refer to Judeo-Christion religions only.

For the record, from George Washington, “The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.” (I know the first argument would be that what happened on 9/11 was hardly decent, but we don’t persecute an entire religion based on the acts of an insane few.)

From Benjamin Franklin, “Even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.” Thomas Jefferson owned and studied the Koran. I could go on.


Heard at the rally: “They have a secret agenda.”


They chanted, “liberty!” without a hint of irony.


To the man below, what if people said, “Everything we need to know about Christianity we learned from the KKK, Oklahoma City, the Crusades, our history with American Indians …” (I could go on. For a long time.)

A moslem man who lost someone on 9/11 asked: Why can’t I visit the site, like you, and then walk a few blocks away and pray?

These are our neighbors people!!


Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

9 thoughts on “This is Not Our Finest Hour

  1. I read this analogy, and for the life of me cannot understand why these people can’t grasp it: The KKK is to Christianity as Al Qaeda is to Islam. This won’t stop until something horrible happens.

  2. What I don’t understand is how people can forget that it wasn’t just Christians/Catholics who died on that day… weren’t there Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, so many others that perished that fateful day?? Maybe the ultimate question could be: who is anyone to decide where a religion should be practiced?… just putting it out there…

    and how are the kitties?

  3. I like Michael Kinsley’s response over at The Atlantic website regarding Charles Krauthammer’s column about Cordoba House in the Washington Post. Here’s a small portion of it:

    “In his original column, Charles gave other analogies: What if the Japanese wanted to build a cultural center at Pearl Harbor? What about a theme park near a civil war battlefield (Disney once planned one and changed its mind after protests) or an observation tower at Gettysburg (which was built and then dismantled). I said the difference is that none of these examples involves violating the principles of the First Amendment. Telling Muslims that they can’t have a house of worship on a site where Jews or Christians clearly could violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion. Charles concedes, as they almost all do (there is little choice) that for the government to forbid this mosque would be unconstitutional. He wants the planners voluntarily to accept another site.”

  4. I don’t know about you guys, but I confess to being weary of the constant polarization and demonization.

    As a married man I have learned that it is not always necessary for my wife’s feelings to compute with me. The important thing is that I understand that she does have these feelings.

    Likewise, everyone in New York City is going to be forced to live with whatever comes out of this polarization.

    My only hope is that wiser heads will prevail, and some kind of compromise can be reached that lets everyone on both sides feel that they have not been betrayed.

  5. Stacy, Great post. Too bad it wasn’t better news. This is the kind of mentality that locked up some Japaneese American during WW2. We must evolve into a better nation. These simple minds are really getting to me.
    Thanks for all you do. Hope the cats are well.
    Michael from Rockford

  6. Excellent post! The quotes from Mssrs. Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin are especially heartening and useful to keep around, though I suspect the answer to them from the anti-mosque set would be, “But that was BEFORE.”

    Human emotions never seem to advance much; this is not only the same spirit that locked up Japanese Americans, but I think the only way a Muslim could prove he was innocent to these people would be for them to subject him to Trial By Drowning.

  7. Greg, I hear you. I hate it too. I made myself go to this even though I was afraid of how it would make me feel (and I was right, I haven’t recovered yet, it was very upsetting). But I do feel this is an important principle. And as I said in the post, these people are my neighbors and to deny them the same rights the rest of us enjoy is just wrong.

    And I believe there are decent people who hope to work something out, but they were not at this rally. Or they were there and silent. These people were bigots. Based on what they said.

  8. Seems like a lot of bigotry is going on. Just fearful people I suppose…but you would think that at some point they would pause and think about what they’re doing.

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