In a perfect world, a mosque close to Ground Zero would be fine. But in a perfect world 9/11 would never have happened. And that’s the point.
Fact is, for most Americans Islam and the attack on the World Trade Center are connected. Long after the hole in the ground that is the construction site is filled and new buildings rise, the 9/11 wound will remain open and mourned. And as long as it is mourned, the negative connection to Islam will remain.
No amount of good will, smart public relations or wishful thinking will change this fact –and the building of a mosque and Islamic community center will only inflame it.
The intent of those who would build it at the site might be honorable. They may genuinely see it as a bridge to better relations between all religions. They say that Christians and Jews will be on the board. All that is good, but…
The act of building a mosque so close to that sacred site won’t build bridges, it will only burn them.
Because one of the goals of the kind of radical Islam that was the credo of the 9/11 terrorists was the spread of Islam. Building a mosque, the enshrinement of that goal, so close to the ground that their destructive act made desolate gives the appearance that these radical religionists were successful in their goal.
It is incredibly powerful symbolism. As one friend of mind recently and memorably said, "it would have been like the Japanese opening a sushi restaurant at Pearl Harbor."
I’m all for this great country that allows all religions the freedom to be practiced and Islam certainly has its place here. I’m also a firm believer in healing. But healing takes time and sensitivity.
My friend’s reaction and many others, including the Anti-Defamation League’s opposition and poll numbers, tell me that this particular symbolism must be heeded.
Bottom line, building a mosque at Ground Zero is not only in bad taste for most Americans, it is an aggressive act.
The symbolism of forcing a mosque and community center so close to the footprint of the World Trade Center, the graveyard of thousands sacrificed to Islamic extremism bent on conquest, can send only one message: we have conquered here.
Political correctness may have prompted many, including Mayor Bloomberg, to water down this connection, but the World Trade Center site belongs to all Americans.
The question is: is a mosque necessary at the World Trade Center?
The answer is no.
By all means build it in New York City, but not on so close to that ground hallowed by 2,750 innocent victims of a religion taken too far.
And, remember, things are always easier when you keep marketing and branding in mind.
John Tantillo is a marketing and branding expert and president of the Marketing Department of America who markets his own services as The Marketing Doctor. He is a frequent contributor to the Fox Forum and the author of a new book "People Buy Brands, Not Companies."
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