Monday, August 30, 2010

The Oxymoron: Government & Fiscal Responsibility

Is there such a thing as fiscal responsibility in Washington? Mort Zuckerman's analysis pretty much outlines that failure, with the Obama Administration egregiously maintaining the legacy. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - people in government do not care and are not looking out for the people who send them there. Plain and simple.

 ©2010 Steve Sagarra

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ground Zero Mosque: Shameful or Essential?

On August 3, 2010, New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission cleared the way for the construction of Cordoba House, or the “Ground Zero Mosque,” two blocks from the former World Trade Center site. The question being asked of the decision is whether it is inappropriate, and egregiously disrespectful, to construct a symbol of the very Islamist terrorists who attacked the United States on September 11 in such proximity to that hallowed ground? Or whether, in remembrance to those who died in the attacks, it can serve as a symbol of reconciliation and healing toward religious tolerance by such proximity to further and improve relations between the U.S. and the Muslim world?

Strangely, I am conflicted on the matter, maintaining that the many cannot, and should not, be held accountable for the actions of the few or the one. As farmers are apt to say, you don't punish your pig because it saw the fox enter the hen house. Yet, building a mosque so near the WTC site would be similar to constructing a Japanese temple near the U.S.S. Arizona memorial – commemorating those who perished in the Pearl Harbor attacks on December 7, 1941 – not long after the close of World War Two. Since 1945, Japan has become a valuable ally in all manner of speaking, particularly as a trade partner. Yet, except in the land of “what if,” no Japanese cultural center resides at or even near the Pearl Harbor memorial.

Throughout history, many symbols have been assailed and prohibited for their representative negative connotation:  the swastika and anything identifiable with Nazism; the pentagram, or five-pointed star, for its prevalence in the occult; and the Confederate flag for its association to slavery. A mosque, an unmistakable symbol of Islam, at Ground Zero is no different from any of these. Nevertheless, where do we, as Americans, draw the line between intolerance of an entire population and the upholding of republican ideals based on political and religious tolerance? Would the allowance of a mosque at Ground Zero differentiate the American spirit from the rest of the world, a negative symbol-turned-positive that speaks to our resolve and unity to adhere to these principles while still maintaining our perseverance and fortitude against those enemies who seek to destroy them?

As many intellects and observers have stated, remembrance of the past is vital to learning the lessons of history, the downside being that continual vigilance of the past is counter conducive to moving beyond it. Are we as a nation ready to move beyond September 11th, our nerves still raw almost a decade later? Are we benevolent enough to embrace a faith that harbors those who still desire to destroy us, and whom we still engage in combat?

Two differing opinions on the subject:

"Liberal Piety and the Memory of 9/11," by Dorothy Rabinowitz

"Broadway and the Mosque," by Thomas Friedman

©2010 Steve Sagarra