One of my favorite readers (perhaps the only reader) of my blog has sent me an e-mail wondering when I was going to jump in on the Park51 ‘mosque’ debate. Being a conscientious and independent observer of the current state of American politics I wanted to wait until after I had taken time to sort out the details in my mind until there was sufficient information for me to write about it. I decided to do some field research so I jumped on a cheap air flight to New York and cabbed it to the area of the disputed ‘mosque.’ I walked around the area for a few minutes and noted that the chosen place was an abandoned clothing warehouse. I must admit that I was surprised by this because I thought the site was supposed to be ‘hallowed ground.’ I decided I needed to do more research so I looked around for someone to speak with. In addition, I was thirsty because my flight to NYC was operated by a carrier that charged five dollars for a soft drink or a bottle of water and I couldn’t bear to pay that much. So I found myself at the New York Dolls, a fashionable place located between the site of the former Trade Center and the proposed Islamic center. As luck would have it, I was instantly surrounded by any number of beautiful women, scantily clad, who were happy to chat with me about the proposed site. The twenty dollar cover charge and fifteen bucks for a glass of soda pop seemed like a small price to pay for the opportunity to conduct an in-depth interview. After all, isn’t that why I came to New York? What follows is a summary of my interviews. I apologize in advance for being a little sketchy on some of the details because it was pretty dark inside the club although it was only two o’clock in the afternoon and I was unable to see to make notes. I was able to rough out some of the responses on a paper napkin because the indirect lighting from the nearby stage was of some help. So here goes; I first spoke with Candi.
Q. What is your take on the proposed mosque?
A. If you promised you won’t tell the IRS (giggling), my take is about two to three thousand bucks a day.
Q. No, I think you have misunderstood me, what do you feel about the morality of building a mosque so close to the site of the Trade Center?
A. I thought you wanted a lap dance.
Q. No, I just want to ask a few questions about the First Amendment
A. So, you are with the IRS. (Standing and starting to walk away).
Q. Candi, come back.
A. Go bleep yourself. (She was already moving toward a couple of guys waving money at her at a table across the room).
I sat there, by myself, trying to figure out what to do next. In less than ten seconds another comely woman sat down next to me and asked if I would buy her a drink. Sure, I said, not wanting my trip to be wasted. “That’ll be fifty dollars.” I dug down deep in my wallet.
Q Your name?
Q. How do you feel about the building of a mosque so close to the Trade Center?
A. Are you a cop?
Q. No. I just want to know how you feel about this big controversy.
A. Let me see some ID.
Q. Do you have an opinion?
A. It’s been real good for business. A lot of guys didn’t even know we’re here. You want a private dance?
Q. Roxy, just give me a minute here. Do you think there should be a mosque here or not? If not, why not?
A. Those cheap bastards don’t drink. No, I think they should go someplace else. Just like you. (She was already smiling at the guy sitting at the next table).
I got up and left. As I stood outside the club waiting for my eyes to adjust to the bright sunlight, I thought to myself, ‘Maybe I should go across the street to the Pussycat.’ Instead I returned home.
So there you have it, a first hand report of my research conducted on the issue. As I am writing this, I am looking at an article in the New York Times entitled “Bikini-Clad Strippers Protest Church in Rural Ohio.”
The article reads (in part) “The strippers (dressed in bikinis) are protesting a fundamental Christian church whose Bible-brandishing congregants have picketed the club where they work. The dancers roll up with signs carrying messages adapted from Scripture, such as ‘do unto others as you would have done unto you,’ to counter church members who for four years have photographed license plates of patrons and asked them if their mothers and wives know their whereabouts. . . . The Club owner Tommy George met with the preacher and offered to call off his not-quite-nude crew from their three-month-long protest if the church responds in kind. But pastor
Bill Dunfee believes that a higher power has tasked him with shutting down the strip club. ‘As a Christian community, we cannot share territory with the devil,’ Dunfee said. ‘Light and darkness cannot exist together, so the Fox Hole has got to go.’”
I am also reading from another article from the NYT entitled ‘Far From Ground Zero, Obscure Pastor Is Ignored No Longer.’ It is a story about Terry Jones, an evangelical pastor in Gainesville, Florida, who plans to memorialize the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center with a bonfire of Korans. ‘We have to be careful,’ he said as he tapped a holster on the right hip of his jean shorts holding a .40-caliber pistol. ‘The overall response has been much greater than we expected.’
Our forefathers were prescient about the need for separation of church and state. That is why it is difficult for me to understand why a Republican candidate for Congress could tell a group of high school students last week that Islam’s plan “is to destroy our way of life “ and “It’s our place as Christians to stand up for the word of God and what the Bible says.”
A lot of people make a big deal of the contention that Muslims have not spoken out forcefully against the acts of terrorists, but I ask the same question here. Why aren’t real Americans standing up and defending the first Amendment with the same force and energy that they bring to Second Amendment?