While I was busy dealing with the first two weeks of fatherhood, I was also trying to follow the bizzarre “debate” over the GZM, or Ground Zero Mosque. A friend, whom I disagree with at times on this blog, put it succinctly: opposition to the Cordoba House is “like arguing that a black person should have realized they’d drum up ‘bad feelings’ by moving into a white neighborhood that ‘wasn’t ready’ for integration.” Now imagine a Muslim family moving in next door to the family of one of the victims (perhaps themselves Muslims); could that be opposed on the same grounds, that their feelings might be hurt? If you were robbed by a Haitian or a Filipino, can prejudice against Haitians and Filipinos be justified on grounds of hurt feelings if one of them moves in next door? There is no logical basis for such assumptions.
My modest proposal is to build, on the site of Ground Zero (or a part of it), the world’s first God Museum. That seems to me a fair way to include everyone on equal grounds and educate people as well on the dangers of religious fanaticism. It would be like the Museum of Natural History, only it would treat religion and its endless array of gods as the stuff of history and anthropology, not as eternal truth. This would be a good way to contrast houses of worship: a museum of worship. Before you get all uppity about your God and His truth, and start trying to block all the other gods and their truths, check out the thousands of True Religions that have fallen into disuse. I can only imagine this would be a humbling experience for any day trip to Manhattan, perhaps coupled with a show at the Hayden Planetarium. It would be perfectly tuned to the pluralistic, secular America we all want to be proud of, but so often makes us blush in shame.