Pros and cons of mosque near Ground Zero

Richard Carter | 8/24/2011, 3:41 p.m.
"It's easy to choose between wrong and right. What's hard is choosing what wrong is...
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When I interviewed Ali outside afterward--eagerly praising his heartfelt sermon--I told him how it pleasantly surprised me. This evoked a smile and courteous "thank you, sir." But when I asked him point-blank about the so-called "phantom punch" with which he dispatched Liston, he seriously told me, "I hit that chump hard." Uh-huh.

Back to the issue at hand. It was good to recently hear Imam Rauf say he is "looking at every option" to resolve the crisis caused by his plan for a mosque and Islamic center in the shadow of Ground Zero. He said had he realized it would cause such consternation he might not have proposed it--and would consider delaying the $100 million project.

According to Rauf, his proposed, 13-story mosque--two blocks north of the World Trade Center--will have a board of directors that will include Christians and Jews in addition to Muslims. In a recent appearance on CBS-TV's "60 Minutes," Rauf said that to reduce fears that terror organizations would contribute to the project, he would ask American government officials to approve its funding sources.

And where does Barack Hussein Obama stand? At a White House dinner observing Ramadan, the president equated the Ground Zero mosque solely with religious freedom.

"I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else...," he said. The following day, he backtracked thusly: "I was not commenting, and I will not comment, on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there."

Huh? What? Aside from freedom of religion--in which most people believe--why won't Obama tell the American people if he feels it is wise or unwise to build a Muslim mosque at that location? Failing to adequately explain himself inspires little confidence.

This kind of indecisiveness is a major reason the president's approval ratings late last month hit an all-time low of 42-percent. And his stance on the question also may explain why a recent Gallup Poll found that he retains the support of 78 percent of Muslims.

My memories of a fervent, young Muhammad Ali at a Black Muslim mosque helps me better understand religious freedom. Yet, the harsh reality of the 9/11 terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists helps me better understand the feelings of those who lost loved ones on the dreadful day that changed the world. Thus, I feel it is patently unwise to build a Muslim mosque in that location. Imam Rauf and El-Gamal should look elsewhere.