An Aussie living in New York City writes about the Islamic center controversy for the Sydney Morning Herald. His basic point is that most of the hysteria is coming from outside New York City, which is true.
Oddly â€” but understandably â€” New York is not the nucleus of American rage over the mosque. The shrillest voices of opposition are far off. And the consequences are enforced in small American towns and cities where there are not the experiences of living tightly alongside the world’s races and creeds and nor the louder voices of tolerance. …
…Yet in New York, which lived through the epic destruction and terror of that day in September 2001 and has tens of thousands scarred by the losses of loved ones and colleagues, one senses the mosque would be allowed to rise without the rancour felt outside the city. Indeed it is possible to envisage that a thriving mosque in the shadow of the tragedy will speak more eloquently of memory, sorrow and forgiveness than a museum that looks to the past and a memorial that is still.
September 11 is different for New Yorkers. It was experienced differently; it is remembered differently. It’s hard to explain how it’s different, but it is.
A lot of righties are pointing to a diary at Daily Kos as an example of leftie obliviousness, and I have to say I was a bit put out with it also. Something the Dog Said wrote,
Given that they are such a small minority in this nation, it is odd that so many of our fellow citizens see them as such a threat. Yes, the 9/11 attacks were horrific, but they were more about optics than actual harm. The economy was already taking a hit before the Twin Towers fell. The reaction of the nation to seeing two major buildings in New York fall on T.V. has boosted the attack out of proportion. While the loss of even a single life is to be condemned and the devastation these deaths caused the families of those killed, more than this number of teens are killed every year incar crashes. These are also tragic losses but we do not make the kind of high profile issue of it that the 9/11 attacks are.
There was genuine massive and deep trauma suffered by people in New York City. It may have been about “optics” for those watching on television, but for some of us it was a real-world experience, and there was actual harm. To say that 9/11 “more about optics than actual harm” is a colossally stupid and insensitive thing to say.
That said, I appreciate the point that I think What the Dog Said was trying to make. The threat from jihadists is indeed blown way out of proportion, in that all the jihadists on the planet put together could not pose an existential threat to the United States. The only way they could destroy the nation is if they frighten us into destroying ourselves.
But we don’t need jihadists for that. We’ve got wingnuts.