To the editor:
Two claims of Mr. Primeau’s December article run up against each other:
(1) Most people harbor no animosity toward Muslims.
(2) The mosque at 51 Park Place should be relocated because building it near ground zero would create turmoil.
Should we ask the mosque builders to yield to the threat of turmoil posed by the bigoted few?
The mosque breeds turmoil in the same way that racial integration in southern schools bred turmoil. There were those who opposed it based on prejudice, and there were those who opposed it because they feared the backlash from the prejudiced. But it was the right thing to do, and the bold statement made by the Little Rock Nine had a lasting, positive influence on race relations in America.
The author fails to acknowledge that supporters of the mosque have practical ends in mind beyond the illogical “freedom as an absolute good” creed he brands them with. The successful construction and maintenance of 51 Park Place would be an inspiring symbol of Americans’ tolerance of Islam, and of their acknowledgment of the fact that Muslim Americans essentially have nothing to do with terrorism.
There is nothing inherently impious about building a mosque near ground zero. The only things that turns it into “an unnecessary nuisance” are the prejudice of the few, and the public fear that this prejudice will cause conflict. But if Americans are as tolerant of Islam as Mr. Primeau suggests they are, then the prejudice is negligible, the fear is unjustified, and bringing all this to light will allow “the generous character of the American people” to overcome whatever turmoil accompanies the mosque at 51 Park Place.