Exactly how close is too close? Dust and ash from the Sept. 11th destruction of the World Trade Center towers travelled well north of the target. Should the Islamic center on West Broadway, located just a few blocks north of the proposed Park Place center location, be forced to pack up and move - or is it far enough away?
The alleged thoughtful and considerate opponents of the so-called Ground Zero Mosque claim to recognize the rights of the buyer, seller and builder to construct the facility at the agreed upon site. That should be the end of it. But those highly vocal detractors have used excuses ranging from "provocative" to "insensitive" to voice their opposition to the building of the mosque at that location. However, to prevent Muslims from building this particular mosque by using excuses like insulting, insensitive and provocative is an insult in and of itself.
Major League Baseball, the National Football League and a plethora of high schools and colleges have team names and images of this country's indigenous natives that are so crass that it would cause the comically fictional Indians of F TROOP to start another Little Big Horn. Provocative and insensitive are terms rarely considered when we celebrate each Oct. 12th to commemorate Christopher Columbus who began the decimation of those natives from the time of his arrival in the New World up until the time that Americans were encouraged to "Go west, young man!" And at any given baseball time you might see the Atlanta Braves on national television with their fans collectively bellowing Hollywood's version of an Indian war-chant as a means of rallying their home team.
Provocative, insulting and insensitive are also hardly ever used to describe the states that continue to fly the Confederate flag. The proponents of the rebel flag insist that it is not a symbol of slavery but a show of pride in the southern way of life. Yet the confederacy fought the Civil War under that flag precisely to preserve the enslavement of dark-skinned peoples, the rape of those women, the sale of their own children, the lynching of black folks without trial, the all out assaults and burning of black enclaves, and the general denial of the most basic human rights. That was the southern way of life under the Confederate flag - proffered under the guise of Christianity.
Those of our rights that have not yet been usurped by fiat or force should be cherished and respected even when their exercise may cause us some emotional discomfort. This is America. It is not Eden or the wonderful Wizard's Land of Oz. At times we have all experienced, as well as rendered, insults and insensitivity. Just one of America's great debates is that the education and rearing of our children is not preparing them for the real world and how sorrow and disappointments are a part of life. And that one's ability to forge ahead despite the pitfalls of everyday life is a sign of strength and character, or lack thereof. Sadly, far too many of America's children are not getting the message. Sadder still, we cannot teach them what we have yet to learn.