An Immodest Proposal for Ground Zero

August 26, 2010

Build the Center for Inquiry- New York on the site of the World Trade Center land instead of an Islamic Center.

No really, it makes sense.

Why?

CFI represents many of the Enlightenment ideas that formed this country in the 18 th century, namely: an informed populace, the open discussion of ideas, secular government, and inalienable rights held by individuals, to name a few. Religious fundamentalists may not support those notions, but what better way to make a statement to the world that we’re still behind the ideas that made us great in the first place than to erect a CFI building there?

We (Inquirers) rise above the historical fighting among the world’s holy zealots and so side with neither dog in this fight. With neither a church nor a mosque on the site, no one can gloat and fan centuries-old flames even further.

Secularists had no hand in fomenting the fundamentalist Islamic fervor that convinced the terrorists that flying planes into buildings would please Allah. Secularists also had no hand in the historical “Let’s bring Jesus to the unwashed” attitude that may have threatened Middle East Muslims in the first place. Our record in the Muslim-Christian feud is clean. We are neither Montague nor Capulet.

As secular humanists, we don’t have to worry about the political correctness or the Constitutionality of whether or not to build a church, mosque, synagogue, or temple at Ground Zero. All those buildings would all be near the bottom of our desired list of buildings to erect anywhere . I don’t have to think twice about whether I’m being fair to Muslims vs. Christians, because my answer is the same to a Southern Baptist Chapel as it is to a Scientology Center: Better something else.

There are over a 1000 billionaires in the world according to Forbes . Maybe one of them can clear the air and solve this Islamic Center issue by buying a piece of Ground Zero and funding the new CFI- New York .

Wouldn’t it feel right to occupy that space with an organization that promotes the idea that we can rise above the animosity that caused it to be available in the first place?

James Underdown
Executive Director
Center for Inquiry- Los Angeles

Comments:

#1 Wendy Hughes (Guest) on Thursday August 26, 2010 at 2:41pm

No one can blame the skeptics for blowing up an office building lately, or suicide bombings. When I think about the lore of 9/11, I think of the radio story of some office workers who were feeling their way down the stairs of the WTC by the light of a cellular phone…. probably it was apocryphal, but it is part of my 9/11 mythology nonetheless, and those survivors were creative, ingenious in their determination to make it to the street. I imagine that we, the skeptics, are the survivors, not the ones blowing up the buildings, not the ones with dynamite strapped to our chests. Sure, let’s have a CFI-NY near Ground Zero, with a nice Steve Allen Theater where people can come and learn how to enjoy critical thinking, and do grassroots skepticism, a Cafe Inquiry, and have a book club where you don’t even need to read the book, but people can think and talk together.

#2 J. J. Ramsey (Guest) on Friday August 27, 2010 at 12:38pm

The community center isn’t being built on Ground Zero. Like the New York Dolls strip club and a McDonalds, it’s being built a few blocks away.

#3 don cotler (Guest) on Friday August 27, 2010 at 2:35pm

“but what better way to make a statement to the world that we’re still behind the ideas that made us great in the first place than to erect a CFI building there?”

As a “card-carrying” Friend of the Center, I think a better way to make that statement, and protect our own ability to publicly support our point of view with little fear of reprisal by the opponents that outnumber us, would be to support the propriety of any legal use of lower Manhattan real estate.  I too would like to see fewer places devoted to religion or any other superstition (and I would love a grand CFI-New York), but not at the cost of betraying our secularism by discriminating on the basis of religion.

#4 Max (Guest) on Saturday August 28, 2010 at 8:38pm

“Secularists had no hand in fomenting the fundamentalist Islamic fervor that convinced the terrorists that flying planes into buildings would please Allah.”

The Islamic center’s Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf wrote that religious fundamentalism is a backlash to increasing secularization, so there you go, it’s your fault.

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