Opening our collective mind


In the course of sharing my last blog post with anyone who would listen, I summarized the theme (freedom of religion in the context of the proposed Muslim community center in lower Manhattan) to a friend and neighbor.  He’s a rational conservative, and we agree on a good many things.  At the end of my synopsis – and we were sitting with a third neighbor and friend on our commute home – the first fellow acknowledged my points.

Still, he said to me, you have to concede that there’s a “dick factor” in putting a Muslim place of worship so close to the former WTC site.  The train had reached our stop and we were heading our separate ways, so I didn’t really respond.  I’m not sure I knew then what to say. Actually, I’m still not sure.  (I have at least a dozen possible replies, in varying degrees of snark.)

My original reason for starting this blog was, and remains, to provide responses to many of the contentions that don’t make sense to me.  Not “gotcha” comebacks, as tempting as those can be, but reasoned and clear explanations for the positions I hold or reject, the public figures I support or oppose, the ideals I cherish or dismiss. And yes, arguments to change people’s minds – or at least realize that there is merit in a contrary viewpoint.

This comes from several sources within me.  I was raised in a Republican family. That was our label as much as was, at the time, Episcopalian.  I was never baptized into either faith.  The first time I was in a church, I’m reasonably sure, was at my oldest brother’s wedding.

I was as cognizant of politics as I was of Genesis and Deuteronomy – nil – but that label stuck nonetheless.  Politics was harder to dodge than religion. I ditched the GOP designation, though, when I started paying attention.  The people, public and private, whose values I admired were not Republicans; they were liberals.  So I did something remarkable: I changed my mind.

It’s remarkable not in the sense of being incredible; it’s remarkable in that I’m remarking upon it. Really. It’s not difficult.  It is, however, fairly uncommon, in terms of political affiliation.  (Politicians do it to keep their jobs; that doesn’t really count, in my book.) 

So, I’ll address the notion of the “dick factor” privately and directly.  But publicly, in this blog, I will try to address the divisive nonsense being spewed by people who value greed over decency, hatred over community, bigotry over compassion. In the process, I hope to deliver enough information and insights that we can start help people see a little better, and maybe change some minds in the process.

The important thing is not one viewpoint triumphing over another. It’s restoring reasoned and reasonable conversations about stuff that really matters, and making sure that discourse douses the flamers who seek only to divide and exploit.

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About wordczar

Long-time journalist. I think far too many people have been deliberately and cynically misinformed by Rupert Murdoch and his henchmen. I'm hoping we can get to the truth and clear some things up, to get this nation back on track. Follow and contact me on Twitter @word_czar (photo of Brooklyn Bridge by Teresa Reinalda)
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9 Responses to Opening our collective mind

  1. emcogNEATO! says:

    Very well said, er…written.

  2. Tony Noland says:

    Reasoned discourse is the foundation of civilized society. Nicely put.

  3. Madscotswumin says:

    What a wonderfully succinct and emotive post!

    “The important thing is not one viewpoint triumphing over another. It’s restoring reasoned and reasonable conversations about stuff that really matters, and making sure that discourse douses the flamers who seek only to divide and exploit.”

    Hear, hear.

  4. HD Barnett says:

    Other than necessary building permit approvals and inspections, government should have no say in where a house of worship is located. That said, siting a mosque so close to Ground Zero does smack a bit of “rubbing salt in a wound.”

    • wordczar says:

      This is a community center, not a true mosque. There are 11 floors devoted to basketball, cooking schools, etc., and two floors designated as prayer areas. Devout Muslims pray several times a day, so it’s impractical to expect people to leave in the midst of their activities and go to a separate site to do so.
      There is a real mosque not far from that location, ergo quite near the WTC site, and it has been there since before 9/11/2001 without any objection of note. Nor has there been objection to a Muslim prayer area inside the Pentagon, which was also hit on 9/11.
      I agree there should be a thoughtful dialogue between the community center leaders — one of whom, by the way, was chosen by the Bush administration after 9/11 to serve as a U.S. emissary to the Muslim world — and concerned members of 9/11 families, just so each side hears the other’s views. (Quite a few 9//1 victims’ relatives fully support the center, it should be noted.) However, when Newt “Hey, Remember Me?” Gingrich and the over-exposed and under-informed Sarah Palin chime in for no purpose but to foment anti-Muslim angst to help stoke their 2012 presidential runs, I find that more than appalling — and I can’t imagine the 9/11 families appreciate it much. THERE’S your “salt in a wound,” Harry.

      Hope you’re well. Say hi to George for me.

  5. I’d be interested to see links to 9/11 families who support the Islamic center. Debra Burlingame and her group 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America certainly oppose it: http://www.911familiesforamerica.org/?p=4869

    Welcome to the blogosphere, btw… We’re going to disagree on this topic, but I’ll sign on to every syllable of the final paragraph of your post:

    The important thing is not one viewpoint triumphing over another. It’s restoring reasoned and reasonable conversations about stuff that really matters, and making sure that discourse douses the flamers who seek only to divide and exploit.

  6. Pingback: Stumbling Toward a Middle Ground on the So-Called “Ground Zero Mosque” | All That Is Necessary…

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