On the anniversary of 9/11, I just need it to be said here that I am really bothered by all of the anti-Islam sentiment that the country has poured out recently.
I work a few blocks from the WTC site. For 16 months I’ve watched the workers there, and lately I am relieved to see a building that has finally risen stories above ground level. In my office’s neighborhood I walk by the constant construction site that is Ground Zero. I’ve spent lunch breaks sitting on the benches at Trinity Church, the site that for so long had its fences covered in letters, pictures, shirts, and flags. I’ve visited the new World Trade Center memorial and walked past the steel cross that stood on the pile until it was moved to a permanent home along a street next to the site. More than a few times I’ve directed a lost visitor towards Ground Zero. I eat at restaurants that were closed for months, that survived only through the loyalty of their customers. I’ve also noticed the awning to New York Dolls, one of the seedier strip joints in NYC, and seen condo buildings empty and retail spaces that lack tenants.
Almost every day, I see the area of NYC most directly affected by the tragic day of 9/11/2001.
And I couldn’t be happier to have a new community center open in the neighborhood, or more upset to see so many Americans unable to distinguish between a Muslim and a terrorist, between the hallowed Ground Zero site itself and a side street blocks away, between a mosque and a community center, or, most upsetting of all, freedom of religion and freedom to practice whichever society-approved religion you want.