Debate: Should Park51 be built in Lower Manhattan?

By Glenn and Jake 

You’ve seen the protests. You’ve seen the counter protests. You’ve seen the images of 9-11 replayed on your TV. What do they all mean? There is a proposal to build a community center formerly called the Cordoba House and now Park51 at 45–51 Park Place in Manhattan. This has been referred to as the “ground zero mosque" though it is actually the former site of a Burlington Coat Factory. Highly charged, factually inaccurate nomenclature aside, should this project go forth? All Americans, even Muslims and Jews, have strong opinions on the matter - opinions which are based on logic, reason and a dedication to doing what’s right. Today, OYIT’s foremost Jewish and Muslim writers debate this contentious issue.

Glenn: The building of the Park 51 Islamic Cultural/Activity Center in Lower Manhattan has caused as much controversy as any community center ever has or will again. This experience has taught us a lot about ourselves and our country with the most important lesson being: bigotry is alive, well and acceptable when targeted towards Muslims. (It’s borderline acceptable towards Latinos.) People have done their best to put on a somber face and pretend this is a sensitive area geographically because there was a terrorist attack there. But really this comes down to a hatred of all Muslims and what they represent: not drinking and praying 5 times a day.

Jake: Why I am against this has nothing to do with racism--or at least not that much to do with it. I am simply against the erecting of churches anywhere, but especially on tourist traps like Ground Zero, New York. People flock to this magical place where the United States government mass hypnotized the entire population of this amazing, glorious country and perpetrated the biggest fraud this side of a Scooby Doo villain or CEO. George W. Bush is the greatest president, but also the greatest criminal in American history. If he wants a mosque built in New York, then why should we just bow down to him and submit like our minds did when we all imagined the Twin Towers tumbling to the ground in an unlikely implosion?

Glenn: Wow. I don’t even know where to begin responding to this. I was expecting vile demagoguery so racist it made Kristallnacht look like the Tony Awards. Instead my opponent has made bizarre points about George Bush and Scooby Doo. I am offended on behalf of all CEOs that you referred to as villains and even more offended that you oppose the construction of this community center. It is not a mosque! If you want to see a mosque, I will pick you up on United Airlines Flight 93 (which has been sitting safe in a military hanger for 9 years) and fly you to Saudi Arabia. That is a country whose religiously discriminatory policies I do not agree with but one with which the Bush family has very close ties. President George H.W. Bush is actually, if you trace the lineage far enough back, 340th in line to become the next King there. But this isn’t about Saudi Arabia’s deranged monarchy or the 9-11 truth movement, this is about Park51 - a worthy project that will save many more lives than it takes.

Jake: I have nothing against a community center, but when religion enters the mix I get as nervous as a box in a cardboard factory. Religion is to blame for all of the world’s problems including obesity and alcoholism. They fucking feed you at church! Who can resist wine that represents the blood of Christ and flavorless wafers than represent his flavorless body? I would reckon not a soul. Community centers can be a great place to shoot hoops, and I am decidedly pro-basketball, although I am generally anti-sport. If this was some sort of basketball only community center, and not some sort of Muslim weightlifting station with a direct line to Mecca, I would be the first person to sign a petition supporting it. The way it stands right now just seems wrong. Some of the people that died in the 9/11/01 attacks were atheists and they deserve not to have their graves dug up so a bizarre church/community center combination can be erected. It is just not fair.

Glenn: The people who died in the attacks - if there were indeed attacks - are not buried at Ground Zero. They were either burnt up with their ashes giving firefighters cancer or their corpses are in storage, brought out once a year for Glenn Beck’s 9/12 Tea Party rallies. A religious community center is fine as long as the emphasis is on community and being centered. Is having a Saturday night roller skate party wrong just because there are verses from the Qur’aan being played over house music? Additionally, the interfaith games of basketball at Park 51 will bring people together as long as motherfuckers don’t foul. I think this community center will do a great job of reminding people why 9-11 happened: because young, Muslim men didn’t have a viable path ahead of them and were lured to extremism. Park 51 gives a path that leads to basketball, daily prayers and a delicious falafel stand outside.

Jake: I have no issue with falafel and I wish you would have left that stand out of this debate. In the movies falafel stands adorn nearly every square inch of New York City, and most of these movies were based on true stories.

9/11/01 was one of the most harrowing days in our young lives, ranking third behind Kurt Cobain’s suicide and Richard Jewel being framed for the 1996 Olympic Park bombing by Eric Robert Rudolf. We would not let a Jew build a sukkah in Kurt Cobain’s backyard or let Scientologists hook up an e-meter and hold an audit in Olympic Park. It just would not happen. So why should we allow a Muslim community center on Ground Zero? Let us show some consistency for once.


  1. I love falafel and any culture/religion that endorses it.

  2. This is the most enjoyable thing I have read all month - and that's saying something because it's the last day of a 31-day month!

    "But really this comes down to a hatred of all Muslims and what they represent: not drinking and praying 5 times a day."

    Replace the word Muslims with Prohibitionists and you've got the reason for the 21st Amendment!

  3. What I'm getting at here, is that maybe we can get a 28th Amendment to get rid of the 1st.

  4. Glenn titling this article "Should Park51..." instead of "Should a Mosque..." lost us hundreds of potential readers. I will always be angry about the title of this article and my epitaph will reflect that when I die next year.

  5. You haven't died yet! And they never built the community center.

  6. But I started volunteering it for in summer of 2011.

  7. Now Jake is dead and he was right! His epitaph did include that:

    "Father of 16,
    Fan of $krillex
    Mad at mis-titled debate"

    RIP Jake

  8. John Candy's GhostMarch 19, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    hey i'm dead too!

  9. I think every religion is okay and you should be able to open up a church where ever you want. I made a pretty good living playing a religious figure as the title role in "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys."

  10. In this dimension you worship gods, in my dimension God worships you.


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