Center for Inquiry (Kinda) Dials Down Park51 Rhetoric
The secularist Center for Inquiry issued a press release on Friday headlined: "The Center for Inquiry Urges That Ground Zero Be Kept Religion-Free." The press release outraged many CFI supporters, including me. In the original release, CFI opposed the construction of an Islamic cultural center, or any other house of worship, in the "immediate vicinity" of Ground Zero.
The old press release ignored basic facts. The proposed community center, Park51, is neither a house of worship, nor in the immediate vicinity of the former World Trade Center. The center will be two blocks away from the Vesey Street side of the WTC footprint, and even further away from the Ground Zero main drag on Church Street. Park51 is about seven blocks away from the planned 9-11 Tribute Center on Liberty Street, just off Church. A quick glance at a map of Lower Manhattan should convince anyone that this whole "controversy" was ginned up. You can't even see Park Place from the former WTC site.
The other factual problem with the initial press release's exhortation to "keep" "Ground Zero" "religion-free" is that the area around the Twin Towers has never been, and will never be, religion-free (or strip club-free, or discount shoe emporium-free). This is downtown New York City, folks. The major Ground Zero tourist strip is Church Street, which backs onto the old St. Paul's churchyard. There's already an honest-to-goodness mosque about as close to Ground Zero as Park51 would be. I find it ironic that an ostensibly secular organization would buy into the idea that there's a magic zone around the former World Trade Center where city life has to be suspended forever out of reverence for the dead.
CFI has issued a new press release with the intent of clarifying its stance on the proposed Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan. Unfortunately, the new press release isn't much of an improvement over its predecessor.
In the new release, CFI reaffirms its commitment to religious freedom and asserts that there should be no legal barrier to Park51 from being built. That's nice. It's also little behind the times. The last potential legal impediment to building Park51 dissolved three weeks ago when the Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously rejected a bad-faith bid to preserve the old Burlington Coat Factory at 51 Park Place as an architectural treasure for the ages. Mayor Bloomberg came out strongly in favor of Park51 three weeks ago.
In the new press release, CFI repeats its request that the debate over Park51 not be "politicized." I don't even know what that's supposed to mean. At this point, not even the most retrograde mosque-basher believes that any branch of the city, state, or federal government has the slightest power to stop this development. Yet the facts haven't put the slightest dent in the demagoguery. Politicians still have a First Amendment right to rabble-rouse around Park51. When they do, are they "politicizing" the issue, if they aren't proposing a specific law or policy to ban the development? This is a political issue, regardless. It's a question of what kind of society we want to live in. Do we free-thinking humanists want to fight for a free, open, tolerant society or do we want to join the Christianist pile-on whenever a more vulnerable world religion is on the ropes?
I'm glad the new press release explicitly rejects the insinuation that all Muslims are terrorists. Baby steps, baby steps.
[Photo credit: David Shankbone, Creative Commons.]
Researchers discover a link between nonverbal synchronization and relationship success.
- Scientists say coordinating movements leads to increased intimacy and sexual desire in a couple.
- The improved rapport and empathy was also observed in people who didn't know each other.
- Non-verbal clues are very important in the development stages of a relationship.
Humans evolved to live in the cold through a number of environmental and genetic factors.
- According to some relatively new research, many of our early human cousins preceded Homo sapien migrations north by hundreds of thousands or even millions of years.
- Cross-breeding with other ancient hominids gave some subsets of human population the genes to contend and thrive in colder and harsher climates.
- Behavioral and dietary changes also helped humans adapt to cold climates.
Could this be the long-awaited solution to economic inequality?
Under capitalism, the argument goes, it's every man for himself. Through the relentless pursuit of self-interest, everyone benefits, as if an invisible hand were guiding each of us toward the common good. Everyone should accordingly try to get as much as they can, not only for their goods but also for their labour. Whatever the market price is is, in turn, what the buyer should pay. Just like the idea that there should be a minimum wage, the idea that there should be a maximum wage seems to undermine the very freedom that the free market is supposed to guarantee.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.