On September 14, 2004 I posted a very long blog entry, entitled, "Apples, Honey, Caution." It was only three years after September 11th, the wounds were still fresh, the impact of that day ever-present in the lives of many New Yorkers. Even on this day, as the anniversary approaches, the memory and the feelings are as though it was a very recent event.
Apples, Caution, Honey remains as one of the five most-read posts on DeanLand. Even now the words I wrote then are as fresh and on my mind as if it were yesterday.
This year there's all sorts of talk about the "Ground Zero Mosque," and the ritual reading of the 9/11 Names of The Dead. The anniversary of that fateful Tuesday comes on a Saturday this year. How will the observance be, one must wonder, on a weekend day, nine years later?
Some angry groups plan to stage an anti-Ground Zero Mosque rally that day. Others will attend the Reading of The Names in Zucotti Park, across from Ground Zero. Many will attempt to move on with their lives, and treat it as but another Saturday. For others the darkness, horror, loss and other dread remembrances and emotions will reawaken, as it does around this time each year.
The Mosque, should the planners not choose to move it to another, less upsetting location, will be on a block with storefronts for Psychics (or, as New Yorkers like to observe, money laundering facilities), Porn Shops, and various other such otherwise unnoticed businesses. Is a mosque right there an affront? To some, the answer is clearly yes. Is it a monument to Islamic victory on September 11th? That seems too grand a statement, and most likely not the intent of the planners of the mosque. Is it a bad choice for a location? In my book, yes.
But the finest statement regarding the uproar over the rights of the planners to build their mosque there --or anywhere, for that matter-- came from NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg:
"Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question: Should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion?" Bloomberg asked. "That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here. This nation was founded on the principle that the government must never choose between religions, or favor one over another."
Bloomberg's strongest point, obviously missed by the teabaggers and others who waste all sorts of energy and time spewing hate, is that this is not what happens in this country. These are the very freedoms others would seek to limit. Hate, of course, a blinding and powerful emotion, gets in the way of rational thought. But then again, hate and rational thought are rarely in the same place to begin with.
To my co-religionists, a Happy New Year. To all others, enjoy the end of the Summer, the coming of Fall, the changing of the leaves. My mood, as ever this time of year, and my message to everyone: Apples, Honey, and of course, Caution.