One of the chief arguments critics have employed against the construction of the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero in New York is that the center would be “insensitive” to the families of the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks. “[T]he overriding concern should be the sensitivities of the families of the victims,” wrote Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, who surprised many by coming out against the Islamic center. “The question here is a question of sensitivity, people’s feelings,” said former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. Some 9/11 families “are crying over this,” he added.
But now a “key” 9/11 victims’ families group is breaking with the mosque opposition movement, demanding that an anti-mosque protest planned for September 11th be rescheduled, “and, if it isn’t, that participants back out.” In an email to members reposted by Politico, Dennis McKeon (who started the group Where to Turn as a clearinghouse of information about the attacks and subsequent plans to redevelop Ground Zero) wrote that any protests planned for the ninth anniversary of the attacks “disrespect the memories of our loved ones on this sacred day at this sacred site”:
As most of you probably know there is a proposed protest rally against the mosque being planned for 9/11. There are also reports that there is a pro mosque rally in the works for 9/11 as well. … We have always stood against any rallies scheduled for September 11th and we will do so again with these events.We will be joining other 9/11 organizations in asking that the organizers change the date for these events. If they refuse to change the date we will also ask those scheduled to appear to withdraw from the events.
Over the past 9 years more and more of what’s been going on at Ground Zero has excluded the families. …We will never support such activities that disrespect the memories of our loved ones on this sacred day at this sacred site.
Indeed, while conservative critics have attempted to co-opt the families of the 9/11 victims for political purposes, painting them as monolithically opposed to the proposed community center, in reality, their opinions are split, much like those of other New Yorkers.
The September 11th protest is to be the biggest yet, featuring former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, right-wing media tycoon Andrew Breitbart, and Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders, a proud hater of Islam. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was scheduled to deliver a video address, but canceled under mysterious circumstances. The protest is being organized by anti-mosque crusader Pamela Geller, who has organized other demonstrations against the proposed center, and uses her blog Atlas Shurgs to pump out new smears against the project’s organizers every day.