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Memo to Sarah Palin on Religious Intolerance and the “Mosque”

Dear Sarah Palin:

You have repeatedly issued declarations online asking that “Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan” and that New York issue “a decision not to allow the building of a mosque.”

Let’s make a quick check of the facts:

1. It’s not “a mosque.” The Cordoba Center will be an inter-religious community center dedicated to inter-faith outreach, open to people of all faiths in New York City. It will have an auditorium, a swimming pool, exhibition spaces, meeting rooms, stores, restaurants and a mosque inside.
2. It’s not at Ground Zero. It’s three blocks away. A lot of things are within three blocks of other things in Manhattan.
3. There are 14 Christian and Jewish churches and synagogues that are also close to Ground Zero.

Anyone who exerts herself or himself can verify these facts.

You write this week with frustration of your call to ban the Cordoba Center that “This is nothing close to ‘religious intolerance,’ it’s just common decency.” But here’s a helpful hint: if you don’t want to attract accusations that you’re engaged in “religious intolerance,” you might not want to write an essay based on arguments about “sacred ground,” and you might not want to give your essay the title: “An Intolerable Mistake on Hallowed Ground.” It’s crazy, but people might get the idea that you were using religion to be intolerant.

Also helpful on that point would be not asking New York to use its power to ban a building because it is associated with a religion you don’t like. Some Americans are a little touchy about that kind of thing; apparently it has something to do with some sort of “Amendment” thingamabob.

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