“In the mid-1650s, the small Jewish community living in lower
Manhattan petitioned Dutch governor Peter Stuyvesant for the right to
build a synagogue, and they were turned down. In 1657, when Stuyvesant
also prohibited Quakers from holding meetings, a group of non-Quakers
in Queens signed the Flushing Remonstrance, a petition in defense of
the right of Quakers and others to freely practice their religion. It
was perhaps the first formal political petition for religious freedom
in the American colonies, and the organizer was thrown in jail and then
banished from New Amsterdam.
“In the 1700s, even as
religious freedom took hold in America, Catholics in New York were
effectively prohibited from practicing their religion, and priests
could be arrested. Largely as a result, the first Catholic parish in
New York City was not established until the 1780s, St. Peter’s on
Barclay Street, which still stands just one block north of the World
Trade Center site, and one block south of the proposed mosque and
We can never really move beyond anything, can we, until we can pass it along? You’re not across the finish line, after all, unless somebody’s behind you, following after.
It’s so hard to know. How will we know we’re safe, if we can’t make someone else afraid? How will we know we’re on solid ground, if we can’t pull the rug out from under someone else? How will we know we’re no longer the prisoners, unless we become the guards? Subjugation, we think, is a binary state. You are locked up, or you are holding the keys.
I say all the time that our memories of the war aren’t about the war. They’re about how we have to remember the war in order to survive the next one. And for Americans, those days after 9/11 were a haze of patriotic unity, and we hold fast to the idea that we survived by being righteous and being good, by flying flags and lighting candles and giving blood and loving the president, and being all we think we once were, all we think those who came before us would want us to be. That’s how we remember that moment. It’s not, for a moment, how it was. But God forbid anyone say different. It’s a lovely story we made up in our heads, and it’s how we have to believe it in order to get our heads around what’s coming after.
p>It’s so useless. It’s so exhausting. I get tired just reading about Foxman and the ADL and every other huckster and attention whore who wants in on the contest about who loathes Islam more (Spoiler: Sarah Palin wins that contest). Aren’t there some poor people we could feed, with all this energy and money and time? Do the dead give a fuck where a mosque is built? All this energy and money and time, and at the end of it, you lose, and there’s the mosque, and … nothing happens. The earth does not cave in, we do not live under Shariah law and have to eat halal chickens and whatever, and you’re left with … nothing. What have you changed? What have you done? What good lives in the world, because of you?
Carry the one. All this energy and money and time, and you WIN. There’s no mosque, or it’s built somewhere else, outside some magical line where offense can no longer be given to the story we’ve made up about what a place and a day mean and who we were there and then. There’s no mosque. And you’re left with … what? Knowledge that a building isn’t being built? What have you changed? What good lives in the world, because of you?
Subjugation isn’t a binary state. You’re holding the keys, tapping them lightly on the bars, sneering at the person behind the iron gate for being in there, while you’re out here.
As if your life isn’t just as much about prison, as his.