Amam Feisal  Abdul Rauf by Tom A. Peter / The Christian Science Monitor / Getty ImagesRadio talk show host Michael Medved got it right when he urged President Obama to “welcome conversation to replace confrontation” in the debate about plans to build a mosque in lower Manhattan near ground zero (the Park51 project).

“If leaders on all sides managed to address the dispute in a broader perspective, it ought to become obvious that Americans actually agree on both of the key issues in the debate,” Medved wrote in “Time for a Mosque Beer Summit?

Issue one:  Muslims have the right to harassment-free worship.  Issue two:  The proposed location is a lightening rod for America’s concern or fear surround Muslims.  Medved asks, “What prevents the various parties to this battle from cutting through the multiple misrepresentations and misunderstandings to reach a meeting of the minds that would benefit everyone?”

That’s a good question, particularly since government officials including the likes of New York Gov. David Paterson has offered to help find a less controversial location for the mosque.

Sometimes a solution that seems so simple to third parties doesn’t even address the heart of a conflict.  Many Americans are still angry about Sept. 11, 2001.  Muslims don’t feel welcome in much of America, and holding on to one address in New York may be largely symbolic of their greater battle to win acceptance in this country.  If any situation could use a good mediator, this is it.

When two sides become as entrenched as those we see here, they need to talk in a neutral setting with an accomplished mediator who has the capacity to recognize the emotions behind the conflict, to ensure that each party listens to and acknowledges his opponent’s position, then to help them move beyond to a workable solution.  We call this a “win-win,” when both parties end up with what they essentially wanted in the first place.

It’s hard to get there, though, when people keep shouting at one another, clinging to their rights and refusing to come to the table where a meeting of the minds can occur.

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6 Responses to “Ground Zero Mosque: Potential for a Win-Win Gets Lost in Rhetoric”

  1. Joe Markowitz Says:

    Except that when the mosque opponents start explaining their rationale, it becomes clear that it’s not really about the location at all. The location just gives them a justification for their opposition. It’s really about fear and loathing of Islam. That’s why you are seeing opponents of mosques coming out of the woodwork no matter where mosques are proposed to be located. Which means that resolving this issue is going to be a lot more complicated than simply trying to reconcile one side’s interest in allowing their houses of worship to be built with the other side’s interest in respecting the feelings of 9/11 victims. It will take a lot more dialogue to overcome people’s fears and hatreds, and deal with the politicians who pander to those fears and hatreds.

    As usual, it takes Jon Stewart to expose what is really going on here:
    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-august-19-2010/extremist-makeover—homeland-edition

  2. Michael Pollack Says:

    By insisting on respect for their rights without respecting the feelings of 9/11 victims, Muslims and Arabs have once again shown that they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

  3. echo Says:

    I’m eager to see the owner of a similar parcel in Manhattan come forward and offer to swap it for the Ground Zero property. An IRS Section 1031 exchange would be perfect in this situation. That would force both sides (those in favor of this site and those opposed) to accept the offer or abandon their pretense (assuming pretense exists).

    I disagree with Joe above. I don’t think we have to resolve all of this country’s underlying animosity toward Islam before we can resolve this particular conflict. Eat the elephant one bite at a time.

  4. Carajean Says:

    To think, I was confused a munite ago. Can’t imagine I’m the only one…

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