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The New York mosque and the moon

Hendrik Hertzburg has the best commentary so far on the proposed Park51 mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan, fittingly in the New Yorker. I can't add anything to his analysis, only emphasize the irony of Republicans who otherwise loathe New York and constantly complain about how they're enforcing their "liberal values" on "real America" suddenly rediscovering the sacredness of New York ground and decreeing what shall and shall not be built there. You can almost hear the thought: "why is New York hogging all the terrorism?"

I caught In the Shadow of the Moon the other night. It was excellent, a moving look back at the greatest achievement in the history of the human race. (Michael Collins was the de facto star, as he's the funniest of the Apollo astronauts.) On looking back, though, the biggest feeling I get is irritation about our current situation. To me the moon landing period seems like an age of titans compared to now. It was a time of huge problems: racism, civil rights, war, and the moon for starters. But at least people tried—and succeeded, sometimes—to do something about those problems.

Now the problems we are facing, particularly climate change, are arguably worse. But we can't seem to muster up the will to even admit they're problems. When the banking lobby took down the foreclosure bill (cramdown) they not only killed the bill, they got billions in new bailout money. I'll be surprised if we leave Afghanistan while I am alive (we're still in Germany, fer chrissakes). And climate change? Nothing even attempted.

But what gets us up in arms? A mosque in New York, two blocks from Ground Zero. Run by a moderate Muslim, one of Osama bin Laden mortal enemies.

It's a miserably pathetic country.

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