From The New York Daily News -- August 15, 2010:
It's an emotional issue, but blocking the Ground Zero mosque is just what the terrorists want
By MICHAEL DALY
As I stood at the planned site of the mosque near Ground Zero Saturday morning, I remembered nights laughing at a big round table in Zinno's restaurant, a newspaper guy with five friends from the Fire Department, the finest, bravest and most fun people I ever knew.
I could see them all, intensely alive in the way of the FDNY's very best, Mychal Judge, Pat Brown, Terry Hatton, Dennis Mojica and Tim Brown.
All save Tim were killed on 9/11. Tim was a brother to Pat not by blood, but spirit, as he was to the four others.
Tim and Terry embraced just before Terry headed up into the north tower. Tim went to the south tower, where he saved lives and somehow escaped with his own.
Since then, Tim has retired from the FDNY, but continued to be a brother to his comrades, honoring their memory and doing whatever he possibly could for their families.
With the truest of hearts and the protectiveness of a brother, he has remained suspicious of those planning to build the mosque near Ground Zero. He has asked why they want to put it there and where the money is coming from. He has not been satisfied with the answers.
After the city Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the project, Tim filed a lawsuit to stop it. He remains one of the leading voices in opposition.
How I wish I did not so strongly disagree with him and agree with our mayor and now our President.
Nobody could sway me more than Tim when it comes to Ground Zero. But I cannot help feeling that if we block this mosque we will not only be doing what Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh want, we will also be doing exactly what Osama Bin Laden wants.
On the day it murdered Mychal and Pat and Terry and Dennis and so many others, Al Qaeda was looking to hijack more than jetliners. The killers' ultimate goal was and is hijacking Islam itself. And to do that they need us to make them into more than what they are.
Without us elevating them into enemy combatants in a war on terror, they would be just a couple of hundred murderous losers.
Even now, after all our mistakes, after we let Bin Laden slip away in Afghanistan and lost our focus going into Iraq, Al Qaeda is still more a gang than an army.
It is still so small that its new operations chief, Adnan Shukrijumah, met personally with the knuckleheads who planned to bomb the subway last September.
When the previous operations chief, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was captured, he was not surrounded by a host of terrorists. He had nary a bodyguard when he was rousted from bed in his underwear at the house where he was hiding out like what he was, a murderer on the run.
We have since built him into a figure of such awesome evil that we are afraid to try him in downtown Manhattan like what he is, a murderer who has been caught.
We have glorified Al Qaeda in the same way, but to reach its ultimate goal, it still needs us to convince the majority of Muslims that the war on terror is really a war on Islam.
We are only helping the bad guys if we declare that the religious freedom at the core of our democracy does not apply to a mosque too close to Ground Zero.
Maybe it is my own anger at the murder of my friends that gives me such a visceral reaction against doing what it seems clear the killers want us to do.
The feeling is so strong that it now puts me on opposite sides with the only other survivor of the grand round table that had no sides at all.
Saturday, on the morning after Obama chose Ramadan to voice support for the mosque's right to be there, I stood at the site and noted a Y-shaped standpipe extending from a closed coat emporium that is slated for demolition.
"SIAMESE CONNECTION FOR FIRE DEPARTMENT," a small sign read.
The new mosque will also have such a standpipe and should a fire ever break out there, the FDNY will no doubt be just as quick to charge inside to save lives of whatever faith as it was on that fateful day two blocks south.
I thought of calling Tim to talk about the mosque, but all I ever want to tell him is that I love him.