Staff Editorial: To be American is to accept diversity

In the past few weeks, the issue of the proposed Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero has become a political controversy. For an issue so hotly contested, some of the specifics are unclear.

Park51 is not just a mosque, it’s an Islamic cultural center. Along with a prayer room, it will include classrooms, an auditorium, galleries, a swimming pool, a gym, a restaurant and a memorial to victims of the 9/11 attacks.

Additionally, it will be two blocks north of the World Trade Center site, which is a diverse area. A neighborhood with restaurants, shops, bars, churches and office buildings, there is nothing about the area that denotes sanctimonious ground. In fact, the building used to be an ordinary Burlington Coat Factory. Park51, in fact, will not even be visible from Ground Zero.

With these facts in mind, there doesn’t seem to be a logical reason why Park51 should not be a welcome addition to one of the most diverse cities in our country.

The attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 were attacks on our values, principles and core beliefs. If Park51 is rejected, we are in turn rejecting America’s commitment to freedom and religious tolerance. By embracing the Islamic community, we are weakening the base of extremism that led the attacks on Sept. 11.

In the end, we must realize this is a local issue that has been politicized for a national audience. As New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated, “Part of being a New Yorker is living with your neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance. It was exactly that spirit of openness and acceptance that was attacked on 9/11.”

We as a campus can be proud of our diversity and cultural acceptance. There is no reason as to why our cultural harmony cannot be replicated across our country.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.