Last weekend Sarah Palin decided to jump in the middle of red hot controversy via Twitter. The controversy in question involves a proposal to build a Muslim civic center near Ground Zero in New York City. The center would include a mosque, but also include meeting rooms and gym. The location of the proposed center is two blocks away from the Ground Zero site. Some, though not all, 9/11 victims and New Yorkers have complained that the location of the “mosque” is insensitive to the memory of 9/11. On her Twitter page Palin agreed with them saying:
Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate.”
As usual Palin’s delivery got more attention than the substance of her message. “Refudiate” is not a commonly accepted word in the English language. Presumably Palin meant to call on “Peaceful Muslims” to repudiate the mosque as the NAACP called on the Tea Party to repudiate racism. At first Palin deleted the tweet and replaced with a similar message while removing “refudiate” from the text. Eventually Palin would own up to the gaffe saying English a living language and comparing herself to Shakespeare (himself a creator of new words).
Anyone who has tweeted substantially know that mistakes are made easily, so Palin can be forgiven for the occasional lapse on that front. More concerning is the assumption that the the center near, not at Ground Zero, is some stab in the heart of Americans. There is no evidence that the center has any terrorist elements, and in fact the group behind the proposal has expressly condemned the 9/11 attacks. Yet to Palin, the mere proposal to build the mosque is a stab in the heart, as if a proposal to build a church in Oklahoma City would be a stab in the heart to the victims of that bombing.
The Muslim group behind the center claims that it would be open to the entire community, serving as resource for Muslims and non-Muslims to meet and gain a better understanding of each other. The center would also presumably serve as an example of the peaceful, more tolerant base of the Islamic religion in the heart of New York City. The alternative to allowing free, open expression of religion for Muslims is to push them underground to the more radical elements of the religion. It is doubtful that Palin would take it well if Muslims asks her to “refudiate” the building of any Christian church, so one could question whether Palin really has the right to ask Muslims to “refudiate” their own mosque.