|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
First, the Cordoba House is deliberately, expressly, and unequivocally intended to stand for the diametric opposite of what the 9/11 attackers believed. It would stand for inclusion, reconciliation, and understanding across faiths and cultures. In fact, in many ways, the Muslim founders of the Cordoba House (and its imam) are the sorts of people that bin Laden and his adherents hate most, because they are seen as traitors to the radicals' beliefs and cause. Founders and supporters of the Cordoba House are cosmopolitan and modern. The community center itself will contain many earthly luxuries and pleasures, and the initiative behind it seeks to promote harmony between Islam and the West, including human rights for women. Its founders (and location) actively embrace multicultural, multi-sectarian, quintessentially modern New York City, and many of its proponents have happily lived in Southern Manhattan for decades.
The Cordoba House, in other words, is not only blatantly separate and distinct from the identity and ideology of al Qaeda and the 9/11 terrorists, it is a direct repudiation ("refudiation," as demanded by Sarah Palin) of them. So the only way that someone could ever confuse the Cordoba Initiative with radical, militant Islam is if that person thought that Islam itself is inseparable from terrorism or terrorist sympathies (or had been misled by demagogues to believe the Cordoba House aligned itself with radical Islam). And, incidentally, if a very small handful of radicals who call themselves believers in a religion can cause that religion to stand for the terrible things the radicals do and believe, then, well, Christianity apparently stands for the murder of doctors, the preachings of David Koresh, the beliefs and deeds of Tim McVeigh, the goals of the Huntaree militia....
Second, the site of the proposed Cordoba House is not "at" or "on" Ground Zero. When considering whether the location of a supposed provocative act is essentially inseparable from the initial tragedy, we have to take all contexts into account - not just physical location, but the nature and characteristics of the area. As many others have pointed out, the Cordoba House imam has been a member of the community since long before 9/11, as have many other Muslims. I used to work in Tribeca before 9/11, just a few blocks from where the Cordoba House would be built, which is itself two blocks from Ground Zero. One of my favorite places to eat for lunch was a place called the Pakistani Tea House. It had amazing, inexpensive curries and a robust clientele of Pakistani cab drivers. Right in the shadow of the building Other Muslims would one day destroy!