Even Pitts seemed open to that idea at the time. He put it perfectly, in what amounted to an open letter to those who attacked us:
You monster. You beast. You unspeakable bastard. What lesson did you hope to teach us by your coward's attack on our World Trade Center, our Pentagon, us? What was it you hoped we would learn? Whatever it was, please know that you failed.That was then, though. Today, Pitts has quite a different take when it comes to a 13-story Mosque billed as the "Cordoba House", being built near ground zero.
Did you want us to respect your cause? You just damned your cause.
Did you want to make us fear? You just steeled our resolve.
Did you want to tear us apart? You just brought us together.
Less than nine years later, Pitts has no problem with it. On September 12th, Pitts championed the outrage of Americans, calling it "righteous". In 2010, he mocks it, implying it's intolerant:
And the outrage burns like jet fuel, the argument billows like choking dust, the questions lacerate like flying glass: Is it right, is it decent, is it morally defensible, for developer Sharif El-Gamal of SoHo Properties to build a Muslim worship center called Cordoba House within walking distance of the place where Muslim men, acting from a perverse distortion of their religion, disintegrated thousands of lives -- Muslim, Christian, Jewish, atheist and, we may presume, others?This is exactly what the enemy was attempting to do on 9/11 - hit us hard enough to shock us and then lull us back to sleep, all the while convincing us that they weren't really the enemy. That strategy appears to have worked on Pitts; he has shifted his indignation and anger away from the enemy America's leaders wouldn't name then and toward those he pledged solidarity with one day after we were hit.
Again, Pitts writing to the enemy in the form of a column on September 12, 2001:
Let me tell you about my people. We are a vast and quarrelsome family, a family rent by racial, social, political and class division, but a family nonetheless. We're frivolous, yes, capable of expending tremendous emotional energy on pop cultural minutiae -- a singer's revealing dress, a ball team's misfortune, a cartoon mouse. We're wealthy, too, spoiled by the ready availability of trinkets and material goods, and maybe because of that, we walk through life with a certain sense of blithe entitlement.Notice how Pitts then was willing to overlook our racial differences in pursuit of solidarity against a much bigger threat. Today, it's apparently the opposite with Pitts.
We are fundamentally decent,though -- peace-loving and compassionate. We struggle to know the right thing and to do it. And we are, the overwhelming majority of us,people of faith, believers in a just and loving God.
Are Muslims not Americans, too? Is that what we're saying now?Quite the dichotomy. It appears that Leonard Pitts has been snookered.
Yes, I fear terrorism. But I find I fear even more what my country has become in response to it -- a nation where a rabbi (!) can blandly condemn someone, not for his own crimes but for the crimes of some of his tribesmen.
So yes, putting that building in that place might be painful and provocative, but it would also be a reminder of the very values the terrorists sought to kill. And we seem to need that reminder more everyday.
They want to build a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero? Let them.
h/t to Barrackaid #30 for the most recent Pitts column.
Read Pitts THEN and NOW.