On 9/11, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

September 11, 2010 at 3:31 pm (Uncategorized)

Doesn’t anybody notice this? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills! I invented the piano key necktie, I invented it!

I didn’t know when I watched Zoolander for the first time I would link it to the solemn day of 9/11, but this 2001 movie has one scene that continues to help me get through reading the newspaper.

Between the Florida Koran book burning talk, the Tea Party gathering in DC at the Lincoln Memorial, and the “near” to Ground Zero Islamic Cultural Community Center debate, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!  After nine years of grieving, of fighting, of missions not quite so accomplished, how we can let this side of American opinion dominate our conversation during a time that should be devoted to building bridges, remembering the victims and heros, and finding a new path toward understanding?  I’ve often written, with pride, about being a New Yorker, born in Queens–the most diverse county in America, if not the world–and I’m ashamed of the New Yorkers who have protested and angrily spoken out against a legitimate community building a cultural center legally in Manhattan.  If New Yorkers can act so ignorantly and short-sited of the impact their actions, then I am sadden that in the past nine years we as a nation have not really learned much about this important part of the world beyond characters of the fringe extremists.

This week I’ve found that Gail Collins–the New York Times OpEd Columnist and major girl crush of mine (I heart her the way I heart Jim Lehrer…a lot) gave the only explanation I could swallow for the Koran book burning and Islamic Cultural Center drama:

When this sort of thing happens, it is important to remember that about 5 percent of our population is and always will be totally crazy. I don’t mean mentally ill. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, 26 percent of American adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year. So, basically, that’s just normal life. I mean crazy in the sense of “Thinks it is a good plan to joke with the flight attendant about seeing a bomb in the restroom.”

There is nothing you can do about the crazy 5 percent except ask the police to keep an eye on them during large public events, where they sometimes appear carrying machine guns just to make a political point about the Second Amendment. And, in situations like a Koran-burning, make it clear that the rest of us disagree.

So for what it is worth, this American disagrees.

And for what it is worth, isn’t Gail Collins  funnier, sexier, and a better pen than Ms. “hot-red” Maureen Dowd?

They say anyone alive during 9/11 will remember where they were that day.  I was in Madaba, Jordan just about to swear in as  Peace Corps Volunteer in the Arab world.  It’s shaped indelibly the way I remember the day.   People around the world love New York because it is the kind of city where an Islamic Cultural Center would be modeled after a Upper West Side Jewish Community Center in the neighborhood where terrorism killed our nation’s innocence so devastatingly nine years ago. How could it be any other way?

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