Two American Guys

Most of the time, this blog is about fun. But this time, it’s about a problem. There’s some “end of the summer fun” in this week’s podcast at But this blog is about a problem that’s important to me. So please bear with me for a few moments. And if you feel like it, I’d like to hear how you feel about this problem. ( )

 You can’t run away from problems. They’re mobile. If you run away from them, they’ll chase you down and kill you. I think the best way to explain this problem is by telling you a true story about two American guys named Al. Alfred is a Jersey boy. Born and bred American. Alex is from Alexandria, Egypt. He became an American on purpose.

 Alfred has been about my best buddy for a very long time. We met while we were both in the broadcasting business in New York.  For years we’ve stood up for…and with…each other through deaths, near deaths, and desertions. And we’ve celebrated around 30 New Year’s Eves, a couple of big family weddings, and lots of quiet middle of the night conversations about things we couldn’t discuss with anyone else. Al is a U.S. Air Force veteran.

 Alex, I’ve known for about 20 years. My Lady Wonder Wench and I have dinner at his place at least once a week. He owns a diner. He knows Ms. Wench is interested in archeology, so he offered us the free use of his house in Cairo if we went there to visit the pyramids. When Ms. Wench was injured, Alex made Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for us. In Egypt, he was a lawyer and a police chief. One of his sons recently applied to the Air Force academy.    

 Two proud American guys named Al. Two time tested friends. Strong guys. Proud men. Good husbands and fathers. Two God fearing people, who celebrate different holy days. Alfred is a Christian. Alex is a Muslim.  Al from Jersey has enjoyed dinner at the other Al’s place many times. They talk, and joke…and enjoy each other’s company. And they both agree that a mosque should never be built near the site of the World Trade Center…”Ground Zero.”

 They’re both absolutely wrong.

 Alex says there should be more sensitivity to the families who lost lives there. Alfred says.…”we’ll have a terrorist mosque at The World Trade Center to pray in.  Oh … that’s right.  We don’t have a World Trade Center anymore!”  I say, there is no more appropriate place in America for a mosque.

 As some of you know, I grew up in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn. That’s right around the corner from Ground Zero. The dust from the buildings…and the people who died in them…coated the home where I lived for weeks. My Lady Wonder Wench worked on the 34th floor of the North Tower. I did part of the NBC Radio coverage of the 1976 Tall Ships celebration from the observation deck. I fly America’s flag outside my home…and take it in each night, and any time there’s bad weather. The flag was given to me by an American who first flew it over Camp Adder in Iraq, on September 11, 1996. My Lady Wonder Wench and I are very grateful, and proud to be third generation Americans. And that mosque belongs at Ground Zero.

 There’s a very good political point being made, that building a mosque there would be a message to Muslims around the world that we can be their friends. But that’s not the best reason a mosque belongs there. Here are some better reasons:

 The husband and wife who are planning to build the mosque are well known as people of good will. It is their intention to promote understanding between the Muslim world and ours. In fact, the husband is presently on what amounts to a government sponsored good will tour of the Muslim world on behalf of America.

 Where better than at such a holy site as Ground Zero, to gather and pray for such a holy cause as brotherhood, peace and understanding. The plans for the Mosque include a space for Christians and Jews to come and pray. What better a place for Christians, Jews, and Muslims to come together to pray near where Christian, Jew, and Muslim Americans died together in the towers?

 They were Americans. This is America. Ground Zero is an American holy place. Our Christian President with a Muslim father, and New York’s Jewish Mayor made simple, honorable, and very American comments about this. In essence, they’ve said, “This is America. All faiths, races, and native nationalities are supposed to be welcome here.” But they’re not always…are they. 

 Catholics and Jews, and Italians and Irish, and Blacks and Hispanics have been unwelcome here. Some of you can remember those days. Or your parents can. Or you can just go read about it in a history book. Who needs guys like John Kennedy, Albert Einstein, Christopher Columbus, Jackie Robinson, and David Farragut…yes…the American Admiral who said, ”Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” that David Farragut…he belongs on this list. He was a proud Hispanic American. Who needs guys like that? Right? I’d say, we do.    

 This is America. That’s why that mosque belongs near Ground Zero. We are a young land. We have a lot to learn. One of the lessons we seem to learn with the greatest difficulty is that we must mean what we say. “Give us your poor…your huddled masses.” “All men are created equal.” We are free to speak our minds, and worship God as we see fit.

 All Muslims are not terrorists…any more than all Christians would murder a doctor for performing an abortion…or murder a man for being black…or firebomb a Temple.

 The inclination to love and be loved is one of the strongest survival mechanisms born into babies. Babies can be pains in the ass-es. They wake up crying every two hours, pee in their diapers, and vomit all over the place. Then they also look at you, laugh, and hold their arms out for you to pick them up and love them. That’s born into them. It makes us want to keep caring for them.

 New York’s famous Theater District is only a few miles north of Ground Zero. One of the most famous musicals of all time played there for years. One of the most profound lines ever spoken from any stage, or in any assembly of human beings for that matter was first spoken there. It’s a line from the great muical, “South Pacific.” It goes something like, “You’re not born to hate. That’s something you have to be carefully taught.”

 There are reasonable points to be made on both sides. So there is a real problem. You can’t run away from problems. They’re mobile. They’ll chase you down and kill you.Those who lost families and friends in the World Trade disaster deserve sensitivity. But there is something even more important than sensitivity. It’s self-respect. Really meaning what you say. As in …”Crown thy good, with brotherhood. From sea to shining sea.”

That’s my story about two proud American guys. Two time-tested friends. Strong guys. Proud men. Good husbands and fathers. Two God fearing people, who celebrate different holy days.

I’d really like to hear how you feel about this. My e-mail is

 Meatime…peace be with you my friends.

One Response to “Two American Guys”

  1. dick butler says:

    I understand all sides but if the city of New York refuses to allow the church to be rebuilt at ground zero( the one that was destroyed that day)then there should be no mosque.