Alissa Torres, a 9/11 widow, on the “Ground Zero Mosque” in today’s Salon.
What did I think about the decision to construct a “mosque” this close to ground zero? I thought it was a no-brainer. Of course it should be built there. I sometimes wonder if those people fighting so passionately against Park51 can fathom the diversity of those who died at ground zero. Do we think no Muslims died in the towers? My husband, Eddie Torres, killed on his second day of work at Cantor Fitzgerald while I was pregnant with our first child, was a dark-skinned Latino, often mistaken for Pakistani, who came here illegally from Colombia. How did “9/11 victim” become sloppy shorthand for “white Christian”? I wish someone would put out a list of all the ethnicities and religions and countries and economic levels of the victims. For all the talk of “remembering 9/11,” I wonder if we’ve missed the patriotic message entirely.
For the record, hundreds of foreign nationals from 90 countries died in the twin towers; Canada alone lost two dozen citizens. It doesn’t mean that this was not primarily an American tragedy. It simply means that this was a shared tragedy. No one included in the loss should be excluded from the possibility of reconciliation, whatever the shouters who wrongly insist that “3000 Americans died that day” have to say about it.