The Submission, by Amy Waldman

I’ve just finished reading The Submission, a novel by Amy Waldman. It was one of the most powerful books I’ve read lately.

It begins as a jury is picking the winner of an anonymous competition to design the memorial at Ground Zero in New York City. Primarily at the urging of one member—who had lost her husband in the September 11 attack—the jury settles on a garden design. However, when the name of architect who submitted the winning design is revealed, it turns out he’s Muslim. An American, yes, but also Muslim, and that revelation sends the jury—and the city and the nation—into a dizzying controversy that might have seemed unimaginable just a few years ago.

Now, though, after the “mosque at Ground Zero” flap from 2010, it’s all too imaginable.  If you remember the sickening circus around that story, this book will be completely familiar to you. For a refresher, and if you have a strong stomach, check out this bit of bigoted garbage from two years ago.

(For my part—even though the proposed “mosque at Ground Zero” was neither a mosque nor at Ground Zero—I think that Ground Zero would be a great place for a mosque. Right next to a temple and a Christian church. And hey, throw in a library, a bar and a gym: something for just about everybody, and let’s get over these silly divisions. But maybe that’s just me.)

Really, folks. There are billions of Muslims in the world. And 99.999 percent of them—an understatement, no doubt—are not focused on jihad against America. It’s only the crazies who hijack planes and fly them into buildings. And they do it because they’re crazy, not because they’re Muslims.

Anyway, Waldman brilliantly captures what can happen when you mix anti-Muslim paranoia with sensationalist tabloid media. I highly recommend this book.


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