I wrote this open letter today to Mike DiSanto a "Democrat" challenging Republican State Senator Marty Golden in Senate District 22 in Brooklyn. This letter was written in response to a statement that Mr. DiSanto published against the building of the Cordoba House mosque near the site of 9-11. Mike DiSanto is openly gay, and until today I was supporting him. I can not in good conscience continue to do so, and it is my hope that the people of District 22 will follow my lead and say no to religious intolerance and anti-Muslim sentiment. The real disservice to the families and victims of 9-11 is continuing the vicious cycle of intolerant rhetoric and judgment that makes us blind to the work of healing.
Dear Mr. DiSanto:
I read your statement today concerning the Cordoba House mosque, and, frankly, I am not only appalled but also rather disgusted.
Using intolerance as a tool to further your own political career is extremely disheartening. It is a tactic used most often by the Right, but I see that it is alive and well here in New York on the "Left." as well. You are a discredit to fair minded and justice focused citizens, and your campaign has done a great disservice to the Muslim community in the area of Brooklyn that you seek to represent as well as to all those working to build cross community bridges.
And, on the eve of Ramadan, one of the holiest times in the Muslim year, your choice to participate in fear mongering and anti-Muslim sentiments is not only disgusting it is reprehensible. It is this sort of blatant intolerance masked as compassion that continues to create real, hurtful, and deep divides not only along along religious lines but along racial lines and, as you know as an openly gay man, along lines of sexual orientation and gender diversity. Your "not in my backyard" attitude is the same that was used during redlining which kept black families from moving into white neighborhoods and the ghetto mentality that kept Jews segregated and made gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities band together for their own protection in geographic isolation.
For the record, I am not a Muslim. I am a Christian, and I support the right of the Cordoba House to be built near Ground Zero not only as an act of religious freedom but also in the spirit in which it is being built: to demonstrate that just as not all Christians are the hateful gay-hating life destroying conservatives the likes of Fred Phelps and his ilk nor are all Muslims jihadis out to take down the United States. The best and most powerful honor that the Muslim community can do to those lost to hateful betrayers of true Islam is to create a space that demonstrates the peace, beauty, and love that is the core of Islam just as it is at the core of Christianity and Judaism. The Cordoba House facility, according to its website, will create a community space open to all New Yorkers and will provide critical access to facilities that are otherwise not present in Lower Manhattan.
As a private citizen, you are entitled to your own opinion. As a candidate for public service, you have shown an overwhelming lack of understanding of the power of words and the role of a community leader. I expect my public servants to rise above the immediate emotions of a situation and look at concerns through a sophisticated lens that respects those that feel aggrieved but protects those that are innocent from mob mentality. The Cordoba House has a right to exist in the location where it will exist.
The LGBT community saw this week proof positive that no matter the feeling of the majority, it is the minority, when their fundamental rights are being challenged, that must be upheld and protected. It is a shame that you can not see the parallels between Proposition 8 and the "majority" of Californians that voted against gay marriage and the mass religious intolerance that says that this mosque should not be built.
If I could stop payment on my donation to your campaign, I would. Seeing that I can not, and considering that I would not willingly make a gift to the campaign of a Republican, I will be making a donation to Cordoba House for the construction of their new mosque and cultural center.
W. Brandon Lacy Campos