High Noon at Ground Zero

I figure it’s time for me to finally put down in a sort of structured way what I think about this “ground zero mosque” controversy, beginning with the admission that I know it isn’t “only” a mosque, but a mosque is a part of what will hereafter be referred to as that “construction project.”

Next, I might simply wrap it up by saying I think that Charles Krauthammer, a man with whom I typically find little to agree with, is absolutely right in his assessment of the entire situation, while Ron Paul, a man with whom I typically find much to agree with, is almost entirely wrong in his own assessment, which makes repeated appeals to property rights.

Let me give you Krauthammer’s thesis, which is also a reply to this sort of argument, and which has been my own since the first day I heard about this:

No one disputes the right to build; the whole debate is about the propriety, the decency of doing so.

In my own readings and heated debates, the refrain I hear from the defenders of this construction project is the same as Obama’s: they have a right. What this argument boils down to is this: “we are doing this because we can, because you have no legal standing to stop us, and all of your complaints are irrelevant.”

Does this sound like a firm basis for an enduring friendship between two religions, two cultures, two ways of life?

It is hard to see how friendship can exist or endure without respect. In this country, the majority of Americans, for various and complicated reasons, are not ready to see Islamic buildings go up that close to the site of a mass murder carried out by people who acted in the name of Islam. This does not mean, and never has meant, that the majority of these Americans are categorically hostile to Islam. This is not the “tyranny of the majority”, this is not concomitant with a demand to banish Islam from the Republic and prevent the construction of mosques anywhere in the country. This is about respect.

In a relationship based upon respect between equals, which we presumably all are in this scenario, the party whose actions have caused offense should cease and desist those actions immediately. The claims of the offended party should be heard and acknowledged. And if the offending party can meet whatever objective they were attempting to meet by a different course of action that does not violate the boundaries of the offended party, then they are obliged, if they would maintain a respectful relationship, to pursue that different course.

That is exactly what we are faced with here. The Muslims behind this construction project wish to “build bridges”, and many of their defenders in the media have stated that the goal here is to build friendship among Muslims and non-Muslims. If that is the stated goal, then this project is undeniably counter-productive. Moreover, this goal could easily be pursued in a thousand other ways.

What it comes down to is this: You can’t force someone to be your friend. The reliance upon force undermines the very essence of friendship. A friendship is something freely entered into. That is why Ron Paul’s appeal to “property rights” is most disappointing to me; he of all people should understand that a mere appeal to rights is nothing but an appeal to the coercive power of the state. I’m not arguing that this power shouldn’t exist all, and I certainly believe in and defend private property rights, but I would also argue that its purpose has never been, nor will its effect ever be, to create and maintain friendships.

In fact, rights and their enforcement follow from what classical political theorists called a state of nature, or a state of war. People consent to leave this state and form governments to secure rights that are constantly under assault from other men in the natural state. And quite naturally, those who are attempting to take your property, liberty, or your life aren’t your friends. When the state is erected as arbiter, it doesn’t erase the underlying causes of conflict, but suppresses them with the threat of force.

What does address and mitigate the underlying causes of conflict are culture and especially religion. Radically different cultures and religions need time – sometimes a whole lot of time – to encounter and understand each other. If they are to actually become friends, and something more than just people who “tolerate” one another in the way one tolerates the smell of manure while living in a farming community, an organic process that will take place over a few generations must be allowed to unfold. And it may not happen at all, in the end, especially if it is interrupted by ill-conceived provocations.

Yes, the Muslims behind this project have every right in the world to build wherever they want. But if it’s friends they want, and not just another building, they and their moralizing, condescending apologists had better come up with better arguments than that.  William McGurn, writing for the Wall Street Journal, made this argument as well:

[N]ot all big questions can—or should—be reduced to legal right. Living together as neighbors in a free and inescapably diverse society requires more skills than just knowing how to hire sharp lawyers.

His comparison of this situation to the Catholic nuns who wished to pray at Auschwitz, only to have their project canceled by John Paul II, is well worth everyone’s read.

79 Responses to High Noon at Ground Zero

  • Well-put, Joe. Whenever I hear the same meme of “it’s their right to build a mosque there,” besides pulling my hair out over the non sequitur I’ve just heard, I want to ask them how they feel about the Westboro Baptist “Church” cult and their right to hurl the ugliest invective at funerals of deceased soldiers all over the U.S. To a one, I’ll bet none of them is willing to defend that right on exactly the same grounds. It’s a way to disengage from true discussion and label one’s interlocutor as unreasonable or un-American.

    Such little real wisdom left to work with in our times…alas, we’re in this world, but not of it, thank God!

  • If Hitler had claimed that ‘Mein Kampf’ was revealed by God, would that have made the Nazi Party a religion to be tolerated?

    Islam is first and foremost a totalitarian political system. The Muslims’ only loyalty is to the Ummah – the global ‘brotherhood’ of believers in Islam. Muslim theology describes the West as Dar al-Harb – the domain of war, consequently they regard their host countries as ripe for plunder, predation, extortion, parasitism and eventual subversion and takeover.

    Islam can add nothing to Western societies apart from trouble.

    Muslims in America will have to choose between loyalty to their country and loyalty to Islam. The two are irreconcilable – Islam is implacable and allows of no compromise on this matter.

  • Also, I think Americans have every right to make their desires and views known to the Landmarks Commission who made the ultimate decision in allowing zoning for the mosque.

    Let us not forget that this battle became known to us all after people went to the Landmarks Commission meeting to let their voices be heard. This mosque is already in an area zoned for the common good, meaning it must serve the needs of the community and not just the private owners. If they don’t like those terms, they should go buy some non-landmarked property.

    And, so long as it is a landmarked property, subject to a democratic review board, the people have every right to try and prevent it from being built.

    If this were a case of a truly independent property, I would tend to side with Dr. Paul more.

  • I agree with Miss USA:

    “The 24-year-old Rima Fakih, is the first Muslim winner of the Miss USA contest and is preparing for the Miss Universe Pageant, scheduled for Monday in Las Vegas.
    “I totally agree with President Obama with the statement on Constitutional rights of freedom of religion,” Fakih told “Inside Edition” in an interview that will air tonight.
    “I also agree that it shouldn’t be so close to the World Trade Center. We should be more concerned with the tragedy than religion.”

    http://hotair.com/archives/2010/08/20/miss-usa-i-think-they-should-move-the-ground-zero-mosque/

  • I absolutely concur. This is a classic case of the skinny kid walking into the bully’s corner at school. The kid KNOWS he gonna get the snot kicked out of him but his satisfaction will be saying “He started it!”

    Americans, real Americans, are poised to snap. We are tired of our borders being overrun, foreigners profiting from our pot habits and soiling our waters and shores with oil as well as Muslims building Mosques near ground zero. Obama isn’t doing us any favors either.

    But, I have a sneaky suspicion that the gun shop going in next to the mosque might derail their plans. Either that or the Teamsters.
    WR2
    http://wr24u.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/gun-shop-to-open-next-to-ny-mosque/

  • Because it is so obvious how insensitive this mosque is to 9-11 families, then clearly bridge building is not their real motivation.

    This is what makes people wonder if perhaps this culture center is really a monument to the greatest Islamist victory in history.

  • That local board prohibited rebuilding the Orthodox Church that was destroyed on 11 Sep.

    I will be at Bwy. and Park Place 11AM tomorrow. I owe them.

    As usual, I came up from the subway at Wall and William at 9AM 11 Sep 2001 there was smoke and debris in the street. I wasn’t sure if I’d get to the office in one piece. And spent the rest of that day trying to help.

    I owe it to the 2,900 who did not survive that day. I owe it to thousands of their next of kin who spent days after 11 Sep going from hospital to hospital to see if their missing loved ones were in hospital.

    And, I owe it to the widows and orphans who had to bury their spouses and parents most times without “remains” and nearly always with closed coffins.

    And, I owe to the survivors that I worked with who couldn’t stop weeping . . .

    And, if you can’t understand why I’m going . . .

    A faithful muslim confesses, “There is no god but allah and muhammed is his prophet.” The koran and haditha, in many passages, require, expansion by war. That is the law. The ones that deny that are apostates or lying to “operate” until they can wage war. Muhamamed was a mass murderer and a consummate brigand. Every good muslim must emulate muhammed.

    The America-hating libs may stick their thumbs in their ears and run around in circles screaming “religion of peace.” But that’s not true.

  • When Krauthammer says “No one disputes the right to build” the mosque I kind of have to scratch my head. Actually, quite a few people disputes the Cordoba people’s right to build, and have tried various forms of legal shenanigans in order to prevent it.

  • Blackadder – I understand what you are saying but Krauthammer’s comment meant that the right is covered by our constitution and he’s 100% correct. This trial is being held in the court of public opinion.
    WR2

  • In a relationship based upon respect between equals, which we presumably all are in this scenario, the party whose actions have caused offense should cease and desist those actions immediately.

    I think this depends on whether the action in question really is offensive. If I am mortally offended by the fact you are wearing a crucifix, that doesn’t morally oblige you to take off the crucifix.

  • BA,

    Perhaps “no one” isn’t the correct phrase, but I think Krauthammer speaks for many in taking up that position.

    As for your second comment, no, one is not “morally obliged.” The point here is that if they want to build a friendship, they are obliged to respect the conditions of those they wish to befriend – there’s no moral obligation to be friends with anyone.

    The condition here is “no mosque/Islamic building thingy at or close to ground zero.”

    It isn’t always possible, or necessary, to make some perfectly rational case for offense. A person who loses their child to a serial killer may be offended at the sight of that killer’s family, no matter how penitent they are.

    I don’t think the offense in this case is unreasonable, I don’t think it needs elaborate justification or defense, and I think the stated goal of friendship is severely undermined when the argument is reduced to one of rights.

  • I think that making one’s friendship conditional on an admittedly irrational sensitivity is itself a sign of a lack of respect.

    The folks protesting the Park 51 project don’t want to be friends with the Muslims behind the project. They want them to go away.

  • BA,

    Friendship presupposes that you don’t flippantly dismiss such sensitivities, rational or not.

    And in any case, it is the people BEHIND the project and their supporters that are arguing that the intention and the goal of it is friendship. If you want to talk about irrationality, claiming that you want friendship and then screaming about rights is a sign that one was never serious about friendship in the first place.

    I think there’s a difference between the specific groups engaged in specific legal challenges to the mosque, and the 60%+ Americans who are opposed to the idea in general. And I think it’s for the bulk of that 60% that Krauthammer and myself speak in this case.

  • Why is it so hard for you and others to just accept these sensitivities as a given fact? There’s absolutely nothing you can do to change them, and acting so brazenly against them is nothing but provocation. What good can possibly come of this?

    Is it just “we’ll show those bigots”, or is there something more to it?

  • “That is why Ron Paul’s appeal to ‘property rights’ is most disappointing to me; he of all people should understand that a mere appeal to rights is nothing but an appeal to the coercive power of the state.”

    Actually libertarians, objectivists and the rest really truly do think that property exists prior to the state, and an appeal to property rights is a/”the” way to avoid the state’s involvement.

  • “Is it just ‘we’ll show those bigots’, or is there something more to it?”

    For the-editorial-most of the people who support the mosque, that really IS all there is to it. For about 15-20% of the US population, “opposing the bigoted religious right” is its own moral justification.

  • Eh, well, here is where things get a little muddled.

    Classical liberals such as Locke believed that property – that which is “properly” belonging to a person – is acquired through labor. So property does precede the state, but the argument is that it is not secure until the state is formed. Thus the state is to protect the natural right to property; it does not create a legal right to it.

    Thus a natural right is all but meaningless if it is not secured, and thus an appeal to rights is usually an appeal to the coercive power of the state. Muslims or whomever else may claim that they have a natural right to acquire this property in a legitimate way, but when faced with objections that are rooted in what I think are valid from a cultural, political and yes, even emotional point of view, their ultimate recourse is to the state. It is to coercive power.

    Regardless of how one feels about that, my point is simply that it is a shoddy basis for friendship. So those who claim that friendship is their goal ought to have a better argument than rights, natural, legal, or otherwise.

  • “L.V. Spina, a Manhattan construction worker who created anti-mosque stickers that some workers are slapping on their hardhats, said he would “rather pick cans and bottles out of trash cans” than build the Islamic center near Ground Zero.

    “But if they moved it somewhere else, we would put up a prime building for these people,” he said. “Hell, you could do it next to my house in Rockaway Beach, I would be fine with it. But I’m not fine with it where blood has been spilled.”

    Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/08/20/2010-08-20_we_wont_build_it_hardhats_say_no_way_they_will_work_on_wtc_mosque.html#ixzz0xJEYyGHG

  • I don’t think this position is inherently bigoted or unreasonable. I think most Americans are willing to tolerate and accept Islam in their country, and even befriend Muslims. But not like this. Not on these conditions.

    Whatever degree of irrationality is inherent in this position pales in comparison to the irrationality of those who claim friendship is their goal and then propose to ride roughshod over these sentiments by a appeals to legal rights.

  • Friendship presupposes that you don’t flippantly dismiss such sensitivities, rational or not.

    I disagree. If someone is putting irrational conditions on friendship then the only way to have a friendship based on mutual respect is to confront that fact.

    Again, though, the idea that the anti-mosque people want to be friends. What they say is “we think you are a bunch of terrorists and want you to go away.”

    Why is it so hard for you and others to just accept these sensitivities as a given fact?

    I think that hiding behind irrational sensitivities is the flip side of the hiding behind rights that you criticize. True, you have the right to build there. But I don’t want you to. True, I don’t have a good reason for not wanting you to. But I don’t want you to. Therefore, you shouldn’t do it.

  • Is it just “we’ll show those bigots”, or is there something more to it?

    I do think it’s important to stand up to bigotry and demagogy, and such factors are in my view clearly motivating a significant portion of the anti-mosque advocacy. You quote a construction worker who says he’d be fine with a mosque near his house. Most opponents of Park 51 disagree and would oppose a mosque near there home. Park 51 is only one of a number of proposed mosques and/or Islamic centers throughout the country that have drawn opposition and protest. And then, of course, you have things like this:

    At one point, a portion of the crowd menacingly surrounded two Egyptian men who were speaking Arabic and were thought to be Muslims.

    “Go home,” several shouted from the crowd.

    “Get out,” others shouted.

    In fact, the two men – Joseph Nassralla and Karam El Masry — were not Muslims at all. They turned out to be Egyptian Coptic Christians who work for a California-based Christian satellite TV station called “The Way.” Both said they had come to protest the mosque.

    “I’m a Christian,” Nassralla shouted to the crowd, his eyes bulging and beads of sweat rolling down his face.

    But it was no use. The protesters had become so angry at what they thought were Muslims that New York City police officers had to rush in and pull Nassralla and El Masry to safety.

  • BA,

    “Again, though, the idea that the anti-mosque people want to be friends.”

    Again, though, no one claimed such a thing. It is the “pro-mosque” people who are making an explicit desire for friendship. It is something THEY claim to desire. The argument here is if that is a sincere claim, then they should not be making appeals to rights. It’s a contradictory position. Hence my closing paragraph in the original post…

    And this answers the first point you made as well. The person who desires the friendship is the one with the burden to make the concessions necessary to make it work. This is a very simple point.

    “I think that hiding behind irrational sensitivities is the flip side of the hiding behind rights that you criticize. ”

    Aside from the fact that I don’t think they are that irrational, or, that even if they were, this automatically invalidates them – this comparison doesn’t work. The sensitivities are a given, an unalterable condition at the present time. Those who want to build this thing are in the position of responding to them.

    Their choices are to respect them, which they ought to do if they want to display their goodwill and sincere desire for friendship, or to ride roughshod over them, which displays only their will to dominate. These are mutually exclusive positions.

    Incidents such as the one you reference are certainly terrible. For all I know, I might one day be accurately recognized as a Middle Easterner instead of inaccurately assumed to be Hispanic and face the same sort of hostility.

    But the fact remains that a loud, vocal minority of Muslims as well as a swath of apologists have made their own hostile intentions towards Western civilization and Christianity well known. It is going to take time and effort to overcome these divides. In Europe, Islamification has taken on serious and deadly dimensions. We would be utter fools to overlook the dangers of that situation in the name of political correctness.

    So we’re walking a very fine line here, it is a sensitive situation, and this absurd insistence upon shoving this construction project down the throats of people who are simply not ready for it is making an already tense situation worse.

    Frankly I’m surprised at this moralizing. Can’t you see how irrational it is to just assume you’re going to make some great show of tolerance and have everyone accept it? And if you do understand it isn’t going to work out that way, again I ask, what GOOD will come of this?

  • I agree with Raheel Raza and Tarek Fatah:

    “So what gives Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the “Cordoba Initiative” and his cohorts the misplaced idea that they will increase tolerance for Muslims by brazenly displaying their own intolerance in this case?

    Do they not understand that building a mosque at Ground Zero is equivalent to permitting a Serbian Orthodox church near the killing fields of Srebrenica where 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered?

    There are many questions that we would like to ask. Questions about where the funding is coming from? If this mosque is being funded by Saudi sources, then it is an even bigger slap in the face of Americans, as nine of the jihadis in the Twin Tower calamity were Saudis.

    If Rauf is serious about building bridges, then he could have dedicated space in this so-called community centre to a church and synagogue, but he did not. We passed on this message to him through a mutual Saudi friend, but received no answer. He could have proposed a memorial to the 9/11 dead with a denouncement of the doctrine of armed jihad, but he chose not to.”

    http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Mischief+Manhattan/3370303/story.html

  • Hmmm. Apparently in Spain some Muslims have their own “Cordoba Initiative” underway!

    http://themcj.com/?p=13921

  • I didn’t realize that there was such a high profile parallel to the conversion of the Hagia Sophia to the Ayasofya, with the fall of Constantinople. There may be a lesson here.

    Turkey was secularized as the only way forward for a culture at teh crossroads between Western progress and Middle Eastern stagnation and decay. Stripping the site of its religious purpose and turning it into a museum and cultural research center has done a lot to foster understanding and tolerance. Selectively uncovering the ancient mosaics while maintaining the minerets and other significant additions from the Ottomon eras has created a site worthy of serious academic work.

    I wonder if this isn’t a better model for fostering friendship in Cordoba, Spain or Ground Zero in New York.

  • I disagree. If someone is putting irrational conditions

    The conditions are not irrational. The mosque project is an exercise in self-assertion. Such has been done before.

    http://www.usatoday.com/money/biztravel/2006-09-17-airport-check-in-usat_x.htm

    http://www.startribune.com/local/11585901.html

  • Here’s the thing about all of these horror stories about intolerance… They are isolated and unusual. They are also a generally shared experience.

    Case in point: SEPTA – the transit authority that I use for work – has a “quiet ride car” policy in effect for the first car of each rush-hour train. In this car, you are not supposed to make calls, listen to headphones louder than a whisper, or converse. I say my rosary on the way into work. (It is about an hour ride.) This is a silent affair – I don’t say it out loud or anything. About six months ago, I was in the middle of the third Decade when a woman that had been giving me dirty looks for a while got up out of her seat, tapped the chair in front of me, and meanly pointed to the sign that said “Quiet Ride Car” while reminding me that the rule applied to everyone. She was basically snarling and my first reaction was not positive. I said “thank you for pointing it out” and she went back to her seat. I considered continuing, but only as a sign that I would not be intimidated. I knew she was being unreasonable. However, as I thought about it and carefully considered whether I had done anything to provoke the attack, I realized that my innocent practice of faith had reached her at a visceral level – that praying the rosary had made HER uncomfortable. In other words, she had reacted in a way that she was probably ashamed of and that my continuing had nothing to do with praying and everything to do with provoking further confrontation. So, I put away my rosary and opened up my bible.

    I don’t know if she was spiritually benefitted by not provoking the confrontation she wanted but I hope and pray that she found herself sufficiently shamed by her action that she did some soul searching.

    Applying this to the thread above, this woman’s reaction has nothing to do with SEPTA. I’m sure that, if I had made a scene, the Conductor would have awkwardly tried to resolve it and I would be patently unfair to characterize this single person’s reaction as symptomatic of a wider hatred of Catholics. It is ONE unpleasant scene involving a single person… Nothing more.

    The problem with bringing examples of intolerance into the Cordoba House discussion is that it is done solely for the purpose of quieting disagreement. This is to say that everyone above who cites to examples of intolerance for their discussion is doing so unfairly – mischaracterizing isolated incidents – unsubstantiated, I am forced to point out – as evidence that there are no honest disagreements or opposition to the project. This is simply not true and it is damn unchristian to, essentially, lie in order to make your point.

    I am very much interested in the arguments, both rational and impassioned, by persons on this thread. I consider how people feel as important as how they think since all people tend to conflate the two anyway. Please stop trying to silence disagreement by suggesting that disagreeing indicates inherent flaws in our personalities or spirits.

  • The person who desires the friendship is the one with the burden to make the concessions necessary to make it work. This is a very simple point.

    It’s too simple. In the last century, for example, there was often a great controversy about a black family moving into a (formerly) all white neighborhood. This went against the not entirely rational sensitivities of the neighbors. It was said that one of the reasons for this sort of action was to achieve greater harmony between the races. Yet it was also said that this was absurd. After all, if the black neighbor really wanted to be friends, he wouldn’t be so insensitive as to live next to a white person. He would do the honorable thing and disappear.

    In the short term, not entirely rational sensitivities may be a fact of life. But in the long run the only way to achieve true friendship is not to kowtow to the irrational conditions placed on your friendship by others, and to demand as your own entirely rational condition of friendship that others treat you with respect. I don’t say that this will be the ultimately result of Park 51 or even the likely result. I say only that it is a possible result. So there is nothing contradictory about professing friendship while refusing to back down.

  • BA,
    One problem with your analogy that comes to my mind is that the black families in question had done nothing to offend prior to moving in. It seems to me that a closer (though also imperfect)analogy would be that of a recently-released convicted sex offender moving into the neighborhood–a situation not generally met with heaps of tolerance by the neighbors although an ex-con has to live somewhere and may well be within his legal rights in his choice of domicile. One could argue, rightly, that the neighbors’ objections are irrational as the ex-con had done nothing to them. But that’s unlikely to relieve the discomfort of, say, a neighbor who had been victimized by someone else in the past. My ex-con might, after years of living quietly and practicing exemplary behavior, overcome his neighbors’ prejudices. But it would reqire time and above-average circumspection and some neighbors (e.g. my crime victim,or a single woman who lived alone) would invariably take longer to win over than others.
    Difficult though it may be for my ex-con (let’s imagine he’s gotten religion and reformed himself,) he can’t deny that it’s aspects of his own history that obstructs his full acceptance in the community. It’s incumbent on him to be sensitive to the concerns of others and to accept that some will always judge him by his record.

    To briefly take another tack, I don’t think it’s rational for Orthodox Christians today to resent Roman Catholics today for the sack of Constantinople, but I can’t deny that some of such resentment goes on and I’d be a fool (to say nothing of a poor excuse for a Christian) to behave insensitively to someone who was still holding on to it.

  • BA,

    Comparing this to redlining is simply wrong. People need houses to live, and they need to seek out the best areas to live for their families. In these cases, a person certainly should assert their right to live where they please. It has nothing to do with making friends, and everything to do with making decisions that are best for one’s family.

    Though I will note that there was a grain of truth to the argument you ridicule, and that we don’t exactly have some grand friendship between the races now as a result of these policies’ downfall.

    Anyway, this mosque isn’t necessary for anyone.

    And is this really your idea of friendship? “I’m going to force myself on you until you like me?”

    Finally, again, I don’t think these conditions are entirely irrational. I don’t think you’ve shown that. In some cases they might be, in other cases, maybe not.

    I don’t think there is the SLIGHTEST bit of disrespect in Americans asking Muslims to consider that ground zero is “hallowed ground” to them due to a national tragedy, and that they would appreciate it if they would build their mosque elsewhere. This is the sentiment of a good many Americans.

  • The problem with the opponents argument is that it rests on collectivism. The offending party, Al Qaeda, should not be allowed to build a mosque anywhere.

  • One problem with your analogy that comes to my mind is that the black families in question had done nothing to offend prior to moving in.

    The Muslims in question hadn’t done anything to offend prior to buying the building. They weren’t involved with 9/11. Let me say that again. They weren’t involved with 9/11. In fact, the brand of Islam that the Park 51 folks adhere to (Sufism) is fundamentally opposed to the brand of Islam that the 9/11 hijackers adhered to (Wahabism). It’s one thing for an Orthodox to resent Catholics because of the sack of Constantinople. Resenting a group of Lutherans on that account takes the irrationality to a whole nother level.

  • In fact, the brand of Islam that the Park 51 folks adhere to (Sufism) is fundamentally opposed to the brand of Islam that the 9/11 hijackers adhered to (Wahabism).

    1. Who is bankrolling them?

    2. What is this Imam’s assessment of the social and political situation in which he finds himself? What is the assessment he offers in Arabic?

    Real estate in the financial district is not cheap stuff and the local resident population is modest. What is the utility of that particular location?

  • I don’t think there is the SLIGHTEST bit of disrespect in Americans asking Muslims to consider that ground zero is “hallowed ground” to them due to a national tragedy, and that they would appreciate it if they would build their mosque elsewhere.

    First, the building is not at ground zero.

    Second, suppose the Cordoba folks were told “we don’t want you to build here because you are a bunch of terrorists, and we don’t want your ‘victory mosque’ anywhere near the place where you killed so many Americans. And frankly we don’t want you building mosques anywhere, because you belong to an evil religion which is not even really a religion (basically you’re a bunch of Nazis) and we’re going to do everything in our power to see to it that you can’t build here.” Would that be disrespectful?

  • Since the early 7th century, muslims, islamists mohammadanists whatever, have made a habit of stealing the holy places of the people they conquored and turning them into mosques, it happened in India & the near middle east & elsewhere. Sort of a similiar act a dog performes when it pisses to mark it’s territory. I could be wrong on the verse but I believe surah 51 in the koran says make NO friends of a Jew or a Christian & pursue and kill them.

  • 1. Who is bankrolling them?

    According to the website fundraising for the project hasn’t started yet.

    2. What is this Imam’s assessment of the social and political situation in which he finds himself? What is the assessment he offers in Arabic?

    Well, he wrote a book called What’s Right with Islam is What’s Right with America. That might be a good place to start. As for statements in Arabic, Memri turns up no results. I suspect that if Rauf had made incendiary statements in Arabic you would have heard of it already.

    Real estate in the financial district is not cheap stuff and the local resident population is modest. What is the utility of that particular location?

    My understanding is that they got a very good deal on the property because the building had been damaged by the collapse of the WTC. It’s also the case that the Imam’s mosque is nearby.

  • So Mr. blackadder pop a few more tears in your misguided affection for mohammadanism, it’s history is as bloody as the third reich, marxist China and the bloodstained defunct ussr. If islam ever conquored the USA there would be no mercy for Jews or Christians, just ask a Coptic Egytian. knock off the bleeding heart crap.

  • It’s too simple. In the last century, for example, there was often a great controversy about a black family moving into a (formerly) all white neighborhood.

    At any given time prior to about 1966 it was difficult or impossible for a black family to rent or purchase outside certain areas of a metropolis. In the town I grew up in, those designated areas might have had a population of 100,000 in an urban settlement with more than 400,000 residents. Metropolitan New York has in excess of 17,000,000 residents and we are speaking of a small section of Manhattan which does not have 60,000 people living in it. What is the attraction of that neighborhood?

  • BA,

    “First, the building is not at ground zero.”

    This is a quibble, and you know it. It’s close enough, and the site was chosen precisely for this reason, in a misguided, miscalculated effort to create “friendship.”

    As for the rest, that isn’t what everyone who opposes this project is saying. So again you’ve introduced an irrelevant distraction.

    If we were in the courtroom, I’d object on grounds of relevancy and I think that objection would be sustained, my lawyer friend.

  • According to the website fundraising for the project hasn’t started yet.

    And yet somehow he purchased the site.

    My understanding is that they got a very good deal on the property because the building had been damaged by the collapse of the WTC. It’s also the case that the Imam’s mosque is nearby.

    As you can see…

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/244150/about-those-other-ground-zero-mosques-nr-intern

    The Imam’s current digs are about what you would expect for a religious abode of fairly recent vintage in that particular section of Manhattan (which one might wager has 600 or so nominal Muslims). To say the least, his access to commercial real estate loans and the projected size of his congregation have undergone a dramatic expansion.

    I suspect that if Rauf had made incendiary statements in Arabic you would have heard of it already.

    He’s made obnoxious remarks in English.

  • Blind Adder:

    Here’s the bigotry/disparate treatment: Orthodox Church at Ground Zero prohibited to rebuild.

    It’s not about rights it’s about sites.

    Imam Ralph, truly expert in delusions and lies, is intent on siting his triumphalist mosque there for the same reasons his co-religionists flew large planes into two huge buildings – symbolism.

    Have you ever been to NYC? The building is so close to the WTC a that large piece of the first jumbo jet tore a hole in the roof. Down there two blocks is about 200 yards. You know they’ll loudspeaker the evening Call to Prayer (Obama: the sweetest sound in creation, or something like that)so everyone at Ground Zero will hear it.

    I came out of the subway about twice that far away and I didn’t think I’d get to my office building in one piece – the debris coming down.

    If you would spend 25 minutes listening to the podcast of Bob Grant’s taped interview (WABC 770) today with Wallid Shoebat, a reformed Pali terrorist, you will learn of the true motives of Imam Ralph and the muslim Narcissist occupying the White House.

    But, you deluded people only believe what supports your biases.

    There are 152 mosques in the five burroughs and scores in the surrounding counties. There are 208 numbered street running north and about eight to 12 avenues running east and west. Imam Ralph could find a place with more resident filthy murdering pagans than around Wall Street.

    Ann honest American (not fostered in Indonesia madrassahs) President, John Quincy Adams, on Islam. Tell us where he is wrong:

    “In the seventh century of the Christian era, a wandering Arab of the lineage of Hagar [i.e., Muhammad], the Egyptian, [.....] Adopting from the new Revelation of Jesus, the faith and hope of immortal life, and of future retribution, he humbled it to the dust by adapting all the rewards and sanctions of his religion to the gratification of the sexual passion. He poisoned the sources of human felicity at the fountain, by degrading the condition of the female sex, and the allowance of polygamy; and he declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind. THE ESSENCE OF HIS DOCTRINE WAS VIOLENCE AND LUST.- TO EXALT THE BRUTAL OVER THE SPIRITUAL PART OF HUMAN NATURE…. Between these two religions, thus contrasted in their characters, a war of twelve hundred years has already raged. The war is yet flagrant … While the merciless and dissolute dogmas of the false prophet shall furnish motives to human action, there can never be peace upon earth, and good will towards men.”

    (Capitals are Adams’)

    Similarly, it’s not bigotry to oppose the Aztec human sacrifice religion, the KKK, and/or Nazism.

    No more talk. If it goes forward it’s ourselves alone who will have to deal with it.

  • “I do think it’s important to stand up to bigotry”

    In this day and age, I increasingly doubt that since several incidents in recent months (Harry Reid, Spencer Ackerman on Journolist, Robert Byrd vis Strom Thurmond, Mary Frances Berry) proved beyond any reasonable doubt that the word “bigotry” is now mostly a partisan weapon and doesn’t refer to a real thing with social clout.

    “and demagogy, and such factors are in my view clearly motivating a significant portion of the anti-mosque advocacy.”

    Even if that’s true, that’s irrelevant to what is right or wise because there are always demagogues on both sides of every issue. It is exactly this sort of political framing that I referred to when I said that for a significant eprcentage of the populace, who they are against is the defining political virtue.

    And I would say it is equally the case that the supporters of the mosque engage in demagoguery (especially tossing out the “bigot” charge with their patella reflex). So yes, if it is important a-priori not to give demagogues what they want, then there should be no mosque.

  • Joe,

    It’s not a quibble. There is a world of difference between saying that a mosque is going to be built at ground zero and saying that a building two blocks away will have a mosque in it. Saying that the mosque is to be built at ground zero suggests that if you were to go to ground zero what you’d find is not a memorial or a rebuilt WTC but a giant golden dome. The endless repetition of that the site at “at ground zero” or that one is opposing the “ground zero mosque” is to my mind rank demagogy.

    It’s true that not *everyone* who has opposed Park 51 has said the sorts of insulting things I mentioned. But an awful lot of them have. Suppose ten people tell you that they don’t want you to do something, and only six of them insult your mother. What’s your reaction going to be? Are you going to say “well, they didn’t *all* insult me, so what the six said is irrelevant.”

  • There is a world of difference between saying that a mosque is going to be built at ground zero and saying that a building two blocks away will have a mosque in it.

    No, there is two blocks worth of difference. And that five-minute walk is erased when **the organizers themselves said** the site was specifically chosen because of its proximity, which they did before public furor made that claim inconvenient.

    And insisting on this difference when people and brand-names in a million contexts use geographic nouns as modifiers meaning “near” is, to my mind, rank demogoguery.

    It’s true that not *everyone* who has opposed Park 51 has said the sorts of insulting things I mentioned. But an awful lot of them have.

    And an awful lot of Muslims support the Islamists, and yet we’re supposed to not note that when talking about the symbology of a Muslim mosque at the place of an Islamist atrocity committed in the name of a quite reasonable and widely held understanding of Islam.

  • Victor,

    Thanks for replying for me :) Seriously, that’s what I was gonna say.

  • To no one in particular,

    I’m extremely intrigued by the debate going on here. I do not possess the gift of succinctness and word-smithing as some others here, including the author, but I do believe I’m capable of solid and logical common sense.

    We need to move on from this debate. It’s over. At this juncture we’re fighting over the intangibles and conjecture. We’re at a point where everyone is right and everyone is wrong. Let them build their community center. It is their right and a person would have to have their head in the sand to state otherwise. As an extension of that thought we also need to be honest with ourselves that the folks at the Cordoba Institute are devilishly naïve to have assumed that their choice of locations would be viewed as benign. No, they knew. They aren’t naïve.

    Let them build the mosque.

    Barring a mutually acceptable relocation agreement (and what’s acceptable? 1 block, 5 blocks, a mile? Only in Muslim neighborhoods?) we need to let the situation play itself out.

    Now roll the calendar ahead and examine the possible outcomes. There really are only a few that can be considered plausible:

    #1 The mosque will be built, the Muslims will worship and all is well. Odds = less than likely.

    #2 The mosque is built amid protests, work stoppages, arguments, fights and endless name calling. Once constructed and operational the outcry will die down as acceptance (the last stage of grief) is reached. The family, friends, survivors and U.S. patriots forgive and forget. They move on. The outward facing perception of the center and its message mirrors that which is proposed today. The current day nay-sayers will change their position to “You know what, there is a difference in Muslim interpretation of their religion. I’ll stop looking over my shoulder until they prove otherwise”. Odds = highly likely

    #3 All the same as #2 except that American’s have been fooled and our worst fears our realized. The center is nothing more than a front for an Islamic insurgency. Lots of people die. Odds = not happening.

    American’s are ready to snap….we’re being attacked on multiple fronts from the Mexican invasion to the oil on our shores and water. Is it really so far fetched and peinful to ‘man up’, honor our Constitution and let a house of worship be constructed? If/when we snap do we want it to be over a right that is not debatable?

    At this point in time I sincerely doubt that all this discussion will have even a ripple effect on the outcome. I will remain in the “This is a horribly bad idea but perfectly legal” mode. My very first post 3 months ago on this blog site was about this very issue and I haven’t wavered one bit. We started out with a clear yes/no discussion that I believe is migrating towards a third group of people like me. Only time will tell.
    WR2

  • If the best you can do to document “Islamophobia”?

    (1) lack of national media attention (though there was plenty of local news coverage, as C&L notes in its fundraising effort) to a failed bomb attack that (thankfully) hurt nobody; (2) a campaign commercial (rightly) criticizing our politically correct response to terrorists of no particular religious or ethnic persuasion whatsoever; and (3) people criticizing (unsuccessfully) a Muslim’s appointment to a local government post (on what grounds; the article is unclear).

    That’s the best you can do? Really?

    I’ve said this before and I’m gonna say this bluntly.

    The United States of 2010 has no objective need, and no possibile ability to those currently unconvinced, to demonstrate its “tolerance” and “openness” and “religious freedom” to **anybody,** least of all to the intolerant, corrupt, chauvinist, anti-gay dictatorships that largely make up Dar al-Islam. The fact Muslims were not massacred en masse after 9/11 puts us ahead of most of the world, including all of the intolerant, corrupt, chauvinist, anti-gay dictatorships that largely make up Dar al-Islam.

  • I guess I should reword: “The fact Muslims were not massacred en masse” to “The fact Muslims were neither massacred en masse nor deported nor the object of mass pogroms …”

    Effective genocide is relatively rare … the two things I’ve added are much more common and make the statement incontrovertibly true.

    Either way — we need listen to no lectures about anti-Muslim backlash. None.

  • Bravo to Blackadder! I have been on the fence on this one and leaning against the idea until I read his remarkable efforts here. We’ve had our disagreements, but no one can deny that he is one formidable opponent. As I see things, he has manhandled this thread.

  • Sam,

    Would you care to elaborate on that? Specifically:

    On what grounds were you against the idea?

    What arguments of BA’s changed your mind?

    As per usual, I don’t think he really addressed my substantive claims, and instead moved around in circles over tangential issues.

  • Now now Joseph … he called others’ views prejudiced and bigoted, which does constitute persuasion in the eyes of some in this day and age.

  • As I see things, he has manhandled this thread.

    Which does not speak well of your analytical capabilities.

  • No, there is two blocks worth of difference. And that five-minute walk is erased when **the organizers themselves said** the site was specifically chosen because of its proximity

    If the mosque is not at ground zero then all the arguments about sacred ground make no sense. Being two blocks away also raises the problem of exactly how far away a mosque has to be before it stops being insensitive. If the proposed site were three blocks away instead of two presumably opposition would be less, but still significant. Same if it was four blocks, and so forth. No matter how far away you get, though, you’re still going to have some people opposed. Not only is there no rational way to decide that two blocks is bad but three is okay, there’s no rational way to decide at what point opposition has fallen to such a level that it’s no longer insensitive to build. You could build the thing in Tennessee and people would be offended. If the fact that your actions offend someone means you are morally required to stop what you’re doing, then no one could ever do anything (this is something that conservatives ordinarily understand).

  • Perhaps in the interest of dialogue this could be part of the site:

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2010/08/a-counter-proposal-for-the-mosque-at-ground-zero/

  • Blackadder, the problem of which you speak manifests itself in any sort of situation or endeavour where boundaries must be drawn on a spectrum – fixing penalties for criminal activity, for example. By the way, the site they are purchasing has on it a commercial building damaged by the landing gear of one of the planes. It is part of Ground Zero.

    The people complaining in Murfreesboro, Tenn. have a multiplicity of objections. There is one thing in common about the two situations, however. There is in both cases and extant mosque to which they are not objecting.

    You have elected to ignore two aspects of this situation. This fellow Rauf is not the Sufi answer to Jerry Falwell. He has no history of building and maintaining local congregations of generous size or of founding auxilliary institutions of import. For 30 years, he has superintended a small congregation in the Financial District, served on the board of this and that, and published something every now and then. The Christian analogue would be one of the local parsons in my little town, or perhaps one of those clergy Ken Meyers interviews on Mars Hill Audio Journal. At the age of 62, he elects to go into real estate development big time. His response to age is very peculiar or he is fronting for someone.

    His remarks in September 2001 indicate he is about as friendly to this country as the editors of The Nation or Maclin Horton’s blogging partner or your average professor of American History. Very unbecoming for an immigrant. People who make nonsensical statements which would have this country adopt the mentality commonly attributed to battered wives are not your friends and not putting much effort into making themselves so.

  • His remarks in September 2001 indicate he is about as friendly to this country as the editors of The Nationor Maclin Horton’s blogging partner or your average professor of American History.

    If the editors of The Nation (or an average professor of American history) wanted to buy the building would you object to that too?

    A lot of people said loopy things in September of 2001 (Jerry Falwell, for example). I have no doubt that Imam Rauf is a member of the progressive left in good standing, and that he holds many of the fashionable and inane beliefs common on the progressive left. But unless you want to debar about a third of the country from building on that site, I fail to see the significance of that fact.

  • “But unless you want to debar about a third of the country from building on that site, I fail to see the significance of that fact.”

    Actually I would support barring anyone putting up an “An America Had it Coming” message at Ground Zero, just as I would oppose a piece of Neo-Confederate propaganda being placed at Gettysburg.

  • If the editors of The Nation (or an average professor of American history) wanted to buy the building would you object to that too?

    Victor Navasky or the average professor of American History have nothing in common with Mohammed Atta other than a generalized antagonism to the United States.

    A lot of people said loopy things in September of 2001 (Jerry Falwell, for example).

    Loopy in a particular way. And the other lot are not attempting a victory dance at the site.

    But unless you want to debar about a third of the country from building on that site, I fail to see the significance of that fact.

    You fail to see because you are being willful. The organizers of this project are manufacturing the bilge about bridge-building and what not. (Which is not the stock and trade of Victor Navasky, et al.).

    While we are at it, a ‘third of the country’ do not adhere to such views. A third of the arts and sciences faculty, perhaps.

    You have repeatedly refused to acknowledge something key to this and other controversies. Our society, and any society, has a set of manners applicable to various spheres and which fill the interstices between the law, as well as a set of assumptions about who is to be taken at face value, whose motives suspect, whose sensibilities are trump, and whose role it is to be embarrassed. Our own society (and others in the occidental world) suffers also from a snotty overclass who look on the aims and dispositions of the larger society as an infestation to be contained by any means necessary. The encounter between immigrant populations and the host society provides a means to their ends (and has altered the character of the reception of immigrant populations in unsalutary ways).

    Now, in my own lifetime, aspects of the common life – what can be said and what cannot in a public forum – have changed in rather disagreeable ways. One of the points of origin is in controversies such as this. A world in which Imam Rauf and his financial backers flip the bird at the rest of us while we are treated to supercilious admonishments from the chatterati is not a common life which has been improved in quality. The name of the game, as it is in a house with multiple cats, is establish your right to plant your ass on particular patches of common property, and to command a baseline of respect from the other cats in the house.

    As it is, the country has done a poor job, for upwards of forty years, in crafting a state-of-the-world in which immigrants are received and integrated into the host society in ways beneficial to us all. For some immigrant streams, bad policy has not made a disagreeable difference. The Muslim population presents some special challenges Korean populations do not, namely a political class liberally studded with people who think it the task of the larger society to pay its respects. I will offer that we will have escalating conflicts until people in charge learn to say without hesitation or guilt, “get out of my office”.

  • Joe – Sadly, I don’t have as much time on my hands as I’d like to. So, I guess I will just have to leave my remark as I left it: a personal note about how this thread has affected my views on this matter.

    Quickly, though: I was against it at first simply because it seemed commonsensical and pragmatic to not do this. Blackadder has pointed-out that this may be an easy way out, but it is not based in rational principles.

    Paul – As for lacking analytical abilities: I agree wholeheartedly.

  • So your non-analytically telling me I am not being rational.

  • Maybe Pat Robertson can build a church in the Ninth Ward.

  • Actually I would support barring anyone putting up an “An America Had it Coming” message at Ground Zero, just as I would oppose a piece of Neo-Confederate propaganda being placed at Gettysburg.

    I’m unclear about the relevance of this to the current discussion. The mosque is to be two blocks away, and it does not, in and of itself, communicate an offensive message. The fact that many Americans cannot distinguish between jihadists and other Muslims does not mean that Muslims should have their decency questioned when they exercise their right to build a religious center on private property. There’s nothing wrong with accommodating ignorance, of course, but that does not mean it is a moral obligation.

  • John Henry,

    “The fact that many Americans cannot distinguish between jihadists and other Muslims”

    This is not the issue. Many – most – Americans can do exactly that. People do NOT oppose this project because they cannot or will not make distinctions such as this.

    I don’t think any of the Jews who were upset about the Catholic nuns praying at Auschwitz believed that all Catholics or all white Europeans were anti-semites and Nazis. The point was that it was THEIR hallowed space, and they didn’t want another group of people there, no matter how fine their intentions. JP II agreed, and ordered them to move.

    Now you and BA may find the notion of ground zero as “hallowed ground” to be silly or ridiculous. I don’t know what you think about it. But that’s how it is seen. Leaving aside the obvious subset that categorically hates Islam, the rest of the opposition is simply saying, “this is OUR space.”

    That isn’t hateful, bigoted, or prejudiced, and I find it to be the height of unreasonableness and disrespect not to recognize that. This is not “accommodating ignorance”, nor was the argument that accommodating a legitimate and real sensitivity is a “moral obligation” – just that if friendship, and not another building, is the actual goal, such sensitivities ought to be respected.

    I have a feeling that in most other countries, over most other issues, they would be, such as in the Auschwitz situation. But since it is white, Christian Americans complaining about tan skinned non-Christians, the issue is immediately one of bigotry, and the stupid, backward, redneck hick bigots must be ignored and ridiculed so that the enlightened liberals can force us all to be friends. I don’t say that’s your attitude, but it’s the attitude of some to be sure.

    And aside from all that, even the best intentions of the Muslims behind this project won’t change the fact that the jihadists will interpret it, regardless, as a symbolic triumph. That in itself may be a good reason to oppose it.

  • “But since it is white, Christian Americans complaining about tan skinned non-Christians, the issue is immediately one of bigotry, and the stupid, backward, redneck hick bigots must be ignored and ridiculed so that the enlightened liberals can force us all to be friends. I don’t say that’s your attitude, but it’s the attitude of some to be sure.”

    I would say that is the dominant attitude in the MSM, the coastal cultural elites and those who inhabit the Manhattan of the Mind.

  • BA,

    “No matter how far away you get, though, you’re still going to have some people opposed.”

    You move it until enough people are unopposed so as not to create a national controversy. That’s a rational standard for you; that’s a clear line and criteria. I think most Americans might be fine with a 1 mile radius as far as mosques and ground zero go, and I think that every Muslim should respect that.

    It’s a shame neither of you can see that for every person who hates Muslims today, and will hate them tomorrow regardless of what they do, there may well be two or three or four who would change their views or at least open their minds a bit if the Muslims behind this project did the gracious, decent thing and showed some basic respect.

  • I suspect the symbolism of the proposed site is important. Though it is two blocks away, the building that is there was damaged during the attack. Perhaps it is an effort at sincere dialogue in that those establishing the center there will condemn the attacks.

    Though this seems in part refuted by the refusal of the group to meet with the governor of NY to discuss alternate sites that the state would have helped them acquire. It would seem to be also in part refuted by the comments of the Iman immediately after 911 linking the attacks to American policies. Also perhaps also made problematic by the Iman’s efforts to rate American laws as being “Sharia compliant.”

    On top of this is the history of Muslims to build on sites of past conquests (the Dome of the Rock) as well as sites sacred to other religions (the building of a Mosque on the site of the martyrdom of St. Stephen in the 80’s comes to mind.) I also recall a Franciscan telling me that during the takeover of the Church of the Nativity in 2002, that the bodies of any dead terrorists were removed as soon as possible from the Church so that Muslims could not claim the Church as a site of martyrdom for their faith. This to prevent demands to build a Mosque in the Church.

  • I might also add that a Mosque proposed to be built in Nazareth next to the Church of the Annunciation was opposed even by JP II.

  • “I’m unclear about the relevance of this to the current discussion. The mosque is to be two blocks away, and it does not, in and of itself, communicate an offensive message.”

    Because that is the message being peddled by the Imam behind this project. At places of importance to this country like Ground Zero and Gettysburg, the majority of Americans, through their elected representatives, get to determine what message is presented. At Pearl Harbor we do not allow some crank who believes that FDR knew about the attack beforehand to put up a plaque. In this case we have this mosque being built at a building where the landing gear from one of the attacking airliners struck the building. The building is all of 600 feet from where 3000 Americans were murdered. The man behind the project clearly has sympathy for those who believe that 9-11 was America’s fault. He has said that in some sense America manufactured bin Laden. I have absolutely no doubt that this mosque was proposed to help muddy the waters as to what 9-11 means to the overwhelming majority of Americans. This farce is a slap at every American who wishes to remember our dead that day as the innocent victims they were, and with no “ifs, ands or buts”.

  • The fact that many Americans cannot distinguish between jihadists and other Muslims does not mean that Muslims should have their decency questioned when they exercise their right to build a religious center on private property.

    Why not stop reducing every question to individual rights and entitlements defined in law?

    His decency is questioned for the following reasons:

    1. There is reason to believe, given a complete absence of evidence of experience with ambitious building projects, that he is not the prime mover of this whole shebang, and if he is a front for someone else, what else is he not telling us?

    2. This bridge builder has his emotional defaults and loyalties, and they are not with us, as indicated by his cockamamie reasoning on 28 September 2001. That is not a basis for inter-religious endeavours, nor does it inspire trust.

    3. Of all the places in Metropolitan New York to build a community center, he wants the site where the landing gear from one of those airlines fell.

    Can I suggest our decent Imam might just be a poseur?

    I don’t think any of the Jews who were upset about the Catholic nuns praying at Auschwitz

    It was a non-prostelytizing order engaging in prayer. They did not propose to erect a thirteen story building on the site. The Nazi Party was not a Catholic organization. In addition, 3,000,000 Polish Catholics died between 1939 and 1945. I do not think the analogy quite holds.

  • Art,

    It does hold, for the simple reason that the Jews claimed that space as their own sacred space, and asked others not to use it. By BA’s standards, that was just as “irrational.” And yet JP II didn’t see it that way.

    As I said, I don’t think they compared those nuns to Nazis, nor do I think they even believed Catholicism had anything to do with the Holocaust (though some do). It was a question of propriety, and JP II made the right decision.

  • Leaving aside the obvious subset that categorically hates Islam, the rest of the opposition is simply saying, “this is OUR space.”

    Listen to yourself. The folks at Cordoba are Americans. Some of them had family and friends who died in the WTC. The area around ground zero is as much theirs as it is anyone else’s (more so, in fact, since they own the property where they want to build). They aren’t given a veto over what can be built there. Why should you have a veto over what they can build?

  • It does hold, for the simple reason that the Jews claimed that space as their own sacred space, and asked others not to use it. By BA’s standards, that was just as “irrational.” And yet JP II didn’t see it that way.

    I actually talked to some Poles about this when I visited Auschwitz. They were very upset that the convent had been moved, so if the goal was to respect people’s sensitivities and promote peace, moving the convent didn’t work.

  • The folks at Cordoba are Americans. Some of them had family and friends who died in the WTC. The area around ground zero is as much theirs as it is anyone else’s (more so, in fact, since they own the property where they want to build).

    You are strangely knowledgeable and strangely incurious about the background of these characters.

    We get back to two points.

    1. There are aspects of the site that are not purchasable on the open market.

    2. The formal rights incorporated in your naturalization papers do not free you from operating without engaging in acts of effrontery.

  • “The folks at Cordoba are Americans.”

    All the more reason, then, for them to appreciate the sensitivity of the situation.

    “Why should you have a veto over what they can build?”

    Have you still not been able to process the difference between power and friendship? I don’t have veto power. No one does. I don’t dispute their right to build. I never did.

    “if the goal was to respect people’s sensitivities and promote peace, moving the convent didn’t work.”

    But you’re wrong, because the sensitivities of those opposed to it were respected. Personally I think given that many Poles were murdered at Auschwitz, the Jews could have been more accommodating. But ultimately JP II did the wise thing when he said, “this is not your place.” Jews bore the most in that tragedy; I can see the reasonableness of giving their claims the most weight. And if that is granted, then the goal was certainly met.

    Your problem is that you don’t think there are any rational standards for sorting these matters out. It isn’t a cut-and-dried quantitative matter, for certain, but I reject the idea that we can’t use reason and common sense to discern whose claims carry the most weight and respect them accordingly.

    As this is not a Muslim nation, as Muslims make up a small minority of the population, as most Americans are still unfamiliar with Islam, as the stated goal of the builders is to build bridges between Muslims and non-Muslims, reason and common sense suggest to me that they should voluntarily withdraw this plan. In doing so they will make more friends than they ever would have by going through with it.

  • But you’re wrong, because the sensitivities of those opposed to it were respected.

    The sensitivities of those who opposed it were respected. The sensitivities of those who supported it were not.

  • The sensitivities of those who supported it were not.

    Pretty much zero-sum here.

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