Just Build the Damn Thing

Travelling in the second half of last week, I had occasion to realize how pervasive the TV news coverage of the “ground zero mosque” has become — perhaps in part because it is doubtless a dream situation for TV news producers: All you have to do is draw 3-4 people into the studio and have them debate the question for twenty minutes, throw in a couple of commercial breaks, and voila! you have another 1/48th of the twenty-four-hour news cycle. I was reminded again of how glad I am to have cancelled the cable TV subscription and never put up an antenna.

As I think about it, this seems to me a made-for-TV controversy in more ways than one. For all the talk about this being the “ground zero mosque”, the location two blocks away will not be visible from the WTC monument itself, and is currently occupied by sacred precincts such as the offices of the University of Pheonix, Marty’s Shoes and the Dakota Roadhouse. This is New York, for goodness sake. A thirteen story building isn’t exactly going to stick out. And the visible symbols of religion closes to Ground Zero will remain St. Peter’s Catholic Church, St. Paul’s Episcopal, and John Street United Methodist. (If anything, it’s a little disappointing the plans for the mosque look rather like a vertical shoebox with abstract patters on it — no minarets here.)

Aside from the necessity of selling news, this project would be a mildly notable local event, leading to a mildly distinctive-looking building that people would rush by every day without thinking about it very much in that teeming mass of diverse humanity which is New York. The most “bridge building” likely to go on would be people stopping in at the halal food court for lunch.

But the media must earn a crust and find a way to fill the time, and so it’s time that we have one of these tiresome “national conversations” — this time about religious freedom and forgiveness and building bridges and the nature of Islam. Perhaps I’ve turned grumpy or obtuse, but I think it’s rather a tremendous waste of time. The idea that much of anything would be out of place in New York seems rather hard to credit. And once all the fuss has died down, and it’s become clear that there’s really not much of anything that can be done about how the owners want to develop this particular piece of real estate, then the thing will be built and people will walk by it every day, and it will be just as forgotten as all the other national conversations we’ve felt the unaccountable need to have over the last few years.

And if I may stray further into heresy against conservative orthodoxies: I think we need to get over our 9-11 exceptionalism a little bit here too. Given our place and preeminence in the world, the question pre 2001 was not so much whether the US would suffer a major terrorist attack, but when. Chances were good we’d eventually be attacked for foreign terrorists. Chances were good those terrorist would be of an Islamic background. And compared to the Tom Clancy type visions people had been reading for years, the real thing was actually a lot less destructive than it could have been. Goodness knows I’m all for sober recollection of the dead, but this is teeming, bustling New York. Build a monument where the WTC stood, and then just get on with live elsewhere. This isn’t some half-abandoned Mainstreet USA where we need to sit around agonizing with the city fathers about every building that’s renovated or put up.

Perhaps I read too much Heinlein at a formative age, but I’d tend to picture the US as the sort of dominant power which says to the world: “You’re welcome to come here and enjoy our liberties so long as you behave yourselves and follow our laws. If not, we’ll level your cities and depose your leaders. Once we’re done, we’ll rebuild your cities better than before, give you a better government, and leave you the hell alone unless you make the mistake of attacking us again in which case God help you.”

Let them build.

UPDATE:
Since I’ve been using the Google street view feature a lot lately to look at real estate, it occured to me to give Ground Zero the same treatment as regards the mosque. Here’s the view across Ground Zero towards where the Islamic Center would be — out of sight behind that other building.

And here’s the street view of Park Place, where the center would stand on your right.

113 Responses to Just Build the Damn Thing

  • I don’t think “conservative orthodoxy” had a thing to do with JP II’s decision to put an end to the convent at Auschwitz.

    I’ve tried to make the point that this isn’t about politics, or shouldn’t be at any rate. It is about people who claim they want to be friends behaving in a most unfriendly manner. It’s a contradiction in their entire argument, and it suggests that they either do not know the meaning of friendship, or that it was never really the goal to begin with.

    And if friendship wasn’t the goal, what is? Was one more mosque needed that badly? Or shall we resort, once again, to the lazy, unthinking claims of power and rights: I do this because I can.

    That’s why for all of the claims of “irrationality” here, it is those behind this project who cannot rationally justify it. I believe people act purposively, though. So if friendship is ruled out, and arbitrariness is not to be taken seriously, what is the goal? What is the reason?

    It matters if we really are going to try and understand one another, all questions of legal rights aside.

  • You’re welcome to come here and enjoy our liberties so long as you behave yourselves and follow our laws. If not, we’ll level your cities and depose your leaders. Once we’re done, we’ll rebuild your cities better than before, give you a better government, and leave you the hell alone unless you make the mistake of attacking us again in which case God help you

    Immigrant populations behave badly, so we attack their countries of origin?

    University of Pheonix, Marty’s Shoes and the Dakota Roadhouse.

    Among other things, Mohammed Atta is not known to have been motivated by a zeal for selling commercial educational services, shoes, or steak.

    and it’s become clear that there’s really not much of anything that can be done about how the owners want to develop this particular piece of real estate,

    Tell that to Larry Silverstein.

  • “You’re welcome to come here and enjoy our liberties so long as you behave yourselves and follow our laws. If not, we’ll level your cities and depose your leaders. Once we’re done, we’ll rebuild your cities better than before, give you a better government, and leave you the hell alone unless you make the mistake of attacking us again in which case God help you.”

    Not sure I subscribe to this rather aggressive approach to foreign policy (and it doesn’t seem to be working out well in Afghanistan), but otherwise I thought the post was spot on. I tried to make the media-generated controversy point last week.

  • Joe,

    While I can acknowledge that John Paul II did the culturally sensitive thing in asking the Auschwitz nuns to move, I don’t think it was particularly admirable of the Jewish community to demand that they do so. Similarly, I would like to see the American community not make a fuss about this.

    Art,

    I’m not clear that Mohammad Atta was motivated by a zeal for building community centers either.

    My point was, this is hardly memorial row. It’s just ordinary businesses on a street a few blocks away from where the WTC stood. I don’t think there’s any call to consider this “sacred ground”.

  • I’m not clear that Mohammad Atta was motivated by a zeal for building community centers either.

    I can’t believe the levels of obtuseness being displayed here. As has been pointed out repeatedly, first of all, this is not some random point two blocks away. This happens to be located on a street in which a building was destroyed because it got hit with one of the airplane’s landing gear. I really wish supporters of this thing would retire the “two blocks away” talking point.

    Anyway, as to Art’s point, what he is saying is that none of the other businesses you mentioned were in any way remotely tied to the attacks on 9/11. I don’t think there’s a University of Phoenix terror cell that was linked to blowing up the World Trade Center.

    And yes, we can’t link all Muslims to terrorism, blah blah blah. But we can actually link the particular Muslims associated with this structure to a brand of Islam that is certainly no more moderate than I am left-of-center. These are not individuals who have actually shown a real interest in “building bridges,” but rather seem not too eager to completely disassociate themselves from the radical jihadi movement.

    Long story short, it’s quite silly to say that building a mosque (or community center) on this spot is no worse than building a shoe store. It betrays a level of dispassionate libertarianism that, is quite frankly a little disturbing.

  • I’ve tried to make the point that this isn’t about politics, or shouldn’t be at any rate. It is about people who claim they want to be friends behaving in a most unfriendly manner.

    Joe, you seem to be really concerned about whether the Cordoba people are acting in a friendly manner. You don’t seem to care at all about the fact that lots of the mosque protesters have been acting in an unfriendly manner. Why is that?

  • Among other things, Mohammed Atta is not known to have been motivated by a zeal for selling commercial educational services, shoes, or steak.

    Atta was motivated by a desire to do the will of God. I suppose one might therefore be offended by the existence of St. Peter’s so close by. Of course, that would be silly, because while both the hijackers and the parishioners at St. Pete’s believe in God, they have very different ideas of what God is about and what he desires of us. But then the Cordoba people also have a fundamentally different understanding of God’s will than the hijackers. It’s just that most Americans don’t know much about Islam, and can lump all Muslims together in a way that they would never do with all Christians or all theists.

  • Paul,

    I concur with that last remark. Not only is it dispassionate, it appears to be downright cynical.

    Darwin,

    Why is it so hard to just accept that people have certain boundaries that are formed by too many variables to even possibly account for, and simply respect them?

    BA,

    I couldn’t care less about how the Cordoba people act. I’m simply pointing out that THEY claim that THEY want friendship, and are acting in a manner most inconsistent with that goal.

    I think that Americans who take 9/11 seriously – as the offended party – aren’t being unfriendly or uncharitable at all when they say that this building at this location should not exist. They’re simply making their boundaries known. Many of them (I include myself) would be more than willing to actually be friends should this simple and harmless request, which causes no injustice to anyone (legal rights aside), respected.

    Your entire argument, BA, is based upon a perpetual conflation of those who categorically despise Islam and those who are merely opposed to this particular project.

  • “It’s just that most Americans don’t know much about Islam, and can lump all Muslims together in a way that they would never do with all Christians or all theists.”

    You did it again. It’s all you have, really. And lefties like Sam Rocha will appreciate you for it, but the rest of us see through the layers of obfuscation you have attempted to drape over this issue.

  • But then the Cordoba people also have a fundamentally different understanding of God’s will than the hijackers.

    This fellow Rauf arguably has a fundamentally different understanding. What about who’s behind him? (And, again, his understanding of the political pathologies of the Arab world is fundamentally similar to characters rather familiar to us all, whose sentiments I do not want on public monuments).

    You don’t seem to care at all about the fact that lots of the mosque protesters have been acting in an unfriendly manner. Why is that?

    Because I do not regard their objection as an act of cultural aggression. It would be agreeable if everyone protesting was well-mannered and articulate. Friendliness has its time and place. So does asperity.

    I’m not clear that Mohammad Atta was motivated by a zeal for building community centers either.

    Clever.

  • Joe,

    I don’t think that all opponents of the mosque despise Islam. On the other hand, it’s hard for me to see how someone could oppose the project unless he was lumping all Muslims together to some extent. People wouldn’t object to the building of a Jewish community center.

  • Oh my gosh, reading the comments in reply to this post, and then watching how supporters or should I say the “tolerant” seem to create a tic and tie issue out of what they want us all to believe is “no big deal”, no different then “just let them build the damn thing” attitude. It doesn’t really matter whether “you” or anyone else who supports this think we who see this as a smack in the face of our faith, rights , and safety should just “let them build the damn thing” in context as though it’s not a big deal. Truth be told Americans, too many of , have given in to tolerance way too much. In that I mean this definition of tolerant, medicine no longer responding to a drug that has been taken over a prolonged period, or suffering no ill effects from exposure to a harmful substance this kind of tolerance is why we are , in my opinion more exposed and in danger of terrorism than ever before. And certainly more than our forefathers anticipated our country to be. This nation was not founded on multiple religions, and the freedom of religion act was intended to separate the state from religion. Our forefathers were simplistic, not idealistic in that they certaintly didn’t expect their descendents or future immigrants to pick a part and search for loop holes in our constitution, twisting the words to fit their own agenda. I’m sure had they known this would happen i’m sure they would have clarified to prevent the “ostentatious” attitude in too many americans we see today!

  • “it’s hard for me to see how someone could oppose the project unless he was lumping all Muslims together to some extent”

    Well there are many reasons.

    My primary reason is this: regardless of the intent of the builder, the construction of a mosque that close to the site of jihadist triumph is an additional jihadist triumph, and will be recognized as such the world over, especially by those who cheered in the streets on the day the towers went down.

    It is easy to project the Western liberal mindset onto the rest of the world, moreover, but what the educated, enlightened set in the West is now seeing as a “useless distraction”, the Muslim fanatic sees as an important symbolic victory.

    I would deny them that victory. I would establish a 1 mile radius around ground zero in which no specifically Islamic religious structure could go up, in fact. Outside of that, they may build wherever they like, however they like, with what resources and property they are able to legitimately acquire, like the rest of us.

    Sometimes abstract rights conflict real-world considerations. I think my view balances them both. And I find it shameful that we have become so materialistic in our outlook that we see issues such as these as “symbolic distractions.” This is why Western civilization will be defeated and destroyed, with Islam leading the charge against it.

  • …does the name of the group that wants to build it mean anything to you?

    If a group called “Japan beat the @#$# out of you, stupid round-eyes” wanted to build a community center at Pearl Harbor today, would that be cool? Even if none of them even had relatives involved in the bombing?

    The culturally sensitive response to this ‘cultural center’ (which includes a mosque in the design) is too rude to write here!

  • Moreover, I tend to agree with Geert Wilders. He doesn’t lump all Muslims together – but he argues that the “good Muslims”, the so-called “moderates”, are in fact bad Muslims by the standards of the Koran.

    From what I have read in the Koran regarding how Muslims are to interact with the non-Muslim world, I can’t say he is wrong. But I haven’t read the whole book, so I’m not going to say anything for certain.

    There was an excellent interview in Inside Catholic recently about the intellectual divide that took place in Islam way back in the Middle Ages, and the prospect of “re-Hellenizing” Islam, of bringing back to it the sort of synthesis of classical philosophy and theology that was achieved in the Catholic Church through the scholastics.

    THAT, more than the construction of some mosque, will do more to bring Islam into the modern world. We should support any and all Muslims who are part of this “re-Hellenization”. I’m all for that.

  • And just how many people are familiar with the “two blocks” meme… with respect to falling landing gear and proximity to WTC? I’d venture to say not many. And in that light, I’d also venture to say that many people would say “Really!? This was has people’s panties in a wad both on the right and left? Really!?” Seems to me that “Ground Zero” is a bit of a misnomer to say the least. In the end, this strikes me as much ado about nothing.

  • On the other hand, it’s hard for me to see how someone could oppose the project unless he was lumping all Muslims together to some extent.

    There is genus and then there is species.

    People wouldn’t object to the building of a Jewish community center.

    Gong.

  • I found the mental image that some of the folks who jumped fell further than this cultural center with a mosque will be from the footprint of the towers to be a useful visualization.

    That the site they want to build on is clear because it was nearly destroyed by debris on 9/11 would also classify it, in my mind, as part of “ground zero”– even if it is not the footprints of the twin towers, since it is a primary damage rather than a secondary (smoke, dust, etc) damage.

    That an already existing Christian church was denied the ability to either rebuild or re-locate makes it even more offensive that folks would depend on the willful cultural ignorance– perhaps we can call it taking advantage of our polite tendency to not point out the rude actions of others?– of folks.

  • I would establish a 1 mile radius around ground zero in which no specifically Islamic religious structure could go up, in fact.

    And you would violate the First Amendment in doing so. Considering how much Catholics will desperately need the strength of the First Amendment to be upheld as forces try to impose change upon Catholicism to fit the values of modern secularism, I think Catholics ought to be eager to defend the right of the Muslims to worship their God in the way they choose.

    Although I wish they would follow the JPII example, the First Amendment has no provision limiting its application to only the prudent, considerate, and charitable exercises of religion.

  • And you would violate the First Amendment in doing so.

    Thanks for the advisory. Since the 1st Amendment, in the hands of our appellate judiciary,holds that the tender sensibilities of the village atheist must not be injured by prayers at football games, you are going to have to excuse me if I tend to suspect that provision, and several others, have degenerated into excuses for a faction of the bar to impose the social policy it prefers. We are not protected by that 1st Amendment.

  • Michael,

    “And you would violate the First Amendment in doing so.”

    Though I’m sure the courts would see it that way, in the end, I certainly don’t. I don’t think establishing a zone in which a certain kind of religious building cannot go up is tantamount to denying freedom of religion if they can do anything they like outside that zone.

    I don’t think there’s anything unreasonable about it. I think it’s unreasonable to insist that anyone has a right to build whatever they want, wherever they want, regardless of all other human and social considerations. To me, that’s a sort of fanaticism detached from reality.

    We’ve already seen the FA abused by pornographers and perverts of every stripe. Invoking it to prevent a prudential consideration such as the one I have brought up is, I think, another abuse. Not even the founders believed that these rights were absolute and unconditional, applying to all possible modes and methods of expression in all times and all places.

    ” I think Catholics ought to be eager to defend the right of the Muslims to worship their God in the way they choose.”

    Like the others, you totally muddle this issue. The “way” they worship is not in question; it is where they propose to construct a building that will offend the sensibilities of millions and serve as a symbolic victory for the jihad that is in question.

    I’d like to say, though, that I’m sure glad that here in Catholic Fascist land, we can have such a hearty and vigorous disagreement. Our fascist taskmasters must be losing their grip to allow such dis-uniformity of opinion!

  • “I tend to suspect that provision, and several others, have degenerated into excuses for a faction of the bar to impose the social policy it prefers.”

    Considering United States Supreme Court jurisprudence in regard to abortion clinics and buffer zones, Art, you are absolutely correct. Here is Scalia’s comment in dissent in Hill v. Colorado:

    “What is before us, after all, is a speech regulation directed against the opponents of abortion, and it therefore enjoys the benefit of the ‘ad hoc nullification machine’ that the Court has set in motion to push aside whatever doctrines of constitutional law that stand in the way of that highly favored practice.”

    http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/assembly/topic.aspx?topic=buffer_zones

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/98-1856.ZD.html

    Tell me how chattering class elites line up on any issue, and I can predict with a high degree of accuracy how the federal courts will rule, Constitution be hanged.

  • for whatever reasons, you refuse to consider the consequences of these actions.

    No, I just disagree with you about the consequences. I don’t think the cultural center/mosque will cause much of a problem in NY; it’s a pretty crazy, busy place with all the varieties of humanity on display. A mosque is not going to change that, and, absent the borderline obsessive coverage of the news media, it would hardly attract notice at all. In six months, no one will care about this, least of all New Yorkers.

  • regardless of the intent of the builder, the construction of a mosque that close to the site of jihadist triumph is an additional jihadist triumph, and will be recognized as such the world over

    I’m not sure that jihadists would view this as a triumph (sufis aren’t considered Muslims by Wahabis, but polytheists). In any event, not doing something because it might be viewed positively by jihadists is a fool’s game. It’s letting the jihadists control you.

    I tend to agree with Geert Wilders. He doesn’t lump all Muslims together – but he argues that the “good Muslims”, the so-called “moderates”, are in fact bad Muslims by the standards of the Koran.

    You know, I hear people say this sort of thing from time to time, but I’ve never been able to figure out why I should care. If I were a Muslim, then whether my beliefs met with the standards of the Koran would be important. But if Islam is not the true religion, then the claim reduces to saying that moderate Muslims are following one set of made up beliefs rather than another. So what?

  • Here’s a REAL example of denying religious freedom:

    http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jihadwatch.org%2F2004%2F10%2Findonesia-brandishing-weapons-muslims-demand-catholic-church-and-school-shut-down.html&h=c4c53

    No, there’s no equivalence. Most Americans are either fine with or indifferent to a mosque almost anywhere else. But it appears that many Muslims don’t want Catholic churches ANYWHERE in their societies.

  • I would establish a 1 mile radius around ground zero in which no specifically Islamic religious structure could go up, in fact.

    Joe, less than 48 hours ago you were saying that no one denies the right of Cordoba to build near ground zero. Now you are denying that right.

  • Joe, less than 48 hours ago you were saying that no one denies the right of Cordoba to build near ground zero. Now you are denying that right.

    Actually it’s worse than that. In a comment at 2:41 p.m. today, Joe says “I don’t dispute their right to build. I never did.” Eight minutes later, at 2:49 p.m., he says that he would “establish a 1 mile radius around ground zero in which no specifically Islamic religious structure could go up.”

    At first I though he must only be speaking morally, not legally (i.e. Muslims have the legal right to build wherever, but morally it’s wrong to do so within 5,280 feet of the WTC). But no, in a follow up comment he elaborates: “I don’t think establishing a zone in which a certain kind of religious building cannot go up is tantamount to denying freedom of religion if they can do anything they like outside that zone . . . I think it’s unreasonable to insist that anyone has a right to build whatever they want, wherever they want, regardless of all other human and social considerations. To me, that’s a sort of fanaticism detached from reality.”

    That’s a remarkable turn around.

  • BA,

    “I’m not sure that jihadists would view this as a triumph (sufis aren’t considered Muslims by Wahabis, but polytheists).”

    I don’t think that distinction matters to a growing number of young Muslim fanatics who are themselves not too educated on the subtleties of their own religion’s varieties and history. Steyn documents this in “America Alone.” This sort of nebulous “Islam” is an identity filling a cultural vacuum among young Muslims in Western countries. And these particular Muslims are just as, if not more, prone to acts of terrorism and violence than Muslims living in a place like Saudi Arabia or Indonesia.

    “In any event, not doing something because it might be viewed positively by jihadists is a fool’s game. It’s letting the jihadists control you.”

    Well gee, you might as well say that defending yourself against a violent attack is letting the aggressor “control you” as well. Naturally anyone who initiates force is attempting to “control” another person. As always, the use of reason must be employed to discern whether or not to respond, and how to respond.

    Yes, we must modify our behavior to meet the aggressive behavior of others. Such is the sad reality of the fallen world in which we live. But by doing so from time to time, we actually prevent our enemies from establishing an even GREATER degree of control over us.

    Allowing the enemy an important symbolic and psychological victory boosts his morale and emboldens him to undertake more aggressive actions. Doing nothing, by contrast, is a sign of weakness. It is therefore better to prevent that victory than to allow it. Meanwhile no injustice is done to the Muslims who aren’t terrorists. They are free to build wherever else they choose, and most Americans won’t begrudge them that.

    Why anyone would want to avoid this win-win situation is absolutely beyond me. Something to do with some unreasonable desire to cling to abstract ideas, I suppose.

    “if Islam is not the true religion, then the claim reduces to saying that moderate Muslims are following one set of made up beliefs rather than another. So what?”

    Well, it was just brought up in response to the notion that opponents of this mosque “lump all Muslims together.” I don’t, but if Islam is inherently a violent religion, and we oppose it on those grounds, then it “looks like” an attack on Muslims in general. When the reality is, of course, that we have no problem with the doctrinally “bad” Muslim, though I am sure it is an insult to those Muslims to suggest they aren’t consistent in their faith.

    It seems unavoidable. The best thing we can do for Western Muslims, in the end, is convert them to Christianity. Because they’ll never get Sharia here without a war. And if they can’t have Sharia, I don’t see how they can remain “good Muslims.” So we should step up our conversion efforts.

  • BA,

    You’re right. I guess I did have a sort of rhetorical turn around there.

    I’m not quite sure what to say about it or think about it at this point. The more I hash things out, the less sure I am of what the right position is.

    I can only put it like this: I recognize their legal right to build it.

    I don’t think they should use it.

    And I don’t think there would be anything inherently wrong with them being denied that right by our courts.

    But that won’t happen. Our courts will allow it. And so I’m not even proposing that we make an attempt to deny that right. It would be a pointless waste of time. In my perfect world, it wouldn’t be a problem.

    So I really haven’t changed my position. I was engaging in a bit of fantasy myself, I suppose, but taking the REALITY of the situation into account, that’s not my position.

  • Joe-
    FWIW, I took it as a statement of your understanding of what IS, vs what you would do.

  • What’s the justification for allowing Muslim structures on the island of Manhattan at all, for that matter?

  • Joe struck upon something that has finally brought me out of the teeming family woodwork for a moment- my thoughts on this have been mostly centered upon how this whole episode has been a wasted opportunity to put the issue of reciprocity of religious freedom front and center in the international diplomatic arena.

    Obama could have scored big If he had weighed in to say- “Look- we aren’t going to re-draft our religious liberties so as not to allow some few violent extremists in the Middle East some moment of misplaced celebration- we should allow the community center/mosque to proceed with the same mechanisms as would a Christian or Jewish community center/place of worship. BUT this is a moment where the world should take Big Time Notice- there is a major problem in Muslim-dominant nations with the legal and moral principle of respecting religious freedoms- to allow Christians, Jews, Muslims and others to follow their conscience to worship freely, to speak freely, to share their Holy Books and literature- this is something that the UN should take up with increased vigour…..” And so on.

    I think if we had leaders take up this tack we would do much better than the two main approaches put forth as I have been reading and seeing. We need to be looking at even economic relationships as places where the principle of true religious freedom enters into Trade Pacts- lest we continue allowing the Money to trump the freedom concerns at the end of each business day- be it in Saudi Arabia or China. How can anyone take Americans seriously on something as huge as Reciprocity of Religious Freedoms if it makes no difference in the way we go about doing business- I don’t expect obama to take up this fight- the Left doesn’t really care much about the religious question- it is just a place of discomfort for them, and the Right certainly doesn’t like to bring in moral qualifiers into Trade/Economic policy discussions- so I’m not sure there are any white hats in the mainstream for me.

  • I’m a bit unclear as to why anyone would consider the building of a mosque/cultural center in New York to be a sign of “jihadist victory”, given that the 9/11 attacks killed far fewer people than intended at the WTC, only slightly damanged the Pentagon, completely failed in attacking the objective of Flight 93, and resulted in the US taking the Taliban out of power, largely dispursing Al Qaeda, and turning Iraq into a fairly functional liberal democracy.

    Yes, a bad thing happened. We were attacked and Americans were killed in a cowardly and underhanded fashion. But we turned around and beat that tar out of those who had attacked us and generally strengthened our position in the world. How does the fact that we are so strong and so secure that it is no threat to us to allow a mosque to be built on our territory represent a victory for jihadists?

    Nor am I sure that examples relating to the Islamicization of Europe are on point here — the US does not seem to even remotely have that problem, for various cultural and political reasons.

    Come to that, if anyone wants to build a shrine to the cult of the emperor at Pearl Harbor, I’m fine with that too. That didn’t exactly work out too well for Imperial Japan in the end either…

  • I thought America was different from Europe (in a good way)–i.e. easier acculturation, a bill of rights, a republic founded on ideals, etc.

  • Learning a lesson isn’t the same as emulating. I’d rather NOT emulate them in this regard, since their laxity has resulted in an increasingly dangerous situation.

  • But I thought the problem of Islam in Europe was related to their secularism–something that is not a problem here.

  • I’m a bit unclear as to why anyone would consider the building of a mosque/cultural center in New York to be a sign of “jihadist victory”,

    Because, looking at the prior pattern, the Islamists–or Jihadites or whatever phrase we’re going to use for the violent ones– go in to an area, destroy a cultural, religious or easily identifiable land mark, and build on it.

    As I linked earlier, the Cordoba Cathedral is a rare example of one of these structures that was later converted back– only rather than destroying it and building on the rubble, they just used it as a church.

    The name of the “cultural center”– before it became Park51– was the “Cordoba House.”

    Once conquered by Islam, always under Islam, is the belief– if we’re going to have a “dialog,” I’m going to listen to the other side.

  • I will heartily agree that the First Amendment has unfortunately been used to uphold filth and not uphold genuine speech and religion. In fact, I intend to be writing a lot on that topic.

    However, I reject the idea that just b/c others have trashed it that it it is useless. I think the First Amendment if interpreted properly can protect genuine religious expression. Catholics, knowing full well that the secularists hate us far more than Muslims, ought to be encouraging the idea of the First Amendment protecting religious expression that is deeply unpopular.

    And yes, Muslims have often denied Christians their right to worship. But their injustice does not justify injustice on our side. I believe there is a saying involving cheeks which applies.

    To that end, a 1 mile “no-Islam” zone is not tolerable.

    The “way” they worship is not in question; it is where they propose to construct a building that will offend the sensibilities of millions and serve as a symbolic victory for the jihad that is in question.

    Most sensibilities are offended nowadays by crosses marking tombstones and by the mere existence of large churches that look like churches, not to mention public prayer or other displays of religious expression. If you go down this road, you have no defense for those who wish to use similar arguments to further exclude Catholicism from the public square. Our rights, however trampled they may be, are extremely valuable in protection from those who wish to silence the Church. It is folly to throw them away in order to prevent this mosque.

    I’d like to say, though, that I’m sure glad that here in Catholic Fascist land, we can have such a hearty and vigorous disagreement. Our fascist taskmasters must be losing their grip to allow such dis-uniformity of opinion!

    Not if we’re only pretending to heartily disagree, in order to confuse the liberals into thinking we’re open-minded, and thereby ensnare them into the recognition of the American state as the City of God.

  • But we haven’t been conquered by Islam. Indeed, be pretty much obliterated all of the visible groups that were involved in the 9/11 attacks — aside from a few guys hiding in caves so remote that it’s difficult to get at them.

    And the mosque would only be built there because the land was purchased and built on just like any other organization could. By our laws, under our system.

    I’m just not seeing any kind of victory here.

    I mean, when the Turks conquered Constantanople they took over Hagia Sophia and renovated it as a mosque. (It’s now a secular museum, because of Ataturk’s secularizing regime in the 20th century.) That was done by the Turks as a conquering power because they could take anything they wanted.

    There is no conquering power in New York — and we are the conquring power in Kabul. I’m just not seeing it as similar.

  • Michael

    “However, I reject the idea that just b/c others have trashed it that it it is useless.”

    So do I. I never said it was useless, and I don’t think anyone else did either. Saying it isn’t applicable in every conceivable circumstance isn’t the same as saying it is useless, and I think you recognize that. So we agree on that basic point.

    “Catholics, knowing full well that the secularists hate us far more than Muslims,”

    I question that assumption, Michael. I think some Muslims hate us more than some secularists.

    “But their injustice does not justify injustice on our side.”

    No one says it does. There’s no injustice in preventing the construction of one building for prudential reasons. It would be unjust if we said they couldn’t build anywhere.

    “If you go down this road, you have no defense for those who wish to use similar arguments to further exclude Catholicism from the public square.”

    Well, I disagree. This is about a very specific thing. Now of course I grant that unreasonable, duplicitous people try to make equivalents out of things that are not. But these are truly not equivalents. Genuine religious freedom is not denied through this prudential consideration. It is denied when secularists attempt to banish a whole religion from every aspect of public life.

  • But we haven’t been conquered by Islam.

    By our sane measure? Goodness, no.

    And a consecrated Host is just a bit of bread to that PZ Meyers fellow.

  • Darwin,

    With due respect to you my friend, I think you are being incredibly naive. Take a look at my last link.

  • “What’s the justification for allowing Muslim structures on the island of Manhattan at all, for that matter?”

    Freedom, the same reason racists are able to freely spread hate in our society. That does not mean we allow racists to set up shop at Gettysburg.

  • The victory will be in the eyes of every fanatic in the Middle East who believes this is further proof that the US is the weak horse. I have absolutely no doubt that this is precisely the message the Cordoba House (Dhimmis always welcome!) Imam is intending to send to one of his audiences, while his talk of peace, tolerance and bridge building is purely for gullible Western consumption.

  • “I’m not sure that jihadists would view this as a triumph (sufis aren’t considered Muslims by Wahabis, but polytheists).”

    I don’t think that distinction matters to a growing number of young Muslim fanatics who are themselves not too educated on the subtleties of their own religion’s varieties and history.

    You know, one of the “dogs that didn’t bark” in this whole situation is that I haven’t seen any comments from actual jihadists about how the mosque represents a victory for Islam (maybe they are out there but I’ve just missed them somehow). There’s been lots of talk about how Muslims all secretly believe this, but they seem to be remarkably well disciplined in keeping their true feelings under wraps.

    This sort of nebulous “Islam” is an identity filling a cultural vacuum among young Muslims in Western countries. And these particular Muslims are just as, if not more, prone to acts of terrorism and violence than Muslims living in a place like Saudi Arabia or Indonesia.

    If this is going to be the standard, then you have to ask: what is more likely to make young Muslims in Western countries turn to violence, 1) allowing a group of moderate Muslims to build a cultural center, or 2) treating all Muslims as if they are terrorists until proven innocent?

    Well gee, you might as well say that defending yourself against a violent attack is letting the aggressor “control you” as well.

    No, if someone is *actually* physically attacking you then you have to defend yourself. But if the “aggression” involves nothing more than a guy thinking he has conquered you because you wore a white shirt today, then I say let him have his pathetic fantasy. Never wearing white again to deny him his “victory” allows him much more control over your life than if you just ignored him.

    Allowing the enemy an important symbolic and psychological victory boosts his morale and emboldens him to undertake more aggressive actions.

    We’re talking about building a community center. Some aggression. (“if we don’t nip this in the bud, next time they’ll want to add bingo night”).

  • BA,

    It’s getting boring responding to things such as this:

    “treating all Muslims as if they are terrorists until proven innocent?”

    Objection your honor.

    No one claims this, no one said this. Sigh. Yawn. At what point does it become immoral for you to keep repeating it? You think about it.

    In any case, it may be damned if we do, damned if we don’t let them build. If we do, we are weak. If we don’t, we are “oppressive.” Either way, it gives them an excuse to do what they want to do anyway. So there’s no reason for us to give them a morale boost.

    Your last paragraphs are nothing but a flippant dismissal of the realities of warfare, which are as much psychological as they are physical. In any case, I didn’t say the mosque itself was aggressive, but that it’s construction will embolden aggressive behavior.

  • Iraqi-American against the meaning of the name. It’s inflamitory.

    Muslim cleric saying it would “become a focal point for both the supporters of terrorism and the champions of Islamophobia.”

    “In an interesting sidebar, some clerics from Al-Azhar recently spoke out in opposition to the construction of the Cordoba House mosque near New York’s Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center once stood. Dr. Abd Al-Mu’ti Bayumi, a member of Al-Azhar’s Islamic Research Academy, said that the mosque’s construction could link Islam to 9/11, even though Islam is innocent of the deed. He also called the plan a “Zionist plot.”[1]”

    Opinion article from ME English-language newspaper accepting the tradition of building on the enemy’s ruins, but arguing that the Cordoba “Mosque” was really about a victory over other Muslims, and this cultural center will be a victory of “culture and religion over commerce and fashion.”

    That’s from a moment’s search, and a few minutes of sorting. It honestly took more time to write the links and copy stuff over than to find it. (Amazing how the news stations haven’t managed it, eh?)

  • Most sensibilities are offended nowadays by crosses marking tombstones and by the mere existence of large churches that look like churches, not to mention public prayer or other displays of religious expression.

    Very few people are offended by that. Those that are have the solicitude of people in gatekeeper positions. Someone else would be told to buck up and get lost.

    I’m just not seeing any kind of victory here.

    Because you have forgotten what the battle is.

    I never said it was useless, and I don’t think anyone else did either.

    I did.

    You know, one of the “dogs that didn’t bark” in this whole situation is that I haven’t seen any comments from actual jihadists about how the mosque represents a victory for Islam

    Perhaps because it is money that talks.

    If this is going to be the standard, then you have to ask: what is more likely to make young Muslims in Western countries turn to violence, 1) allowing a group of moderate Muslims to build a cultural center, or 2) treating all Muslims as if they are terrorists until proven innocent?

    What induces troublesome youths to engage in self-aggrandizing behavior in other situations:

    1. A deficit of clear and consistent discipline;

    2. Lack of domestic responsibilites.

  • No one claims this, no one said this. Sigh. Yawn. At what point does it become immoral for you to keep repeating it?

    I would like to second that remark.

  • No one claims this, no one said this.

    Of course people have said that. Lots of people have said that. Open your eyes.

    In any case, it may be damned if we do, damned if we don’t let them build. If we do, we are weak. If we don’t, we are “oppressive.” Either way, it gives them an excuse to do what they want to do anyway. So there’s no reason for us to give them a morale boost.

    I was almost with you till the end, where you seem to pull back from the logical implication of what you are saying. If we do X, they will be emboldened. If we don’t do X, then they will be emboldened. Therefore we must do X to keep them from being emboldened. Doesn’t quite work. What I would propose instead is that since no matter what we do some people will use it as an excuse to hate us we should forget about how they might react and strive to live up to our higher principles.

  • BA-
    are you talking about somewhere else, or here?

  • “Of course people have said that. Lots of people have said that. Open your eyes.”

    No one HERE has said it, and since it isn’t the necessary premise for opposition to the mosque, there’s no reason for you to keep repeating it.

    “Therefore we must do X to keep them from being emboldened.”

    That’s not exactly what I said. They might be angry if the mosque doesn’t go up – but they’ll be elated if it does. I’d rather have my enemies angry than elated. And I’d rather they see us as a society that hasn’t entirely folded in on itself as opposed to a paper tiger. That belief does not eliminate dangers, but it checks them. If they’re determined to attack us no matter what, how they perceive our resolve will determine how bold and aggressive they will become in those attacks.

    I think the jihadists are watching and waiting. I think that’s why you haven’t heard anything yet. And I think they know full well that this idea of “adhering to higher principles” – not something I totally toss aside, mind you – is one of the West’s soft spots. This is why they use “hate speech” laws in countries that have them to silence enemies of Islam. They appropriate the language of political correctness and political victimhood of the left, when of course in reality they hate the same left and would wipe it out the day they took power. Here they appropriate the idea of equal rights.

    We want to see everyone as equals. Biologically, we are. But equality isn’t just about our race, or faith, or gender, or sexual preference. It also presumes that we all agree to live and work and play by certain rules in a certain spirit, towards a certain end. When those rules are systematically violated and undermined, then we have to question their application. We can’t forget that the rules are not pure, perfect, divine categories, things-in-themselves floating in the ether. They are established for certain ends, and they can also be used and abused for different ends.

    The jihadists know this. Almost nothing is sacred to them in the pursuit of their own ends – they are allowed to lie, cheat, steal, rape, murder, and perform every other sin and evil against infidels to further the cause of Islam. This was known to Americans during the Barbary Wars, an episode we’ve all but forgotten and ought to remember now especially. This has been the modus operandi of expansionist Islam for 1300 years.

    The jihadists know that we have categorical imperatives, that the Christianity they face today is not that which they faced at Tours, Jerusalem, Lepanto and Vienna, that secularism and liberalism contain within them the seeds of their own destruction through their fanatical devotion to tolerance. They know how to use the modern psychology of the modern Western man against him.

  • Also-
    Morale boost may mean emboldened, but isn’t what he said anyways.

    Morale boost does NOT equal an excuse, and an excuse is what he said they’d have either way.

    Given a choice, when someone is going to pick a fight with me either way, I’ll take the route that is most likely to make his buddies that might be on the fence have second thoughts.

  • No one HERE has said it, and since it isn’t the necessary premise for opposition to the mosque, there’s no reason for you to keep repeating it.

    Joe, if you’ll recall, what I said was that having people equate all muslims with terrorists was more likely to radicalize young western muslims than was allowing some moderate muslims to build a community center two blocks from ground zero. That remains true regardless of whether the offending statements occurred on this blog or elsewhere.

    They might be angry if the mosque doesn’t go up – but they’ll be elated if it does.

    How do you know this?

    I’d rather have my enemies angry than elated. And I’d rather they see us as a society that hasn’t entirely folded in on itself as opposed to a paper tiger.

    It’s a common argument against the free society that our openness is interpreted by our enemies as weakness. Yet as the years roll by it is the closed societies that have had a tendency to crumble. From my perspective, our freedoms are a sign of our strength, not our weakness. A strong society isn’t threatened by opposition marches, or religious differences, or someone burning the flag. I see the opposition to the mosque as a sign of many Americans insecurity. Things like the financial crisis have made people worry that we are a lot weaker than we really are.

  • having people equate all muslims with terrorists was more likely to radicalize young western muslims than was allowing some moderate muslims to build a community center two blocks from ground zero.

    Who cares? It’s not like it’s an either-or choice.

    As my links show, NONJIHADIST Muslims are far from uniformly in favor of this symbolic victory.

    We are not talking about “treating all Muslims as if they are terrorists until proven innocent”– so why do you keep harping on this odd notion?

  • Here’s a question– why are you treating the Cordoba House as representative of all Muslims, when the project has questionable roots and is trying to hide information about itself?

    Do you think being dumb enough to think that building a mosque and cultural center on or by a crater created by members of your faith will PROMOTE civil dialog?

  • Bah, dropped the “is characteristic of Muslims” from that last sentence.

  • BA,

    What you said was this:

    “If this is going to be the standard, then you have to ask: what is more likely to make young Muslims in Western countries turn to violence, 1) allowing a group of moderate Muslims to build a cultural center, or 2) treating all Muslims as if they are terrorists until proven innocent?”

    No one is proposing 2. Even most of the extreme opponents of the mosque don’t propose 2. That’s why I object to you constantly bringing it up. You’re attacking a position that no one here holds, and that few people in general hold.

    There’s a certain person who contributes to a certain blog who likes to come here and do that on a regular basis. Don’t emulate him.

    “as the years roll by it is the closed societies that have had a tendency to crumble”

    I don’t deny that closed societies crumble. But the extent of “openness” we in the West are forcing upon ourselves today is unprecedented. You go on to say,

    “From my perspective, our freedoms are a sign of our strength, not our weakness. ”

    From my perspective, it is precisely because we have historically sought to balance our ideals with necessity that has been the source of our strength. Balances are hard to achieve, but we have to try anyway. We can look back historically and say that the FDR’s internment camps were a terrible idea – can we, with all confidence, say they were entirely unnecessary? We could say the same about Lincoln’s suspension of habeus corpus, or any number of similar incidents.

    And it’s only been about 50, 60 years – a few generations – since the West has become multicultural, militantly secular, and self-loathing. This anemic civilization has not yet faced a true test, until now. And I’d say given the look of Europe, it isn’t passing.

  • Yet as the years roll by it is the closed societies that have had a tendency to crumble.

    Argentina (1930-43), Uruguay (1955-73), Chile (1939-73), France (1931-40). Which was a ‘closed’ society?

    From my perspective, our freedoms are a sign of our strength, not our weakness.

    Your freedoms in law are dependent upon the arbitrary will of the appellate judiciary. That aside, what is at issue here is not freedom, but manners.

  • So do I. I never said it was useless, and I don’t think anyone else did either. Saying it isn’t applicable in every conceivable circumstance isn’t the same as saying it is useless, and I think you recognize that. So we agree on that basic point.

    Fine. Your argument renders it useless. The fact that you and Art have justified it based on the past sins of Muslims effectively makes the First Amendment meaningless and useless, whether you would call it that or not.

    I question that assumption, Michael. I think some Muslims hate us more than some secularists.

    That is undoubtedly true; however the secularists hate Catholics far more than they hate Muslims. I was unclear.

    No one says it does. There’s no injustice in preventing the construction of one building for prudential reasons. It would be unjust if we said they couldn’t build anywhere.

    I don’t think you mean that. Prudence may be one thing but it’s another to interfere with one’s property rights and right to religion. I don’t think the prudential considerations for banning the mosque outweigh the costs government intervention in property rights, etc. on such a flimsy standard as “sensibilities.” If we adopt the precedent that houses of worships may not be built in areas where it would offend the local sensibilities, then we will never see another Catholic Church built in the city of San Francisco. I’m exaggerating of course, but I think you get the point-you’re establishing a very low standard by which opponents of religion can ban religious buildings they don’t like.

    Well, I disagree. This is about a very specific thing. Now of course I grant that unreasonable, duplicitous people try to make equivalents out of things that are not. But these are truly not equivalents. Genuine religious freedom is not denied through this prudential consideration. It is denied when secularists attempt to banish a whole religion from every aspect of public life.

    That’s fantastic, but when you become outraged at the next instance that religious freedom is denied to Catholics or Christians, don’t be surprised if they’re using the same arguments you are advancing here today. Then, your witness will not be as effective and the important battle lost.

  • @ Michael….seriously you are going to compare the building of a mosque near ground zero to catholic/christian crosses being put up to honor christ or in memory of the deceased? Really? Wow , not only have Americans become too tolerant, as I stated earlier, but misguided as well. First of all to the best of my knowledge, there weren’t catholics/christians who used planes to smash into buildings killing over 3000 people in America, all in the name of Catholicism or christianity..Secondly however the framers of the constitution initially intended the first amendment to be taken, on a literal basis, I’m pretty sure there would have been some major re-work on it if they had to deal with americans being murdered in this country in the name of a any religion. On top of that, people in the name of thier so called religious beliefs who werent even born in this country but rather took advantage of the opportunities this country offers in giving them a right to come over here on a visa, go to school here, work here and yes even learn how to fly our planes, and blow us up. Keep in mind people this kind of thing had never happened during the time our forefathers created the constitution, or anything of this magnitude in history , nor from any religion whose primary focus in their belief is anyone who is not muslim should be killed and the goal and intent of that religion is to conquer the world. I’m pretty sure all the other religious beliefs and practices in this country are about peace and not war, and believe that all have the right , by God, to practice thier own beliefs in thier own way, none of them threaten the lives and security of mankind. I know my faith does not promote anything but peace in all things save for self defense. So in a nut shell we should not be lumping together the islamic faith and beliefs with any of the other religious faiths and beliefs in this country, including the lack of any faith at all, atheism. Period!

  • Secondly however the framers of the constitution initially intended the first amendment to be taken, on a literal basis, I’m pretty sure there would have been some major re-work on it if they had to deal with americans being murdered in this country in the name of a any religion.

    Given the history of Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, which included wars of religion which had killed hundres of thousands if not millions in the struggle between various branches of Christianity, I really don’t think that the idea of killing in the name of religion would have been foreign to the founders. If anything, the idea of not having an established state religion was a response to such history.

    On top of that, people in the name of thier so called religious beliefs who werent even born in this country but rather took advantage of the opportunities this country offers in giving them a right to come over here on a visa, go to school here, work here and yes even learn how to fly our planes, and blow us up.

    Which it may be satisfying to refer to “so called religious beliefs”, it seems to me that it is not religious beliefs themselves that are the problem here. Mohammad Atta could have been a devotee of the Spaghetti Monster for all I care, so long as he didn’t fly planes into buildings. Nor would I be more pleased with him if he’d committed his crimes because of political beliefs instead of religious ones. It’s the killing that is unacceptable, and it seems to me that after bombing Afghanistan, driving the Taliban out, and building a new government there, we’ve made our displeasure with attacking our buildings pretty clear.

    Keep in mind people this kind of thing had never happened during the time our forefathers created the constitution, or anything of this magnitude in history

    All at once, maybe. But let’s be honest: the history of the world is soaked in the blood of religious wars. The only thing unique about 9/11 is that it’s recent, it’s local and it involved airplanes.

    nor from any religion whose primary focus in their belief is anyone who is not muslim should be killed and the goal and intent of that religion is to conquer the world.

    As a Catholic, I definitely believe that Islam is a false religion which involves some dangerous tendencies, but your characterization of it is woefully ignorant. Islam does not preach that anyone who is not a Muslim should be killed — though given a certain interpretation it does support conquering the whole world, in the sense that it holds that Islam should become the one religious faith. I object to that because I think Islam is false, and I object to using the means of coercion or conquest (which not all Muslims support) but I can hardly object to it in principle since I think that it would be best if everyone were Catholic.

  • It is apparent that DarwinCatholic has forgotten about 9/11 and thinks we should get past, and forget 9/11. With that kind of mentality, and ignorance which actually was prevalent up until 9/11 and allowed 9/11 to happen, one would almost be inviting or allowing another attack to occur in the future.

    Plus, it is insensitive to the extreme, especially to to the 9/11 victims families, to want them as well as others to get over 9/11 exceptionalism, move on and to want have this mosque built a stone’s throw away from Ground Zero. Plus, there is already a mosque located about 5 blocks away from Ground Zero, where absolutely NO Muslim extremists killed 3000 innocents, so what is the true purpose of this mosque? Is it really to “build bridges” with the West when there actions are quite disrecpectful insensitive to the ultra-extreme and they are producing the exact opposite of their “stated intent”? Or is this mosque being built to “build bridges” from the Middle East to America and try and impose Sharia laws on us under the guise of “religious freedom”?

    Was 9/11 not the most deadly attack in U.S. history? Would you want a tribute to be built to the Japanese at or near Pearl Harbor? If not, it is the same principle of showing common sense and sensitivity.

  • Bah. Not even close. He doesn’t seem to accept the power of they symbol, or even that it exists (the tired old saw about smiling at a dog comes to mind), but he hasn’t forgotten it.

    9/11 is not unique. Nothing I believe requires that it be so– it is part of a current conflict, the first blow that was was utterly un-ignorable, and a wake-up to the population. None of those things are singular in the history of the world.
    Every blow in a knife fight has been done before, between others, and probably for the same reasons– doesn’t change that it’s life and death.

  • (to be clear– the first symbol I’m talking about is building on the rubble, the second is the attack itself; wish editing was possible)

  • The fact that you and Art have justified it based on the past sins of Muslims effectively makes the First Amendment meaningless and useless, whether you would call it that or not.

    Constitutional provisions have been rendered meaningless because they have been promiscuously impressed into the service of the imperious will of the haute bourgeois crew who make up our appellate judiciary. Not my doing.

    Both Mr. Hargrave and myself have repeatedly said we are primarily concerned not with the exercise of legal rights and entitlements but rather with what the project says about the taste, motives, and sense of self of the promoters. People’s obligations in public life are not reducible to their legal rights, but you and Blackadder have persistently argued as if they were. That having been said, I cannot help but note (as Mr. McClarey has) that you have distended the meaning of ‘free exercise thereof’ to cover putting a 13 story building at a national historic site.

    Personally, I would not care if the usual lumbering machinery of the regulatory state frustrates this fellow Rauf (and whomever is behind this) as it has Larry Silverstein. Our liberties have suffered notably in the succession of low dishonest decades in which we have lived. Making a fuss over the property rights of this odoriferous crew is the equivalent of chasing cockroaches on your windowsill when you’ve got a house full of coyotes.

    I really don’t think that the idea of killing in the name of religion would have been foreign to the founders. If anything, the idea of not having an established state religion was a response to such history.

    The idea of community control was not foreign to them either. The 1st Amendment applied only to the central government (“Congress shall make no law”).

  • Constitutional provisions have been rendered meaningless because they have been promiscuously impressed into the service of the imperious will of the haute bourgeois crew who make up our appellate judiciary. Not my doing.

    Yes, but by encouraging this you’re not making it better. If you want to change the status quo, you need to oppose it in all of its manifestations, not merely those which are pleasing to you.

    Both Mr. Hargrave and myself have repeatedly said we are primarily concerned not with the exercise of legal rights and entitlements but rather with what the project says about the taste, motives, and sense of self of the promoters.

    That’s simply not true. When you have this mile radius, you’re dealing with property. I agree it’s in bad taste but you are advocating the government’s interference with those property rights. It’s very different to say “They shouldn’t” and “they can’t” build.

    That having been said, I cannot help but note (as Mr. McClarey has) that you have distended the meaning of ‘free exercise thereof’ to cover putting a 13 story building at a national historic site.

    It is not “at” a national historic site; it’s by a national historic site. It’s two blocks away. There are very few historic sites that command power over the surrounding areas. For example, in D.C. you walk off the mall and there’s no restrictions. Subways, McDonald’s, etc. (other than you can’t be taller than the Capital). Same with battlegrounds from the Civil War.

  • Joe,

    I don’t know if anyone has explicitly said “we should assume all muslims are terrorists until proven otherwise.” A lot of people have been acting that way, though. I could provide examples, but when I’ve done so previously you’ve dismissed them as irrelevant.

  • The examples are irrelevant [and SHOULD be dismissed as so] because your pointing to them is nothing more than engaging in the very sort of guilt by association of which you’re accusing Joe et al.

  • Jay,

    Joe’s argument was allowing the mosque would incite western muslims to violence. My counter was that insulting statements by anti-mosque people is more likely to incite. How is the fact that such statements have been made irrelevant to that point?

  • Michael D-
    The place was mostly destroyed by the events of 9/11; historic enough for me. If they are sincere, then they won’t mind moving to someplace that doesn’t symbolically match the Cordoba mosque.

    If they are sincere, well, we have no constitutional responsibility to aid and abet the other side in a war.

    Blackadder-
    your definition of “assuming they are all terrorist” seems to include paying attention to their choice in names, past associations and current choices. Notice how nobody is suggesting that all mosques be required to go through the FBI before they’re built? Or all mosques do anything?
    Instead, we respond to suspicious activity– desire to build on the scene of an attack by co-religionists in recent history– and treat that activity as suspicious.
    It is not trying to criminalize Halloween if you outlaw masks in banks!

    BTW, Joe specifically said “Muslim fanatics.” Nothing there about Western Muslims, although he did later identify that some young Muslims in the west were identifying themselves with extremism. (A ‘no duh’ statement for anyone watching the news for terrorism cases.)

    Why do you keep offering false choices?

    What everyone seems to be missing is that the “standard procedures” have clearly not been followed, or the church that was destroyed on 9/11 would not have been fighting for permission to rebuild for longer, then abruptly been denied.

  • It is not “at” a national historic site; it’s by a national historic site. It’s two blocks away.

    For the umpteenth time, the bloody landing gear fell on that Burlington Coat Factory outlet, it is within eyeshot of the point of impact, and radius of debris and dust was wider still.

    That’s simply not true.

    That is true, if you read his words and mine in their entirety. (BTW, I never said jack about specific distances. I would not draw the line where he did at that point in time, though I cannot say his is unreasonable).

    I am not enamored of the fact that the stock of Christian congregations has fallen so that they are harried by local zoning boards in ways they did not used to be. However, simply invoking the magic words ‘free exercise’ does not tell you how to adjudicate these sorts of disputes.

    Yes, but by encouraging this you’re not making it better. If you want to change the status quo, you need to oppose it in all of its manifestations, not merely those which are pleasing to you.

    Oh yes I am. No one has been fined for recusancy or debarred from public office due to their religious affiliation since 1833. Instead, ‘establishment of religion’ and ‘free exercise’ have been construed to mandate a secular orthodoxy and to cosset small and litigious minorities which the appellate judiciary deems more appealing than the rest of us. That is the actually existing ‘First Amendment’, not what you would have it be, and what you are advocating has little to do with real working liberties. At the core of discourse over the First Amendment is not liberty but the insistence of the bar that it is their place to vet and regulate every aspect of our common life.

    The problem here cannot be understood well in terms of individual rights and entitlements, and neither can the interaction of the religious and secular elements of the public life be well understood in that way. That site is part of our common life and its disposition is properly the discretion of our common institutions. (The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation certainly does not qualify, as even Mayor Bloomberg now sees). Whether it be sticking a mosque there or replacing that cross with a replica of Sally Rand doing a fan dance, some additions are not in keeping with the history of the site.

    The following have been implicit in your remarks or in Blackadder’s, sometimes both:

    1. Specific individuals or formally constituted corporations are the only bearers of interests worthy of consideration and the only categories between which one may legitimately draw distinctions.

    2. Obligations are reducible to legally-defined rights.

    3. What Rauf says can be taken at face value (but not what J. Hargrave says).

    All are false.

  • For the umpteenth time, the bloody landing gear fell on that Burlington Coat Factory outlet, it is within eyeshot of the point of impact, and radius of debris and dust was wider still.

    Under that thinking, the entire city of New Orleans is a historic site due to the flooding it experienced city-wide after Katrina.

    Specific individuals or formally constituted corporations are the only bearers of interests worthy of consideration and the only categories between which one may legitimately draw distinctions.

    Where on earth did I imply this? My position, in these terms, is more along the lines of this: The community (whether you define that as NYC or USA) has an interest in protecting its historic site. However, considering the distance between the WTC and the proposed building, the community’s reasonable interest in keeping the mosque away is fairly low. This interest is still high enough that a reasonable, prudent, and charitable builder would take the mosque elsewhere. However, it is not high enough to justify the interference with one’s ability to use his own property and to practice his religion. That precedent would be harmful to good religious expressions and uses of property. Therefore, the government ought not to interfere even if it would be better to not build the mosque.

    Also, I didn’t use the language of rights. That takes care of #2.

    3. What Rauf says can be taken at face value (but not what J. Hargrave says).Never said that. I don’t really care what he says. Maybe he believes in tolerance; maybe he wants to show the growth & superiority of Islam. I don’t really care. Doesn’t change the calculus.

  • What Rauf says can be taken at face value (but not what J. Hargrave says).

    Never said that. I don’t really care what he says. Maybe he believes in tolerance; maybe he wants to show the growth & superiority of Islam. I don’t really care. Doesn’t change the calculus.

    Not to you, but it has been a big part of the calculus of many of the most vocal backers of the proposal. E.g., “this is the kind of Muslim we need to encourage!”

    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2008432,00.html

    As increasingly appears to be the case, Imam Rauf has no problem blowing the Islamist dog whistle while his fawning western admirers bathe in his unicorns and rainbows rhetoric.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/campaign-spot/244515/united-states-has-more-muslim-blood-its-hands-al-qaeda-has-its-hands-innocent-n

    http://www.slate.com/id/2264770/?from=rss

    While this does nothing to change the legal calculus–if he and the Cordobans acquire the full title and the funding, they can indeed build the damn thing–it certainly changes the moral light in which we view the project. Or should, but YMMV in 2010 America.

  • Under that thinking, the entire city of New Orleans is a historic site due to the flooding it experienced city-wide after Katrina.

    The flood was a natural disaster. Of what possible relevance is it to what is under discussion?

    You have arbitrarily drawn the boundary of what is of concern at the trapezoid which encompasses six of the seven buildings conventionally referred to as the “World Trade Center”. I do not know why you did this, given that the boundary of destruction was wider.

    Where on earth did I imply this?

    It was Blackadder I had in mind.

    However, it is not high enough to justify the interference with one’s ability to use his own property and to practice his religion. That precedent would be harmful to good religious expressions and uses of property.

    Tell it to the zoning board in the subdivision in which you live.

  • Also, I didn’t use the language of rights. That takes care of #2.

    No, your references to the 1st Amendment were in the language of something else.

  • Michael D,

    “Fine. Your argument renders it useless. The fact that you and Art have justified it based on the past sins of Muslims effectively makes the First Amendment meaningless and useless, whether you would call it that or not.”

    Is it possible for people to make an argument around here without putting words in another person’s mouth? I don’t think I said anything about “past sins”. Neither the issue of American sentiment, nor the message the mosque would send to the jihad, are issues located strictly in the past; they are ongoing disputes.

    And is it possible to argue around here without the slippery slope fallacy? The notion that barring people from one area is tantamount to injustice and persecution is just nonsense.

    And it shouldn’t be necessary either – they should voluntarily assent to our request, if they want to be such great friends.

    “That is undoubtedly true; however the secularists hate Catholics far more than they hate Muslims. I was unclear.”

    What was the point of this again?

    “I don’t think you mean that. Prudence may be one thing but it’s another to interfere with one’s property rights and right to religion.”

    We do it all the time. We do it to Christian scientists who won’t medicate their kids, we do it to Mormon polygamists, even the ones who don’t marry 14 year old girls. Sometimes we decide that there are certain moral issues that supersede these rights. Nothing was ever meant to be absolute and untouchable.

    “I don’t think the prudential considerations for banning the mosque outweigh the costs government intervention in property rights, etc. on such a flimsy standard as “sensibilities.””

    No, I get it; you guys think anyone who has a problem with this is some sort of sentimental fool who should just get over it. Pissing off 60% or more of Americans is ok – they have decent lives, they should just go live them and be quiet. But Allah forgive us if we ever inconvenience a few Muslims.

    In any case, if it were only about sensibilities, it would be one thing. But this mosque will be construed as a victory sign by the jihad, and that’s something for various reasons America ought to avoid.

    I acknowledge the existential fact of their right to build, as well as the fact that nothing will stop them from building it, but I don’t think they have an absolute moral right to do so.

    “If we adopt the precedent that houses of worships may not be built in areas where it would offend the local sensibilities,”

    I think we’re talking here about sensibilities related to a national tragedy such as 9/11, in which thousands lost their lives. If a Catholic mass murdered a bunch of gays in San Francisco, in the name of Christ and the Church, a church right next to the site of the massacre might indeed be in bad taste.

    So the standard isn’t as low as you think.

    “That’s fantastic, but when you become outraged at the next instance that religious freedom is denied to Catholics or Christians, don’t be surprised if they’re using the same arguments you are advancing here today. Then, your witness will not be as effective and the important battle lost.”

    The argument I’m using today centers around a mass murder and a symbol of victory to those who cheered when it happened. I would argue, in the future, that if those things aren’t present, the cases aren’t the same. And in any case it won’t matter what I argue, since the secular courts/government are determined to continue waging war on Christianity anyway.

    I mean really, some brilliant argument from one of us is going to single-handedly stop the secular world from prosecuting us and treating us AT LEAST as a good as Muslims? I don’t think so. Christianity will always be held to a different standard.

  • Under that thinking, the entire city of New Orleans is a historic site due to the flooding it experienced city-wide after Katrina.

    If Prince Namor shows up to build a cultural center for better understanding and cooperation between the people of New Orleans and Atlantis, I will be sure to point this out.

  • Not to you, but it has been a big part of the calculus of many of the most vocal backers of the proposal

    I’m not one of the most vocal backers of the proposal. I’ll let them speak for themselves.

    The flood was a natural disaster. Of what possible relevance is it to what is under discussion?

    The devastation of Katrina is historic. Unless you’re going to draw the line of historic places to be only those places made historic by acts of man, I think by your logic everywhere that suffered damage under Katrina ought to be declared a historic site.

    You have arbitrarily drawn the boundary of what is of concern at the trapezoid which encompasses six of the seven buildings conventionally referred to as the “World Trade Center”. I do not know why you did this, given that the boundary of destruction was wider

    I don’t know what’s “arbitrary” about it. The World Trade Center was the target, not the Burlington Coat Factory. We mourned the attack on the WTC, not the Burlington Coat Factory. I would bet that mourners walked right by the Burlington coat Factory on their way to the WTC site to leave their respects. Pretending this Burlington is a historic site is absurd.

    Tell it to the zoning board in the subdivision in which you live.

    I will, thanks.

    No, your references to the 1st Amendment were in the language of something else.

    I should have been more clear. I did use the language of rights before, but in that comment I did not in order to demonstrate that my position is not merely a rights-based one but one that I think takes better account of the common good.

    Sometimes we decide that there are certain moral issues that supersede these rights. Nothing was ever meant to be absolute and untouchable.

    Never said it was absolute but there’s no way this rises to the high levels in the examples you gave (i.e. trying to curb child death and child abuse).

    No, I get it; you guys think anyone who has a problem with this is some sort of sentimental fool who should just get over it.

    Actually, yes. You need to be reasonable and your outrage at this mosque is not in proportion to the wrong. While I have repeatedly agreed with you that it would be preferable to not build the mosque there, I don’t the wrong they do justifies the wrong you propose.

    I think we’re talking here about sensibilities related to a national tragedy such as 9/11, in which thousands lost their lives. If a Catholic mass murdered a bunch of gays in San Francisco, in the name of Christ and the Church, a church right next to the site of the massacre might indeed be in bad taste.

    If you read Andrew Sullivan’s response to Douthat on gay marriage, Sullivan makes the claim that a failure to provide marriage for homosexuals constituted a mass murder of gays at the hands of the Church and other Christians. So actually, you give a good example of how easily this could be twisted against Christians in the modern world and therefore the need to more stringently protect the right of religion.

    I mean really, some brilliant argument from one of us is going to single-handedly stop the secular world from prosecuting us and treating us AT LEAST as a good as Muslims? I don’t think so. Christianity will always be held to a different standard.

    Speaking of putting words in one’s mouth. Christians can start small and hopefully over time attitudes will change. But to change minds we need to be consistent. You’re not consistent. Pretending like this is just “one area” entirely misses the point.

  • I think by your logic everywhere that suffered damage under Katrina ought to be declared a historic site.

    In my home town, there are any number of landmarked properties which preserve sites of significance in local history or the residences of figures of import, or examples of architectural styles. I am not aware of any museums devoted to Genesee River flooding. Civil War battlefields are taken off the market and maintained as public parks; the paths of F5 tornadoes are not. Environmental history is treated differently than social history as a matter of course. Not my ‘logic’.

    The World Trade Center was the target, not the Burlington Coat Factory.

    Actually, Tower 1 and Tower 2 were the targets, but the sequence of events destroyed all seven buildings and several other structures. By your logic, we ought to draw a chalk mark around where they found Christine Olender’s teeth and sell the rest to private developers to put in strip joints.

    So actually, you give a good example of how easily this could be twisted against Christians in the modern world and therefore the need to more stringently protect the right of religion.

    The fact that Sullivan is off his head discredits only Sullivan.

    You’re not consistent.

    I am consistent.

  • I’m tiring of this, so I’ll just add a few points:

    Katrina is just a tad more important than the Genesee River Flooding.

    So we have the actual targets (Towers 1 & 2) and the area intimately associated with it (WTC). No more protection is needed.

    Sullivan is widely read. Sullivan’s folly is a folly shared by many. Pretending he’s the only one so deluded is sadly not accurate.

  • “I’m not one of the most vocal backers of the proposal.”

    I didn’t say you were. You’re pretty ambivalent about it, and I can respect that. But the purported moderation of the Cordobans has been a major selling point, not least of which by the Cordobans themselves. It is a major factor in the debate.

  • Michael D,

    Re. Sullivan’s lunacy:

    There’s nothing we can do to prevent this sort of utter perversion of logic. This will occur whether we call for all Muslims to be forever banned from America or we pay 10 million Muslims to relocate in the US, put them all on welfare, and build 50 mosques near ground zero.

    People can abuse logic anyway they please, to make any point they please. This can’t dictate our responses.

    However, in the ACTUAL case of a mass murder – which I think most rational people can distinguish from some hypothetical abstract scenario – I do think the sensitivities of the victims can and should be taken into account.

    I’m not going to abandon reason because Andrew Sullivan or the gay mafia does.

    “Christians can start small and hopefully over time attitudes will change. But to change minds we need to be consistent.”

    I don’t know whose mind you want to change. But you should know that if its the secular left, the professional punditocracy, the opinion makers and perception shapers, you’re going to have to do a lot more than agree to this mosque to get them to think highly of you. You’ll have to give up some pretty basic Catholic teachings, performing what Arafat called a “humiliating striptease” before your enemies.

    “You’re not consistent. Pretending like this is just “one area” entirely misses the point.”

    I think I am consistent. There are clear precedents for limiting each of our first amendment liberties; it is a falsification of history, the intent of the founders, and reason to invoke the first amendment as a debate stopper. That is precisely where the debate begins.

    But in any case, I’ve already said I recognize the existential fact of their right to build. I’m not proposing to challenge it under these circumstances. But I don’t mind saying that ideally, it could be challenged and there are grounds for doing so.

    Finally, I’m not “pretending.” I believe reasonable people can distinguish between circumstances, and that is most unreasonable to insist that every scenario is the same. Frankly I just think that’s intellectually retarded, childish even, I think it’s the real tactic of demagogues and rabble-rousers, to create fallacies in order to whip up hatred.

    And I believe unreasonable people aren’t going to be swayed by arguments in our favor. That’s the problem with trying to appease unreasonable people – you have to keep getting more and more unreasonable.

  • Dale,

    I don’t think the quotes in the links you provide show that Rauf isn’t a “moderate Muslim.” They show that he is a loopy progressive, hardly the same thing.

    Here, for example, is an article by the Imam arguing against an Islamic ban on alcohol. To me, it reads not as the work of an extremist, but as the equivalent of something you might see by a Unitarian minister or Reform rabbi. And if a Unitarian minister said that America had killed more Muslims than al-Qaeda killed Americans, that would not be surprising.

  • BA: In the first link, it’s the “*innocent* non-Muslims” that’s the dog whistle. The circle of innocence can be remarkably circumscribed in Islamic law, alas. Why the distinction between Muslims in toto and *innocent* non-Muslims?

    With respect to the second link, giving even a circumscribed endorsement to the Iranian theocracy is quite troubling.

    As to the alcohol argument, it’s not new. Al-Ghazali argued for essentially the same thing back in the 11th Century. [Not so BTW, the Cambridge History of the Islamic World is an excellent primer on the subject, and examines Al-Ghazali in some detail.] Certainly, the imam’s proposal to turn the fine into a community service is meritorious, but it still presumes the primacy of sharia. Which is problematic, especially in a multi-religious polity like Malaysia.

    I do agree that the purely political stuff–blowback arguments and the like–are indistinguishable from something you could find in “The Nation” or “The American Prospect.” They don’t shed light on the question of “moderation.”

  • I do agree that the purely political stuff–blowback arguments and the like–are indistinguishable from something you could find in “The Nation” or “The American Prospect.” They don’t shed light on the question of “moderation.”

    They do. These sorts of comments are a.) gratuitous but b.) banal nevertheless. They are not informed by the minimal knowledge of modern and contemporary history that even a schmuck like yours truly might possess. (My verbose tangles with Maclin Horton’s blogging partner show what happens when you try to unpack these sorts of assertions).

    Thomas Sowell has done a persuasive diagnosis of the sort of political pathology represented by a fellow like Victor Navasky. How it is salient here is that this is a good deal of the kultursmog into which immigrant populations are received. It may be of no account in most cases, it is here. It could be for purely idiosyncratic reasons, but I tend to think not.

    Dr. Sowell has also offered his take on the Arab World and adjacent areas – as places struggling (not very successfully) to process the encounter between themselves on the one hand and the West and the Industrial Orient on the other. Per Sowell, it is atypical for societies facing these sorts of challenges to respond constructively; recrimination is more common. This Imam Rauf is part of a political culture which has as a feature a refusal to take collective responsibility for its failures. It is one end of a spectrum which has Osama bin Laden at the other end.

    Rauf may get positive feedback from the purveyors of kultursmog, but we can wager he’s a different sort of character. He is an example of failed immigrant incorporation. He may not make statements more obnoxious than Susan Sontag did. In both cases, their loyalties are somewhere else.

  • Art, I hadn’t thought of it in the “blame everybody else first” sense of imbibed victimology. But I should have. Interesting point.

  • Wow, reading all these comments, as they are continuously coming into my email ( my bad) , the first thought that comes to mind is , “ Can’t we all just get along?” Trying to light the mood here….but really? Look at us? We are arguing amongst ourselves, our points of views, dividing instead of uniting. Isn’t this what “ the evil one” ( from whatever angle he is coming in at) wants us to do? So let’s not give in to the temptation to divide each other here and conquer each owns opinion and/or beliefs, but rather ask for and seek the truth.
    My truth in this is safety. I really believe this is a safety issue. Have any of you seen the Discovery channel series “The Colony?” It’s a show on several people being put together in a post apocalyptic scenario, with nothing but limited sources on hand to survive. You see them all worrying about water, food , shelter, medical supplies, etc., which yes are essential to life, but the least of their thoughts are on security. Until that is , the very survival necessities they work so hard to acquire are threatened and taken from them. They realize, after medical supplies, food and water has been taken by thieves and looters, they need to build a secure structure to protect what they are working so hard to achieve just to simply survive. The second season just started a few weeks ago and in both seasons they make this discovery, later than they should have but thankfully not too late to start over, with security measures put into place first and foremost. It is a real eye opener to me for many reasons. It leads me to question my own ability to safely protect my family, my children who are innocent and defenseless, if danger were imminent. If in that kind of situation would I know how or would I have the means to protect my family? That of course leads to more questions and so on. But the bottom line here is that is what is going on with this whole mosque debate. Half the people are simply thinking of protecting their country, family, and children. Myself included.

    I saw this quote from Martin Luther King Jr. he spoke back in 1960 and it says a lot .. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

    Here also are some brief definitions of the terms referred to when addressing this issue.

    Security: Safety from attack, harm or damage
    National Security : The protection of a nation from attack or other danger
    Threat – declaration of intent to cause harm: the expression of an intention to cause harm or pain

    I am including something I read that sums up the defining reason why most Americans feel threatened of when taking up this mosque issue.

    http://www.gatheringofeaglesnc.org/hidingthetruthofislamicviolence.pdf

    In short, we all want peace, we all want freedom, and we all claim to have it here in America. But do we really?

  • They Are No Longer Good
    When good men do nothing, they are no longer good. Many have the mistaken notion that good is merely the absence of doing that which is wrong. Not so! One is good not merely because he does no evil, but because he is actively working for what is good. “Let him eschew evil, and do good” (1 Pet. 3:11). James explained, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

    The eldest of Israel, Reuben, knew his brothers’ murderous plot against their younger brother Joseph was wrong. He started an attempt to deliver Joseph, but as he hesitated and vacillated, the other brothers sold Joseph into slavery. When Reuben heard what they had done, he realized his failure to act had helped to bring about this evil result.

    Instead of correcting his error, Reuben sought to cover his guilt by agreeing with his brothers to lie to their father about Joseph’s disappearance (Gen. 37:18-35). Reuben had “good intentions” and he was not even present when Joseph was sold into slavery, but he knew his inaction and absence made him just as guilty as the rest of his wicked brothers. This guilt continued to haunt him through the years (Gen. 42:21-22).

    The prophet Obadiah severely condemned the Edomites for doing nothing when evil was befalling their brethren, the Jews. When Jerusalem was invaded by her enemies, the Edomites “stood on the other side” doing nothing but watching the slaughter as spectators. God said by their failure to act and to help their brethren “even thou wast as one of them” (Obad. 11).

    Today, there are preachers and Christians who fail and refuse to meet the real foe, refute error and fight the enemy. Instead, they have turned to viciously savaging their own brethren. They are filled with bitterness and hatred and they maliciously attack, slander and misrepresent other Christians and gospel preachers.

    Paul warned about such men and behavior among those professing to be Christians, “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” (Gal. 5:15). Those who engage in such behavior are spiritual cannibals.

    While the conduct of these so-called Christians is shameful, what about those supposedly “good” men who do nothing? Those stand on the other side and do nothing but watch as their brothers are being slandered, slaughtered and devoured, they cease being innocent bystanders and idle spectators. Their failure to act not only allows evil to triumph, but makes them just as guilty as the spiritual cannibals they refuse to reprove and rebuke. In God’s words, “even thou wast as one of them” (Obad. 11).

    Conclusion
    “Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). Those who fail or refuse to do good in the face of evil are sowing some dangerous seeds. They are doing nothing good as Jesus commanded them to do; they are helping evil to win and have ceased being good and have become partakers of the evil they did nothing to stop.

    Do not allow evil to triumph. Do not sit by and do nothing. Stand up and be counted, speak up against evil and speak out against evil men and their sinful deeds. (http://www.padfield.com/1997/goodmen.html)

    The question I have to myself here after reading the above is, how do we discern the evil in this mosque situation to triumph against it? I don’t really care about being politically correct, I care about doing God’s will. So that is the answer and the truth I and I believe all of us seek here.
    Ok, seriously I’m done…for the day, hahaha.

  • wait i forgot this part…haha

    They Help Evil To Triumph
    When good men do nothing, evil triumphs. Evil, sin and sinful men must be opposed. God commands those who are good, not just to avoid evil but actively oppose it.

    Christians are to not only to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but (also) reprove them” (Eph. 5:11). Those who do nothing about sin and evil, help the sin and evil to prevail. One who is silent when there are those around him in sin becomes a partaker with them (Eph. 5:7).

    In the days of Elijah, the silence of many had allowed the evil of Ahab and Jezebel to prevail throughout the land of Israel. “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word” (1 Kings 18:21). The silence of the people spoke volumes of their indecisiveness and inaction. Their failure to stand up, speak up and speak out permitted wicked and evil men to run rampant.

    Jesus told of a traveler who was robbed, beaten and left him half dead. The men who did this were wicked and did a very wicked thing. But the Levite and priest allowed this evil to continue unanswered by doing nothing as they each “passed by on the other side” (Luke 10:31-32). Fortunately for the traveler there was one man, a Samaritan, who was willing to stand up for what was right (Luke 10:33-36).

    Jesus warned “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad” (Matt. 12:30). In the fight against evil there is no middle ground, no gray area, no neutrality. Those who are not actively and vigorously fighting against evil are helping evil to triumph.

  • I’ve been frustrated by the tone and stridency of both sides of this debate, and I appreciate Darwin Catholic’s effort to inject some perspective.

    That said, I disagree with the conclusion. Within the blast radius and on a site where airplane parts fell is too close.

    FWIW, my thoughts on the subject at NCRegister.com.

  • [/b][/b][/b]P.S. Wow, the runover bold here is really hard to kill. I tried to throw up a major roadblock, and it did nothing.

  • Not sure what was going on there with the bold formatting, but I think it’s fixed now.

  • The problem with many people is the idea that Christianity is the symbol of inmobilisation. On the contary Christianity is base in the principles of love and justice amongst us [all].But in your proposal where is the justice and love for the victims of 9/11 ?.. Remember the fruit of Justice is Peace. In this case justice and love should not only be for the proponents of the Center, but for the majority of americans who believe the idea to build the Center so close to the terrorist attack is extremely hurtful ,out of touch and provocative . Whenever issues of sensitivity arises we should follow the advice of John Paul II. He told the carmelites nuns please, build elsewere. If they persist in that bad idea the Center will be the idol of the eternal discord.

  • Some these comments are just plain crazy…even insulting to include Katrina disaster and MLK. There aren’t any sects in Islam nor is there any division in the interpretation of the Koran. Islam is one faith and belief. Islam is incompatible with christainity and its principles. I have never heard any Muslim apologized or disagree with 9/11 other than to explain how the islamic principles and beliefs could justify and permit 9/11 atrocities. Nor have I have heard any Muslim condemn these attackers by name for their jhidist antics. We who are christain are considered infidels and USA country are infidels. The christain liberty we enjoin to all, whether they share our beliefs are not, is not held in regard nor are reciprocated. I believe our charity and dignity for neighbor will be the blade and sword of the Islamic enemies and our laws mocked to serve their end and jhidist purposes. Only in America you can trample upon the lives of its citizens and guests in this country and hide behind liberty and laws your islamic faith calls for you to despise and destroy. The protestors duly note this mockery and are well in their rights as citizens to protest.

  • Islam has been divided almost since the very start– IIRC, between the followers of the head disciple and the followers of the husband of one of his daughters.

    It’s as if Peter and Mary-at-the-tomb had founded two versions of Christianity….

  • Winky,

    There aren’t any sects in Islam nor is there any division in the interpretation of the Koran. Islam is one faith and belief. Islam is incompatible with christainity and its principles. I have never heard any Muslim apologized or disagree with 9/11 other than to explain how the islamic principles and beliefs could justify and permit 9/11 atrocities.

    While it is true that Islam is “incompatible” with Christianity in the sense that because we know Christianity to be true we understand Islam to be false — everything else you say here is total rubbish.

    There are most definitely sectarian splits within Islam. There is much division as to interpretation of the Koran. And all one has to do in order to hear a Muslim denounce 9/11 as incompatible with Islamic principles is listen to one do so. Plenty have.

  • Yes, and as Robert Spencer points out, those who have, Darwin, are persecuted in the Muslim world.

  • Obviously, you all uninformed and feel you intellectual opinions can rewrite history…but history, current events and news condemns you. Islamic beliefs permits these acts and no Muslim as condemn these acts for it would condemn Islam. As for Christ, he foundEd only one church and one rock, Peter. on which he said he would build that church…the faith which meet both criteria is the roman catholic church, the Vatican. It the only church that is built over the tomb of Peter. As for you all, your christain faith or lacked thereof…is neither here nor there for in the islamic eyes you all are infidels and deserve death. I still hold the american people have a right to protest the mockery.

  • Joe,

    I don’t doubt it — which is why I’d rather see things made fairly comfortable for Muslims who denounce terrorism if they live in the US.

    Winky,

    I’m not clear what you’re trying to get at. Of course I believe that Christ founded only one true Church and that is the Catholic Church. I don’t doubt that I am an infidel to Muslims (just as I’m a gentile to Jews and Mormons.) But frankly, it strikes me as really weird that you, as a Catholic, would believe that Islam has some sort of perfect and totally unified magisterium, when even Christianity has, through sin and human frailty, been wracked with division and heresy since its origins.

    Islam is a false religion. God did not reveal truth to Mohammad. Why in the world would we expect to see Islam be totally unified in belief? Why would we expect there to be only one interpretation of the Koran?

    And, indeed, there is not. There are plenty of Muslims who are not fans of violent Jihad or of 9/11. That doesn’t make Islam true, it just makes it human. It is divided.

    Now yes, as you state, you have the right to protest the mosque near ground zero. However, they also have the right to build it. It may not be polite or wise of them to do so, but they have the right. Personally, I think keeping those rights absolute is a good thing.

  • And by the way, Winky:
    ??? ????? ?? ???? ???? ?????? ?? ??????? ?? ????.
    :-)

  • Darwincatholic(sigh!)…speak English….the problem with you and others is solving a problem from principles that are not embraced by the muslim. If the principle of natural law did not exist you would not be here…for there is nothing in the Islamic texts to prevent or prohibit 9/11 from happening again. Were you on planet 9 for the unveiling of the Ambassador of Death?

  • You can’t solve stuff until you face the facts; you seem to only have great self-regard, and a lack of facts.

  • The two main divisions of the Islamic world are between the Shia and the Sunni. The division goes back to a power struggle following the death of Mohammed. The Shia are the followers of Ali, the son-in-law of Mohammed, who was the fourth caliph, commander of the faithul, and who was assassinated in 661. The Shia and Sunnis differ on many points, although they each view the Koran as the ultimate authority, although how passages are interpreted differs widely between the two sects.

    Many Moslems have condemned the attacks on 9-11. The troubling fact though is that many Moslems have also applauded the attacks. It is wrong to hold all Moslems accountable for 9-11. It is dangerous to ignore that aspects of Islamic teaching of both sects make living in peace with Christians and Jews in conditions of legal equality difficult. Those Moslems who call for war against the West until Islam has the upper hand, are much closer in spirit to the way Islam has been viewed by most Moslems throughout history than Moslems in the West who proclaim that Islam is inherently a peaceful religion.

    Bernard Lewis, the foremost English speaking authority on Islam, said it best shortly after 9-11 as to the peril and the opportunity for the West:

    “For Osama bin Laden, 2001 marks the resumption of the war for the religious dominance of the world that began in the seventh century. For him and his followers, this is a moment of opportunity. Today, America exemplifies the civilization and embodies the leadership of the House of War, and, like Rome and Byzantium, it has become degenerate and demoralized, ready to be overthrown. Khomeini’s designation of the United States as “the Great Satan” was telling. In the Koran, Satan is described as “the insidious tempter who whispers in the hearts of men.” This is the essential point about Satan: he is neither a conqueror nor an exploiter—he is, first and last, a tempter. And for the members of Al Qaeda it is the seduction of America that represents the greatest threat to the kind of Islam they wish to impose on their fellow-Muslims.

    But there are others for whom America offers a different kind of temptation—the promise of human rights, of free institutions, and of a responsible and elected government. There are a growing number of individuals and even some movements that have undertaken the complex task of introducing such institutions in their own countries. It is not easy. Similar attempts, as noted, led to many of today’s corrupt regimes. Of the fifty-seven member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, only one, the Turkish Republic, has operated democratic institutions over a long period of time and, despite difficult and ongoing problems, has made progress in establishing a liberal economy and a free society and political order.

    In two countries, Iraq and Iran, where the regimes are strongly anti-American, there are democratic oppositions capable of taking over and forming governments. We could do much to help them, and have done little. In most other countries in the region, there are people who share our values, sympathize with us, and would like to share our way of life. They understand freedom, and want to enjoy it at home. It is more difficult for us to help those people, but at least we should not hinder them. If they succeed, we shall have friends and allies in the true, not just the diplomatic, sense of these words.

    Meanwhile, there is a more urgent problem. If bin Laden can persuade the world of Islam to accept his views and his leadership, then a long and bitter struggle lies ahead, and not only for America. Sooner or later, Al Qaeda and related groups will clash with the other neighbors of Islam—Russia, China, India—who may prove less squeamish than the Americans in using their power against Muslims and their sanctities. If bin Laden is correct in his calculations and succeeds in his war, then a dark future awaits the world, especially the part of it that embraces Islam.”

    http://humanities.psydeshow.org/political/lewis.htm

  • …in all fairness to Jews and Mormons neither of these groups killed innocent Americans in the name of their religion and they are known to reciprocate charity to neighbors are Gentiles who do not share their beliefs.

  • I’m not clear that Islamic texts have much to do with it. The main reason that something like 9/11 has not happened again in the last ten years is that our military and the CIA under Bush (and one can only hope this will be kept up under Obama despite his rhetoric to the contrary) have made it very clear how unhealthy it is to attack the US. And while many people may be happy to see the US take a fall, few of them area eager to risk being blown up by predator drones or shot by Marines in order to accomplish the task. Most would rather just go about their business.

    Keeping mosques out of New York won’t make us safe, but having a strong and active military and intelligence service goes a long way towards doing so.

  • Donald…thank you for your insights. But don’t put words in my mouth and stick to the facts: I don’t hold every muslin accountable for 9/11. I do believe the American people have a right to protest a mosque built near the 9/11 tragedy. I believe that America and its christains principles are being mocked. I also believe that the underlying principles for these attacks is Islam, the Koran…for its perpertrators each and everytime: in tapes, tv, videos, and battle cry: God is Great! has reaffirm their basis as belief in islam and the Koran. Your position is erroneous to limit to politics and erroneous apply tribal factions halfway around the world as applicable to 9/11…the enemy has consistently presented itself as Muslim and the principles it invoke is Islamic when it took lives on the American soil and attempt to blow up planes. I as a citizen will not ignore the above points and it is my prayer that those responsible for the safety and sovereignity of this country keep these facts ever before their eyes.

  • Actually Winkyb my observations were general in nature and not addressed to you. When I wish to direct my comments to someone in the comboxes here I quote the passage I am responding to or mention the blog name of the person I am responding to.

  • Does everyone agree here that Hamas is a terrorist organization? If so, would you agree that there is a serious problem when there is a person, who is a Muslim, that does not in speeches and/or refuses to denounce Hamas and say that Hamas is a terrorist organization?

    This Imam, that is building the mosque, has refused to call Hamas a terrorist organization and has made several controversial statements against America but I haven’t heard any criticisms or denunciations of terrorism or terrorist organizations from him. This is why I would not classify him nor any other Muslims who are for the mosque being built as moderates. The Muslims who want this mosque haven’t done their due diligence of reaching out to Americans who are non-Muslims beforehand but are willing to inflame the public and cause greater tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims now by violating 9/11 victims families sensitivities and being utterly disrespectful to their feelings and concerns.

    Would everyone agree that where the plane crashed and landed on 9/11 would be considered to be Ground Zero?

    If so, then if part of the plane landed 2 blocks away in the Burlington building wouldn’t that be onsidered to be part of Ground Zero and this sacred ground?

  • Category error– after all, there may be honestly peaceful Muslims who just don’t know much about the guy– but that’s a large part of why I’m much against this. It occurred to me earlier today– it’s like fighting words.

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