Mosque at Ground Zero
The Ground Zero Mosque Debate has been interesting. The vast majority of Americans oppose it, while about a third of Americans support the building of the mosque. This issue has been debated quite a bit on this blog, and my opposition to the mosque is set forth in my post Cynical Brilliance which may be read here. The debate has raged around the internet, much of it merely repeating the same points ad nauseum. One of the more original contributions is that of Professor Carson Holloway at Public Discourse:
Liberal patriphobia also arises in part from liberals’ sensitivity to the historical traumas that have been inflicted on the human race through a disordered love of one’s own. In the European experience, Nazism and Fascism stand as sobering reminders of the enormous criminality that has been done in the name of a perverted patriotism. In America, the historical crime of slavery was initiated and defended on the basis of whites’ definition of Africans as alien and other, and hence as not possessed of any rights that demanded respect. Liberals are correct to be mindful of such injustices, sensitive to their causes, and alert to avoiding their recurrence. They err, however, in laying the blame for such crimes entirely at the feet of the love of one’s own as such. The real culprit is the excess of the love of one’s own, not to say an insanely inflated version of it. As St. Augustine remarked, the abuse of a thing does not take away its use; and it would be no less foolish to abandon the love of one’s own because of the excesses of nationalism than it would be to abandon erotic love because of crimes of jealousy.
Although well-intentioned in its origins, liberal patriphobia should be rejected as incoherent and morally dangerous. It is incoherent because it is what C.S. Lewis called, in The Abolition of Man, a mere moral innovation—that is, a novel teaching that rejects important portions of the moral tradition of the human race on which it is nevertheless silently parasitic. This was, in fact, Lewis’s criticism of Nazism. It wrenched from traditional morality the universally accepted principle that a man must love and serve his country, while at the same time it abandoned the equally venerable claim that justice requires that we respect the rights of all men, even those of foreign nationality. Modern liberalism simply reverses this error, denying that a man may especially cherish his countrymen while groundlessly insisting that he love the whole human race. In fact, modern liberalism learned its love for humanity from a traditional morality that also taught a heightened love for one’s own. If one principle is to be rejected, then both are groundless. If one is to be retained, then both have authority. Continue reading
My favorite living historian, Victor Davis Hanson, hails the brilliance of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the man behind the “Cordoba Initiative”, the group seeking to build the Ground Zero Mosque.
1. First the name of the group takes advantage of the historical illiteracy among the chattering class elites of our society:
Start with the notion of a “Cordoba Initiative.” In the elite modern Western mind, Cordoba has been transmogrified into a mythical Lala Land of interfaith tolerance. To invoke the city is to prove one’s ecumenical credentials. Just ask our president, who, in his June 2009 Cairo speech, fantastically claimed that the Muslim city taught us tolerance while Christians were launching the Inquisition (1478) — quite a feat two and a half centuries after most of the Muslims of Cordoba had fled, converted, or been cleansed during the city’s fall (1236) to the Christian forces of the Reconquista. But no matter, we got the president’s drift about who was supposedly tolerant and who was not.
One of the interesting (by which I mean dull, predictable and repetitive) aspects of the 24 hour news cycle is that all forms of media have incentives to magnify and actively seek out controversy. Not only does this increase ratings/page views/newspaper sales, it provides media outlets with something – anything in a slow news month – to talk about. I can’t help but feel that the recent outburst of commentary about the construction of a mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks is the type of story designed to increase media consumption and accomplish little else. The First Amendment is not in dispute here; freedom of religion is well established and protected by settled case law. Furthermore, the proposed mosque is to be constructed on private property, and there is no legal reason to challenge its construction. And so most of the discussion revolves (and frequently devolves) around taste and symbolism.