It is my belief that there are “absolutes” in our Bill of Rights, and that they were put there on purpose by men who knew what words meant, and meant their prohibitions to be “absolutes.” Supreme Court Associate Justice Hugo Black
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Constitution – If you need a citation to believe me, I will bludgeon you to severe injury with a copy.
DC Skeptics has tried to avoid writing about the now-approved Muslim Center in Lower Manhattan. Your editors are bored by foux controversies and the general silliness that we describe as cable news topics. As the blog’s gone on over the months, without one of us becoming an apologist blogger, we’ve come out with an unspoken rule of two exceptions to the ignoring-silly-controversies rule: 1) when these controversies get really loud 2) and/or are especially stupid/dangerous.
The mosque controversy is now all of these things. Hooray! It’s dominating headlines. You can’t go a day without a national figure chiming in. It’s stupid. The half-assed logic against the mosque is ridiculous. It honestly boggles your editors’ minds. We knew it was going to make waves, as a full fifth of our graceless country believes our president wasn’t born in the US. Because he has a funny name and has lived abroad and may be black or mixed or whatever, against all evidence to the contrary. But it’s gone beyond making waves to tsunamis. It’s dangerous. There is, honest, talk of a crusade against this one mosque. And without further ado, we’ll get to it.
It’s about principles. The detractors of the mosque believe in collective guilt. Muslim-Americans should be respectful of what other Muslims did to “Americans” and step carefully around the “hallowed” grounds of 9/11. (Does this include Stoneycreek Township, PA? Can most Americans make that connection? Or is it only the numbers that matter to them?) This leads to the second assumption of detractors: The 9/11 hijackers represented Islam and not a fanatical fringe. The detractors tidily overlook that many American Muslims died in the 9/11 attacks.
Guilt by association is absurd. Do we associate all Germans with warmongering because of WWI and WWII? Or all Catholics with the pedophilia performed by a minority in the priesthood? No we don’t, because such extensions are impossible with communities as vast as German nationals, Catholics, or Muslims. What the average Catholic feels towards pedophilia is impossible to pin to a minority of abuses. Some priests desired actions of pedophilia, can you correlate that to all priests who take a vow of celibacy? What the average Muslim feels towards global jihad is impossible to pin on 19 men who threatened their lives by destroying the largest buildings in their community. (Inspiration from Talking Philosophy).
If you acknowledge that it’s probable Muslim-Americans had no association with the hijackers, besides an umbrella belief in worship of Allah, you begin to see vast differences in communities. I am very willing to believe most Muslim-Americans do not support global jihad against Americans, as they are Americans.
But a central tenant of Islam is war, so your argument is fallacious. Citation. Islam is not monolithic. We just went over the unrealistic nature of collective guilt, and here’s a direct example. The Muslim coordinator of the Lower Manhattan mosque, Imam Feissal Abdul Rauf, has written a book literally titled “What’s Right with Islam is What’s Right with America.” Disclaimer: I haven’t read it yet, but I’m going to. If Muslim-Americans are like Imam Feissal Abdul Rauf and do not wish harm upon non-believing Americans or their practitioners, then their right to practice is absolute.
But it’s on hallowed ground! No the site”s two blocks away and the Trinity Wall Street Church is almost as close. If it’s hallowed ground, are we talking just for Christians? But Christianity wasn’t attacked on 9/11, Americans were: Muslim-Americans, Hindu-Americans, atheists, Christians, maybe even Scientologists, etc, died in the attacks. Are they all Christians now in the minds of these “Remember 9/11” types?
1) The Anti-Mosque, Anti-Islam Crowd
Ah, the “We’ll build a mosque in Ground Zero when we can build a synagogue/church in Mecca” crowd. Some see it as a religious war, like this Facebook group Rosary to Halt Construction of NYC Mosque, which bizarrely calls upon Americans to pray against the mosque like Christians did against the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto WAY back when … in 1571. Asking for a religious war is the only way to take this.
These people bizarrely correlate Muslims as a state polity. I’m sure the Saud family would take issue with the belief being Muslim let’s you have a claim on how Mecca is run. I’m sure the Pope would have something to say about my proposal for mandating casual Fridays in the Vatican.
This sentence has no basis in American law: “You can build a mosque” ignores private property rights. You – presumably American girl-citizen holding sign – cannot tell another citizen what they cannot build, unless you own the property. You do not and the developers had a different, totally legal, opinion on what to do with their land.
2) The “Location Is Bad” Crowd
“Hey you can build your mosques, just not there because it’s offensive and hurts the families who lost loved ones.” This to me is the most bizarre, because they seek to isolate the emotional argument against the legal arguments and still lump “the Muslims” together. American-Muslims had no part in the attack and suffered to. How is it insensitive for them to build a center of worship? It’s 2 blocks away from Ground Zero. How long is the Hallowed radius? Thankfully, the legal system is independent from the legislatures and executives at all levels of government, precisely because the law is intended to be above the emotions of majorities. Prominent politicians in this category include: the GOP, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
3) They Have the Freedom, But… Crowd
Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi. These are the worst in my opinion. They know the legal and moral underpinnings of our democracy call for the building of this mosque, but cannot bring themselves to support it fully, because of potential political retribution.
4) The Free Property, Free Religion Crowd
Your editors fall in this category. I laid out my reasons, I won’t repeat them. Independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a supporter.
An intriguing case is Republican NJ Governor Chris Christie, who says this isn’t a political matter. I don’t know if he explicitly supports the mosque, but he’s right. And that’s why it should be built.