Aug 18, 2010 2:14 pm


The most apt comparison between the debate surrounding the planned ground zero mosque is with the one which surrounded the planned Nazi marches in Skokie, a Chicago suburb inhabited by a large number of Jewish holocaust survivors. The US constitution guarantees the right of American Muslims to disregard the pain they will cause the victims of the Islamist terrorist attack on 9/11 just as the constitution guaranteed American Nazis the right to disregard the pain of the victims of the Nazi holocaust.

Not surprisingly, the supreme court upheld that Nazi right just as it would uphold the Muslim right. In Skokie the issues related to freedom of speech and assembly. The court held:

But our task here is to decide whether the First Amendment protects the activity in which appellees wish to engage, not to render moral judgment on their views or tactics. No authorities need be cited to establish the proposition, which the Village does not dispute, that First Amendment rights are truly precious and fundamental to our national life. Nor is this truth without relevance to the saddening historical images this case inevitably arouses. It is, after all, in part the fact that our constitutional system protects minorities unpopular at a particular time or place from governmental harassment and intimidation, that distinguishes life in this country from life under the Third Reich....

Barack Hussein Obama similarly reaffirmed the freedom of religion when he declared in the midst of the pomp and circumstance of the White House Iftar celebration:

But let me be clear. As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan.

Responding to the unfavorable reception of his legalistic words, he added that he has yet to express an opinion as to the wisdom of building the mosque in that particular location. Obama's words clearly implied he did think the selection of the mosque unwise. Choosing another location would be much wiser. Let us remember that following their supreme court victory, the American Nazis compromised and agreed to march in Chicago, not Skokie. Muslim activists immediately understood the import of Obama's words and expressed their disappointment. The White House spokesman issued a statement standing by the legalistic statement.

Nothing is less genuine than the protestations of innocence by the Imam and his activist wife or the comparison of the Cordoba mosque to the 92 street Jewish Y. Radical Jews have never bombed the West side of Manhattan nor killed 3000 Americans in the name of Judaism. Of course, Muslims specialize in not taking responsibility to anything done by their own and insist that no one demand it of them. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama seconded that demand and Americans, by and large, went along with it until now.

The provocative plan to build the Cordoba mosque is the result. Far from empowering moderates or deradicalizing Islamists, the appeasement policy pulled the rug from under the moderates and strengthened the hand of radicals. Why end terror and provocation when it merely adds to the official respect accorded to Muslims even in America? After all, Muslims are invited to Iftar celebration at the White House. Their Imams travel around the Middle East at State Department expense when they are not teaching American soldiers how to treat the enemy with respect.

I do not know if the mosque will be end up being built but my gut tells me that many Americans will never feel the same about their Muslim neighbors. The attention garnered in Skokie did not strengthen the American Nazi party. They won a Pyrrhic victory. Today there is a holocaust museum in Skokie. Still, the name of the village is forever entwined with that disgusting publicity stunt.

So, no. I do not think building the mosque two blocks from ground zero will be wise. Indeed, if he cares about moderate Muslim Americans, Barack Hussein Obama would be wise to find a way to make sure it will not be built. After all, the Nazi marches were temporary while the mosque is to be a permanent fixture with which Muslim Americans will be forcing not only the 9/11 families but all of America to live. Every tourist bus guide will point out the mosque and remind tourists, foreign and domestic, of the callousness exhibited by the American Muslim community and contrast it in their mind with the incredibly tolerance exhibited by their non-Muslim fellow Americans.

For the sake of good interfaith relations, it would be wise to build the Cordoba elsewhere. Americans tend to forgive and forget swiftly. It is time for Muslim Americans to demonstrate that they do not only demand their rights but respect and care for the sensibilities of their fellow Americans who shed their blood to uphold those rights. They should tell that self aggrandizing publicity seeking Imam to find another, less provocative location for his" community center." Nothing will prove better that tolerance and good will are the real motivators of the Imam and his backers.

Alas,"The developers of the so-called Ground Zero mosque rejected New York Gov. David Paterson's offer to provide state property if the project is moved farther away from where the twin towers once stood."

You draw your conclusions.

UPDATES:Mosque Developer Rejects Meeting With NY Gov...

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the hesperado - 8/17/2010

[the correction is the addition of the word in CAPS]

-- then there would be no logical reason for a group of Presbyterians deemed to be part of the "decent" 85% to NOT build a church near or within the grounds of the attack by their twisted brethren.

the hesperado - 8/17/2010

Unless a GZM opponent condemns Islam itself, and condemns all Muslims who support Islam, then the logically fitting analogy would be something like this:

There is a Presbyterian denomination, with churches and communities throughout the West and many countries of the world, whose members number in the tens of millions. Nine of these Presbyterians mass-murder 3,000 people one day. It is later found out that these nine are part of a problem in the Presbyterian church, whereby up to 15% of the total of 75 million Presbyterians are potentially capable of misunderstanding Presbyterianism in a similar way, sharing many of the same beliefs as the nine, to engage in violent terrorism, and many already have in various parts of the world.

Now this of course would point to a serious problem in Presbyterianism, and no doubt the rank and file of the remaining 85% would deplore the diseased minority who have somehow sprang up in the midst of their subculture.

But if the surrounding societies consider that Presbyterianism itself is not bad or dangerous and that by and large Presbyterians are decent people (and even a Republican President had repeatedly assured the American people that Presbyterianism is a "great religion of peace" and that most Presbyterians are "moms and pops like the rest of us", and his own Defense Secretary had assured Charlie Rose that "the vast majority of Presbyterians are moderates!") -- then there would be no logical reason for a group of Presbyterians deemed to be part of the "decent" 85% to build a church near or within the grounds of the attack by their twisted brethren.

I.e., what if Imam Rauf and his wife, and everyone else involved fit the putatively dominant profile of the "decent Muslim" who genuinely deplores terrorism, is utterly devoid of any "trutherism", supports Isreal, etc.? The very supposition that such "decent" Muslims exist -- yea, that they exist in majority numbers -- implies of course that the Islam they follow is "decent" (and, ipso facto, that the Islam of the terrorists is, as Bush used to remind us, a "twisting" or "hijacking" of "true Islam"): Thus, under these assumptions, a mosque of "decent Muslims" who follow "decent Islam" should have no moral obligation to not build at Ground Zero, and non-Muslims should not expect them to, and indeed should even welcome their Islamic "decency" to be part of the "healing".

I.e., it should not be because Imam Rauf has said and done dubious things possibly linking him to jihadism (if not terrorism) that we should oppose this mosque, but simply because it is Islamic and its proponents and the community it will aid and comfort are Muslims.

Judith Apter Klinghoffer - 8/16/2010

Decent Muslims, like decent Christians and, indeed, Europeans, should acknowledge responsibility for atrocities perpetrated by their extremists in their name. And, yes, the terrorists act in the name of Islam. And no, the Imam does not think Islam is not open to Jihadist interpretation. He merely says as do many Muslims, "terrorism is a complex issue."
I am not sure that because there are over a billion Muslims, they have a right to enjoy moral impunity.

the hesperado - 8/16/2010

I don't think the Skokie comparison is apt. It suffers from one major flaw, which may best be clarified by using the form of the simple "S.A.T. analogy".

A typical example of that analogy is:

As cat is to kitten,
dog is to ______.

The correct answer being "puppy".

In the Skokie comparison, we have the following four elements resembling the form of the S.A.T. analogy:

1a) Neo-Nazis --

1b) Skokie neo-Nazi march's effect on Jewish community

2a) A mosque at Ground Zero --

2b) the mosque's effect on Americans traumatized by 911 attacks.

The locus of the flaw is in the comparison between 1a and 1b: Are neo-Nazis comparable to Muslims? For the comparison to work, one must defend with an argument the implicit claim that the two groups are comparable.

The problem with comparing them is that, unlike neo-Nazis, Muslims are so globally numerous, they contain innumerable numbers who seem to be harmless and therefore seem to be untainted by the murderous motives of the 911 attackers. Not only do they seem to be untainted by jihadist extremism, they are positively assumed to be by most analysts out there (and I do not doubt Klinghoffer is among them).

Also, unlike neo-Nazis, the belief system that inspires and motivates Muslims is not sufficiently simplex to move Western observers to condemn it wholesale -- as they condemn Nazism and neo-Nazism wholesale. Most Western analysts at best only condemn a truncation of Islam, not Islam qua Islam. (Again, I suspect Klinghoffer is among these as well, though I may be wrong.)

Thus, the comparison I argue fails, because one crucial leg of it does not compute in sufficient similarity -- for there is no majority (or even minority) of neo-Nazis who are "moderates". The whole shebang is rotten and to be condemned.

If opponents to the Ground Zero Mosque do not believe Islam should be condemned on the grounds that it directly encodes and inspires the dangerous extremism of jihadism (one example of which was the 911 attacks), and if they only oppose this mosque because Imam Rauf seems extremist which is assumed to be disconnected from the normative Islam that inspires millions of "decent Muslims" around the world, then they cannot logically oppose this mosque other than on the ground that its builders are "twisting Islam" by being supporters of "extremism".