Blogs > Cliopatria > Have Your Say on the "Ground Zero Mosque"

Oct 6, 2010 9:38 am

Have Your Say on the "Ground Zero Mosque"

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Food for Thought

Timothy Furnish

Opponents of the proposed Ground Zero mosque in New York City (Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, most prominently) have adduced the feelings of the 9/11 victims’ families as the primary reason why it should not be built several blocks from the site of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. But at the risk of appearing even more heartless than these aforementioned conservatives,wounded emotions are not the reason to be against this particular Islamic worship center. Rather, the psychological and geo-religious symbolism a mosque at Ground Zero would represent is the problem.

Bret Stephens

Items of interest in the news media's coverage of"moderate Muslims":

• The New York Times, Oct. 19, 2001:"Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki, spiritual leader at the Dar al-Hijra mosque in Virginia, one of the nation's largest. . . . is held up as a new generation of Muslim leader capable of merging East and West."...

Most readers probably know of Awlaki as the U.S.-born imam who presided over the mosque attended by two of the 9/11 hijackers. Awlaki also served as theological mentor to Fort Hood killer Nidal Malik Hassan, would-be Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad. President Obama has authorized the military to assassinate Awlaki, now thought to be living in Yemen....

Now we have the controversy over the Ground Zero mosque, opponents of which are being widely branded as bigots. As, no doubt, some of them are: There are bigots in any crowd.

Then again, is it bigoted to oppose bigots?...

Stephen M. Walt

Critics of the proposal are aware that their views contradict the principle of religious tolerance on which the United States was founded, so they have fallen back on the idea that building the community center here is"insensitive" to the families who lost loved ones back in 2001. (Presumably it's not"insensitive" that the same neighborhood contains strip clubs, bars, and all sorts of less-than sacred institutions). And notice the sleight-of-hand here: first, demogogues raise an uproar about a"Mosque at Ground Zero," thereby generating a lot of public outcry, and then defend this bigotry by saying that they're just trying to be"sensitive" to the objections they have helped to stir up....

Simon Schama

Has Barack Obama just committed political suicide? By appearing to endorse the building of a mosque and Islamic cultural centre at the threshold of Ground Zero, has he set himself at odds with the majority of Americans who regard the idea as a desecration of “hallowed ground”?

But the critics are deluded. If the quarrel over the mosque at Ground Zero turns into a debate on the sovereign principles of the American way of life, it is the president and Mayor Bloomberg who will emerge with honour, as the true custodians of what the founders had in mind.

Freedom of conscience and religious practice, Mr Obama said at the Iftar dinner, and again in brief clarifying remarks, define “who we are”. And in reaffirming this bedrock principle, it is Mr Obama, not his enemies, who identifies himself as an authentic American patriot.

This matters. In our present obsession with the fate of money (entirely understandable if you have a whole lot less of it than you once did), we forget that the reason why young men and women are putting themselves in the line of fire is precisely our resistance to fanaticism of the kind that imagined massacre, inflicted on a tolerant and secular society, to be a sacred duty.

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More Comments:

John Olerud - 9/7/2010

The issue is not religious freedom. The issue is propriety. I disagree with the opponents of the mosque, but we should not misrepresent their motivations while opposing them. Portraying the opponents of the mosque as deluded or obsessed is inaccurate, counterproductive, and an intellectual disservice. We do not want to abandon and jettison the opponents of the mosque. We need to reconcile our viewpoints if possible, and if that remains out of reach we need to respect our legitimate differences.

William Stepp - 8/25/2010

Speaking as a resident of lower Manhattan, not all New Yorkers look at this as a thumb in their eyes.
And just for the record, the location of the proposed mosque is not at ground zero, but about 3-4 blocks away.

Randy Singleton - 8/25/2010

"Unfortunately the Republic was not founded on "Christian" principles, whatever they are."??

I understand.

Take the following advice, like your eternal destiny depends on it, because it most certainly does.

Run, do not walk, to the nearest Bible. Turn to Rom 10:9 - 10. This will give you the "heart of the Gospel" message, and it will also tell you what you must be do to be saved by God. Then run, do not walk, to the nearest Bible believing church. Spend some time with Christians and let them point you to a relationship with the risen Lord!

I will pray for you.

Matt Rodgers - 8/25/2010

It is surprising that so many people are determined to believe that this is somehow to be perceived as anything but a victory move, a pointed taunt towards the west. It's incredibly clear what is underway, and it doesn't require a learned historian to comprehend the intent of this action by the Cordoba Initiative. Any attempts to state the opposite seem to me to be as ignorant as the Crusader's claims that killing Muslim civilians in the name of Christ somehow ensured "the salvation" of those same people. Point of fact: Ignorance is abhorrent, no matter the religion. Yes, religious freedom is important, not to mention necessary in a country such as ours, but this fact does not make it any less lamentable that it is being pulled into play here to enable an uncalled for show of disrespect to the dead of 9/11 and their families. End of story - nothing else really need be said. Bigotism? No, gentlemen. Fact, backing a valid opinion.

Lewis Bernstein - 8/24/2010

A very intriguing post - a combination of the potted history of Newt Gingrich and the opinions of Bill O'Reilly /Sean Hannity. Unfortunately the Republic was not founded on "Christian" principles, whatever they are. It was founded by a bunch of very unpleasant political realists who based their ideas of republican self-government on the institutions of the Roman Republic and 17th century English republican ideologists as well as the ideas of natural rights as propounded by Enlightenment thinkers. John Locke, one of them, in his charter for South Carolina, proposed freedom of conscience for all believers - all Protestant Christian sects, Hindus, Jews, and Moslems- everyone except Roman Catholics.
As for Professor Lee, what can one say about the purposely wrong reading of the material.

Randy Singleton - 8/23/2010

If you are ever interested in seeing how the history of the US connects the people and events of the Bible to our lives today, pick up a copy of "The American Patriot's Bible: The Word of God and the Shaping of America" by Dr. Richard Lee.

Its a great reference tool that brings to light what many would seek to erase. Simply that this country was founded on Christian principles. People can try to deny that. Obama can deny it by stating that somehow all religions are equal, or all religions point to God, but that is blasphemy.

Its clear he doesn't understand that the ONLY reason the US ever became a great nation is that both the leaders and the people were Christian and educated. Unfortunately, today they are neither.

That is why someone who is not eligible to be the President. (Look up the original definition of "natural born citizen") can yell "Hope and change" and enough non Christian, uneducated, emotional children don't bother to ask what he means by that, they just vote for him. (Sorry, I'm digressing).

Anyway, if you really want to know why Obama never saw a mosque he didn't like, pick up a copy of "The Nazi Connection to Islamic Terrorism: Adolf Hitler and Haj Amin Al-Husseini" by Chuck Morse.

Ask yourself this question: What do you think the Muslims response would be if the US wanted to build a Christian church next to the "Dome of the Rock" on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem?

I'm sure we all know what the response would be.

Wake up! Or you will soon find yourself in chains.

Steve Hochstadt - 8/23/2010

It is good to discuss this skirmish in the culture wars, but only under an accurate rubric. I suggest seeing the commentary by Keith Olbermann accurately warning us that there is no and will be no "Ground Zero Mosque". By adopting the distorted terminology of the right, the whole discussion is tilted. A similar poll was discussed on the website LA Progressive, but Sharon Kyle took the poll down when she recognized the truth of Olbermann's intervention. I recommend his video essay:

Michael Furtado - 8/23/2010

Well said. It is like Newt Gingrich's comment that we shouldn't allow the mosque here until Islamic countries allow Christian churches. Are we now allowing other countries' weaknesses to dictate the rights we extend to our own citizens?
We cannot and should not let the terrorists 'win' by reacting to their atrocities with uncontrolled hatred.

Michael Furtado - 8/23/2010

Quote: <How can Obama, who claims to be Christian, approve of what Islam teaches?
His true belief system is now very clear.>
First, the president does not have to 'approve' of a religion before it has (or rather, its followers have) the benefit of the Constitution's rights and privileges.
Second, how does any of this clarify the President's "true belief system"? He simply stated that Muslims have the same rights regarding their religion as do the followers of any other religion. If anything, it illustrates that his "system" regarding beliefs simply follows the principles of the Constitution that he swore to protect and defend.

Jonathan Dresner - 8/23/2010

There's a fair bit of idolator-slaying in the Jewish records, as well, and more than a little coercive conversion and obliteration in the Christian tradition. No, I don't see the difference. But then, I don't assume divine or demonic revelation.

BlueArkie - 8/23/2010

I have said from the day of Sept. 11, 2001 that if our nation gives in to fear and hatred, the terrorists have won.

Any fool can see from Google Earth that the cultural center is NOT at Ground Zero, but that won't stop the crazies from ginning up fear and hatred.

It may be that Bin Laden saw our society as being brittle, ready to break down with a tap to the right spot.

Having supplied that tap, he stood back to wait as we destroy ourselves.

John Arthur - 8/23/2010

It is mad,foolish,and evil. Do not allow itAmerica!!

Randy Singleton - 8/23/2010

The Noahide Laws comprise the six laws which were given to Adam, in the Garden of Eden, according to the Talmud's interpretation of Gen 2:16. And a seventh one added after the Flood of Noah. These laws were later expanded into the Mt. Sinai Ten commandments. The commandments given in the Torah, were only issued to the Jews and are therefore only binding upon them, during the dispensation of the Law. (The time from after the Flood of Noah to the first coming of Christ). According to the Talmud, it is forbidden for non-Jews to elevate their observance to all 613 mitzvot, or "commandments", given in the Torah.

So the Noahide Laws are not instructions given to the Jews that they are required to "perform" on non Jews.

Compare that to the following in the Koran:

Sura 9:5 "So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely allah is forgiving, merciful"

Also take a look at Sura 4:56; 2:7, 9:23, 123.

Do you see the difference?

God instructs His disciples and lets them make their individual choice, whether to obey, or not.

The devil, through the Koran, tells his followers to control and kill others.

Jonathan Dresner - 8/22/2010

Your first premise is false. Judaism proscribes the Noachide laws on non-Jews, including the requirement that they respect the name of God, in spite of their disbelief. The extent to which Christian societies have circumscribed non-Christian practice is pretty well documented, too.

Randy Singleton - 8/22/2010

Isn't it interesting that Islam is the only religion that has rules for non members? Non members are considered inferior to members, and therefore subject to control and domination by them. The distinction between "moderate" and "extreme" Muslims is a distinction without a difference. All Muslims claim to follow the Koran and the Koran is clear in its prescribed treatment of all non Muslims.

In the Bible, God is very clear in telling us the truth, and at same time, giving everyone the right to choose. The devil is always lying and attempting to control everyone.

Which of those two world views do you think Islam most represents?

How can Obama, who claims to be Christian, approve of what Islam teaches?

His true belief system is now very clear.

Andy Perrigo - 8/20/2010

Aside from the fact that most NYers believe the 'cultural center' is a finger-in-the-eye, NYC should look harder into the funding of this building. The expansion of Islam (and Sharia law) in European countries has led to enclaves of Islam that the national governments can not control. ie Spain. Pres. Obama should have never brought up the constitutionality of building 'a' mosque; but, rather, examined the wisdom of building 'the mosque'. (There is no such thing as an unlimited constitutional right. All rights are governed by practicality. The old "you have the right to swing your arms until....)