Friday, August 13, 2010

Why the Ground Zero Mosque shouldn't be built

Charles Krauthammer explains why the location at Ground Zero should not be the site of a mosque built by an imam who has said equivocal things about America's responsibility for the attacks on our soil and about Hamas.
A place is made sacred by a widespread belief that it was visited by the miraculous or the transcendent (Lourdes, the Temple Mount), by the presence there once of great nobility and sacrifice (Gettysburg), or by the blood of martyrs and the indescribable suffering of the innocent (Auschwitz).

When we speak of Ground Zero as hallowed ground, what we mean is that it belongs to those who suffered and died there -- and that such ownership obliges us, the living, to preserve the dignity and memory of the place, never allowing it to be forgotten, trivialized or misappropriated.

That's why Disney's 1993 proposal to build an American history theme park near Manassas Battlefield was defeated by a broad coalition that feared vulgarization of the Civil War (and that was wiser than me; at the time I obtusely saw little harm in the venture). It's why the commercial viewing tower built right on the border of Gettysburg was taken down by the Park Service. It's why, while no one objects to Japanese cultural centers, the idea of putting one up at Pearl Harbor would be offensive.

And why Pope John Paul II ordered the Carmelite nuns to leave the convent they had established at Auschwitz. He was in no way devaluing their heartfelt mission to pray for the souls of the dead. He was teaching them a lesson in respect: This is not your place; it belongs to others. However pure your voice, better to let silence reign.

Even New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who denounced opponents of the proposed 15-story mosque and Islamic center near Ground Zero as tramplers on religious freedom, asked the mosque organizers "to show some special sensitivity to the situation." Yet, as columnist Rich Lowry pointedly noted, the government has no business telling churches how to conduct their business, shape their message or show "special sensitivity" to anyone about anything. Bloomberg was thereby inadvertently conceding the claim of those he excoriates for opposing the mosque, namely that Ground Zero is indeed unlike any other place and therefore unique criteria govern what can be done there.
But of course, our betters such as the Mayor and the White House which posted his remarks all think that the only reason that people would oppose such a mosque is due to unthinking prejudice against Muslims. Because, in their view, only someone of deep-seated bigotry would be against such a mosque. Well, then the majority of Americans are bigots. People don't oppose this imam's building of a mosque, but just one in that location. If he was truly interested in cross-cultural openness and discussions, he would pick another site. Instead, he is deliberately choosing a site to exacerbate relations.
America is a free country where you can build whatever you want -- but not anywhere. That's why we have zoning laws. No liquor store near a school, no strip malls where they offend local sensibilities, and, if your house doesn't meet community architectural codes, you cannot build at all.

These restrictions are for reasons of aesthetics. Others are for more profound reasons of common decency and respect for the sacred. No commercial tower over Gettysburg, no convent at Auschwitz -- and no mosque at Ground Zero.

Build it anywhere but there.
That's not bigotry, but true sensitivity.

10 comments:

tfhr said...

I do agree with Lowry, despite the fact that he is a twerp, that the government does not need to be dictating terms on matters pertaining to religion. That said, the imam, and any Muslim, for that matter, should possess enough common sense, if not tact, to know that building a "cultural center" at or near Ground Zero and naming it after a famous jihad victory in Spain, is inflammatory.

This seems to be such an obvious matter that there should be no need for government intervention. Of course there is also the question of suspicious funding.

Krauthammer's choice of the Gettysburg example and the well known decision by the Pope to close the convent at Auschwitz cover all angles from crass commercialism to the well meaning intent of people that just don't get it. That ought to be enough.

If that does fail, I think the suggestion to open a gay bar catering to Muslim men next door to the Cordoba Mosque/Cultural Center is a proportional response. I also liked the idea of requiring the "cultural center" to include a shelter for battered women, though I hate to think that such outreach would only happen through government intervention. Nevertheless, those two additions would really help "build bridges", which would go a long way to fulfill the professed claim of the imam behind the project.

And speaking of construction, why in the hell hasn't there been some progress on the replacement of the WTC? I know that the economy is not exactly favorable for building right now but this has been dragging on and on and on. NYC needs to get moving and Bloomberg needs to start leading for a cause that will do everyone some good.

Matt said...

So you are opposed to freedom of religion and freedom of people to buy land and build a center that can be used by all Americans? Would you take a Stalinist approach and only allow things to be built if it is approved by the government?

pstranger said...

Americans across the country are opposed to the building of mosques from California to Tennessee. Your argument that it's just an issue of location when it comes to the cultural center in manhattan near ground zero falls flat in the face of broad prejudice and ignorance across the country. Yes it is bigotry!

tfhr said...

Matt,

Do you attend church? How important is freedom of religion to you? Just curious, because I wonder how important it would be for you to see a cathedral erected next to that still missing American cultural center in Mecca. Some things are better left undone when the likely outcome is more harm than good.

And where do you get the notion that a mosque would serve the religious needs of "all Americans"? Is that the stated purpose of the facility? When will they be holding their first gay wedding?

As for the point you are attempting to make here, I would simply state that NOBODY is asking for the government to approve the construction of the mosque / cultural center. That there are people that have asked the government to block the construction is irrelevant. I don't feel it's the government's place to be involved in this matter. I would ask the imam and all Muslims living in the United States to consider the ill will that this project inspires. How can such a thing help "build bridges", as the imam claims?

That brings us back to the imam himself. This is a man that refuses to acknowledge that Hezbollah and Hamas are terrorist organizations. Does that unsettle you? It bothers me a lot and when the obvious connection is drawn between his opinion that bin Laden was a "product" of the United States, it only gets worse. Please explain to me how that bridge is going to be built on the premise that 9-11 was the fault of the United States. Remind me, who those people were that flew those planes into the buildings a couple of blocks away? It was so long ago - maybe we've all forgotten.

Where government could become involved is the matter of murky foreign contributions. Something on the order of $100 million dollars has been raised for this and much, if not most, of it comes from abroad and yet we do not know from whom or where this money originates. Islam merges religion, politics, law, and finance, in ways that make it unique from all other major religions. This is more than a mosque - there are hundreds, if not thousands of mosques across the United States.

This is not just about a cultural center with a mosque in it and nobody is being denied their right to worship Allah.

Pat Patterson said...

Courts and planning departments have been limiting the building of religious sites for over two hundred years. Most of the time, obviously not the case in NYC. the wishes of the locals are taken into consideration. But then at least something is being built at Ground Zero. The people of NY and the US should be asking what has happened that nearly ten years later the site is still a hole in the ground.

tfhr said...

pstranger,

Care to back your claim with some evidence? We know there are bigots out there but I'd like you to show us that this is the reason alone that any particular mosque has been blocked. Meanwhile, do you believe that zoning laws that have blocked the construction of churches and temples are a result of bigotry?

jack said...

all people against this mosque are racist deep down. It is very hard not to be against this mosque if you have lost loved ones in 9/11.

Also, LOL @ GAY BAR NEXT TO MOSQUE! Terrible idea, but LOL ANWAY!

tfhr said...

jack,

Would you like to clarify that first sentence of yours? Your next sentence is at odds with it, so I'm guessing you lost something in translation there.

If not, I'm curious about what you think of Muslims that are against building a mosque at that location. Are they racists or apostates? Both?

SFergague said...

This is ridiculous. A mosque is a place of worship. If anything it is the best thing to be built nearby rather than pubs and clubs?? Would you be opposed to a chirch being built nearby? No. Therefore it is simply your prejudice against Islam, you are suggesting Muslims are terrorists. This is disgusting.

SFergague said...

church*