"Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking" - JMK
I don't know of a single commenter on here that I think would object to the building of the so called "Ground Zero Mosque", but every day the rhetoric around this and its very existence as an "issue" becomes more disconcerting to me, so I thought I'd share a few links. As Evan remarked when he had shared something on this on Facebook, "This whole mosque kerfuffle is one of those issues where I thought "it's not even worth voicing my opinion... only crazies would oppose religious freedom like this, anyway" ...but then the conversation continues, makes its way into the mainstream, makes seemingly reasonable people say stupid things... and I regret not advocating the blatantly obvious a week ago."
- So anyway, today I saw this footage of a Ground Zero protest which was extremely disconcerting. This happened back in June:
- This is a video of the organizer of the protest talking with Mike Huckabee. Huckabee, of course, doesn't challenge her on much of anything. She takes the kind of compromise line that the more sophisticated opponents have - that the government shouldn't oppose this but that the Muslims involved should recognize how offensive it is and willingly stop development of the mosque. I don't personally see how this is much better. I suppose it's better not to enlist the state in your cause, but the point is she still identifies the terrorist act with the Muslim faith in general, and she still sees a contradiction between a patriotic American and being a Muslim. What's most frustrating is that she takes issues like the Danish Cartoon controversy and uses that very real problem of Muslim lack of tolerance and liberalism to justify her own lack of tolerance and liberalism. I've been unequivocal on here in support of the cartoonists and the satirists that have deliberately aimed their pens at fundamentalist Islam and I'll continue to support them - it's ironic and sad that this woman actually uses those champions of tolerance and liberalism to justify her own intolerance. I agree with her - sharia law as it is problematically enforced is worth censure, ridicule, and opposition. I don't think sharia law should be enforced in any setting other than a voluntary compact (like ecclesial law). I'm not one to shy away from the idea that we can't come down forcefully against these forces of fundamentalism. But you don't do that by violating the rights of Americans who have committed no such infraction:
- The protests aren't restricted to New York City - another location that's gotten attention is Murfeesboro, a suburb of Nashville. And it's not a few random civilians either. A former county commissioner in Murfeesboro opined "the Muslims coming in here will keep growing in numbers and override our system of law and impose sharia law".
- This is a great article from the Library of Congress on Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists of Connecticut, where he first promoted the idea of a "wall of separation" between church and state.
- This is Jeff Goldberg on the imam behind the mosque.
- Christopher Hitchens on anti-Semitism. Not strictly on point but I can't help thinking of anti-Semites when I listen to Geller. If Hitchens is going to go soon - and I hope he's not - going out with a piece on the Ground Zero mosque, weaving together all his good work fighting fundamentalist Islam (and fundamentalism in general), his thinking on the war, and his unwavering defense of religious freedom would be a good piece to go out on. I don't know if he is writing or if he is planning on writing anything about this. I would think and hope he would support the construction of the mosque and embrace Muslim Americans as Americans, while maintaining that the faith itself is nonsense and reminding us of the very real problem of fundamentalist Islam (he strikes the right balance here, for example, bringing all his usual charges against fundamentalist Islam but declaring in response to accusations that he's "offended a billion Muslims" that "he would defend the freedom of religion of Muslims if there were only three of them, much less a billion"). But fallible human beings sometimes disappoint, and maybe Hitchens might not be so sympathetic to this mosque - but that would truly surprise me.
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