Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Mosque Mess

I'm going to try my best to delve into this whole "should they build a mosque at Ground Zero" debate that seems to be going on. I'm not so sure how well I'm going to do with this, as it doesn't seem to be that difficult of a concept to wrap my head around. When something is that easy for me to understand, I always feel like I must be missing something. Yet, folks are all up in arms about it, and understandably so. Let's see what all the hubbub is about, shall we?

According to the
Boston Herald, "A controversial mosque and Islamic center to be built some 600 feet from Ground Zero cleared its last legal hurdle this week, winning approval from New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission." That's right. A group of folks headed by a one Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (pronounce any of those however you'd like) want to build a mosque a couple of blocks from where the World Trade Center used to stand and where almost three thousand people were killed as the result of "...the actions of a group of Islamic radicals.". As you can imagine, that idea isn't setting very well with folks.

People are upset. People want to prevent them from building a mosque there, saying that it's disrespectful, it's awful, etc. And they're right. It would appear to be all of those things and a whole hell of a lot more. But here's the thing: No matter how much we don't like it, there isn't anything we can do about it to prevent it from being built.

That whole First Amendment, you know, the one that makes this country freaking awesome? Yeah, that thing is exactly why nothing can be done and it's probably why nothing should be done. The First Amendment, for those who might be a little fuzzy on the text, reads "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." You can't just ignore that.

I wish that, instead of focusing on how much people dislike and abhor this idea, people would focus more on things like why in the world is it being built there of all freaking places? Yeah, yeah, I know that they have the land and that land in Manhattan is rather difficult to come by. I get that. That doesn't make it any more palatable. And it certainly doesn't make it any more justifiable.

Apparently, this project has a web site that the Boston Herald inexplicably does not link to. Oh, that's right. The media sucks. I forgot. But they do say "The Web site for the $100 million project says all the right things about its aims at bringing people of different faiths together and about honoring the memory of 9/11 victims." Hmm. Tell you what, mosque guys. How about you let us decide when we'd like to be brought together, OK? How about you help us honor the memory of the 09/11 victims by not building a mosque a couple of blocks away? How about that? I can't see how something this disrespectful is going to do anything other than strain relations between folks of different faiths. (And by "between folks of different faiths" I mean the mosque-goers and the non-mosque goers.)

I'm guessing because it doesn't have anything to do with any of that flowery crap that he was spouting. See, "He has repeatedly refused to disclose who is putting up the money for the project, although he told an Arab-language newspaper that such funding would come from the Middle East." Why wouldn't you disclose that, dude? Why the secrets? You expect people to be perfectly OK with this and not ask you questions? You expect people are going to be perfectly OK with this when you refuse to answer their questions about funding? This can't be good.

Obviously, this is just a kick in the head of the American people. They could build this thing anywhere they wanted to, but they're not. And I think that they're not because it's their way of letting us know that they're here and they're not going away. And as the United States, we have to allow that, as that is what our Constitution guides us to do. Now, I keep hearing the argument or the point or whatever they want to call it about Pearl Harbor. Basically, would we have let the Japanese build some sort of Shinto shrine or temple next to the USS Arizona? It kind of sounds valid, but I don't think that it really is when the context of how it's being argued is used.

See, the Japanese would not have built a temple next to the USS Arizona. You know why not? Because we kicked their ass, that is correct. We not only kicked their ass, we obliterated it. Twice. We haven't kicked anyone's ass in retaliation for 09/11. Oh, sure. We invaded a country that had nothing to do with it and deposed of their dictator who was eventually executed. We've been traipsing around the God-forsaken rocks of Afghanistan for a while without a lot of success. (But that's only because success hasn't been defined yet. As soon as it's defined, I'm sure that we'll have fallen incredibly short. But until then, we'll just stay vague about the degree of success which we may or may not have achieved.)

If someone's ass had been kicked over 09/11, you can bet that there wouldn't be any mosque building going on that close to Ground Zero. They're doing it simply because they can and, more importantly, because they want to. They want to appear the martyr in this situation. They want to have rationale for all of their twisted logic under Islamic law and Sharia law. And since we operate under our Constitution, we have to allow them to do so.

I don't know what would be better; to civilly protest this thing or to stay quiet about this thing. Legally, nothing can be done and nothing should be done. Legal action for something like this would point the country in a direction that I'm not so sure you really want it to go in. In fact, I'm positive you don't. But would a lack of attention be better in this case? I don't know. I just know that people need to take their emotions out of the issue. I realize that is damn near impossible for some. But we can't go around making decisions based on feelings. (Look at California's freaking financial situation. The state is swimming in expensive "feel good" programs. It doesn't work to legislate with feelings.) That just doesn't work.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your basic argument is correct - that the fundamental principles of the US do not allow discrimination in this case.

But your objections are pretty much in line with the canned outrage crowd.

Your comparison to a Shinto shrine in Pearl Harbour is not very apt. Perhaps this is a better one - would is be reasonable for Japanese people to object to a christian church being built in Hiroshima or Nagasaki? After all it was christians (mainstream ones at that, not radicals) who nuked those two cities and killed almost a hundred times as many people as on 9/11.

The US administration considered those hugely damaging attacks on civilians to be necessary and justified in the name of their cause. Just as the hijackers felt their actions were justified.

Anyhow, I guarantee you'll find christian churches in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki (including ones that give services in English).

If we're going to bring radical religionists into the equation, would it be right to object to churches being built in the US near the sites of of various homegrown acts of terror? You know, bombing family planning clinics, murdering doctors, etc.

If you think it would not be right to object to them, why is that? Fewer victims? Hardly a good measure when we're talking about the taking of human life.
The fact that murderous anti-choice lunatics do not represent christianity? Another parallel with 9/11, as only a fool would believe that the hijackers/'Al Q.' are represenative of islam.

The 9/11 events weren't a 'muslim' or an 'islamic' attack on the US. They were clearly and obviously politically motivated. The attacks were were presented as such by the perps, analysed as such by every commentator with a rational (as opposed to emotional) view of the subject.

Also, as has been pointed out by many other rational commentators, this is not a mosque, it's a community centre. Should muslims to be 'sensitive' about existing near designated sites of terror? Not should they be banned, should they simply feel like they can't exercise the rights bestowed on every US citizen because of their identity?

Lastly, even if it was a mosque, there is no rational argument against it being built.

The very fact that it stirs up so much controversy in a supposedly free and modern country is a reason in itself that it should be built. People need to get over things and realise their precious little emotional reactions don't mean a damn thing in the real world. You're offended? BFD. That's life, and if being offended is the worst thing that happens to you today, consider it to have been a very good day.

I think 'we're still here and we're not going anywhere' is an excellent message for US muslims to spread. That's what an American who values their rights and freedoms would do.

People who want to curtail the rights of others due to their highly developed sense of outrage are very close to those who would hurt and kill for the same reasons.

Other than the above disagreement, I enjoy your blog.