I really want to know

By  ·  August 18th, 2010   

Trying to wrap my head around this whole mosque thing.  Help me out.

A faith, any faith, buys land to build a church.  The Mormons come to town in dribs and drabs and eventually they have enough Mormons in town to justify building a ward.  They go buy some land; they hire the contractors, and build a church.  Big deal.

The Catholics decide they need to build a new church in Nevada somewhere, because they have a population of Catholics, which has grown enough to make it more comfortable to have an extra church rather than everyone squeezing in to one.  They buy the land, hire the contractors, and build the church.

The Methodists, the Seventh Dayers, the Moonies, the Scientologists, whoever it is, buys the land where ever they want, hires the contractors, builds a church or a reading room or a worship center or even just a quiet place to think about the man in the sky.  The Salvation Army wants to open a mission downtown to cater to the needs of the homeless and the hookers. The Church of Dan wants to declare his living room a holy shrine to Ayn Rand. Whatever.  Each and every one of these people has been told yes, because for some reason, they had to ask permission of some governing body for it.  Whether that was simply for tax free status of the property taxes given to a ‘legitimate’ church or whether is was for a tax dodge, some govt official had to say yes or no.

And that is the problem.

At some point, we the people allowed churches to have tax free status because we respected the work they do or just to promote the status quo or even because we secretly wanted some semblance of state notice that our churches were ‘real’ because they got treated special.

So now come these guys who want to build a mosque.  Not just any mosque, but named for freaking Cordoba, the virtual capital of Moor occupied Spain.  And not just any place, but in the still bleeding heart of an American tragedy.

Can anyone, ANYONE, show me where in the Constitution we are guaranteed the right to not be offended?

No? Really? I thought maybe it was in the good and plenty clause I’ve been hearing about lately but can’t seem to find either.  Perhaps it is contained in that whole “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” line and a mosque makes you unhappy. Oh wait, that was the DoI, not the USC.  Hmmm. Help me out here, really.

Do we, as a country, REALLY want our government to tell ANYBODY what he or she can’t do with his or her private property?   I know that I for one was outraged by the Supremes telling the country it was ok for a local government to take land from homeowners and give it to a developer.  How is this different?

Irrespective of the religion being honored, do we really want our government, at any level, to fold, spindle, mutilate, or create law just to keep that religion from practicing what it feels to be its due honoring to their version of God?

And if so, what next?  Do we tell the Scientologists they can’t give away free literature on the steps of their church?  To we stop the Mormons from going door-to-door? Are hospitals run by the Shriners, or the Catholic Church, or the Jewish told they can’t expand to serve their community by adding on a children’s wing because they would have to buy land and the land they want to buy (which the owner wants to sell!!!) is somehow too tragic because a fire there killed two kids and their mother.  Are we to assume that anyplace, anywhere, where someone has died is somehow too perverse or tragic or historical or whatever for a private owner to build a church there?

I somehow am betting that there will be a shrine to the dead placed in Shanksville, if there isn’t one already.  But will the place over Texas, Palestine ironically, where the Colombia broke up on re-entry have a building halt handed down because it is somehow rude to the crew members families to build a Baptist church, or even a freaking Qwikiemart, NEAR where it happened?

This is not about whether or not we, as a people, agree with the deliberate slap in the face the mosque and community center builders want to deliver to us.  Especially since they have chosen September 11 as the dedication date.  They are absolutely trying to get a reaction from us.  They WANT us to either halt the deal so they can say “Look, the Americans are breaking their own Constitution to stop us from building this” or to let it go through so they can say “Look, the Americans are so weak they didn’t even try to stop us from building this.”  Either way, they get their propaganda. Either way, they can turn to their Muslim brethren and boast about how they outwitted us.

Only ONE way makes us change who we are as a people though.

Only ONE way weakens our own law, our contract with our children and ourselves.

Only ONE way leads to somebody with bad intentions turning up the volume and saying, “Whom can we mess with next.”

I think I would rather be called coward and know that it isn’t true than be called bully and know that it is.


74 Responses to “I really want to know”

  1. I don’t want the government to stop them from building their mosque. I just want them not to build a mosque there. Jeebuz, how can they claim with a straight face that they want to promote tolerance when they’re rubbing salt into a still open wound?


  2. You’re framing the issue as if the only options are use the force of law to stop the mosque from being built, or just shut up about it.

    That makes for a convenient rant, but it’s hardly the only two possible actions.


  3. Dear Liberty person of ambiguous sex. I am a performance artist who specializes in using rotting, magot and vermin infested garbage in 30 foot piles as a statement of protest. I have purchased the lot next to your house and will be constructing my masterpiece there.

    It may be the case that narrow minded fascists and anti-freedom of speech types will call the local zoning board and try to block it, but I am confident that, given your above stated position, that you will intervene on my behalf and welcome my important contribution to your neighborhood.


  4. The difference is that the US is at war with some elements within Islam.

    It appears that those radical portions of Islam are funding the Ground Zero Mosque.

    All the examples you gave were of religious groups that aren’t at war with America, or trying to kill Americans.

    That itty bitty fact, so easily overlooked detail, that the US is in a war with the Islamic faction that wishes to build the mosque, changes everything.

    That fact explains away all the examples you gave. Moonies, Scientologists, The Catholic Church, etc, etc. None of those groups, nor any factions within those groups, are trying to kill anyone.

    No one can deny that there are terrorists and mass murderers within Islam. As the saying goes, not all Muslims are terrorists but it sure seems that all terrorists are Muslims.

    The day when the Jihadists are defeated and no longer pose a threat to the West, that is the day I will support building a mosque near Ground Zero, or even at Ground Zero as part of the redevelopment of that site.

    That’s not a hypothetical situation. The day actually came when the Nazis and Bushido Japanese were defeated and no longer a threat. No one would give a second thought to building a Shinto shrine anywhere in the US, even Pearl Harbor. Nor would anyone protest if a German Lutheran Church were to be built near Arlington Cemetery.

    The difference is that the US is no longer at war with Japan and Germany.

    The US is still at war with enough Islamic Jihadists that there are threats being countered every single day. Think of the Times SQ bomber and the Christmas underwear bomber.

    When those threats are defeated and the US is safe from Jihadists, that’s the day a mosque can be built anywhere in the US.

    Carl Hardwick CANADA

  5. OH bull hockey. Churches, synagogues and the like are not permitted just anywhere they want to set up shop. Zoning laws, Traffic Patterns, and many other issues can cause a church or other religious facility can get a swift “you can’t build here” response anywhere in the country.

    This religious argument is a straw man and yesterday’s talking point. The new meme is that it is not a mosque. They claim it is a “community center”.

    Whatever it is, it certainly falls under zoning regs and is subject to approval or disapproval by a gov agency.

    BTW see the Greek Orthodox Church at Ground Zero for a true miscarriage of rights.

    Stephanie UNITED STATES

  6. This is why we had an establishment– to handle these sorts of issues quietly. The Mormons could build a church, hell Fred Phelps could build a church, but you couldn’t build The Church of the Aborted Baby Boiling In Hell opposite the town square because two guys who belonged to the Civic Club would have lunch and mysteriously, your banker would call in your note and your general contractor would find that he had other jobs ahead of yours and your zoning commisioner would suddenly discover restrictions on your land.

    I’m sure that power was abused, but no moreso than any other. Most of the time, it helped keep the peace, keep a certain level of bourgeois taste in public affairs, and keep a lid on those who were SO sure they were right that they felt they had a right, indeed an absolute need to rub it in the face of everyone else in town.

    Yeah, it was a bad thing, the establishment. Full of squares. Against progress. Much better now to let one church put everybody at everyone else’s throats. Let it all hang out.


  7. The key point is that there’s a war on. During a war all sorts of things happen which nobody would dream of doing during peacetime. During peacetime, nobody would dream of dropping explosives on German towns or shooting machine guns at Italians. And nobody would tell anyone where they could build their triumphal monuments – sorry, mosques. Wartime necessities are not generally fair reflections on the state of a society. A society can have real enemies, and it can take actions, large or small, against those enemies. This need not be interpreted as innate viciousness if it can more reasonably be interpreted as defense. And these wartime actions need have no implications for other times in which society is not actively fighting those enemies.

    Those willing to admit that there is a war on, and also willing to admit who the enemy is, don’t find the excitement about the mosque all that hard to underestand. A challenge has been issued, as you admit. Do we cave, automatically and cravenly, or do we fight to defend what we think is worth defending? If we’re willing to fight, we have to be willing to pay a price. The same if we cave. There is a price to be paid in either case. Which price will be higher? We can only speculate.

    tom swift UNITED STATES

  8. The opponents of the mosque/community center are not advocating government action. They are merely saying it is inappropriate and they are understandably pissed off. Your reference of the Kelo decision is relevant however. That decision was written by the former liberal lion of the US Supreme Court, John Paul Stevens. It was an abomination and facilitated an abuse of the power of Eminent Domain. That power has also been abused in Brooklyn where big liberal fund raiser and criminal* Steve Ratner has used Eminent Domain to take people’s homes and businesses to build his basketball arena. Liberals couldn’t care less about private property rights and they are openly hostile to the religious freedoms of Christians (see the Jimmy Kimmel crew that abused that poor kid in Hollywood last week). Liberals have suddenly found respect for private property ownership and the freedom of religion when it presents an opportunity to poke America in the eye.

    *(bribes to pension managers and threats to GM bond holders that they would be audited by the IRS and investigated by the SEC if they didn’t accept the ridiculous BK plan/payoff to the UAW)


  9. Fifth column anyone? Maybe they will use it as a beacon?
    Financed by Iran? Think.


  10. You’re kidding, right?

    We stop people from building things that violate building codes. We stop people from building small factories in residential areas.

    We stop people from doing what they want to do on their property all the time. Few people give it a second thought.

    I guess that having a US Army recruiting center at Wounded Knee would be a good analogue. Or perhaps a museum extolling the virtues of Timothy McVeigh’s world view by the Alfred P. Murrah building.

    If they build their mosque, they get photo ops with their “Americans are weak and foolish” propaganda.

    Mark A. Flacy

  11. Well, it depends on whether it’s the “Holy Church of Overturn the US Government by Force and Establish a Religious Dictatorship Contrary to Every American Principle” or not, doesn’t it?

    And there’s certainly reason to wonder why the State Department is supporting a fundraising trip for the thing. Or whether the guy in charge might have sufficiently shady connections so that reasonable people might wonder whether he should be included on the US’s terrorist support list.

    But, otherwise, yeah — I’m right with you. Freedom of contract, freedom of religion, property rights….reminds me of a few years back when someone else was looking to buy a NY symbol of American Sovereignty — Rockefeller Center. People got their knickers twisted about that and it was what it was.

    If it’s a “regular” Islamic center, with a regular buyer and seller, putting together a deal without government support and without money-laundering terrorist funds, it’s only a question of taste. Time will tell how it shakes out.


  12. How about an Aryan Nations Church next to the Holocaust Memorial?

    A Shinto Shrine honoring Japanese war dead, 200 yds, from the Arizona Memorial, dedicated, with meatball banners flying, on December seventh? To, ya know, show how “tolerant” we are. Please love us Muslims! Please, please pretty please with a mosque on top?


  13. Other comments have made a well deserved hash of your comparisons with Catholics, Dan, et al and the jihadis who want to, have done, and will not doubt continue to kill us.

    Including a couple of months ago, in Times Square.

    Gee Nanny Bloomberg was wrong and it wasn’t a disgruntled tea partier. Or Catholic. Or Dan-ist.

    Also, let’s not forget the Muslim impulse to claim any conquered territory as Islam’s in perpetuity and to mark it with Mosques, etc.

    I would just like to state that I’d rather be known as a bully (even though I’m not one) than thought a coward, especially if I am one.

    Especially as regards those who wish me mine and ours bodily harm.


  14. What we really need is a constitutional amendment declaring that Islam is not a religion, but a totalitarian political ideology, which in fact is what it is.

    That would exempt it from any First Amendment protection.

    I don’t expect such an amendment to pass and be ratified in the present political climate. And once a couple of our cities get nuked, it will be too late for such legal niceties. Therein lies our conundrum.


  15. You’ve been Instalanched.

    ‘Only ONE way makes us change who we are as a people though.’

    ‘Only ONE way weakens our own law, our contract with our children and ourselves.’

    The other way will later make it much easier for them to change us against our will.

    ‘Only ONE way leads to somebody with bad intentions turning up the volume and saying, “Whom can we mess with next.”’

    No. The other way lets THEM (the ones CURRENTLY with bad intentions) turn up the volume saying, “How can we mess with them next?”

    Your words are fine words, but they’re ONLY WORDS. The choice is not NEARLY as clear as you think.

    “The Frickin’ Constitution” isn’t a suicide pact. The British didn’t suddenly go home when the Declaration of Independence was signed. We had to FIGHT.

    ‘Mr. Vladimir said…”The imbecile bourgeoisie of this country make themselves the accomplices of the very people whose aim is to drive them out of their houses to starve in ditches. And they have the political power still, if they only had the sense to use it for their preservation.” ‘ –Joseph Conrad, “The Secret Agent” (1909)

    Nate Whilk UNITED STATES

  16. As others have said, there are many ways to object without dragging the government in. There’s private economic pressure, and there’s other variants on the social pressure that social animals can exert.

    Karen A. Wyle

  17. …..and, BTW, I thought that
    *I* was Simon Jester.


  18. I have no interest in the government getting involved. But I reserve the right to say, “This is wrong, please don’t do this, I strongly object” and if their motives are as pure as claimed, then the conscience of the community they want to engage should matter to them.

    Preppy Girl UNITED STATES

  19. You are Simon Jester.

    Formerly David UNITED STATES

  20. Zoning Laws.


  21. I believe we should do this the American way. We should let them build the mosque (particularly since using landmark status to stop anything is lame anyway, and trying to say a building is a landmark because some plane parts fell on it is particularly lame). Then, we have a loud, raucous protest outside of it. Every single freakin’ day. The protests will be particularly large and loud during Friday prayers (complete with speakers blasting “Rock the Casbah.”) On 9/11, the protests will shut down all of Lower Manhattan. While we’re at it, we’ll start that gay bar Greg Gutfield has proposed, right next door; on the other side, we’ll have a straight gentleman’s club with women slipping out of burkas. Across the street, a nice barbecue pork joint; a couple of doors down, a pet store selling nothing but puppies; right next to that, a bookstore featuring the Danish cartoons, the complete works of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the director’s cut of Submission, etc.
    See how beautiful this all is? It pays homage to our constitutional rights, proves the power of society to do things without having to resort to violence or government, and embarrasses the crap out of the suckers, which is the thing they fear most.

    David Perry UNITED STATES

  22. Many, many developments are stopped because they do not meet community standards. Churches are not allowed to be built within so many yards of liquor establishments and visa versa. Strip clubs and pornographic stores are often denied licensing in many communities. Campgrounds are not allowed in most residential areas etc. There are a myriad of laws pertaining to what can be built near cemeteries and historically significant locations.

    I see absolutely nothing wrong with denying a mosque to be built at GZ for any number of zoning or ordinance violations. In many communities new ordinances are developed by city councils just to prevent this sort of development.

    Right or wrong this development must be stopped. Its high time we Americans grew a pair.


  23. As many others have already pointed out, it is objectionable and insensitive but I have yet to see anyone siccing S.W.A.T. on the site.The members of the group can go right ahead (assuming they can get the other hakf of the property – not only do they not own it, it is under a 99-year lease by ConEd from the actual ownership), but I see nothing wrong with raising objections. I’d object if Fred Phelps wanted to build a center for his group next to a lesbian bar. Akbeit I might not object if Barney Frank wanted to buy the house next to the Phelps residence…

    Contrast with the Pope asking nuns to leave their building next to the site of Auschwitz, in recognition of non-RC-church objections.

    And earlier this evening I chanced upon a near-parallel:

    Seems a Jewish group wants to build on a site next to a Moslem cemetary. And it is decried as insensitive, objectionable… For a museum, not a synagogue or temple, or even “community center”!

    And as that post points out, an earlier proposal by Moslems was to build *ON* the site of the cemetary, not just near it.


  24. For the love of God, or Allah or whatever. Why the hell do people think that those that oppose the mosque being built where proposed want some government intervention?? Where is the clamoring for the power of government to do that?? Seriously, give me an answer because your rant is just plain stupid.

    dualdiagnosis UNITED STATES

  25. Then let them build a 13 story mosque next to your house. We don’t want zoning anarchy.


  26. They have every right to build the mosque. I have every right to think it’s an insult. And the Department of the Interior has every right, after it’s built, to invoke eminent domain and take it over for a museum of Islamic terrorism.


  27. What a useless editorial. How many times has the point been repeated? There might be some arguing otherwise, but virtually everyone in this debate has acknowledged the right to build the mosque. But that’s not the point. Those behind the mosque are creating unnecessary conflict, breeding distrust, and essentially effecting the exact opposite of their ostensible purpose to bridge the cultural divide. This is seen as islamic triumphalism, both here in dar al-harb and in dar al-islam, and is harming the image of islam among the victims of 9/11 (i.e. all Americans, and others who died or lost loved ones that day).


  28. There is no constitutional right not to be offended. But neither is there a constitutional right to offend.

    doyne dawson REPUBLIC OF KOREA

  29. No-one is talking about using the coercive power of government to stop this. But… sooner or later, they’re going to have to solicit bids for building the thing. When they do, you’ll be able to hear the crickets chirping all over Manhattan.

    But in response to the premise of the post: better the ugly American than the wimped-out American.


  30. Here’s a thought: how many muslims would want to go there, given the antipathy towards their community center or whatever it is?

    Perhaps some would, as a flagrant “look at me, aren’t I brave” attitude. But what if there were protests outside it? How many would want to see signs and hear shouts that decry their religion (admittedly not a difficult thing to do).

    Moderate muslims, should they exist, might feel their devotion is best served going to another place such as a mosque already established and accepted as part of the fabric of the city.

    But perhaps when completed someone will sneak in a tape recorder and we outsiders finally get to hear the peace and love being offered within.


  31. The straw man fallacy in the constitutional argument is the presumption that Islam is a religion.

    Thats the conversation we need to be having- because there is not one Islam, and no Islam is not a religion of peace, either.

    Rather, theres a very large segment of Islam – lets call it Radical Islam, thats quite simply a death cult.

    So if we can agree that the Constitution never intended to give protection to death cults, we can move on.

    This is what moderate muslims know but are too frightened to say out loud, and what some politicians know, but are too frightened, or bought off by the Radical Islamists to say as well.

    How do you tell if a mosque or group of people is part of Radical Islam- its pretty simple actually.

    If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, shits like a duck, its a duck.

    Use the zoning laws that say no duck shit here.

    RightOnTheLeftCoast UNITED STATES

  32. One thing you all forget: this isn’t about zoning. There is a Baptist church next door.

    Banning mosques because some Muslims committed a crime is like banning guns because a gun owner shot up a school. It is like banning Catholic churches because a priest molested a little boy.

    Gotta love the religious fundamentalist wing of the Republican party.

    divemedic UNITED STATES

  33. America is a violent, intolerant country, so the idea that Americans are committed to religious freedom was always a hypocrisy that was waiting to be exploded.

    Muslims, if you cared enough to enough, have to pray often, and in the middle of the day. Their religion is not a once-on-Sunday-or-once-in-a-while thing. I respect them for it. I almost can’t believe people can oppose something so harmless…

    …except, of course, it’s happening in America.

    Chris Watson AUSTRALIA

  34. Mr Chris Watson – You’re a funny fellow

    Roy Batty

  35. Time to open a gay church in Mecca.


  36. I know I don’t speak for every mosque opponent, but I speak for most when I say, you have absolutely no idea what this debate is about.

    What a waste of a rant. You got a Instalanche for this dreck?

    tim maguire UNITED STATES

  37. You people – with few notable exceptions – restore my complete lack of faith in humanity and the future of my beloved country. Thanks!

    Liberty Girl UNITED STATES

  38. I will never cloak myself in an ideology that leaves off good sense. Bloomberg has lost his mind, even if his political ideology is seemingly pure, his sensibilities are knowingly inviting trouble for his citizens.

    Just try to build a pool in your backyard without a privacy fence to obstruct the “attractive nuisance” factor.

    I’d let ‘em build it and not offer one thin dime to protect it from the sort of attention they desire. Not one police response, not one firetruck, not one publicly funded utility. Let’s have complete freedom of religion and avail ourselves of our right to not support any aspect of any special-interest group with our public taxes, public utilities, or services.

    If we do allow them these things, they most certainly must pay taxes to support them.

    Alas, for the Greek Orthodox Church. No one has the spleen to defend its rights to rebuild. That’s because there is an invisible factor at work within the community which no law (and rightly so) can ever contain:a strong conviction that life matters.

    The law was made for men; men were not made at the command of law. Everyone thinks they want justice and law, but what they really want is the ineffable mercy and forebearance of their fellow man.

    Except Muslims. They wanna kill me outright.

    P.S. Flypaper strategy works both ways.

    Joan of Argghh!

  39. So you would rather live on your knees than die on your feet.


  40. “Do we, as a country, REALLY want our government to tell ANYBODY what he or she can’t do with his or her private property?”

    That can be divided into two distinct issues, where the answers can be directly opposite, according to the context…

    1) Do we want our BUREAUCRATS (the unelected, unresponsive kind) to put limits on what people and organizations can do (where they can build, say) in certain cases?
    2) Do we want our ELECTED OFFICIALS (the ones chosen by us, from among our numbers, and who will be facing reelection within 2 to 6 years) to put limits on what people and organizations can do (where they can build, say) in certain cases?

    The answer can be quite different, according to who is involved, especially since the advent of the tea party, which is trying to bring the Republican Party (and the entire nation) back to its close-to-the-citizenry ideals…

    This helps explain why elected officials like Michael Bloomberg, Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama ought to be replaced as soon as possible…

    Erik Svane FRANCE

  41. Eh, comment edit not working. Clarifying the Greek Orthodox comment which was a muddling of intent to convey that the GO church has been prevented from rebuilding, but no one takes up their case because they aren’t on the PC radar for the Left. Or the sleepy Right, for that matter. But apparently NYC is within its legal right to deny the GO church its rights. No essays, no outrage.

    No Law addresses the intangible differences that each religion is facing in NYC.

    Joan of Argghh!

  42. I’d prefer to be feared, and seen as a bully to the muslims, than be preceived a coward. They test the weak. Keep them away from that site.


  43. “I think I would rather be called coward and know that it isn’t true…”
    This maxim may be of some use in the world of blog writing and self-righteous posting. In the real world being known as a coward grants others at best a license to infringe on your territory, and at worse, the freedom to attack. At some point, just to prevent anihilation, you will have to retaliate, do damage, and vanquish.
    If you ask me, I’d rather have the reputation of a badass and avoid the whole business of having to prove it.
    The refusal to even consider building the mosque anywhere else, and the presence of a nearby mosque reveal the Cordoba project mosque to be an act of Taqqiya. It is not bridge building they are interested in, but self righteously establishing the will of Allah.
    Sticking to a moral point (liberty) while ignoring a real life situation (they have declared war on us, and are lying to us) has a name: Moral Vanity.

    LatinCatholic UNITED STATES

  44. ** Can anyone, ANYONE, show me where in the Constitution we are guaranteed the right to not be offended? **

    More importantly, could you show the Muslim community that our United States Constitution doesn’t guarantee ** them ** the right not to be offended?

    We can discuss your take on the Muslim’s understanding of the situation over drinks with Trey Parker at Greg Gutfield’s new club, Dialog.


    At some point, possibly already, we’re going to pass the “grim milestone” when there’ve been more Muslim honor killings in the United States than boys-abused-by-Catholic-priest cases.

    what then?

    Passerby UNITED STATES

  45. “You people – with few notable exceptions – restore my complete lack of faith in humanity and the future of my beloved country. Thanks”

    Translation: I can’t argue with you intelligently, so I’ll insult you. Glad you had a moment of high traffic, too bad you didn’t know what to do to try and turn it into something.


  46. Snort. You hardly count as high traffic, my pet. I love Glenn as a person, but his readers do not have their own blogs for a reason.

    Liberty Girl UNITED STATES

  47. This is an intelligent argument but wrong. Islam is a political religion. In the central Islamic country, Saudi Arabia, it is forbidden to build a church. You do not give something for nothing unless you want people to consider you idiots; this is a basic rule of the world (at least outside the geography of the USA). Since Islam is a political religion, we should insist that it shows tolerance, especially in its sacred heartland, before it is extended indulgence. One shouldn’t confuse the universal ideals of the USA with local reality of give and take. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is an ideal for the world and a reality for US citizens. For citizens of global Islam, different rules apply. They must be negotiated with as a foreign power, since that is what they consider the historically conceived USA. It is a matter of loyalty and what that means. Citizens get citizen’s rights. Foreigners get what they are granted and no more and they must be grateful for it.


  48. “The Mormons come to town in dribs and drabs and eventually they have enough Mormons in town to justify building a ward. They go buy some land; they hire the contractors, and build a church. Big deal.”

    Actually, it was. The neighbors took them to court to try to stop it. Even happened in tolerant old Massachusetts.


    People get upset about these sorts of things for all kinds of reasons, regardless of the religion doing the building. Stop acting as though it’s targeted against a single group.

    gdainis UNITED STATES

  49. “Snort. You hardly count as high traffic, my pet. I love Glenn as a person, but his readers do not have their own blogs for a reason.”

    Wow. You really don’t know how to avoid collateral damage, do you?

    And your inability to even engage reader objections marks you as lazy at best and intellectually sterile at worst.

    This, of course, is your cue to proclaim that there’s nothing to engage with. Too much fun to insult people anonymously on the intertubes, yes?

    Andrew the Noisy UNITED STATES

  50. Incorrect. If you had paid attention, you would have noticed that *I* did not write the entry above. I am simply reacting to the overwhelming idiocy on display in the comment section. If you think you’ve entered a bastion of Republican values, sir, then you would be sorely mistaken.

    Liberty Girl UNITED STATES

  51. Why did he bother sending traffic to this troll?


  52. 1. I’m appalled at the folks willing to hand-wave away the religious protection thing by redefining Islam as “a totalitarian political movement.” Given the history of Christianity as a state religion (and the number of Christians in this country who’d love to see it become so again), should we apply the same standard to Christian churches?

    2. Ditto for those who think we should emulate (even as tit-for-tat) the religious freedoms of, say, Saudi Arabia or Iran. Um, that’s why we’re arguably better than them.

    3. Anyone who says, “Nobody is arguing they shouldn’t have the right to build this, or that the government should block it,” isn’t reading at least half of the debate (including in the comments here). There are plenty of people saying that very thing.

    4. It is perfectly legit for a governmental group to apply rational zoning and land use laws viz religious buildings — rational in this case being comparable to other zoning and land use purposes. E.g., when we expanded our church, we had to do so in accordance with available parking, traffic concerns, rainwater retention, and other regs that would also have applied if we’d been building a McDonald’s. Under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (passed unanimously by a Republican-dominated Congress), government can’t impose substantial land use burdens on religious institutions (including “you have to be popular” burdens).

    5. The Greek Orthodox church in question is being (re)built literally on Ground Zero land, which mean every conflicting governmental and quasi-governmental entity involved in that cluster is complicating matters, esp. since the whole thing includes a land swap.

    6. If the supporters of Park51 are involved in terrorist organizations and money laundering and honor killings and part of am armed Islamicist war against the West, there are plenty of criminal investigation means of determining that and taking action against them, rather than simply assuming the whole thing. Based on their rhetoric and past activities, there’s little indication of that.

    7. There is, in fact, a strip club already in the neighborhood. And an OTB parlor. This is NYC, fergoshsakes. If anyone was looking for ritual purity in a neighborhood, they wouldn’t be building there.

    8. Anybody who talks about “global Islam” is as simplistic as anyone who talks about “global Christianity” or “global Judaism” or “global Buddhism.” Ain’t no such beast (if nothing else, note all the sectarian Muslim-on-Muslim violence in places like Iraq and Afghanistan). On the other hand, the more you talk about “global Islam” being America’s enemy, the more you give all Muslims (including those in the US) some common cause in agreeing that, well, America is in fact their enemy.

    9. There are a lot of unpopular religions out there. There are a lot of religion that get tarred with a large brush (fairly or un-) for the activities of some of their members. Mormons. Jews. Catholics. Heck, in their own time, Baptists and Quakers were reviled as radicals, heretics, and social undesirables. There are still plenty of folks today who are convinced the Catholic Church is a global political force conspiring to take over our nation, or who take the whole Elders of Zion thing very seriously. Regardless, do we want to put up whether a Catholic church or Jewish synogogue should be built somewhere based on popular vote, or even the opinion of local officials (let alone congresscritters)? Really?

    10. It’s okay to not agree with Islam. It’s okay to debate whether it’s somehow offensive to build a Muslim community center, even one ostensibly about tolerance and engagement, a few blocks away from Ground Zero. What chaps my hide most is (a) the calls for government action to stop it by hook or by crook, (b) the fearmongering exploitation of the issue by pols and pundits (of all stripes), and (c) disregard of the facts, both of this instance and of the history of religious persecution in this country.


  53. Anyone know where this Sept. 11th dedication date started because I can find no confirmation or corroboration and it makes zero sense to me.

    First, they haven’t even submitted full construction plans for the reno so they have no real clue about the construction schedule.
    Second they haven’t raised the money they need to even start renovations.
    So how can they pull a rabbit out of their hat and already have a dedication day?

    caune0405 UNITED STATES

  54. @***Dave: How dare you introduce logic and reason into this discussion! Begone with you!

    Liberty Girl UNITED STATES

  55. I agree with your respect for religious liberty and private property rights, but you got the issue completely wrong. The issue is not whether the government should stop them, or whether we should forcibly stop construction. Most agree that they cannot and should not, because of the freedom issues you cite.

    But not everything that is legal is the right thing to do. This mosque may be legal, but it is not right, and we should all say it is not right. And saying the mosque is not right does not mean we oppose religious liberty or private property rights. There should be constant peaceful demonstrations against it. And every moslem we meet should be told it is wrong, and is not a demonstration of tolerance, but an unnecessary provocation that demonstrates intolerance.

    richard40 UNITED STATES

  56. @caune0405: The 9/11 dedication date was claimed, without source, by the Washington Times. The folks involved in the project have denied that there are plans for that date.


  57. Give it up, richard40. We can yell until we’re blue in the face that we’re not denying the property rights of the mosque-builders (save those who do want to bring the hammer of state regulation and building codes down), but we will not be heard.

    We horrible bigots aren’t allowed to protest anything. We have no standing. We should shut up and be glad for the illumination provided by our betters.

    Andrew the Noisy UNITED STATES

  58. “disregard of the facts, both of this instance and of the history of religious persecution in this country.”

    Is there anything about the history of religious persecution in America markedly different from the rest of the world? I mean aside from the fact that it hasn’t prevented a single religion from flourishing here, no matter how disliked they are.

    Andrew the Noisy UNITED STATES

  59. @***Dave:
    Thanks Dave, that explains a whole lot.

    It sure would be nice if this fight were fought with actual facts (not you in particular liberty girl)
    The amount of misinformation and exaggeration about this community center/mosque is off the charts!

    caune0405 UNITED STATES

  60. @***Dave. Thank you! Very well said. You saved me quite a bit of typing, as I was having the same reactions you had to some of the comments : )

    Jonathan UNITED STATES

  61. It is clear that there are two distinct meanings of Islam — the religious and the political. This was true of Christianity in the past — we can look back to the schism that created the Church of England as a particularly well-documented example (for English speakers) — but church and state have been effectively separated for a while now in most developed countries.

    Religious freedom is protected and cherished in the US. Political movements, however, are substantially more restricted.

    So the question is, which type of Islam is trying to build Cordoba House?

    You give an example: “A faith, any faith, buys land to build a church. The Mormons come to town in dribs and drabs and eventually they have enough Mormons in town to justify building a ward. They go buy some land; they hire the contractors, and build a church. Big deal.” If Cordoba House were clearly a project of religious Islam, this is exactly the course that would likely have been followed in NYC.

    The problem is that this project bears many indications that it is driven by political Islam and not religious Islam.

    Muslims have not come to Ground Zero in dribs and drabs and have accumulated enough parishioners to justify a church of this size. Fundraising for this center is being done far outside its service area, in lands dominated by political Islam. The site, itself, holds little religious significance and great political significance — and is being insisted upon in an oddly contentious fashion.

    Every so often, someone gets the bright idea that any sort of behavior can be identified as a “church” and escape government scrutiny (e.g. http://www.taxresolution.com/blog/so-called-priest-hid-assets-using-fake-church/ ). In the US, where the very first clause of the Bill of Rights speaks to religious freedom, this can be especially tempting. But just calling something a religion doesn’t make it so.

    As a final note, this issue is not merely American and Islamic — I recall a Japanese Prime Minister repeatedly being castigated for visiting a particular shrine that had political connections. We have, as a society, decided on a firm distinction between church and state — and have every reason and right to maintain that distinction.


  62. Your description of building a church is optimistic at best. The normal process is the church buys the land. Then informs the town of its intention to build a church. This is the point where things get interesting. Some people don’t want to live near a church. Some people complain about the traffic. Some people don’t want to give up the tax base for the land. These people will protest, attempt to block permits, attempt to disallow zoning, try to affect the size of the building, shape of the building, the building of parking. This is common.


  63. I would like to point out that the same city allowing Cordoba House has refused permission to the Greek Orthodox Church to rebuild their church (was there a long time) when one of the towers fell on it.


  64. @Andrew the Noisy: Well, we’ve avoided explicitly having a state church, and we’ve had a legal theory of religious freedom. Both of those are pretty exceptional, compared to Europe’s history.

    On the other hand, they’ve blinded many to what bias and prejudice and persecution there *has* been, whether it’s the Mormons driven into the Wilderness, or the Catholics vs. the KKK and the Know-Nothings, or, usually not in explicitly violent ways, the Jews.

    Or, currently, efforts both legal and social to portray all Muslims as fiendish terrorists who want to destroy the nation. In many ways their situation is most analogous to Catholics — people with strange, blasphemous religious practices, owing allegiance to foreign sources, with a history of foreign conflict and war. In the end, they’ve joined the mainstream (and the mainstream adjusted to them). I have little doubt that, over time, the same will be true for Muslims, unless they are driven into opposition (and an opposition that some extremists in their own ranks would eagerly welcome).


  65. @cthulhu: As I understand it, actually, there’s a nearby mosque that’s grown to a sufficient congregation size that the Cordoba House worship space is, in fact, intended as overflow.

    And bear in mind that the space involved is not intended as a 12 (or 13) story mosque; there’s a theater, a library, meeting rooms, a swimming pool, etc. That’s why it’s being referred to as a cultural center.


  66. @Nancy: I would like to point out that planning continues for the rebuilding of the Greek Orthodox Church, but as its property is actually part of the Ground Zero site, and the plan is for it to move to the other end of its block, there’s all sorts of property swap deals and public funding that have to be made with the numerous agencies that lay claim to the site. Plus, there’s supposed to be a new vehicle screening security ramp built underneath that block, and until the designs for that and how it interlocks with the rest of the GZ site are finished, not much else can be done. A look at the bureaucratically obtuse (and architecturally complex) tale a few years ago can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/03/nyregion/03trade.html .


  67. @***Dave:

    The only problem with this analogy is that at no time, not even in 1856 when the Know-Nothings won the electoral college votes of Maryland, were Catholic saboteurs plotting acts of terror and violence nationwide. In 1856 we were not at war with Italy, nor had we invaded Spain. The conflation of the Know-Nothings with opposition to the Park51 Mosque is simply a non-starter.

    And it IS a mosque. Salomatic.com, which bills itself as “the Worlds Most Comprehensive Guide to Mosques and Islamic Schools,” lists the Cordoba House as a mosque. (http://tinyurl.com/25op662)

    Personally, I could go either way on whether the developer behind this is on the up-and-up. I haven’t tracked down where all his money is coming from.

    But when the web site promises “a welcoming prayer space for all New Yorkers” something sticks in the throat. An Islamic prayer space for all New Yorkers? Will there be a chapel with a tabernacle where I can say a rosary? A sturdily bound Torah? A fire-pit for NYC’s Zoroastrians? Or a strictly Islamic prayer space, at which non-Muslims will pray?

    Proseltyzing in the remnants of a building hit with the debris of 9/11, that rather offends me too.

    Andrew the Noisy UNITED STATES

  68. @***Dave: One thing that the Park51 Mosque developers could do that would go a long way towards defusing the suspicions would be to offer support to rebuilding St. Nicholas. Not much, just a gesture.

    Of course, Bloomy and the rest of the bureaucrats might do the same, as some kind of a salve to the wound, as a demonstration of good faith (for lack of a better term). But they prefer to revile opponents as ignorant peasants.

    Andrew the Noisy UNITED STATES

  69. @Andrew the Noisy: On the contrary, the whole genesis of the Know-Nothings was their belief that there was an actual conspiracy by the Papacy to take over the US through an influx of Irish and German Catholics, with violence and plots in Europe used as proof. The very white Anglo-Saxon Protestant nature of the nation was at stake. The same rationale was used by the Klan against Catholics as well.

    Were there Catholic saboteurs and conspirators in the US then? Not recorded as such (though the legendary violence of the immigrants served as a fine proxy, and there were certainly plenty of Catholic plots in English history that the KNs could point to.) On the other hand, there are about 2 million Muslims in the US; even assuming we know of 200 actual, identified, arrested “saboteurs” and terrorists, even among the actual American Muslim citizenry, that’s a negligible enough number to make treating all Muslims as cut-throat assassins laughable.

    As to the “mosque” — I stand corrected on the term, though looking both at the Salomatic site and the Park51 site, the mosque is only a portion of the planned facility (which already hosts prayer services). I didn’t find the exact text you quoted, but did note “a September 11th memorial and quiet contemplation space, open to all.”


  70. @Andrew the Noisy: As the Park51 folks have just begun raising money for their own efforts (St Nicholas already has far more funding than they have), that would seem premature. I agree it would be a fine gesture.


  71. If the Law is everything and above all, then why do we need judges? If things are black or white, then why do we need a third party to intervene or interpret?

    Could someone please cite a NYC law that would be broken or convoluted out of meaning by denying the permits? If the mayor has been granted such authority to deem or deny, then it is the law that must change, but people are perfectly reasonable to appeal to their elected authority to reconsider according to community interests.

    Joan of Argghh! UNITED STATES

  72. When one talks about Mosque expansions in the US; they are assuming that Freedom of Religion is not [FIRST] subject to principals of Law…

    And this applies to any organization which provides for itself, a central funding to lobby or to promote a religious establishment… And we are seeing that direct Leadership of these organizations, engage in the Islamic practice of Child Marriage… [A Federal crime in the US.]

    Bottom-line: A city planning would not have legal authority to issue permit which is not supported by the SCOTUS; as violates U.S. State and Federal laws.


  73. @***Dave: I am well familiar with the WASP propaganda against my ancestors. Please don’t attempt to lend it credence to support your analogy. It is profoundly un-persuasive.

    I am not afraid of Muslims. The 23 other mosques in Manhattan, 3 of which in walking distance of Ground Zero, do not bother me.

    I am afraid of jihad. I am afraid of terrorists exploiting our cultural pluralism and tolerance, the “First, I ask for my rights, because that is your culture. Then I take away your rights, because that is my culture” game. And I greatly mistrust the notion of planting the crescent in a building scarred by men who died expecting that Allah would reward them for their butchery.

    A warped, twisted version of Islam left a wound in Lower Manhattan. I fail to see why even normal, sane, American Islam should profit from that.

    The text I quoted came from the Park51 website. I apologize for the confusion.

    Andrew the Noisy UNITED STATES

  74. @Andrew the Noisy: They’re my ancestors, too. I find many persuasive parallels as to how Catholics were considered in this country (and still are considered by some) and how Muslims are.

    I am certainly concerned about jihad. But assuming that anyone who is of the same “dogtag” faith as the murderers of 9/11 is seeking jihad, or seeking to exploit America’s religious freedom for their own very un-free purposes, is, to my mind, a betrayal of those very American principles.

    Accepting the building of a mosque is not a sign of surrender or weakness or letting ourselves be exploited. It’s a thumbing of the national nose at Osama bin Ladin, putting lie to his assertion that the West is as war with Islam and that American claims to e pluribus unum are mere propaganda. It’s proof we’re not scared of him and his, that our collective wisdom, culture, and freedom of thought, religion, expression, are more powerful than his extremism, theocracy, and hate.