Ground Zero mosque not about religious freedom


By: Robert E. Meyer

The Ground Zero mosque controversy has been erroneously portrayed by certain news pundits as being an issue about religious freedom. Of course this is another red herring designed to demonize those protesting against locating the mosque at ground zero–as if those opposing it want to deny a segment of Americans equal access to the First Amendment. Is it not ironic that only a few years ago we were told that dissent was the highest form of patriotism. Now that those people are in power we have an Orwellian reversal and dissent is again unpatriotic, with the added feature of being bigoted and phobic.

Muslim’s are certainly within their constitutional rights to build a mosque there if they desire. The question is whether they ought to. The issue is one of propriety, not religious freedom. Until pro-mosque apologists get past that fact they have yet to make a legitimate counter argument. That we are endowed with certain rights is granted by our national charter. How judiciously we are stewards of those rights will determine whether we can keep them and maintain our freedoms.

What is the motivation behind placing the mosque there if doing so causes so much public grief, considering that the Imam behind the project, Feisal Abdul Rauf, has indicated he wants to build bridges? Interesting, that in the discussion, the most obvious thing that could be done to facilitate a peaceful resolution is scarcely mentioned. The Imam could just decide to build the mosque elsewhere. In fact, were I a Muslim, this is what I would be calling on my leadership to do. Some might argue that we must show the world that we are tolerant. Of course, according to the enlightened commentators, allowing the mosque to be built on the designated site is just the medicine we need to establish that impression.

But are not Muslim nations the ones suffering from the image problem? When we consider the austerity and human rights abuses within Muslim nations, shouldn’t they be trying to demonstrate that they are tolerant?

There are parallels between this issue and the soldiers’ funeral picketing performed by Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church congregants, a story which has popped up in the news again.
Members of that church have a constitutional right to their freedom of speech, but does anyone think they are building bridges or affecting positive change with their obnoxious and misguided efforts, merely because protesting is their constitutional right?

If those in charge moved the mosque to another location, think of the public relations bonanza it would be for Islam. It would put egg on the face of those who claim Islam is intolerant, it would silence the people who think the mosque construction is an effort to pour salt in the wounds of 9-11 survivors. and it would shut up the people who are claiming that building the mosque at ground zero coincides with the Islamic tradition of triumphalism(building mosques at the locations of great conquests). But we can offer them good advise and bank on the presumption they will ignore it.

Another aspect of this issue not being addressed is how Obama’s fawning overtures to the Muslim world(a probable reason for poll results indicating some think him a Muslim)will be interpreted by the militant factions within Islam. If you believe that the bombing of the World Trade Center in February of 1993 was a test of Bill Clinton’s resolve, and the 9-11 plane crashes were a test of how George W. Bush would react, then you have to wonder if terrorists don’t view Obama as an absolute pushover. In that case a more violent approach is unnecessary. Of course this is all speculation–but prudent speculation nevertheless if one is to be vigilant.

No doubt we will be told that protesting the mosque only results in a motivating factor for terrorist recruitment. But if the Imam is merely a moderate, how does he have so much influence on militants? That sort of assertion is easily reversible. A lack of resolve might well embolden the terrorists to be more daring. Are we supposed to capitulate to every demand under the threat of reprisals?

It seems that the past statements of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf are simply ignored. Rauf stated that America was complicit causing the 9-11 bombing by certain foreign policy stances. He believes that Sharia law and the U.S. Constitution are compatible. Rauf and others who are billing themselves as moderates, are yet reluctant to condemn known terrorist organizations. For those reasons alone we should be more cautious about endorsing him either financially or ideologically. After all, we elected a president recently in spite of warnings about his questionable associations, and many are just discovering that he is being true to his ideological nurturing. Why do we want to make the same mistake of failing caveat emptor again? Rauf claims that the dissent is all about the looming fall elections. If so, he isn’t helping his cause by keeping this a front page issue.

Recall that during the Cold War, we often heard the phrase “by conquest or consent,” indicated there was a stealth method of socializing America without a bloody revolution or all out military conflict, but America’s fall was surely inevitable. One should hardly suppose that militant Islam does not likewise countenance both revolutionary and evolutionary strategies in their plans of conquest.

Noticeably absent in all the furor are the champions of religious suppression, crying for expanded “separation of church and state.” It seems that some of these secularist organizations are little concerned if the religious persuasion at issue is in conflict with the advancement of Christianity. The real reason why some people willingly claim that militant Christianity(whatever that is)is equally, or more threatening to them and America at large, is because they realize that criticism of Christianity is actually highly unlikely to put one in harm’s way, and it is a form of bigotry that still remains socially acceptable.

If the mosque issue has the result of being politically polarizing, I hope that isn’t the only positive outcome when the dust finally settles at Ground Zero.

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