Friday, August 20, 2010

That Damned 'Mosque' Issue Won't Go Away

It feels like an eternity since I posted a "Debate of the Week" item on the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque." (It's not on Ground Zero, and it's more of a community center with a mosque component.) Yet, as the midterm congressional elections approach, the issue has re-emerged as THE political hot button of the season.

So, again, I'm going to ask you: what are your thoughts on this? Do you think the planners should build Cordoba House, or Park51, at its proposed site, a former Burlington Coat Factory two blocks away from Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan?  Please weigh in below in the comments section. Also, please avoid ad hominem attacks on people you may disagree with. If you disagree with their reasoning, however, point out why and please cite facts that support your case.

Before the commenting begins, I want to point out two opinions on the topic that haven't really been addressed in the media:

First, here's leading atheist thinker Sam Harris (The Daily Beast via The Daily Dish):
The claim that the events of September 11, 2001, had “nothing to do with Islam” is an abject and destabilizing lie. This murder of 3,000 innocents was viewed as a victory for the One True Faith by millions of Muslims throughout the world (even, idiotically, by those who think it was perpetrated by the Mossad). And the erection of a mosque upon the ashes of this atrocity will also be viewed by many millions of Muslims as a victory—and as a sign that the liberal values of the West are synonymous with decadence and cowardice. This may not be reason enough for the supporters of this mosque to reconsider their project. And perhaps they shouldn’t. Perhaps there is some form of Islam that could issue from this site that would be better, all things considered, than simply not building another mosque in the first place. But this leads me to a somewhat paradoxical conclusion: American Muslims should be absolutely free to build a mosque two blocks from ground zero; but the ones who should do it probably wouldn’t want to.
Now, here's former Bush administration solicitor general Ted Olson*, whose wife died in the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon (Talking Points Memo):
Well it may not make me hap- popular with some people, but I think probably the president was right about this. I do believe that people of all religions have a right to build edifices, or structures, or places of religious worship or study, where the community allows them to do it under zoning laws and that sort of thing, and that we don't want to turn an act of hate against us by extremists into an act of intolerance for people of religious faith. And I don't think it should be a political issue. It shouldn't be a Republican or Democratic issue, either. 
*Interesting, sad note: Olson's birthday is Sept. 11.


  1. Doesn't anybody think this is a great idea? I mean, with a Muslim center right there it becomes less a target. Hell with it, let's put the towers back up and give Muslims the top two floors. If one day they empty out, it's probably a bad sign. Or maybe just Ramadan.

  2. If Sam Harris had been born in the early 20th century he'd be defending the "abstracted" use of eugenics as rational, while pointing out that he's not a Nazi.

    Every time Harris sets up his "Islam is a uniquely terrible religion" tent I want to stop in and ask him about science's uniquely terrible contributions to society*, and about the ethical void that's created when you place millions of individuals in the same intellectually-indefensible category.

    *To be clear: I am not saying that science is bad. I'm saying that pretending a rational view of the world is, in any way, less dangerous to the rest of that world's inhabitants is either hopelessly naive or profoundly disingenuous.


  4. There is a mosque in the pentagon. But the attack there was fake so I guess that's ok.

  5. Morse:

    Of the so-called "Four Horsemen," I've only really read stuff from Hitchens, Dawkins and Dennett, not so much Harris. I probably will now, just to see what his deal is. But here, I find it hilarious (sad?) that he's actually engaging in the same kind of double standard I've seen from religious folks I've encountered.

  6. Another anachronistic, homophobic, misogynistic, structure of oppression in downtown New York? After lighting a few candles and casting a few glyphs, a Secret Chief appeared to me and provided me an answer: a gnostic mass at ground zero. Who's in?

  7. Sorry Al, they'll make you check your cosmic trigger at the door.


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