Once Again, With Feeling

Ken AshfordGodstuff, War on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

I can't believe the debate about the proposed "mosque" to be located "at Ground Zero" is still going on.

So much of what you read from the anti-mosque-eteers is just plain wrong.  So, at the risk of repeating myself:

(1)  This isn't really a mosque.  There are going to be any minarets, for example.  Or bells chiming at all hours of the day indicating the time to bow to Mecca.  It is a cultural center.  Yes, within its many rooms (including a swimming pool), there will be a prayer room, but the so-called mosque will be located in a building virtually indistinguishable from every other building in lower Manhattan.

(2)  It's not going to be located at Ground Zero (i.e., sitting atop the ashes of 3000 dead Americans, as one description I read put it).  It's going to be two whole city blocks away — New York city blocks.  In fact, five years from now, when the Freedom Towers are built at Ground Zero, you will be lucky if you even see the Towers from the cultural center, with other structures being in the way.

(3)  It is embarrassing to have to remind these critics that the entire religion of Islam, numbering over 1.5 billion people worldwide, did not attack us on 9/11.  19 extremists did.  To ban the cultural center from downtown Manhattan would be like some country banning the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association) because of the Klu Klux Klan (Christian extremists).  Which leads me to the final reason why people should embrace the mosque rather than trying to ban it….

(4)  The First Amendment.  Hey, you either love this country or you don't.

UPDATE:  Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic adds:

This seems like such an obvious point, but it is apparently not obvious to the many people who oppose the Cordoba Initiative's planned mosque in lower Manhattan, so let me state it as clearly as possible: The Cordoba Initiative, which is headed by an imam named Feisal Abdul Rauf, is an enemy of al Qaeda, no less than Rudolph Giuliani and the Anti-Defamation League are enemies of al Qaeda.  Bin Laden would sooner dispatch a truck bomb to destroy the Cordoba Initiative's proposed community center than he would attack the ADL, for the simple reason that Osama's most dire enemies are Muslims. This is quantitatively true, of course — al Qaeda and its ideological affiliates have murdered thousands of Muslims — but it is ideologically true as well: al Qaeda's goal is the purification of Islam (that is to say, its extreme understanding of Islam) and apostates pose more of a threat to Bin Laden's understanding of Islam than do infidels.

I know Feisal Abdul Rauf; I've spoken with him at a public discussion at the 96th street mosque in New York about interfaith cooperation. He represents what Bin Laden fears most: a Muslim who believes that it is possible to remain true to the values of Islam and, at the same time, to be a loyal citizen of a Western, non-Muslim country. Bin Laden wants a clash of civilizations; the opponents of the this mosque project are giving him what he wants.