Ground Zero Mosque vs Baghdad Christian Church?

Its proposed location isn’t precisely “ground zero” and it isn’t exactly a mosque. Its meant to be a few blocks away and is designated a “cultural center.”

Sharif El-Gamal wants to tear down a building that was permanently damaged in the in-the-name-of-Islam mass-murder attack of 9/11, and on the site he wants to build a not-quite-a-mosque center for Muslims to, we can suppose, culturally and peacefully associate.

The equivalent to this would be if evangelist Pat Robertson were to trudge into Iraq—following in Mr Obama’s now victorious footsteps—and propose building a Christian church just around the corner from Saddam’s Baghdad palace.

Now, all lefty readers, a show of hands, please. All who would vociferously support Mr Robertson’s right to build a Christian church in Iraq, all those, that is, who would scream “Ignorant Bigots!” at any slobbish yokels who oppose the church, please raise your hands?


Oh wait, I forgot to add that proviso that, just like El-Gamal is doing, Robertson would seek to pay for a substantial portion of the church using tax-payer funds.

Anybody yet?

No hands. Well, let’s ask an easier question. How many would say that Robertson’s plan was “insensitive” (always a favorite words), or that it was at least in bad taste?

Only one hand. Yes, Michael?

“It’s a bad question. You can’t just go around building churches in Iraq.”

Why not? People can just go around building not-quite-a-mosques here, can they not?

“You don’t get it. Iraq doesn’t have freedom of religion. It’s a Muslim country and they can ban Christian churches if they want.”

Some of you in the back didn’t hear Michael’s answer. I’ll repeat it. Michael, you say that my question doesn’t have an answer because it is flawed. Since Iraq, a predominately Muslim country, has restrictions on building non-Muslim religious centers, a Christian church might be illegal, and thus my question is moot. Is that a fair summary?

“It is.”

Because the Iraqis are intolerant of other religions, they do not have to tolerate Christianity?

“I wouldn’t say it that way.”

Is my way wrong?

“I just don’t like that word.”

Intolerant? It’s meaning is well enough here. It says that they will not allow—that they will, if need be, forcibly ban—non-Muslim religious encroachment. So, would you say that those here in the States that argue the not-quite-a mosque should relocate, or that it is at least “insensitive”, are intolerant?

“They are.”

Intolerant in the same way? Notice that nobody here is arguing that the not-quite-a-mosque cannot be built, just that it should be built in a different location, one removed from the site of murderous attack committed in the name of Islam.

“Those who argue against the mosque are religious bigots. They’re just saying that their religion is right and everybody’s else’s is wrong.”

Since you didn’t answer, I can only assume that all levels of “intolerance” are equivalent to you. Pleas for good taste and civil accommodation by New York City residents are equivalent to their arguing for outright bans of Islam.

Then let me ask you this: are the Iraqis also bigots in banning a Christian church? Their religion preaches intolerance of all other religions. Should we tolerate that?

“You’re just trying to stir things up to get publicity and trying to polarize people to get some votes.”

In the same manner as Mr Obama when he stepped into the debate? Besides, you forget that I’m not running for any office, nor am I selling anything. Nor am I—and here you might want to take a note—proselytizing for any religion.

“Look. It’s simple. Building the mosque is a life-or-death test of religious freedom.”

By that you can only mean—because again, nobody is calling for a ban on building not-quite-a-mosques—that building the center in that precise location is a “life-or-death test”. Why is this precise location important in your labeling critics bigots and calling them intolerant?

“The location has nothing to do with it.”

If that’s so, then why not agree to move it?

“I’m not saying that. I’m saying you can’t have the government dictating where it should be located.”

You mean, our government should not act like the Iraqi government—a government whose actions you just said you support—and say where religious institutions can be built? But of course, nobody is asking the government to ban the not-quite-a-mosque. Private citizens are asking El-Gamal to consider his actions and the feelings of those in the community and move it on his own.

“It’s the same thing.”

Then your argument can be summarized thus: that governments should not tolerate that which you, Michael, do not like, and that government should not only allow but be complicit in obtaining anything that you, Michael, do like. Finally, that anybody who agrees with you, Michael, is tolerant, but that anybody who disagrees with you, Michael, is intolerant.



  1. juan

    Please Matt…get the word out. I’m trying to raise money to build the Nathan Bedford Forrest Museum of the KLU KLUX KLAN in
    This cultural center will have fun and games for the whole family! We have one game where we actually set up water hoses
    to the fire hydrants and blow black people off the street! They are paid actors of course. We call this game Birmingham ’63.

    For those that are really tolerant we have a dhimmicrat voting registration table where we will actually accept payment for you to vote.
    We’re calling it a poll tax.

    The list goes on and on…I’ll explain more after I’ve had my coffee. Good stuff man.

  2. JH

    Notice that nobody here is arguing that the not-quite-a-mosque cannot be built, just that it should be built in a different location…

    This brings to mind the time when nobody argued that certain group of people couldn’t drink from a water fountain, just that they should not drink from the White water fountain at a specific location.

  3. Luis Dias

    My two cents on the matter.

    First, the iraqui analogy only works when you summon “common sense”. Ok, it’s not good taste for these people building here their “cultural center”, irrespectively of the 9/11 attack being or not being an attack “by that religion”.

    But such a decision is not mine to take. It’s theirs.

    Now, the US is not iraq. The US is not based upon any religion whatsoever, despite the Pat Robertsons of your country lies about that particular point. So, lawfully, the muslims are right, and Obama is right in the spirit of the Constitution.

    This has nothing to do whether if it is a “good idea” or not to build such a cultural center.

    Of course, my opinion is that it probably isn’t. Already, it has offended a lot of new yorkers, who then protest vehemently, because islam is the very religion “that attacked NY”. Then muslisms get offended at the notion that it was “their” religion that was the perpetrator, instead of being some cult fanatics of Al Quaeda, who also happened to be muslim. Then they shout at each other, both “rightfully” offended at each other. And talks end at that point.

    For some, it’s a “mission” to end this “abomination”, for others it’s a “mission” to build this cultural center in order to make a better contact between islam and new yorkers, for others it’s a mission to invoke and test (as you say) the constitution, and common sense is just a lost word in this mess.

    But you know my opinion on religions. If I would get my way, I’d throw all of these priests, rabis and imans and send them to the Gulag. Then these silly events would never happen 🙂


    WOW JH — that mind of yours seems toburn rocket fuel.

  5. Briggs


    OK, I’ll bite. Tell us of the parallels of how being disallowed from drinking at a fountain because of the color of one’s skin is directly related to a request—not a law—to move a building site.

    You would support Juan’s right to build his religious center?


    It has everything to do with the “mosque” opponents talking about propriety of the action. Your attempt to excise this out of the discussion leaves nothing but the legal aspect, which can and has been stipulated by all sides that the builders surely possess.

    Even though you profess to possibly question the propriety of the action you seem to get wrapped up in wanting to be as even handed and open. And that comment about “priests, rabis and imams”, IMO, goes from openness to vacant. Why is it important to beat up the faith world? Does that establish your bona fides of detachment?

    IMO instead of looking under the hood of the overwhelming response, against the Imam’s proposed plans and seeing bigotry seems to ignore the last 9 years of history. I could understand if this sort of protestation was common place at all mosque building before and after 9/11; like during the days gone by when equal but separate used too common (Note to JH).

    I wish we would engage in a dialogue in the hope of understanding the subtleties of positions rather than the slicing and dicing actions engender too much heat and almost no light.

  7. sylvain

    Well, I guess that in this case I’m a lefty.

    The most “cultural center” named Park 51 which is not going to be built on Ground Zero and doesn’t even have a view of the site, should be built there for several reason.

    Islam is a laic organization. Their are different faction of Islam, just like their is different faction of Christian. The faction of Islam building the center was/is present in this part of New York well before the construction of the World trade center began. This faction had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack. Finally, why blame someone else for the stupidity of a few lunatic.

    Of course, in an ideal world Christian should be able to build a church in Bagdad. Sadly, freedom of belief and personal freedom are not as advance around the world as it is in North America. It does not mean that because the people in Bagdad or Iran or other countries are intolerant , that we have to become just as imbecile and intolerant than they are. While there is little hope to see these countries tolerant, their is much hope, not to see us degrade back to their level.

    There was one very good reason to invade Iraq and it was to liberate the people from the savagery of Saddam Hussein. Sadly the cause was lost to the imbecility of torture. If you want to show that your way of life is better than the other than you don’t do the same barbaric action that the others do. If you do than you are no better than him.

    Yes, even a lefty like me could support the Iraq war and disagreed with France, Germany and the UN security council.

  8. JH

    DEEBEE, my mind is fueled by the reaction of matter and antimatter, and it’s surprisingly quiet and calm.

    Well, Mr. Briggs, there is nothing to bite, really. You are entitled to your opinion. I believe that the Muslim community has a right to build anywhere they wish provided that they meet local laws. Imagine for a moment that you actually belong to that community. The statement that it’s somehow OK as long as they moved to somewhere else simply reminds me of what happened to a certain group of people. Do you expect the Muslim community to buy such an argument? How would this argument make them feel?

  9. Ray

    I wasn’t aware that there was a Muslim or Islamic culture. Is it similar to Baptist or Catholic culture?

  10. Briggs


    Live and learn. And they are not similar, no.

  11. southern james

    “I believe that the Muslim community has a right to build anywhere they wish provided that they meet local laws.”

    To my knowledge, so does everyone who has come out against this. That is not the arguement. It has ALWAYS been not whether they could, but whether they should.

    “The statement that it’s somehow OK as long as they moved to somewhere else simply reminds me of what happened to a certain group of people.”

    Apples and Oranges. Building the “mosque” or “center” at THAT specific location, while flat out refusing to entertain any requests to put it elsewhere, but instead calling those who would rather not have it there, haters, racists and other names – is a confirmation that this is clearly intended to be a political statement. This is a political act. It is not intended, by those who are pushing this within the “Muslim Community” as a attempt to build bridges or to reach out in any way shape or form, to the non-Muslims in America. Especially if you bother to educate yourself even a little bit about the background of the Imam behind this.

    Versus, some folks who aren’t interested in anything other than a drink of water. Give me a break.

    “Do you expect the Muslim community to buy such an argument?” Well that depends. If Muslims in America are truly and honestly ashamed and humiliated and embarassed at what a percentage of professed fellow believers in the Koran and the teachings of its Prophet, have been doing in Allah’s name, then they will not WANT an Islamic cleric doing something so ‘in your face’ as this Imam is CHOOSING to do. And, again, if you do any research at all you will discover that there are indeed Muslims in America speaking out against what this guy is doing.

    “Sensitivity, tolerance and understanding” is a two way street. And to make a decision to build this structure within the range of where actual wreckage fell, following an attack on innocent humans by people proclaiming that were doing so in the name of Islam, is an act of insensitivity, intolerance and lack of understanding.

  12. Permit me, dear Luis Dias to correct a point. As a non-religious person you assumed incorrectly when you said,

    “If I would get my way, I’d throw all of these priests, rabis and imans and send them to the Gulag. Then these silly events would never happen”[sic]

    I can’t speak for Imams, but Priests and Rabbis are not necessarily the leaders or decision-makers of their congregations. Instead, they are the shepherds and servants of their flocks. In that role they are more inclined to do what those bodies of believers’ want done rather than push their own agendas. I know this is confusing to those outside the realm, as it were, but “these silly events” are what the rank-and-file want and the Priests and Rabbis involved are more likely serving, not advocating on their own.

    And now for difficult-to-comprehend but equally misguided sylvain. One part of your premise is dead wrong. Islam does not have “factions” similar to Christian “factions”. To think so is to be completely fooled by smooth-talking rhetoric. Islam “factions” can not and will not publicly criticize or critique each other. Hence nothing negative is said against “Islamoterrorists” by so-called “moderate Muslims”. Otoh, Christian “factions” – which we call denominations – are forever publicly disagreeing with and pointing out absurdities in the practices and beliefs of others. In fact, scripture tells us to do so. It’s called “testing” each other out. I point this out in the charitable belief you mean well and would want to correct your grievous error.

  13. I say let them build it, and make sure the place is bugged so the feds can record a silent fart in the bathroom. When evidence of criminal conspiracy have been gatherered (let’s say after a couple of weeks) tear the building down. The things preached in basement mosques are not always, how shall I phrase it? Not very nice.

  14. I basically made the decision to just say screw the complexity of waiting months and years for a decent following and used a twitter followers service to acquire me 1k followers. They in fact have all stuck around and I’ve picked up 40 retweets in the past weeks time, 40 more than I had ever obtained previously. Bliss. Really though there are a ton of those people around, but I considered them skilled. Also you’ll find some no cost website programs and such in other places but I’m not a programmer so can’t rely on them.

  15. Luis Dias

    DEEBEE, I suggest some calm there. I do not understand your wording about “propriety of the action”, most probably because I’m not a native speaker. If you mean the lack of “sense” by the Imman to try to build such a building in such a controversial place, I did not leave that out, and I don’t care whether if people see me as “even handed” or whatever. I see what I see, and right now I see two groups of people offended at each other. I see NYorker’s reasoning and I understand it, and I also see the muslim’s reasoning and I also understand it.

    It’s more of a deep emotional crisis over there, not a very rational one. It’s mostly like a very blooded marriage fight, where both parties are deeply offended at each other, and they both feel that the truth is on their side. From the looks of it, you are embedded in one part of such marriage ;).

    I am interested in the subtleties, and of course, I hope these two parties get along. I don’t think that building up a schism towards 1.5 billion people is very interesting, nor do I think that the muslims want to marginalize themselves in america.

    And please take my words about the Gulags unseriously. Because if you do not, I will also send you into it. It’s not a case of detachment. All of the old lurkers and commenters here know my anti-theism very well. If anything, I was trying to be nice (oh dear, the kittens! ahah)

  16. Luis Dias


    Surely, you didn’t take me seriously too. Of course, if one chops the heads of all of these leaders, the religion doesn’t die. If anything, it grows even more intensely, out of sheer paranoia (if they are so hard to get us, we must be on to something!!). So the first thing that would happen would be the substitution of said heads. Perhaps even double. Very inneficient.

  17. Margaret

    Actually not being able to build a church is the least of the worries of the Christians in Iraq. Consider for instance, the kidnapping and deaths of half of the leadership of the Anglican church in 2005

    These were local Iraqi’s being killed because they are christian – not hated foreigners.

    The silence of those who campaign for “tolerance” was deafening when this happened … it seems not all tolerance is born equal!

  18. Luis Dias

    IOW, of course people are right protesting against the muslims “lack of taste”. OTOH, muslims are entirely entitled to build such a place. So what if they do build it? Isn’t in the spirit of america to do just what people want, provided that is legal? I mean, why should they care so much about some “offended” people?

    The only reason why would be to avoid the “IN YO FACE” spirit that some here advocate. But when would such an action be possible then? Within 20 years? 50 years? 100 years?

    I see these people’s reactions of “offense” and I cringe somewhat. Ok, so you are offended. So the hell what? I do remember what was the reaction to some danish cartoons, with people hellbent on their “offense”, some of them even burning embassys and what have you. Is that reaction even worthwhile? At the time I thought, frak the muslims, let the cartoons flood the world. Not for any “religion bashing”, but for freedom of expression sake. The thought that some “offended” fellows have the right to censor others abhors me. Well, in this case, it’s the other way around.

  19. Luis Dias

    Margaret, that is just empty rethoric. 2005 Iraq belongeg to the “axis of evil”. It’s not exactly “america”.

  20. Philemon

    Divide and conquer.

    The Main Stream Media has been whipping up a frenzy on this, just like they do on global warming. Look at who owns them. Follow the money. The demonstration against the Islamic Community Center was about 500 people strong. Out of all of New York, that is all who would muster.

    If constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of religion were conditional on other countries observing them, the American Revolution would never have occurred. Moreover, it presupposes the ludicrous idea that if any country doesn’t have some liberty or another, no country should have it, which is absurd.

    Islam is no more a threat than is global warming. You might as well worry about the Papist threat. Also, the idea that Alan Greenspan was some sort of free market advocate is equally absurd.

  21. John R T

    Luis – Not nit-picking:

    ¨2005 Iraq belongeg to the {sic}“axis of evil”.¨

    Listen again: our President did not use the ´definite´ article.

    ´An´ axis of evil.

  22. JH

    Southern James,

    Indeed, everyone, including you, the Muslim community and me, is free to build anywhere they wish if legally allowed. That’s the key point I really want to make.

    If you have any accurate knowledge or reliable sources about the background of the Imam, please share. I don’t need any research to verify that there are Muslims in America speaking out against the Iman; I believe you.

    I’ll need more than a statement to conclude whether a person is a racist.

  23. Matt

    The imam claims to want to engage in dialog, to further understanding, etc. It’s laughable to take such a person as this at face value when he cannot admit the obvious, such as that Hamas is a terrorist organization. Add to this the name of the “Cordoba Initiative,” and it’s now extremely difficult to see this as a good faith effort.

    What if the name of the group trying to build the Baghdad church were the Tolerance Crusaders? That seems like a pretty obvious provocation. The name itself belies the stated purpose, or at least, to an Islamic audience, it sure would.

    A more interesting and obvious analogy, I think, would be a USAF air base near Hiroshima. I can’t imagine that there is any amount of strategic or tactical imperative that could possibly exist that would make that base a good idea.

  24. Luis

    I think that calling for strict quid pro quo is a very poor argument and not congruent with the values of a free nation. Following Briggs’s logic the government would have to increase trade barriers against anybody that has high tariffs for products made in the USA, hurting its own citizens. Thus, if other countries have idiotic policies you seem convinced of the need for matching them.

    I am all for your right to discuss if the mosque should be near ground zero or not, but I would expect that you rely on the same quality of arguments that you use when dealing with statistical issues.

  25. Luis Dias

    John, thanks for the correction.

    Matt, your analogy of the USAF is bogus and ridiculous, since:

    (1) The USAF is a body institution that did in fact bomb Hiroshima with a nuke
    (2) There were 100.000 or so casualties in Hiroshima
    (3) The US was in a state of war with Japan
    (4) This particular Imman has no responsibility nor any linkage *whatsoever* with the people that destroyed the two towers.

    What’s next? Are we gonna blame any muslim for what *they* did to the twin towers? Are you sure you can pose the point in that extent?

    Mind me, I’m one of the opinion that religion is a toxic, a poison, that in this case can be in fact traced towards the assault on the towers. What I mean is, Islam itself is *partly* to be blamed, while there are other factors (the fanatic power struggle of a group that believes that it was able to crash the soviet union, and why not do it to the “big satan”, for example). But if islam is partly to be blamed, are innocent muslims to be blamed?

    Take the answer carefully. Are christians today responsible for the crusades? Of course not. Muslims believe in their religion and most abhor what was done in 9/11. Some were even killed in the act. But there is a funny thing in this fact. Many people simply do not believe it. They believe that every single muslim is a closet american hater, that they “conspire” to destroy the country, that they gather in caves to plot the american downfall. It’s a ridiculous paranoia.

  26. Gnomish

    “Muslims believe in their religion and most abhor what was done in 9/11.”
    Orly? Please come up with some proof of that one!
    There is no shortage of proof to the contrary.
    You have to give up Disney some day. Maybe you can get your epiphany from watching the liberal apostasy of Dan Pearl. He died for your sins.

  27. Matt

    No analogy is perfect, but you did an excellent job ignoring the important part for irrelevant issues. But to beat the dead horse some more:

    The whole point is that the mosque is offensive to a lot of people. You can argue about whether they are racists or bigots or whatever, but calling them names isn’t a persuasive argument. Personally, I think the attack on Hiroshima was a net benefit (though I’m not really interested in rehashing WW2). If it will help you, imagine it was a Marine air base. The Marines didn’t drop any nukes.

    I think “no linkage whatsoever” is over stating the case (think Muslim Brotherhood). I could state that todays USAF has no linkage whatsoever to dropping the bomb. The Air Force didn’t event exist back then! And most of those serving hadn’t even been born. But I don’t even think that’s important here.

    Since I have no linkage whatsoever to all sorts of bad people (e.g., KKK, Nazi party, Bolsheviks, etc) does that mean that if I do something celebrating or praising any of them, it’s not in good taste?

    No, not all Muslims are to blame. But we cannot deny that the attacks themselves were done in the name of Islam, with the hope of spreading Islam through terror and violence. I (and many others who oppose this site) believe that Rauf is attempting to spread Islam (and Sharia) through means other than violence (this is the mission of the Muslim Brotherhood).

    It’s important to note that Islam goes beyond being just a religion. Of course, the Christians have the concept of “Render unto Caeser…” But for Islam, it’s all about the Islam. And the building of this mosque is more than a religious act, and Islam and Sharia are about as antithetical to American values as Communism was (and still is, of course) during the Cold War.

  28. Luis Dias

    Gnomish, your comment is just one more evidence of the ridiculous paranoia I’m talking about. I don’t have to prove a basic human sentiment. It’s you, who are stating a paranoid theory about all muslims, that have to show how this is, in fact, true. There is a deep bigotry hidden in your comment, which feeds upon the basic ignorance of the muslim day-to-day common people’s reality. Perhaps when people stop seeing reality as black and white…. oh wait.

    Matt, unlike your accusation, I did not “ignore” the offense whatsoever, when I wrote about it extensively. Your comment is awkward and ridiculous. What I did and you didn’t like was to put “offense” in its right place, namely, at almost a level of irrelevancy. Of course, to do so will enrage anyone who *is* offended. That’s why I never enter any fight between marriage couples, it’s of no use.

    Now, to your point of “linkage” (I will also avoid your the-murder-of-innocents-at-hiroshima-was-necessary point), what do you know of “muslim brotherhood”? What do you mean by using that word? Do you happen to know that there is a christian brotherhood too (just ask any afro-american)? Does that fact have anything to do with anything?

    IOW, are you trying to prove that these people are “brothers” of the people that did the murderous terrorist act? Well, what if they are? Last time I checked, I share zero responsibilities for my brother’s acts, and I am sure that you will want to state the same thing. So what is your argument, if not some feeble guilt-by-association?

    Yes, a murderous crime was committed “in the name of Islam”. So are many others in the name of “Freedom”, of “America”, of “Love”, etc. Are these things also guilty? Will a passionate crime done in the name of love done in place X turn any attempt to build a temple of love around the crime scene nine years later into something detestable? You are not thinking this straight.

    About your last paragraph, let’s get something straight. Christianity is not secular by decree, secularism was conquered slowly by our western culture. Secularism is not something that christianity endorsed or praised. Even now we do see every day people trying to put religion on schools, like creationism, or try to ban teachers because they are “unbelievers”, etc. Both christianity and islam are theocratic in nature, and yes, it’s up to us all, including muslims, to tame islam and make sure we all *get it*, that the only way forward acceptable is secularism.

    But to state that this is only an “islam” problem is just ignorant.

  29. Luis Dias

    Hitchen’s texts focus on another point entirely. And, of course, I agree with him on those ones. I’m a fan, actually, of the big Hitch 😉

  30. sylvain

    @ 49erDweet,

    I know that faction was the wrong word but wasn’t able to find a better one. Unlike catholicism which has a clear administrative structure, with the pope at its head, and where every practicing catholic will follow the same doctrine and dogma. Muslim belong to different community with different reading of the Qur’an.

    The vast majority of muslims are peaceful people who only want to live their faith while respecting the right of others to practice their religion.

    Sadly for that majority, a powerful minority of extremist who don’t care for anyones live, including their own, are ready to do anything they can to prevent peaceful living.

    The war between extremist muslim which is fought from Pakistan to Algeria causes a lot more death than all combine act of muslim terrorism against the western countries. In Iraq, even though the USA are blame for civilian death, they are nothing compared to the toll that Sunnis inflict on Shiite and vice-versa. These act of terrorism are much more common between muslim, than muslim and christians.

    There are moderate muslim that dare to speak out against terrorism. For example: the muslim canadian congress.

    We must not put everyone on the same boat and concentrate our effort on the real threat.

  31. Adam H

    Muslims can build anything they want on any private property they own, for all I care. But using tax-payer money?!? That is absolutely 100% unacceptable. ANYWHERE. If you’re going to ban prayer in school and take the 10 commandments out of courtrooms and rewrite the pledge of allegiance, then at least have the consistency to keep church and state separate when it matters.

    Bottom-line: The people paying for something should have the last say in all the decisions. If new york citizens overwhelmingly don’t want it built in that spot, then they shouldn’t have to pay for it to be built in that spot.

    I may be mistaken about where the money’s coming from, in which case I would treat it like any other religious building. If New York City would zone that land for a catholic church, then they shouldn’t treat the muslims any different, IMO.

  32. Ken

    RE: “Then your argument can be summarized thus: that governments should not tolerate that which you, Michael, do not like, and that government should not only allow but be complicit in obtaining anything that you, Michael, do like. Finally, that anybody who agrees with you, Michael, is tolerant, but that anybody who disagrees with you, Michael, is intolerant.

    A dialogue VERY similar to that transpired in the comments to a very infamous extreme left-wing liberal’s (& atheist’s) site some time back. I can’t help but wonder if that bit of commentary by the readers was pilfered & adapted to the above — of course, that outlook is so pervasive after you’ve encounted one you’ve pretty much seen’m all. They re-run all over all the time.

    And H.L. Mencken noted this same temperment nearly a century ago — with regard to the so-called “skeptics” which are still among us (inlcuding the above infamous liberal atheist):

    “This has been the main effect of skepticism in the world, working over long ages: that it has become gauche and embarassing to admit certain indubitable facts. Their unpopularity is due not to their destruction or abandonment but simply to the forensic talent of the skeptics, a bombastic and tyrannical sect of men, with a great deal of cruelty concealed in their so-called love of truth. It is not altruism that moves them to their assaults upon what other men hold to be precious; it is something no more than a yearning to make those other men leap.”

    This is at (somewhere at):
    “Prejudices: Third Series, Alfred A. Knopf, New York (1922), pp. 157-160.) “On Human Progress” by H. L. Mencken (from the Chicago Tribune, April 17, 1927);

    DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT: if you haven’t already…and if you download the book (*.pdf for about $10) jump to CH-42 & read that & the next three or so chapters for a detailed but easily understandable summary of the psychology of this sort of human.

    The author of “The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness” is a PhD psychiatrist — a forensic psychiatrist — and his arguments seem to me anyway unassailable. Its a great gift to give your liberal friends & enemies!

  33. Ari


    “I can’t speak for Imams, but Priests and Rabbis are not necessarily the leaders or decision-makers of their congregations. Instead, they are the shepherds and servants of their flocks. In that role they are more inclined to do what those bodies of believers’ want done rather than push their own agendas.”

    While true to a degree, I don’t know how well that holds for Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Greek Orthodox, where the priests at the higher levels are canon themselves.

    Also, I think it bears noting that rabbinical thought often becomes canon as well– look at how leading rabbinical authorities in Safardic and Hasidic communities can lead their congregations’ political and spiritual thinking.

  34. Mack

    I suspect that most Muslim Americans feel the way most Christians would feel if the Ku Klux Klan became the face of Christianity in the eyes of the world…angry, frustrated, and misunderstood. And, yes, it would be in poor taste to build a Christian outreach center close to a site where the perceived face of “Christianity” committed an atrocity.

  35. Doug M

    Am I the only person who thinks that this should be a local issue for New York to resolve and not a national issue?

    Talk radio blowhards are bent out of shape, but that is what they do for a living.

    Why the hell does the president need to speak up? It is a lose-lose issue. But then again, this president has no clue when to keep his mouth shut. It is bad politics for national politicians to step into this one.

    It is also bad politics to call those that disagree with you racist, bigoted, or “un-American.” Calling people names, moves the conversation off the merits of the subject and suggests that your arguement is weak.

  36. John R T

    ´…secularism was conquered slowly by our western culture.´

    My reading suggests your horse/cart relation is upset.

  37. Mike B

    Since many on here seem to be self-proclaimed experts on Muslim attitudes/beliefs, I thought it might be instructive to link a few actual polling studies about the beliefs of Muslims. It doesn’t take long to click through these studies, but IMO, there is some pretty enlightening stuff here.

    The first is a Poll conducted in several Arab countries. The second is a world wide poll, broken down by country, about 9/11. The third is a poll of Muslim Americans.

    On a variety of issues (Obama, US, Israel/Palestine, Iranian Nukes):

    On 9/11:

    Poll of Muslim Americans:

  38. Luis Dias

    John, that can actually be true…

  39. Margaret

    re: Margaret, that is just empty rethoric. 2005 Iraq belongeg to the “axis of evil”. It’s not exactly “america”.

    The point I was making was these folk were killed because they were Christians — not because they were foreigners.

    I am sure their families are satisfied by the fact that you call their deaths “rhethoric”. Personally I think it was a tragedy … and one that should have lead to an outraged reaction when it happened by the same people who are calling for tolerance now.

    But it didn’t. The silence was deafening.

  40. TomVonk

    Am I the only person who thinks that this should be a local issue for New York to resolve and not a national issue?
    No you are not . I am fully with you and I am not even American .
    Americans and New Yorkers don’t like the idea of a Mosque at/near the WTT site ?
    A majority of them ?
    Solve it democratically like the Swiss .
    The Swiss didn’t like the idea of minaret building in Switzerland alltogether .
    So they signed a public motion which demanded a referendum , won it with a crushing majority (58%) and made the thing banned . They didn’t ban the Mosques as such but they banned minaret building .
    Clean and simple .
    Well the Swiss have a tradition of direct democracy – if the majority wants something , they make it a law .
    No politician would dare to go against the wishes of the majority – if he did , the said majority would have elected somebody else who DOES care about what the majority wants .
    Trivial .
    Interestingly the Swiss didn’t ban the building of church towers and even more interestingly they had not a problem with them for some 1000 years 🙂
    It really takes an utter moron to be confused by all that .
    Of course there were the usual packs of feral dogs (the usual suspects , always the same)that began yapping how the Swiss were not nice , how the kind muslims should have the right to do whatever they wanted and wherever they wanted etc etc .
    The error they did was that they added “provided it is legal” 🙂

    Of course the answer of the Swiss was then obvious :”Well it is no more legal NOW . So please go away and mind your own business .”
    The New Yorkers should do the same thing . Force the Mayor to sign some regulation which prevents the thing .
    I am sure that the lawyers can make up some formal reason that holds water .
    But that’s irrelevant , the real reason is that when a majority thinks that building a Mosque at that particular place is a bad idea because it offends them , then the politicians better listen and make sure that it doesn’t happen .
    And yes , if I lived in New York I would also be part of a majority vote for a law banning Mosques at/near the WTT site .
    The only thing you need is to have a democratic process that demonstrates how big that majority is .
    Like the Swiss do .

  41. Matt


    I was referring to the established organization, Muslim Brotherhood: “The Brotherhood’s stated goal is to instill the Qur’an and Sunnah as the ‘sole reference point for … ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community … and state’.” The Imam Rauf also appears to be looking to spread Sharia. He runs the Sharia Index Project. The point is that this is a war being fought politically and violently. I do not mean that Rauf is fighting with violence.

    I do not think he’s trying to promote tolerance and dialog. And I think the location and purpose of the mosque are in extremely poor taste and, yes, offensive. The point with my above comment was that some things are simply not in good taste, no matter what other issues are involved. If you say that you want to get along, and that your actions will bring such things about, do you really think it’s such a good idea to be so impolite to offend the majority of the people you are trying to reach? Perhaps you think deliberate offensiveness is a good thing.

    I never said that Christianity was secular. I pointed out that there was room in there (straight from The Man Himself) for a state to exist independently of Christianity. People do all sorts of crazy things based on their interpretations and extrapolations of their religious beliefs, but Islam institutionalizes and explicitly calls for these things in Sharia. Possibly it’s simply the medieval mindset that most of Christianity has left behind that Islam has not.

    TomVonk: Even the opponents of the mosque do not want the government to simply shut down the mosque. Our government was set up with a lot of things to prevent just such a tyranny of the majority, starting with a limit on its powers. Just because something is legal, doesn’t mean that you should do it. I’m not from NY, but I was living about a mile from the Pentagon on 9/11. But Americans didn’t see the attacks as local issues, which is mainly why they don’t see the mosque as a strictly local issue.

  42. TomVonk

    Just because something is legal, doesn’t mean that you should do it.
    What has that to do with anything ?
    I have written nowhere that one does or should do something because it is legal .
    The primary motivation why anybody does something is simply because he wishes to do so .
    It is only a secondary sanity check if one wants to avoid unpleasant consequences that one looks whether what one wants to do is legal .
    Our government was set up with a lot of things to prevent just such a tyranny of the majority,
    This is logically absurd .
    What any democratic government , not only US , was set up with , are protections against governments and elected representatives .
    I have already demonstrated on another thread that there is no “protection” against a majority “tyranny” whatsoever . In US even less than elsewhere .
    It makes perfect sense too .
    The only way to override the majority wishes is to let a minority establish laws .
    But as it is notoriously difficult to enforce laws against the wishes of the majority , this generally calls for a much harsher form of government .
    The optimum is achieved when only 1 person decides and then you are indeed “protected” against any majority “tyranny” in an absolute way .
    This is generally called a dictatorship . It works too , one doesn’t loose time with debates , and banning a Mosque takes only one guy nodding his head regardless whether 60 % agree or not .
    Hwoever in this particular case , like I have shown in Switzerland , if a majority of New Yorkers wishes to prevent some Islamic building near the WTT site , they can perfactly do it and nobody (but perhaps some minority) has anything to say about it .
    The idea of “protecting” something from the majority wishes is totally inconsistent with the principles of democracy .
    Btw I am not saying that democracy is better or worse than something else .
    I am just saying that if that is what you have , then the majority decides whatever it wants included the fact whether one has a democracy or not .

  43. Luis Dias

    Margaret, their deaths are not rethoric, your abuse of their deaths under a non-sequitur is, mkay? Just because they died, it doesn’t mean that you are allowed to spread nonsense without no one to point that out.

  44. Luis Dias

    Matt, I agree with your above comment in general. Yes, I do not think that the Imman’s intentions are benign, if I call “benign” to whatever views that correlate with my own secular world view. I also agree with its bad taste.

    But the problem here is that it is his bad taste. And this is the problem of freedom. Freedom isn’t the freedom to choose the things that the others think of being of “good taste”, freedom is the freedom to choose the things irrespectively of what others feel about it.

    And there seems to be little one can do about his taste. He has some apparent despicable views about some things, and he has a project of his own. So the dilemma here is whether if you want to disrespect his freedom and preserve some “Good Taste” near the Ground Zero, or if you believe that his freedom is superior to your “good taste” argument.

    I never said this was an easy dilemma. Because, just like you, I’d rather not have that place built. But that is not my choice to take, now is it? Hitchens says, “if it’s a test, let it be two way street”. Yeah sure, Hitch, but you see, if you are just going to be “as good” to a certain person as you understand him to be “as good” to you, then we enter a bizarre world of moral relativism, where perceptions and “feelings” rule what freedoms we let these religious minorities have or not.

    To avoid these pathetic labyrinths, we have moral guidelines and certain basic principles. That’s why my answer to the problem is simple: let the guy build the place.

  45. Matt


    Ultimately, my position is also to “let the guy build the place.” However, I’d prefer if he didn’t, and I’m not afraid to say so. It’s similar to the saying that the solution to “bad speech” shouldn’t be censorship, but more speech. Freedom of speech (or religion) is not freedom from criticism, at least not by citizens in the US.

    Even if his intentions are really benign (for the sake of argument, assume so), then we could argue that such a confrontational and controversial action is probably not the most effective way to promote dialog and cross cultural understanding. Of course, if his intentions aren’t so benign, then the controversy is possibly just what he really wanted, or at least not as much of a setback.

  46. Doug M


    The United States has does not have national referenda. Many states do have them, but I don’t know the specifics of New York. However, it is common the courts to overturn “the will of the people.” In California, the voters amended the state constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Recently a judge determined that the amended state constitution is incompatible with the US constitution. A referendum to ban mosques of community centers in downtown New York would be quickly struck down.

    I visited Bosnia this summer. Minarets are cool. I would welcome a mosque with minarets in my neighborhood.

  47. Luis Dias

    Ah…! Well sure. 🙂

  48. Ari


    Did we read the same Federalist Papers?

    “The New Yorkers should do the same thing . Force the Mayor to sign some regulation which prevents the thing .
    I am sure that the lawyers can make up some formal reason that holds water .”

    First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”

    Add in the 14th Amendment, and you’re pretty much not going to get that law passed.

    US: Freedom of religion.
    Europe: Freedom FROM religion.

    They’re different.

  49. TomVonk

    Ari and Doug
    Unfortunately you still misunderstand my point .
    I am NOT saying that preventing any kind of building in New York or in the USA or in any democracy for that matter is immediately feasible with the laws as they are .
    I have been saying since the beginning that a majority makes and unmakes laws as it wishes whether somebody likes it or not .
    All and any laws .
    The current formal expression of a law (constitution or whatever) is irrelevant .
    What would it take to change a law so that it reads :
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof excepted Islam .” ?
    Right , again and always just a majority .
    There is absolutely nothing preventing a majority to enforce and establish a law like this one .
    In every democratic country there are constitutions , constitution courts and what not .
    But the most fundamental rule , the one that binds them all is the rule that says what it takes to change the rule that establishes rules .
    Is it a 2/3 majority of some body (senate , parliament , all people) ?
    Then this 2/3 majority may decide one day that the 2/3 will be 57.6 % in the future .
    Or whatever .
    In some cases and depending on the number of existing laws that have to be changed the process may take time .
    But you surely see that saying “a change takes time” and “a change is impossible” are 2 completely different statements where the former is true and the latter is false .
    What stays is that a majority can do whatever it wishes and regardless whether the minority likes it or not .
    You are really angry because your opinion happens to be a minority ?
    Tough luck , there are only 2 ways to live with it in a democracy – obey or establish your dictatorship .

  50. Doug M


    You suggested that Americans could follow the example of direct democracy as exhibited by the Swiss. No, we can’t under our current system of government. No point missed.

    So now we go onto a tanget:

    What would it take to change a law so that it reads:
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof excepted Islam .” ?
    Right , again and always just a majority.

    It takes 2/3rds vote from reprentatives both houses of congress and ratification from 3/4s of states legislatures. Not exactly a majority, at least not in any kind of direct-democracy sort of way. I suppose it is a sort of muti-faceted represantative democracy kind of majority.

    Of course we can overrule any government with a minority and bigger guns.

    In every democratic country there are constitutions, constitution courts and what not.

    I can think of three or four that do not have written constitutions. They get by with precident, and tradition to hold their governments together.

  51. TomVonk


    You suggested that Americans could follow the example of direct democracy as exhibited by the Swiss. No, we can’t under our current system of government. No point missed.

    No Doug .
    I could not have suggested that the Americans should do now a Switzerland-like referendum because I know that it is currently impossible in the USA . So I have not .
    I gave the Swiss example which you apparently didn’t know about , to show that a majority can implement and establish any law it wishes .
    The specific tool (in the Swiss case a referendum) is irrelevant , the point you missed and that I made was that in every democracy such a tool exists .
    Saying that the Americans could do like the Swiss meant “If you really wish something and have a majority then look for the relevant majority tool which will make your wish law like the Swiss did .”
    It exists in France , in Germany and in the USA too .
    You said it yourself : the tool in USA is the congress and states legislatures .
    On a tangent and from the practical point of view I am convinced that a trivial measure like forbidding some building on some place wouldn’t need to change the constitution , a good US-constitutional lawyer (what I am not) would probably be able to demonstrate that such a measure is consistent with the constitution .
    The point is that the specifics are irrelevant . 2/3 or 4/5 or 50% + 1 voice are all just particular examples of the infinity of possible majority rules .
    Once the required majority is established for any conceivable formulation of a project , then this project becomes automatically a law if the majority is really motivated to go through the process .
    And the only justification the majority needs to give is “I do it because I can and I want to .”
    I can think of three or four that do not have written constitutions. They get by with precident, and tradition to hold their governments together.
    While there may be very few democratic countries like UK who don’t have a booklet called constitution , there is always a rule to make rules .
    In UK it is the Parliamentary Supremacy . The Parliament’s decisions are (constitutional) law and control the government . This will probably gradually change because of the EU .
    So whether there is a booklet or not , there is always a tool enabling majority wishes to become law .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *