August 18, 2010

Taking Off the Mosque

When one strips away the bold xenophobia about the "Mosque at Ground Zero" — which is neither a mosque nor at ground zero — one finds something else. Set to one side the brazen observations that suggest all Muslims are terrorists at heart, and you will find the more genteel bigotry that calls upon minorities to be sensitive to the concerns of the intolerant. This is the language of, "Some of my best friends are... but I wouldn't want one to marry my daughter."

It is all the more appalling to see African-Americans, such as our president, simultaneously (or serially) support the right but question the wisdom of the Park51 project, or for Governor Paterson to enter into the hustle to "relocate" the project to a more distant property.

Have both of them forgotten, "There goes the neighborhood" and "They need to know their place"?

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


Paul said...

The debate on this issue greatly saddens me, because it seems that we have lost sight of some very basic principles here in the interest of whipping up the right-wing base for the next election. It also seems based on the principle of collective guilt. Every Muslim everywhere in the world is now guilty by association for the attacks of 9/11. Sorry, I don't buy that.

The Mayor had it right in his speech on Governor's island:

Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question – should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here. This nation was founded on the principle that the government must never choose between religions, or favor one over another. "The World Trade Center Site will forever hold a special place in our City, in our hearts. But we would be untrue to the best part of ourselves – and who we are as New Yorkers and Americans – if we said 'no' to a mosque in Lower Manhattan. "Let us not forget that Muslims were among those murdered on 9/11 and that our Muslim neighbors grieved with us as New Yorkers and as Americans. We would betray our values – and play into our enemies' hands – if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists – and we should not stand for that. "For that reason, I believe that this is an important test of the separation of church and state as we may see in our lifetime – as important a test – and it is critically important that we get it right.

JCF said...

Freedom of religion isn't freedom, if it isn't freedom to choose things we might not individually/corporately prefer.

There's all sorts of things that, in my heart of hearts, I might like to "walk back."

But our 1st Amendment religious freedoms HAVE to be absolute---not open to second-guessing by ANYONE not in a given faith---or the tyranny of the majority inevitably rears its ugly head.

[For all I loathe about George W Bush, I'm thankful he didn't do an "I wish they wouldn't" about TEC's consecration of +Gene Robinson, for example.]

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Tobias--you nailed it. Excellent post--and so frustrating that our elected officials seem to have no courage...

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Paul, thanks for the Mayor's comments. Would others could be so clear!

JCF and Doxy, thanks for your thoughts, too.

It is so depressing: the whole thing reminds me of a tragic version of the old joke that ends, "Goldberg, iceberg... what difference does it make!"

Anonymous said...

Grandmere Mimi posted a comment which for some reason has disappeared into oblivion, but here it is:

In the midst of the world-wide commentary, I wonder if the building of the mosque is even a constitutional matter at all. Shouldn't the decision be in the hands of the Dept. of City Planning? Why should the opinions of the entire world be considered in the building of the mosque? To me, it seems a matter to be decided locally. Or am I missing something?