Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ground Zero Mosque

So the latest Facebook meme floating into my news feed goes something like this:
"If you think putting up a mosque 600 ft. from ground zero and having the inauguration on the anniversary of 9/11 is immoral and inhuman. If you think it shows a complete lack of respect for the memories of all that perished there and if you think that politicians are doing a grave injustice to those fallen heroes, thei...r families and all the people of New York City, THEN PLEASE COPY AND PASTE THIS TO YOUR WALL"
Assuming we ignore the countless grammatical errors (and every one I've seen so far has these errors), I have a few problems with this particular sentiment.

First, if 600 feet is too close to ground zero for these people's taste, then how about moving the mosque 1000 feet away, will that work?  If not 1000 feet, will 2000 feet work?  How about a mile?  How far away from Ground Zero would be acceptable?  Is it acceptable to even have a mosque in the same town?  State?  Continent?  Hemisphere?  Where shall we draw the line for acceptable locations for places of worship for the people of Islam?  Well, according to this NYTimes article, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and California are all still too close to Ground Zero for some people to allow a mosque. 

Same for the "inauguration" date.  If September 11th won't do, how about September 10th (when the acts of 9/11 were, I'm assuming, being finalized).  Does a September 10th inauguration still show a lack of respect?  How about September 12th?  September 21st?  I'm assuming they shouldn't do it in August out of respect for the people who died in the US Embassy bombing.  And October is out due to the USS Cole bombing.

So my question is when and where can Muslims build and open a mosque?

Finally, the above meme uses the collective "all" when talking about victims of the attack, fallen heroes, their families, and New York, which is a rhetorical device that I find unpersuasive.  Whenever someone uses the collective all/we/us/them, their opinions lose weight in my mind.  There is no way that the memories of "all" that perished there could be disrespected by the mosque, as there were hundreds who died there who were Muslim.  There is no way that "all" of New York could be victim of this "grave injustice", as there are presumably New Yorkers who will attend this mosque regularly.  As a firm believer and proponent of "rugged individualism", I much prefer specifics and tend to reject generalities (when it comes to labeling people).

And it's not just my friends on Facebook who are (in my opinion) in the wrong on this issue.  Today, on my drive home for lunch, the Jim Rome Show went to commercial so I decided to tune into the Rush Limbaugh show for the first time in a couple of months.  Here is a transcript of the part of the show that I heard:

We got people on our side saying, "We gotta be very, very careful here, we don't want to overstep on this, could really hurt us in November."  Who's saying this?  The Democrat ruling class people and the media are saying it, and typically people on our side in the ruling class in the Beltway, "Oh, yeah, they're right, we don't want to make them mad."  The left, you know, they like to hold Joe McCarthy out as some kind of unbalanced commie hunter.  Look at Pelosi.  Look at her massive ego, her massive power grabbing, the way she runs the House, her statements about investigating those she disagrees with.  She is McCarthy, she is Watergate, and all the rest of it combined.  The only voices who will object to Pelosi are ours, conservative voices.  They're not going to find anybody in the Republican Party hierarchy upset with this. No, it's just Pelosi being Pelosi they'll say. It's just usual inside-the-Beltway stuff.  That's just Pelosi being Pelosi, that's just Reid being Reid, oh, that's no big deal, that's just the Democrats being who they are.  

You let some Republican, say a speaker of the House, start talking about investigating people who are funding certain leftist causes and you see what happens.  This is a tipping point.  Is Pelosi gonna investigate Harry Reid?  Harry Reid's opposed to the mosque.  Now, granted, he's been given special dispensation on this.  But is Pelosi gonna investigate Reid?  And it looks like dissent isn't patriotic anymore, is it?  It looks like what Hillary said about dissent and opposing the administration, that was the new patriotism back during the first and second terms of George W. Bush.  But, now, no, no, no, no.  Even Chris Christie's getting on this bandwagon, (paraphrasing) "We don't want to overplay our hand here, this could go a little bit wrong.  We gotta be very, very, very, very careful.  Others are warning us not to shout about this, don't go out and say what you really want to say."  I'm sorry.  These are not the people who tell me what to say and what not to say.  They have never been, and they're not going to start being now.  

Notice that the Muslims' right to freedom of religion trumps our freedom of speech.  We're being told to shut up 'cause it might hurt Republicans in November.  We're being told to tiptoe, be very, very, very, very careful here. Well, they can cower all they want in retirement.  I'm going to continue to do and say what I think is right, because, folks, there are millions of Democrats, and there are millions of independents and others who are on the correct side of this mosque business, and buying into the Democrat template, that this is about politics, this stuff, is dead wrong.  This is not politics as usual.
I find myself doing this more and more, but I disagree with Rush here.  He's all over the place in this monologue.  He's hitting all the hot-button buzz words:  Pelosi, Reid, Democrat ruling class, Beltway, etc.  I listened to this 5 minute block of his show and I was happy when I got home so I could shut it off.  As I didn't listen to the rest of the show, I'm hoping he took some time to logically explain why he opposes the mosque.  But one aspect of his monologue really grabbed my attention:
Notice that the Muslims' right to freedom of religion trumps our freedom of speech.
And this is where he completely lost me.  To me, this is not a "freedom of religion" issue.  To me, this is not a "freedom of speech" issue.  Both of those freedoms are alive and well.  This is, to me, an issue over property rights.  Should an owner of a property be able to develop that property as they see fit (within the guidelines and requirements set forth by their local municipality)?  I say yes, regardless of how this new development upsets some people's sensibilities.  And this goes for mosques, casinos, porn stores, strip clubs, liquor stores, Planet Hollywoods, lingerie stores, Starbucks, WalMarts, Scientology centers, and any other building that bothers people.  I say let them all be built.  Get that portion of New York back in business.  Let the market place decide.  

And I'm quite disappointed in Rush for not recognizing the property rights angle.  For example, a year ago Rush talked about the city of Chicago turning away a WalMart, and had this to say, "Where there are new jobs to be created in the private sector, Democrats somewhere are standing in the way of it, all because of an irrational hatred of a retailer called Wal-Mart and all because Wal-Mart is not unionized."

Rush wants the government to stay out of the way when it comes to Walmart or any other group of people/company opening up shop, so why is he unhappy when the government for once does the right thing and stays out of the way?  So it would be ok for a JC Penny to open its doors to the public, but not an Islamic Mosque?  All of the 9/11 hijackers were men, so would there be the same reaction if a Big & Tall Men's store was being proposed?  Most of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia.  Should there be a boycott every falafel cart in the city?

To me, the fact that these people are going to build a place of worship on land that they have purchased, and are following all the necessary legal and zoning regulations, trumps any questions of sensibility.  And it troubles me that I'm apparently in the minority opinion on this subject in conservative circles.  It troubles me that some people's gut reaction and emotion over a tragic incident in the past is clouding their judgment and principles.  It troubles me that the movement I grew up with, the one that supported property rights and rugged individualism, now has a religious litmus test on who can and cannot develop their property and for what purposes.  I guess I should just be happy that I'm of the correct religious background of the majority and I should just go about my business until I become the minority.


  1. This demonstrates how conservatism has changed in the last few years in my opinion. More and more, it has decended into raw emotionalism and thrown aside intellectual rigor.

    Having said that, the issue is a red herring anyway. Watch what the other hand of government is doing, because both partys are attempting to distract us!

  2. Eric, one big, ugly fact everyone seems to be missing: the center (not just a mosque) is not opening on September 11th! You can see it here:

    I don't understand this at all. I'm having difficulty expressing my .. disappointment and confusion .. in how so many Americans are acting. Really? Is this a nation where freedom only applies if you wear a cross around your neck? The imam of the center has spent time reaching out to other faiths and has been critical of Muslims acting out in the world. I see nothing wrong with the man.

    Ignorance and stupidity overwhelming! Way to show your fellow Americans and the world we aren't a bunch of bigots.

  3. Did Eric C. Lundy just agree with Barack H. Obama?