Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Mosque at Ground Zero: What Would St. Augustine Say?

Correction: The original post quoted "Ezra Klein" when I should have said "Ezra Levant." The mistake would be obvious to anyone who clicked through to Levant's article. But I'm sorry about that - my mistake. The other Ezra has enough problems these days organizing the vast left-wing conspiracy to be misquoted like this.

There is a growing controversy about the proposal to build a mosque at the Ground Zero site in New York. The building on the property that the mosque is to be built on was damaged by debris from the collapsing towers. There is a Muslim tradition of building mosques on the sites of historic battles won by Muslim invaders attempting to extend the rule of Islam. Is this a simple case of religious freedom trumping all? Or is there more to the story?

I must say it is a bit surreal to see liberals, who are supportive of eliminating the freedom of religion of Christians, as in this case, for example, wax so eloquently about the freedom of religion for radical, violence-supporting, Jew-hating, homosexual-executing Muslims. It makes you rub your eyes in disbelief and ask if you missed something. It certainly appears that, (whether all liberals have actually thought this through or not), the liberal/progressive attitude is that, since Christianity is a bigger threat to their interests in the West than Islam is, and since "the enemy of my enemy is my (temporary) friend," they are eager to provide Islam with a free pass to attack Christians and Jews.

A typical liberal perspective is that of Steve Chapman who attacks Sarah Palin for being against religious freedom for Muslims. He writes:

A group called the National Republican Trust Political Action Committee says that "to celebrate that murder of 3,000 Americans, they want to build a monstrous 13-story mosque at Ground Zero."

Of course, the "they" who planned and executed the 9/11 attacks are not the same "they" who want to erect this structure. Both groups are made up of Muslims. But associating all Muslims with al-Qaida is like equating all Christians with the Ku Klux Klan.

Here, at least, is an argument from facts. So what are the true facts here? Is Chapman right to assert that while the 9/11 terrorists were like the Ku Klux Klan, the Muslims wanting to build the mosque are like enlightened, progressive, civil-rights activists? Ezra Levant argues, in effect, that they are actually more like the 1960s Jim Crow establishment in the South - not quite the Klan, but certainly enablers and secret supporters. He writes:

The driving force of the mosque is a radical imam named Feisal Abdul Rauf.

Just weeks after 9/11 he told 60 Minutes that America had it coming—U.S. policies were to blame, and Americans were “an accessory to the crime.”

That’s like telling a rape victim it’s her fault for wearing a skirt.

Rauf helped organize the recent terrorist flotilla that set sail for Gaza. He refuses to acknowledge that Hamas is a terrorist organization. But he has no trouble condemning “Christians in World War II” for bombing civilians in Hiroshima.

Rauf won’t even admit that Islamic terrorists were responsible for 9/11 itself. He told a New York radio station that’s just the “general perception.”

Rauf has been working on his plans for Ground Zero for a while. He published a book called A Call to Prayer from the World Trade Center Rubble: Islamic Da’wah in the Heart of America Post-9/11. It’s about expropriating the symbol of the crumbling U.S.—that can’t even build a memorial to 9/11 after nine years, let alone rebuild the towers — and contrasting it with a gleaming new tower of Saudi-style propaganda.

But even America-hating radicals have the right to build mosques in America, even at Ground Zero. That’s what makes America different from Saudi Arabia, where non-Muslims aren’t allowed to set foot in Mecca, let alone build a church.

But does the Saudi government have the right to build at Ground Zero? According to the Washington Times, the

Cordoba Initiative has assets of just $20,000 and total revenues since 2004 have been $100,000. How do you get from there to $100 million?

Rauf won’t say, but hints at outside funding.

Saudi Arabia has a religious foreign ministry, called the Muslim World League. It gave $7 million to build Toronto’s Islamic Centre, and more to mosques in Calgary and Montreal.

Are they the source? There are 100 mosques in New York City. But the Ground Zero mosque isn’t really a mosque. It’s a jihadist headquarters. And if the secret $100 million is from Saudi Arabia, it’s not even a mosque at all—it’s a clandestine embassy for the country from which 15 out of 19 9/11 terrorists came.

Now, Levant does not offer proof for his assertions and neither does Chapman. Both are writing short newspaper columns. But I would suggest that the whole issue turns on the facts of the case concerning who the promoters of this mosque are, what their track record is in terms of attitudes toward terrorism, Shaira law etc. and what their motives look like when a reasonable person in possession of all relevant facts examines the situation.

If they are not willing to admit forthrightly that 9/11 was caused by a group of young Muslim men, mainly from Saudi Arabia, claiming to be inspired by centuries of Islamic aggression against the infidels - then they should not be allowed to build their mosque.

If they are not willing to apologize for the atrocity committed against America by members of their own religion and in the name of that religion, regardless of how misguided they may be regarded as having been, - then they should not be allowed to build their mosque.

If they are not willing to meet with representatives of the victims families and listen to their suggestions of how the design of the building could incorporate a suitable memorial to the victims, a clear repudiation of the ideology that motivated the attackers and a commitment to American principles of separation of church and state and liberal democracy - then they should not be allowed to build their mosque.

Why not? Because if they wish to be at war with the West, the West should treat them as enemies. Religious toleration ends where murder begins. St. Augustine could have told us that.

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