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Setting The Straw Man Afire

Well, I just watched the umpteenth debate over the Ground Zero mosque (well, "Muslim Community Center and mosque just coincidentally around the corner from Ground Zero, where debris from one airliner landed, and a considerable distance from any residential community," but I'll use "Ground Zero Mosque" for brevity), and it went just like every other argument about it has gone so far: the defenders have cited the mosque builders' 1st Amendment right as a game-ender. They seem to believe that by bringing up the Constitution, they have ended the debate.

And, legally, they're correct. There is absolutely no legal ground for denying the building of the mosque. (There are issues relating to the construction, but those are technically not related to its status as a religious structure -- zoning, financing, and the like.)

But the argument itself is utterly specious, because virtually no one is arguing against the mosque on those grounds. They aren't challenging it legally, but on the fields of morality and propriety and tolerance and respect.

According to the mosque backers, if something is a Constitutional right, then its exercise cannot be challenged or even questioned.

Well, that's not entirely right. That only holds true for THEIR rights. I'd be curious to hear the mosque builders' views on blasphemy laws, or the Mohammed cartoons, or Koran desecration, or any of a host of other places where Islam conflicts with traditional expressions of free speech. Because the use of governments to enforce Islamic dictates and tenets is the hallmark of any place where Islam gains power.

But let's take that and run with it a moment, however. The notion that if something is a Constitutional right, then it can not be challenged or even questioned. It must be accepted.

No, not just accepted. It must be embraced. And to even speak critically of such exercises is fundamentally un-American.

Exercises such as:

--Holding protests at military funerals. That is clearly covered by the 1st Amendment, under free assembly, petition for redress of grievances, and free speech.

--Burning the American flag. Free speech, again. There can be laws regarding open fires and ownership of said flags, but not the act itself.

--Questioning Obama's citizenship. It's all free speech, after all.

--Use of epithets and "insensitive" language. If you wanna toss off terms like nigger, kike, spic, wop, fag, cunt, chink, dyke, raghead, dothead, gook, nip, or whatever, go ahead. Speak freely!

Of course, that is all absurd. The Bill of Rights is very specific. It doesn't offer any absolute guarantees. The First Amendment specifically says "Congress shall make no law."

That means that the federal government can not infringe on those rights, and the exercise thereof. And, through the Supremacy Clause, that restriction also holds on the other levels of government -- state and local. And, by inference, it's also binding on the other two branches of the federal government, and their equivalents at the other levels.

But it has no effect on the individuals. We can respond to the speech of others with our own speech. We can denounce and argue and dispute and squabble all we want over these matters.

Also, the First Amendment does not guarantee freedom from consequences. For example, my little string of expletives could end up with me getting a rather unhappy e-mail or phone call from Kevin, as well as unpleasant comments below. For another, if I do something like flip off my boss at work, I can expect to get disciplined or even fired.

(Personal note: I've actually done that one. Years ago, one of my bosses walked up to me and repeated the company's latest advertising slogan, which was an invitation to... well, speak freely. I responded with a double bird-flipping. He just sighed, smiled, shook his head, and walked off. But I digress...)

Yes, the builders of the mosque have the legal right to do so. They keep saying it, even though no one has seriously challenged them. What those of us opposing it say is that it is grossly offensive, insensitive, arrogant, and inappropriate at that place, at this time.

Those are the arguments they won't answer.

Those are the arguments they can't answer.


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Comments (32)

Well, they're aware that th... (Below threshold)

Well, they're aware that they are offending some or most people. Perhaps they want to build the community centre to prove something to people like you ("We want to live among you as equals as is our right, and like we said, you have nothing to worry about", or maybe the message is "We blew up your buildings, suck on it infidels!"), or more likely they don't care about people like you and they want a prominent community centre that is in part symbolic of the wealth and success of the Muslim community in America. Either way, they don't have to care about what people like you think (or what people like Harry Reid think, for that matter), and so they're going to build it.

If you want to be able to tell a Muslim to go fuck himself when he suggests that pork be banned in his kid's school cafeteria because his stupid holy book says pigs are unclean, then bite the goddamn bullet and stop whining. Open a hot dog cart across the street from the site once they break ground or something but seriously, find something more interesting to write about. Decisions relating to property development in Manhattan are not subject to the will of the people.

really hyper ?what... (Below threshold)

really hyper ?

what about the Orthodox Church destroyed on 9/11 that the city has forced to change the building in their planned reconstruction ? Seems like the will of the people got involved there ...

If you think that NYC property development doesn't normally get swayed by the will of the people then you obviously don't know sh*t about NYC ...

I do know shit about NYC. I... (Below threshold)

I do know shit about NYC. I have a lot of friends there. None of them are opposed to the community centre. Also, none of them are opposed to the existence of YMCAs.

Well there you have it. Hy... (Below threshold)

Well there you have it. Hyper knows people in NYC who are for it. Glad we got that settled. Using the same logic, I'd assume none of them are against breathing either.

Maybe we SHOULD all... (Below threshold)

Maybe we SHOULD allow this mosque to be built.

After all, it would display our tolerance, especially in light of the continual onslaught of incidents disrespecting muslims that has erupted since 9-11.

I'm sure you are dismayed at the unending accounts in the MSM detailing them, and this would go a long way in rectifying the abuse heaped on our Muslim brethren.

Not to mention the justice served in allowing the sharp stick in our eye the mosque would be, the additional benefit of improving our world image cannot be discounted.

The Burlington Coat Factory... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

The Burlington Coat Factory has been abandoned since 9-11. No other developer has shown any interest in developing this building perhaps, because 'the hallowed ground' is rife with stip clubs, including one directly opposite the derelict Coat Factory, "in a neighborhood jumble with restaurants, shops (electronics, porn, you name it), churches, office cubes, and the rest of the New York mishmash".

No conservatives, apart from these conservative moderate-American muslims, have shown any interest in developing or tearing down this building until now.

The iman Feisal Abdul Rauf who will run the center along with his wife,

is the author of a book called "What's Right with Islam Is What's Right with America." He is a vice-chair of the Interfaith Center of New York. "My colleagues and I are the anti-terrorists," he wrote recently--in the Daily News, no less. He denounces terrorism in general and the 9/11 attacks in particular, often and at length. The F.B.I. tapped him to conduct "sensitivity training" for agents and cops and posters and commenters on wizbang-just kidding).

Furthermore, many of those who would go to Park51 probably knew Americans including some of the over 100 muslim -Americans who lost their lives in the World Trade Center and this is why they would like to do something to atone for the nut jobs of al-Qeada, who have slandered their religion, that is until the intolerant GOP lunatic fringe just recently got involved in a story which broke last Decemeber, 2009 to deafening silence, which lasted for months.

And haven`t heard anyone come up with an alternative plan or raise funds for this eyesore of a derelict bulding. The GOP for good reason is the embodiment of the party of NO.

"...that is until the intol... (Below threshold)

"...that is until the intolerant GOP lunatic fringe just recently got involved in a story which broke last Decemeber [sic]"

I'm with Harry Reid on this one.

I always stated it isn't th... (Below threshold)

I always stated it isn't the "can they" it is the "why would they".

Hyper, you mentioned the YMCA. Good point. A fine community center. Where everyone is welcome and no one has to prove a faith to enter. Is the muslim "community center" open to all? Sorry. No. So it is not a community center. It is a muslim only center. I also doubt you know 10 million New Yorker opinions. ww

At the risk of ruining anot... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

At the risk of ruining another perfectly wonderful no-you-didn't/yes-I-did discussion, I would like to point out to Hyper that my hot dog wagon is going to be a Hebrew National only wagon. Yup, even the umbrella will bear the logo. And out of respect to all those years when Coca-Cola wasn't available in Israel, I'll stock only orange soda as a drink.

Well, maybe Iron Brew too.

Either way, the... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Either way, they don't have to care about what people like you think (or what people like Harry Reid think, for that matter), and so they're going to build it.

Very true. They don't have to care, which makes the builders' entire argument about the mosque being a community center complete and utter bullshit. It's not about healing or building a bridge between Islam and Christianity/Judaism/whatever; it's not about respecting the murder victims of 9/11. If they actually DID care about such things, they'd have the sensitivity and humanity to move to another site and acknowledge just how offensive this is to the majority of Americans--THAT would signal a sea change even if they said nothing. But that's not what they've done. They haven't even offered so much as a strong condemnation for 9/11. What this is is Islamic arrogance, indifference and intolerance manifested; it's a finger in the eye to Americans and peace-loving people everywhere.

Look, go ahead, build the mosque; they've every right to do so. But go build it somewhere else. Uptown. Columbus Circle. Bronx. Brooklyn. Wherever. I don't give a crap, and neither do must people. But build it that close? A thousand times no. This is too close hallowed ground.

And FWIW, they can take a hint from the Japanese: There's no community center anywhere near Pearl Harbor.

Willie, everyone will be al... (Below threshold)

Willie, everyone will be allowed in the Muslim community centre. You have no idea what you're talking about. Also, as for why anybody builds something, what business it of yours?

Peter, moderate Muslims have as much in common with 9/11 hijackers as McVeigh has with the Pope. Building a monument to McVeigh in OKC: horrible idea. Building a YMCA: who cares? If a lot of people find this project offensive because they ignorantly conflate moderate Islam with Osama Bin Laden's followers, that's a shame but it's not the iman's responsibility to assuage an ignorant person's misgivings.

Crickmore,ALL of t... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:


ALL of those buildings/establishments were there BEFORE 9/11, making your point utterly irrelevant and derelict, and sadly desperate.

Also, does Pearl Harbor hav... (Below threshold)

Also, does Pearl Harbor have a large Japanese population? And isn't there a pretty big difference between religious terrorists and xenophobic nationalists? Imperial Japan is not analogous to a few thousand terrorist douche bags who represent a tiny, tiny fraction of such a diverse faith group.

hyperbolist: Nobody's sayin... (Below threshold)

hyperbolist: Nobody's saying that the majority of Muslims had anything to do with 9/11. They already are discussing the maniacs. Most conservatives want more Muslims to speak out against both the Cordoba Center and Islamofascism altogether. So why are you scolding them about not differentiating honest Muslims and the monsters when they already do?

"Well there you have it.... (Below threshold)

"Well there you have it. Hyper knows people in NYC who are for it."

Yeah, and he knows a bartender in North Carolina who has informed him that the south is packed with racists and bigots. But we all know what Hyper thinks of us anyway, so you have that.

He's bored with what's being discussed so he thinks he should just pop in tell Jay he sould find "something more interesting to write about" because we're all just a bunch of whiners and xenophobes.

Hyper, take your own advice and suck it up and shut up. If you don't like the conversation, you know where the door is.

Moderate Muslims don't owe ... (Below threshold)

Moderate Muslims don't owe you an explanation, apology, or anything else because of what insane Muslims chose to do. Did you apologize to any FBI agents after OKC? Did you feel compelled to reach out to victims of clerical abuse after Christian priests committed heinous acts of indecency against vulnerable children? Probably not. Wasn't your prerogative. Moderate Muslims have nada to do with crazy ones so why do you insist on demanding some fig leaf from them?

Oyster, you're so incredibly sensitive and whiny. Go have a lay-down on your fainting couch until the vapors pass.

...but it's not the iman... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

...but it's not the iman's responsibility to assuage an ignorant person's misgivings.

Really? It's not? You honestly believe that? Yet when a supposed-but-really-a-Christian like Eric Rudolph, the entire Christian population is expected to and did/does condemn the actions of a LONE nut. But we're talking an entire movement of nuts--even if bin Laden and his ilk do "only" represent 7-10% of the population of Islam, that's a boatload with 1.2 Muslims on the planet.

I tell you what, if I'm a religious figure and someone bastardizes and draws blood in the name of MY religion, you can bet your God-fearing ass I'm going to condemn them and do so repeatedly--particularly given the thousands of instances of terrorism done in the name of my religion.

Also, does Pearl Harbor ... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Also, does Pearl Harbor have a large Japanese population?

Pearl Harbor isn't a city, but Honolulu (nearby) is. Yes, 200,000+. 16.7% of Hawai'i's population.

Japan is not analogous to a few thousand terrorist douche bags who represent a tiny, tiny fraction of such a diverse faith group.

There's your second (really BIG) mistake: thinking that Islamo-fascists only number as a "few thousand."

Actually, 7% of a billion i... (Below threshold)

Actually, 7% of a billion is considerably more than that. But from where did you pull that number?

This iman is spearheading a development that will further integrate moderate Islam into the wealthy capitalist milieux of Manhattan. If this is an affront to you then I feel sorry for how sensitive your feelings must be. You can condemn as many rightwing Christian terrorists as you want but Muslim moderates have as much to do with rightwing Muslim terroists as my liberal Catholic parents have with abortion clinic bombers.

This was posted years ago b... (Below threshold)

This was posted years ago by James Lileks, and still stands today as the most concise and accurate assessment of the positions held by Muslims:

There are five reactions one could have to such acts (of terrorism) committed by a coreligionist: Endorsement, Indifference, Denial, Rejection, Participation.

Denial: I'm sure you've heard this before: "Islam is a religion of peace." But those people committed horrible violence in the name of Islam. "Then they are not true Muslims. No Muslim could do this." Rinse, repeat. It's the theological equivalent of putting your hands over your ears and humming loudly.

Rejection: This would be speaking out singly or in concert with fellow Muslims, denouncing the acts without making the entire peroration an elaborate plinth on which to place the word "BUT."

Indifference: I'm a Muslim in Indonesia. I work in a bank. I'm not particularly devout. I like a beer on a hot day, and you know what? They're all hot days. Some guys slit someone's throat in Iraq. I think that's wrong and I think that's stupid. And what do you expect me to do about it?

Endorsement: I'm not sure what constitutes endorsement - silent pleasure among others not of the faith, chortling delight when you're with friends. Or perhaps nothing more than thanking Allah when you hear certain things have been done in Allah's name, and never acting or speaking a way that supports the jihadist's cause.

Participation. It's obvious what this means.

Here's the crux: of these five aspects, four assist the jihadists in one form or another, and the fifth - Rejection - all too often takes a passive form. Hugh had a Somali Muslim on his show from Minneapolis; they spoke for almost 40 minutes, and the guy's heart was in the right place. He sounded like a decent fellow. He said the Imam of his mosque regularly preached against the nutball Islamists. One hundred million more like him, please. But where are the rallies and marches outside the Saudi embassies demanding an end to funding extremism?

http://bit.ly/btVdWs for the rest

In the words of the son of one of the founders of Hamas, "there is no such thing as a moderate Muslim"


Hyper, your comparison's ar... (Below threshold)

Hyper, your comparison's are way off base which you are doing purposely or are too ignorant to know the difference. Many lives have been lost at the hand of Muslim Terrorists the past 30 years and you compare that to pedophile priests. You are a nut job my friend.

Also, for you to say the muslim "community center" is open to all. Jew and Gentile alike? You are smoking the whacky weed buddy. The intolerance is not here, it is in their belief system. So, instead of trying to impress everyone with your "knowing" people and your patronizing scolding to conservatives, you should be thankful that no one perceives canada as a threat to anyone. ww

Drunk drivers kill more peo... (Below threshold)

Drunk drivers kill more people in North America every year than Muslim terrorists ever have, Willie. Volume of deaths isn't the point of the analogy. My comparison was valid beause they're both awful sub-sets of a vastly larger and more innocuous whole.

I repeat: people of all faiths and of none are allowed into the community centre once it's built. So you're wrong. And the nonsense about Canada is as uninteresting to me as it is irrelevant.

Hyper3000+ divided b... (Below threshold)

3000+ divided by 19
Leaving aside the difference between murder and manslaughter... what drunk driver claimed 158 victims in a single go?

Hypocrperbolist-"O... (Below threshold)


"Open a hot dog cart across the street from the site once they break ground or something but seriously, find something more interesting to write about."

More interesting? Seems to interest you. 7 posts out of 23 are yours? A little threadjacking going on?

SCSI, the point is that Wil... (Below threshold)

SCSI, the point is that Willie missed the point. The analogy was not contingent upon pedophiliac Catholic priests being as bad as 9/11 hijackers; it's only to say that we don't tar and feather entire groups because certain sub-sets do evil things. He disputed the analogy on the basis of Muslim terrorists having killed more people than pedophile priests, so then I suggested that if he's actually bothered by the volume of casualties, that he would be better served fighting drinking and driving than Islamic terror. Obviously that's not what's bothering him, and I just want him to be honest about it.

Sorry 914, I shouldn't have interfered in your learning time. Please resume peeing all over the Constitution. And please, don't visit New York. You'd hate it. Nothing but pluralist queers and scary Muslims.

The question I keep asking ... (Below threshold)
DJFelix Author Profile Page:

The question I keep asking of the liberals I speak to who claim I am an islamophobe is this: If a bunch of pro-lifers fire-bombed a Planned Parenthood, killed everyone inside, and subsequently burned down several nearby buildings, killing everyone inside, would you defend a Christian church named the "Children's Life Sanctuary" being built upon the ashes of one of the destroyed buildings?

Several notes:1) ... (Below threshold)
James H:

Several notes:

1) The First Amendment is highly germane here. In New York, as well as Murfreesboro, Tenn., anti-mosque activists' lobbied local zoning boards to prevent the building of mosques. For a planning board to accede to such lobbying would have been a clear violation of the First Amendment. Your ideological comrades-in-arms did argue for infringement of Muslims' First Amendment right to freely exercise their religion.

Thus, I find the argument that no true Scotsman opposes Muslims' First Amendment rights laughable.

2) You mean the Fourteenth Amendment, not the Supremacy Clause. Moreover, state constitutions also contain strong guarantees of religious freedom. Read your basic law before opening your mouth.

3) I find it ironic that conservatives are arguing something should not happen because it is politically incorrect.

4) The First Amendment does not require you to blindly accept certain things, Jay Tea. But just like the First Amendment gives you the right to call you and your ilk small-minded and prejudiced ... and I do so now.

Sorry, did Hyper "I met a b... (Below threshold)

Sorry, did Hyper "I met a bartender that told me all southerners are racist, therefore all southerners are racist" is asking for honesty?
I am glad I already finished my morning coffee before reading that.

""Open a hot dog cart ac... (Below threshold)

""Open a hot dog cart across the street from the site once they break ground or something ..."

Yeah, don't keep pressing for dialog or understanding or even simple acknowledgment that what one is doing is an affront to your sensibilities - especially when that person criticizes you for being insensitive. Just insult them back and ensure that there will never be a resolution to the issue. This is a good suggestion?

Building the mosque in that particular location has been construed as an insult, but the person spearheading the construction refuses to acknowledge that and has criticized another (Greg Gutfeld) for considering to build a gay bar nearby because, wait for it, he's not considering the sensibilities of Muslims.

What irks me is that our state department is funding a trip for this guy. He refuses to admit that Hamas is a terror organization, expresses a desire to see America as more Sharia compliant, will not disclose where any of the funding for the center will come from, seems to be unwilling to clarify a statement in 2001 that America was "an accesory" to the 9/11 attack, offers bland platitudes about "dialog", yet offers nothing of substance.

This whole thing will end up a one way street. It shows all the signs of becoming another center for grief mongering and victim whining. They will press the limits of tolerance as far as they can and then complain bitterly about anyone that criticizes it.

"Sorry 914, I shouldn't ... (Below threshold)

"Sorry 914, I shouldn't have interfered in your learning time. Please resume peeing all over the Constitution. And please, don't visit New York. You'd hate it. Nothing but pluralist queers and scary Muslims."

How is viewing your thread jack attempt and noting it peeing on the constitution?

Face it hypocrite you got exposed and you dont like it.

Why do the liberals here ke... (Below threshold)

Why do the liberals here keep accusing opponents of this of pissing on the constitution? Am I not allowed to be offended at this? Is this a violation of some aspect of the fist amendment? Really? Seems most here have agreed the government has no option but to allow this monstrosity to be built.

Go ahead and be offended, J... (Below threshold)

Go ahead and be offended, John, but don't act as though your feelings are important. It's nobody's problem but your own that you can't distinguish between decent Muslims (i.e. most of them) and terrorists and their supporters.

To repeat James H.'s point, even if there was cause for offense here, what's with conservatives demanding political correctness? When Ann Coulter tells shitty jokes about killing liberals it's mega-lolz from this crowd, but god forbid somebody buy a piece of property and then build a fucking YMCA with a crescent on top of it in a city you do not live in. What a bunch of babies!






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