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Here A Mosque, There A Mosque...

Yesterday, I wrote about the Ground Zero mosque, which attracted the usual crowd of detractors and critics. For example, "Dane" first tried to hijack the thread. Then, when that failed, he went for Plan B -- riffing off a comment from "James H."

I've said before that I consider James a friend. We've actually met once, for lunch, and he's got a long and distinguished history at Wizbang which I hope some day can be fully discussed. Further, I can usually count on him to give me a good poke or two and "keep me honest." And he knows how to do it in a way that really gets under my skin -- by NOT getting confrontational and insulting and annoying, but with calm reason and thoughtful points. (Some times, just gimme an honest troll I can smack around. Don't give me a principled adversary.)

He didn't address the main points of my thesis, but he did bring up a related topic:

I have a simple request, Jay Tea. Please give your thoughts on the anti-mosque movements afoot in Tennessee, California, and elsewhere. If the argument against mosques is only "don't build it at Ground Zero," then why is there such hue and cry about mosque expansions elsewhere? And if those arguing against the Ground Zero project acknowledge the Muslim's First Amendment right to build, then why were their initial arguments raised while lobbying a zoning board to block it?

Oh, and if my arguments on constitutional grounds are a bit much for you, that's because I'm almost a First Amendment absolutist ... and the debate begins and ends there for me. I have no truck with left-leaning or right-leaning political correctness.

Hmm. Yeah, I've discussed the Ground zero mosque, and my reasons for opposing it. And those arguments are pretty much exclusive to that particular project; they don't transfer well to, say, Murfreesboro, Tennessee. So, why don't I turn my thoughts to those situations?

To me, the question has two parts. First, what is motivating those opposing these mosque projects? Second, are they right to do so?

I've read quite a few articles about the issue, but this one seems to have the essence I've picked up on. And I think I can pull a "Will Graham" and get inside the mindset of the mosque opponents.

There is something visceral, something deeply passionate, about the opponents' sentiments that surprises a lot of people. In others, it is entirely understandable. But in either case, it's hard to put into words. Perhaps the best approach is the indirect one -- to "sneak up" on the issue.

Is it an objection to the theology of Islam? No, I don't think so. Americans are notoriously tolerant to the beliefs of others. Yesterday, my colleague DJ Drummond brought up the Mormons. Let's be honest -- the belief system of the Mormons contains some truly absurd and silly and downright humorous aspects. The biggest mystery to me about Mormonism is how the heck they can believe all that and still maintain their notoriously solemn and sober facade. But that being said, I find myself having tremendous respect and trust in actual Mormons, as the ones I've met have been among the most respectable and trustworthy and yes, noble people I've ever met.

We generally don't give a rip what people actually believe, in their heart of hearts. And we don't care how loudly people proclaim their faith. Hell, who else but an American could spread the word of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and have it become so successful?

So it isn't the beliefs of Islam.

So, is it the mosque's "footprint" on the community? Five times a day, the mosque issues the call to prayer, and it's usually broadcast from some loudspeakers. To some, it may be "one of the prettiest sounds on earth," but to others, it's downright annoying.

On the other hand, I live very close to a Catholic church, and its bells go off every hour (it seems), and a lot more besides. Those bells are probably louder than the Adhan. But I've gotten used to it, and pretty much tune them out. I suspect the would-be neighbors would eventually do the same.

Traffic concerns? Parking issues? Those are valid matters, but usually can be resolved through zoning ordinances and whatnot. And while such seemingly trivial matters can truly rouse passions, they wouldn't "fit" here. Most of the opponents don't even know the specific chosen location of the proposed mosque, if it even has one. It's the presence of the mosque in the community itself, not its precise location, that matters.

So, what is it about Islam that provokes this kind of reaction?

Here's my theory, that most people find hard to verbalize.

America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and tenets. ("Ju-DAY-o! Ju-DAY-AY-AY-o! Judeo-Christian, what de hell is dat?") Sorry, folks... What that means is that when we think of "religion," we tend to think of it in terms of Christianity or Judaism, and see it through that prism.

Christianity is pretty much separated from politics, at least in the way most of the world thinks. We don't have a "Christian" party or official state church, and only the mercifully-few tiny fringe wants to have the government enforce Christian tenets and rules. We have taken to heart the "separation of church and state" to heart in an intrinsic sense when it comes to Christianity. There are Christians in government -- hell, they dominate -- but they are hardly unified and stand solidly on both sides of most issues.

To most Americans, there is a firm wall between faith and politics. The two influence the other, but it is almost strictly an internal struggle. Those who talk about the religious right as an "American Taliban" only go to show just how utterly full of shit they are.

Judaism is a bit closer to extending their faith beyond the purely theological. "Jewish" has multiple meanings. It's a faith, it's a culture, it's a race, it's a floor wax, it's a dessert topping. (OK, maybe not the last two.) There are Jewish atheists and Jewish Christians. (That last group -- "Jews for Jesus" -- tends to piss off Jewish Jews. I know of two in particular.) Israel is a Jewish nation, but accepts all three definitions of "Jew."

And then there's Islam. It's a faith, like Judaism and Christianity, but it's a lot more besides. In its truest form, it's a "one-stop shopping" that covers religion, social structure, economics, politics, foreign relations, law -- everything that we all take for granted as being apart from "religion."

It's those other, "non-religious" aspects that are part and parcel of "Islam" that cause the objections. That generate such fierce pushback, such staunch resistance.

That is what we speak of when we talk about the "fundamental incompatibility" between Islam and the West. The religious aspects of Islam -- no problem. We got plenty of weirdos already who believe plenty of crazy things. We got Mormons, we got Scientologists, we got Pastafarians, we got god-hating Atheists, we got tree-worshipping Gaeans, we got Wiccans. We can handle Muslims.

It's all the other baggage that comes with Islam that causes the problems. All the other baggage that tries to worm its way in under the "religion" exception.

To us, that's a form of "bait and switch." We're saying, "hey, practice your religion, but all that other crap you're trying to foist off on us -- that's not religion. We already have our own politics, legal system, social structure, economics, and whatnot."

And they're saying, "It's all part of the whole. It's all Islam. We can no more separate those parts of our faith than you can separate your hand from your body."

So we say, "Kind of like you do to thieves and their hands? Or infidels and their heads?"

And that's when we're accused of being insensitive and intolerant for mentioning some of the more draconian aspects of Shariah law. So we then bring up the penalties for things like adultery and homosexuality (death in creatively vicious fashion), things some of us might not approve of but have outgrown the need to have the law enforce them for us. And things go even further downhill from there.

And that's not even mentioning how many terrorist plots end up getting traced back to mosques, which tend to lend themselves to being meeting places where like-minded Islamic militants/fundamentalists/extremists can find each other and start conspiring. As Turkey's current Prime Minister once quoted in a poem, "The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers..."

I admit it doesn't have quite the catchiness of "Onward Christian Soldiers" and doesn't quite capture the fierce paramilitary aspect of the Salvation Army, but there are similarities.

But there's still one major difference between the Ground Zero mosque and these other projects. Those other would-be mosques are largely local issues. The Ground Zero one is a national one, because the attack that created Ground Zero (and, in an astonishing coincidence, I'm sure, also seriously damaged the building planned for the mosque -- ground breaking scheduled for September 11, 2011, in another astonishing and meaningless coincidence) was not against New York City, or even New York State. It was a blow against the entire nation, and we as a nation have the right to take an interest in how that is observed.

No, not just a right. An obligation. A duty.

So, back to James' question. What do I think about this trend for locals to resist the establishment of mosques in their neighborhoods?

Two things. First, in most cases, these are local issues, and will most likely be settled locally.

Second, for nigh on a decade we've heard the incessant whining about the "anti-Muslim backlash" that is just around the corner, as hate-filled, intolerant Americans rise up and do unspeakable things against individual Muslims as revenge for the actions of others who proclaim to share the same faith. If "we're going to make trouble for you in zoning hearings" is the worst, then my faith in the fundamental fairness and decency of the American people is, indeed, well founded.


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Comments (19)

What surprises me is that p... (Below threshold)
jim m:

What surprises me is that people have so little understanding of how much resistance churches get in trying to build facilities.

The libs sound so pious about religious freedom. Maybe they should look to see how many times churches try to build or expand facilities and get shot down.

There is a lot of resistance for even mainstream Christian denominations because municipalities are often unwilling to give up the tax revenue that might be generated from a property if someone else occupied or developed it.

My parent's church was barred from building an edition on top of their existing structure because it would block the neighbor's view. Where was Obama defending their rights? This was in Chicago. I guess Barry can't be troubled by a church that isn't virulently anti-Semitic or muslim.

The primary reason the libs are behind the mosque effort is because they know it will upset people who actually love this country. They don't really believe in what they are saying about religious freedom, because they are the first to back efforts curtailing freedom of expression for Christians. Hypocrites all.

#1 Well put. ... (Below threshold)


Well put.

lest we all forget t... (Below threshold)

lest we all forget the founder of Islam was a bloodthirsty warlord with a tatse for pre-teen girls ...

Kind of puts Islam in a bad starting position ...

Just to expand on the comme... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

Just to expand on the comment of jim m a bit, GOOGLE "synagogue permit denied". Or expand your search a bit and search "temple permit denied". Either there is a lot of this going on right now or it's a common affliction.

Personally, I think there is an element on the left that need to take a couple deep breaths and sit quietly for a little while. Maybe breath into a paper bag if they're feeling light-headed.

"lest we all forget the fou... (Below threshold)

"lest we all forget the founder of Islam was a bloodthirsty warlord with a tatse for pre-teen girls ..."

Indeed, But why did they select him to follow instead of say Ghengis Khan??

Must have been that female pubescent thing that was the selling point.

Regarding James concern for... (Below threshold)

Regarding James concern for the 'mosque problem' in Tennessee and California; you might also take a look at the 'mosque problem' going on in that rabid political extremist hotbed called Switzerland.

Jim M.Here is prim... (Below threshold)

Jim M.

Here is prime example.

The left has often expounded on the fact that Right Wingers see the world as Black and White but really it shades of gray. That right wingers tend not to evaluate the subtle nuisances of the siltation.

So I would say GZ Mosque has to be evaluated in the context. The others need to be looked at in their context. Otherwise we do not even know if we are comparing Apples to Apples of Apple to Crazy one-eyed wombats.
So let take a step back. In NY before 9-11 there are Mosque in downtown Manhattan. NY did not protest the building of these Mosque. In fact some exist and most people do not know about. After 9-11 did the rabid racist NY/NJ people go to Mosque and drag Muslims out and beat them up? Did we riot and try and kill anyone. In fact the worst thing the MSM could find was Dunked Doughnut in Cedar Grove NJ that was closed down for a day because someone thought they heard people cheering.
How did NY respond? W had interfaith services in Yankee Stadium to remember those who died.
I know NY the majority of the objections comes from what this particular group is doing.
I do not know the issues in other places and those places may infarct have some racist idiots or they may have well founded concerns. It not like some religious groups have not bought up large tracks of lands and gotten in some serious Mischief or been subject to government attack/interference. Church of Jesus Christ-Christians AKA the Aryan Nation, Brach Dravidians and we rember the Mormons splinter group that had their kids taken away from them.

Pictures are worth a 1000 w... (Below threshold)

Pictures are worth a 1000 words - look at all the photos of large crowds of Muslims - not very friendly faces and usually a sign or two about death to all infidels. Look at the riot pictures from France. Look at all the photos of Muslins reacting to the "cartoons of Allah."

Now look at pictures of all the Christians at the Vatican as the Pope is speaking - no signs proclaiming the death of anyone, just smiling pleasant faces, joyous of being able to see the Pope.

Look at Christmas at the Mormon Tabernacle - singing songs of Glory to the Lord.
You can see that the images of these various scenes have a big impact on what people may think of a certain group or religion.

Islam has a goal of ruling the world in a Caliphate. They want to rule the world folks. Every mosque is a step towards that goal. That's what bothers me. Until they denounce in unity all acts of terrorism and my right to do as I damn well please - they can go build their mosques somewhere else.

Jay is correct that the mosque at Ground Zero is a National concern. My wife's company at the time just moved out of the World Trade Center and moved midtown. She was there and saw live those planes, the burning buildings, the people leaping to their death to get out of the fires.

No - go build your mosque somewhere else - not there.

Two thoughts on mosques:</p... (Below threshold)

Two thoughts on mosques:

1) The ones being challenged elsewhere are mainly seeing the opposition based on the Hamas and other terror-related supporters or money behind the supporters.

2) Mosques abroad are used to house and shelter violence - anyone remember how they were used in Iraq as ammo dumps and barracks, if not sniper nests?

So could these points be added to reasons there are so many xenophobic bigots opposing mosque building?

This mosque has become a ve... (Below threshold)

This mosque has become a very good thing for America as a whole. It's redirected our attention to what is a serious social issue that does need to be addressed. Can a free society exist while allowing a small segment to flourish that ultimately seeks to overthrow that entity?

I just had an avid lefty, and a friend of mine, tell me it is not just my right to wear a T-shirt that jokes about wife abuse to a woman's shelter, But while I was there that no one should be able to tell me to leave or to kiss off, as they would be infringing on my rights. She was completely incapable of saying the magic words. "That behavior is wrong"

She is of course a supporter of the mosque.

There is no concept of "shame" anymore on the left. They feel they get to do anything they want, and buy indulgences with higher taxes.

This is all wasted chatter.... (Below threshold)

This is all wasted chatter. Since 1979, thousands upon thousands of innocent men, women and children have died in the name of Allah. That is a fact. Their faith has brought not only this baggage that JT listed, but also it puts doubts in our minds of "Can we trust them", which so far, I haven't seen a huge public outcry from Muslims demanding Mosque's to clean out their radicals. Actually the contrary. You hear crickets chirping. Muslims brought this on themselves and frankly only they can fix it. If they refuse to do so, they should learn to live with people not totally trusting them. It is literally a life or death issue. ww

If you are voted neg on her... (Below threshold)
Nine Fourteen:

If you are voted neg on here consider it a compliment.

You have spanked another anti-American troll.

"Salman Hamdani. The 23-ye... (Below threshold)

"Salman Hamdani. The 23-year-old New York City police cadet was a part-time ambulance driver, incoming medical student, and devout Muslim. When he disappeared on September 11, law enforcement officials came to his family, seeking him for questioning in relation to the terrorist attacks. They allegedly believed he was somehow involved. His whereabouts were undetermined for over six months, until his remains were finally identified. He was found near the North Tower, with his EMT medical bag beside him, presumably doing everything he could to help those in need. "

That's why I'm okay with it. we have Americans Muslims in this country. No different than America Jews, or American Hindus, or American Buddhist or American Christians. They have a right to worship and they were victims of the fanatics that attacked the tower as well.

JTI have no malice t... (Below threshold)

I have no malice toward anyone. I am not concerned about whatever faith another person believes in. What someone does with their life does not interest me until it intersects with my life. I do not expect you to pay for my problems, and I do not expect to pay for yours. If the meeting between the two paths is neutral or beneficial then I am willing to embrace the joining.
When I know, because of a religious belief, that a person is going to lie to me, or that a person wants to kill myself and my family because we do not share the same religious beliefs, there I draw the line. I do not trust Muslims. I know I am over-reacting by painting with a broad brush, but I have faith that the Muslims believe in their holy book. And that book speaks of things that are totally abhorrent to my way of thought. I hear Muslims who want nothing more than to bring everyone under the Caliphate. I do not want to live under Sharia law. I hear nothing from Muslims about living together in harmony, each following their own path in peace. I just hear them tell me that I am going to follow what they tell me to or else I am dead. I do not trust Muslims, they lie as an act of faith and pat themselves on the back for having been faithless, and laugh at the person to whom they have lied. There is nothing wrong with that type of behavior in their minds. I do not trust Muslims.

How about hate their lousy ... (Below threshold)

How about hate their lousy guts? 6th century barbarians who inspite of what BoBo says have not contributed a d*** thing to this world but sorrow and the march of the penguins.

I agree that the First Amen... (Below threshold)
Bill Singer:

I agree that the First Amendment provides a constitutional argument for proponents of religious expression, but that's hardly the whole story. When the Nazis marched in Skokie, they knew the extent to which they terrorized Holocaust survivors who live there, and knew they could easily have selected another venue. The First Amendment provided them with a valid constitutional basis for marching in uniform, yet in the minds of many, failed to justify it on grounds of social policy. Jewish constitutional scholars, and in fact Jewish lawyers representing the ACLU argued successfully on behalf of the Nazis. Today, similar proponents can be found in Mayor Bloomberg and others who defend the right of Muslims to practice their religion. But that has never really been the point, has it? Mosques are plentiful throughout the land and in fact throughout New York, and everyone knows they have a right to worship in every US town. The wisdom and propriety of constructing a mosque (or Muslim Community Center if you will) within view of Ground Zero is at issue, and the people of New York have spoken. They don't want it there. And it isn't beyond the realm of possibility that a federal court would side with a social policy argument in lieu of a bland reading of the First Amendment. As for Judaism, I always thought it was a religion and perhaps an ethnic group, but the latter definition becomes blurred when one considers that thousands annually convert to Judaism for marital reasons. It's no more a race than is, say, being an ethnic Italian. (References to floor polish & dessert toppings will likely fail to amuse your bewildered readers.)

I saw the quote and the fir... (Below threshold)

I saw the quote and the first words in my mind are "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" kind of trick question.

The First Amendment? C'mon,... (Below threshold)
Tom 22nd State:

The First Amendment? C'mon, everyone say it with me:

Congress shall make no law...

How, exactly, is it that when the people standing up and asserting their opinions on a proposed high profile project such as this infringe on these peoples rights to be free from Legislative opression?

True colors? Those who advo... (Below threshold)

True colors? Those who advocate for this project say that they are doing it because they care about religious freedom, but they have never advocated for the existing church (http://deathby1000papercuts.com/2010/08/ground-zero-st-nicholas-church-still-not-rebuilt-nine-years-later/). This church didn't want to open a new place, they only wanted to repair their church that was damaged in the attacks, and were not permitted.

The advocates of the project are now dutifully repeating the Cordoba project bullet points, saying that it is not a Mosque (as our president called it). The up-side of this is that they are acknowledging that this is no longer a "religious freedom" issue, and the "center" may be told to move.

We now also know with clear certainty that those advocating the project have some other concern than their stated one, which they claimed was concern for religious freedom. It is clear from their silence on the existing church, that concern for religious freedom is not what drives their current zeal to advocate the Cordoba/Park51 project which is to be dedicated on 9/11.

Those pushing for the project know that advocating for this project is an oportunity to play a very real part in causing unbearable pain to be inflicted on a group of innocent surviving children. Those who lost their parents in the 9/11 attacks.

We also know that those advocating for the project are not motivated by concern for religious freedom, even though they claim that as their reason. How do we know? Because they have been completely silent in advocating for St. Nicholas Church, which has been unable to obtain permission to rebuild since the attacks.






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