Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Ground Zero Mosque"

So the entirety of the American political spectrum is up in arms- has been up in arms, to think of it- over this issue. A group of Muslims, led by one Imam Rauf, is planning to build a mosque three blocks away from Ground Zero.

Oh noes.

Of course, it's entirely unacceptable that America, like, be the beacon of religious freedom she has been for the past two hundred years. I always thought religious freedom was over-rated, anyway.

The opposition to this mosque/community center arises mainly (surprise, surprise) from the Right. In the American exceptionalist mindset the average Republican pundit possesses, it is inconceivable that America should actually allow alternate views and religions to rise up in her land! After all, those Muslims spread their religion! And...they blew up our towers!

Hint about that last one, by the way- the people who blew up our towers...are dead. Just thought I'd let you know.

But, of course, those aren't the only reasons we don't like the idea of having a mosque in America. This mosque is practically right on Ground Zero! Even though it's...three New York City blocks away. But it would hurt the sovereign, just, righteous cause we have! That Muslims are evil! That they killed our people! It would send a message to our enemies that- Hey! Bring me your tired, your worn, your radicals!

This author has an answer to that:

"But I’d have thought that opinion leaders of all ideological stripes could reach consensus by applying a basic rule of thumb: Just ask, “What would Osama bin Laden want?” and then do the opposite.

Bin Laden would love to be able to say that in America you can build a church or synagogue anywhere you want, but not a mosque. That fits perfectly with his recruiting pitch — that America has declared war on Islam. And bin Laden would thrill to the claim that a mosque near ground zero dishonors the victims of 9/11, because the unspoken premise is that the attacks really were, as he claims, a valid expression of Islam."

My take-

It's a mosque and community center. As one of the commenters on the above linked article asked- how would Palin, King, etc. react if it were a church being proposed? Would they care if Muslims objected?

That's a laugh. It would be whimper-and-whine time. "Oh boo-hoo. Help us. Religious persecution!"

But since it's another religious group we're discriminating against...oh well, that's fine.

Furthermore, I don't think this will harm our image in the Muslim world. I think it'll show people that America is mature enough to not compromise on what she claims to believe in- that is, freedom for all, not just the people we like.

Jon Stewart had an excellent segment on this issue:

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The Golden Eagle said...

I think that people should be able to build mosques where they want to in the US; this is the US after all, and religious freedom SHOULD be part of the culture.

Don Emmerich said...

Very well reasoned. Thank you.

And thanks for the link to the Robin Wright article. He pretty much destroys the effort to impugn the leader of the mosque.

Anonymous said...

Am I to interpret your defense of Imam Rauf to be an endorsement of his ideals?

Liberty said...

Eagle- I completely agree.

Don- thanks, and I agree. He did an excellent job tearing that article apart, LOL

Tragedy- in what way do you mean? I really don't know a thing about the Imam other than that he is trying to build this mosque/community center. So I don't know if I agree with his other views. However, I don't think, with the information I have, that we can say he can't build any religious building or organization he wants.

Anonymous said...

People protest their government condemning state historical sites for constuction of a mosque/religious center. And you defend the government. I cannot find another rational conclusion.

Liberty said...

Tragedy- I'm not exactly sure what you're saying.

From what I've read, the "historical sites" are damaged. They have structural faults, and would be destroyed anyway, even if the Imam in question hadn't bought the property. Beyond that- the property was for sale, and he bought it. He has that right, and he has the right to keep it. I think America has entirely too many government-mandated "historical sites" already, but that might just be me. ^.^

The facts are these- the government cannot Constitutionally prevent the Imam from building whatever he wants on the property he has bought. Period.

Anonymous said...

Where in the Constitution does it say what a state or city can or cannot do in as much as zoning? How does the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution read? What is that word? States?

Oh, forget it. There is no way I can express what I mean to you.

Considering you believe New York to be part of the federal government, not a sovereign state.

Sorry, I won't bother you again.

Liberty said...

Tragedy- I really don't mind you "bothering" me, LOL. I don't find it a bother, I enjoy talking with you. :))

Let me explain- there are certain rights in the Constitution that are universal, not limited to the jurisdiction of the federal government. Like, for instance, the freedom of religion.

If the area the Imam has bought has been zoned as something differently, then that's an entirely different matter. That's the city's jurisdiction, and should be dealt with there. They might need to change their site. But to my understanding, that is not the case.

Meh, I'm not making much sense. >.>

Anonymous said...

Miss Liberty,

If it is truly not a bother...

Please, tell me in what clause of the Constitution this "universal right to freedom of religion" is established. I would greatly appreciate it.

It is my understanding that three of the original thirteen states had constitutions as they were accepted into the United States establishing a state church. They soon did away with these, but they did so purely on a state level. It is a power not delegated to the Federal government, nor denied the states. Therefore it is a power reserved the states and the people thereof.

It is further my understanding that those writing the Constitution, except where explicitly stated otherwise, were writing the framework for how the federal government was to operate. It was not intended as a "blueprint" or example of how states should operate. That is why the term "Sovereign State" is used. The people of each state could deal as they saw fit with all matters not explicitly given the Federal government, nor explicitly denied the states by the Constitution.

The short explanation, I suppose, is:
I am for limited federal government, states rights, and people in other states to stay out of that state's business.

Liberty said...

The first amendment to the Constitution grants the freedom of religion, association, etc. to all people. It is my understanding that the amendments apply both to the federal and state governments, seeing as they are in the bill of rights...

Anonymous said...

How can it? As it states "Congress shall make no law..." These amendments are seperated into ten different amendments because, while ratified all at the same time, the wording of one does not affect the meaning of another. They are ten seperate amendments ratified at the same time, for this reason.

Liberty said...

So let me get this straight- you are of the opinion that states can make laws infringing upon the rights citizens have under the bill of rights?

Anonymous said...

Yes, the sovereign states are granted the right to rule their state as they see fit without violating the prohibitions expressly stated in the United States Constitution.

Haven't you read the arguments by our founders against these ten amendments as unnecessary and possibly skewing the understanding of "rights of the people"?

Megan said...

Tragedy - If the states have the power to overrule Constitutional law, then what point does the Constitution even serve? I am not arguing that the states *should* have more power than the federal government, but there are certain things that have been put in place - like the first amendment - to protect the liberties of every American.

Our Declaration of Independence says this:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...."

"...certain unalienable rights, that among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness...."

These are rights that are inherantly (sp?) ours, endowed by our Creator - they CANNOT, SHOULD NOT, and WILL NOT be taken away by our government! The whole reason we left Britain and established America, was to have a government that was FREE from absolute control over its citizens' personal lives. And religious freedom was one of the biggest issues!

"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...."

The federal government's job is to SECURE these rights; to make sure they are never infringed upon! Not to give them, not to take them away. So to say that the states have the right to infringe upon individual, Constitutionall- and God-given rights... I don't see how that is a logical conclusion, based on what our founding documents clearly state. My understanding is that the government's job (and pretty much ONLY job) is to make sure our Constitutionally-given rights are secured and protected. If one's liberties are being violated, THAT is the federal government's time and place to intervene.

So in light of the mosque debate... The government - be it state or federal - is violating the freedom of religion AND freedom of assembly by trying to prevent this mosque from being built. Like it or not, the Muslim church who wants to build this mosque is completely working within the framework of the Constitution. Those individuals and governments who are trying to block them from exercising their Constitutional rights are not. Its that simple.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Megan, how does a government secure these rights that they are not infringed upon?

Would a government do this by arbitrarily determining whether the individual's right to freedom of speech supercedes the individual's right to freedom of religion?

Because that is the case being made, here: "How dare anyone exercise their rights to freedom of speech, or freedom of the press, or freedom of assembly to oppose on any grounds they see fit the construction of a religious structure. This is completely unacceptable."

The whole argument is based on certain people saying things and doing things that other people find objectionable.

I think the federal govenment is limited by its constitution. State governments are limited by state constitutions. Counties and municipalities are limited by their charters, constitutions, or other founding documents. It is my thought that only the individual is capable of securing his rights and freedoms from being "infringed" upon.

I could be mistaken. If you could enlighten me as to how, I would appreciate it.

suntzusays said...

Additionally, you never answered my question on my blog.
WHY is it so vitally necessary to oppose this institution from construction and operation, how is it so objectionable that it must be defeated or silenced? If it were in fact a violent organisation and operated without conducting peaceful assemblies, then it would obviously be easy enough to shut down, it would violate other civil laws and liberties of other people and property. If it is not doing those things, as many Muslims and their organisations do not in this country freely, then it is not our affair what the people who go there do and get out of the experience. It makes absolutely no difference where it is once it is private property acquired fairly and used by a religious organisation.

You supplied a technical reason to oppose this construction, local zoning laws and demolition hearings. Those laws are not cited by the many thousands who oppose this project, nor the many public figures who have rhetorically done so, both of which typically cite resistance, if not intolerance, to Muslims and the objection to the placement of the facility (which is equally absurd to me, a church can go anywhere it pleases, but a mosque cannot?, why?). I thus seriously doubt that NYC's zoning commission laws are whipping up this much frenzy over the issue. If they were, FAR more people would be rather annoyed about Columbia U or the Brooklyn Nets project than seem to be outside of New York. Those are far worse abuses of zoning laws and eminent domain than this even approaches the line to being. If it is possible that the zoning laws are being manipulated, fine, fix them. But don't try to tell us that these laws should determine what religious institutions could be built where. Because that's absurd.

suntzusays said...

"Am I to interpret your defense of Imam Rauf to be an endorsement of his ideals?"

You could interpret my own defence of churches legally buying private property to be an endorsement of Christianity, or of any particular strain therein by me too. But that would be an equally flawed premise from which to operate.

I defend "you people" even as an evil atheist because the law as written does firstly and largely because the free exercise of conscience within the functions of a large human society demands that people find a way to make themselves "behave" without infringing on others' rights and happiness. I can make no assumptions that they should have to do it only my way. Similarly, it makes no sense for a Christian to argue the same that another may not choose another path, or another faith. You may assume that yours is the wiser and better way, and you may argue your case, but it makes no grounds on me, or a Muslim for that matter, to attempt to compel me to accept it against my will.

suntzusays said...

(sorry, it kept returning the comment length as too long, had to chop them back out after the fact, on the assumption that they weren't submitted at all).

Liberty said...

No worries Sun Tzu- I posted all of them because I wasn't sure which you wanted. :)

suntzusays said...

I deleted a short, but necessary, 14th amendment point on accident during the delete of duplicates it looks like. If that's still in the hopper somewhere, just copy/paste it and use it as your own. If not people can go look up substantive due process and the text of the 14th themselves.

I think he's trying to raise some philosophical objection to using government to guarantee minimal human rights as accepted and fought and over for by individuals. Which might make sense in a very limited community but doesn't seem to work with very expansive and diverse communities with fewer ties to one another beyond geographic positioning, even on the order of a large city like NY. Much less the entire country. And again, the point of these amendments seems more toward preventing government abuses against individual liberty, even when called down for by the public to repress some unpopular minority.

That the government still sometimes crosses those lines and attempts to usurp authority it was never granted is not surprising.

That the public lets it, is.

Megan said...

Tragedy - I'm not 100% sure I follow what you're asking me, but hopefully this reply will be somewhere in the ballpark...

The government "secures these rights," I believe, by upholding them; by not allowing any other sector, organization, or individual from preventing another's exercise of these rights.

Pertaining to the mosque debate, the government would be "securing these rights" by allowing this to proceed without government interference, since purchasing the land, and building a mosque on it, is well within the bounds of Constitutional law. A government who was securing these rights would see it as cut-and-dry as it is, and even if certain organizations and/or politicians were *personally* opposed, would still uphold the Constitution on a political level, and allow the mosque building to move forward and tell those who have a problem with it to cool their jets.

I do agree with you, that some issues can be challenging to determine where to draw the line, but in most cases, the answer is pretty cut-and-dry, such as in this one. I guess the way I see it is, if there is no clear Constitutional violation, then government and its officials need to leave well enough alone. Of course, in our media-hungry, largely-lemmingist society, that's not going to happen...but it should.

I still stand firm on my position that unless we respect and uphold the Constitution, our country and its entire structure is doomed to failure. If it can be overridden, undermined, disrespected, disregarded, or rewritten, then what purpose does it serve? The reason America has flourished is because of the radical, and yet shockingly simple, nature of our framework. When we try and twist the Constitution into something its not, or operate without it, then again, what purpose does it serve? Why should it therefore even exist at all? But this is exactly what we're seeing happening more and more, which is just scary. And why? In my opinion, its because we have stopped looking to the "instruction manual."

Anyway... I'm not sure I answered your question, but that is my understanding of what you were asking. If I totally missed the mark, let me know and I'll give it another shot. :)

Anonymous said...


The first two comments were made prior to the enlightenment you gave me in our discussion concerning condemnation, the third directly following. I really thought I had something there, but no. The evidence wasn't readily available, there are pieces of this issue both sides are not telling, but essentially it is a local issue.

And the tangent was in explanation and defense of my political stance. I really don't have a stance on the issue other than: It's New York, let them deal with it.

And that is my stance for 49 out of 50 states.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Megan, that is sufficient. You believe the government most capable of securing these rights.

I am more of Suntzusays' persuasion that the government will usurp anything it can. And it is the individual's duty as part of the "public" to stand forth as protectors of liberty. I do not, however, think that debating the political fights of another state protects our liberties, best.


WHY is it so vitally necessary to oppose this institution from construction and operation, how is it so objectionable that it must be defeated or silenced?

I said that, when?

I am deeply offended that you would so misquote me and mistate my position. I must seriously consider your intent with this question, since I left you with my apologies concerning my misunderstandings. It appears an intentional attempt to malign my position with a position I never stated, nor one that could be reasonably surmised from my argument.

Anonymous said...

Miss Liberty,

My original question was a serious one. It concerns a difference between two similar defenses.

1)Defending in general the construction of houses of worship regardless of religious belief, and

2)Defending construction of houses of worship by a group of believers who support a leader whose stated ideals infringe upon citizens' civil liberties.

In this particular case Imam Rauf has written a book (referenced in your Jon Stewart clip) that insists that Sharia law should supercede both federal and state law. (I know, very brief coverage, but an important point.)

Does your attack on the "Right" concerning this particular construction constitute a defense of this infringement upon the civil liberties of citizens of this nation?

It is plausible, but unlikely, thus I asked.

And you say, you don't know what he teaches, and it has nothing to do with his group's building a mosque. Yet you are willing to attack those who have expressed concern over what he teaches, as uninformed bigots and Islama-phobes.

suntzusays said...

Despite not having made the point on my page so openly of what you're opposed to and why, you have so stated here by stating the above:

"Am I to interpret your defense of Imam Rauf to be an endorsement of his ideals?" That sounds an awful lot to me like you object to those ideas or feel at least that people should not support or endorse them. It suggests that this is the primary reason that this is of any concern or issue at all, given that I think we are in agreement that any local zoning and governance issue is properly the concern of NYC and NY state residents. I was fairly sure that it was their views that were objectionable and wanted to hear why that was so. Otherwise, as you have stated, an issue relevant to NYers would not be much of your concern and it would make little sense for you to want to argue anyone over its effects.

In the case of building a mosque, what difference does it make is the "why is it so vitally important" question whether it's a mosque or a church or a jewelry store for all I care. What difference should it make to us, to you, or to NYers what is built where by private property owners, even religiously motivated ones, and why should that be prevented or opposed?

You have in fact suggested here, by stating an opposition or a hint of one toward the Cordoba group and Iman Rauf, that you have some significant misgiving about their views. I am in full agreement that any religious organisation that demands its views be made legally binding upon others not within that organisation is a deeply troubling view to hold. But it is hardly limited to Islamic groups to call for in this country, (it is quite common for various Christian sects to do so in my view) or anywhere else in the world. Additionally, the purpose of Sharia law is to govern the behavior of Muslims living under it. It functions much like Christian ideology is overlaid atop the legal structure for a Christian to try to uphold a certain code of conduct specific to people who follow those beliefs. It is a more legalistic code of conduct than Christianity imposes, but it is still roughly open to many interpretations and many methods of enforcement. Such methods need not infringe upon private individual's rights or liberties through force or violence for example. That people who would subscribe to a particular organisation's rules of conduct and behavior and have some of their private liberties curtailed by doing so is a fairly common thing. Our employers can do this. Our private friendships can have this kind of influence as well. We are not islands, untethered to the wants and demands of others. And so we often surrender some of our liberties on the knowledge that we may gain something else or perhaps even gain liberties by doing so. As a ridiculous example: Not running around murdering people at will and whimsy for example gives us a reasonable expectation that (most) other people will not suddenly stab or shoot us in the street and we are free then to conduct our affairs less afraid of this liberty being exercised, this gives us greater liberties to engage in trade and entertainment with others. We use a system of laws to help create such expectations that we might have clean drinking water or have a reasonable expectation that our property will not be violated without our consent, and so on. Those are things which limit freedoms, yes.

But only in exchange for others. When laws limit freedoms unnecessarily or foolishly, they should be opposed. Laws which might oppose the construction of mosques or other places of worship for example seem to me to be a freedom that must be opposed, and it should indeed be the duty of Christians to do so on the knowledge that perhaps one day their own views will not be as dominating over the cultural or social landscape, such that others whose views may come to do so in future will remember this gesture and can come to respect their differences rather than to seek to crush and oppose an unpopular minority.

Megan said...

Tragedy - Just to set the record straight, I do believe wholeheartedly that we cannot put full faith in the government. Obviously, that is naive and largely ineffective. Being a patriot is having the guts to fight for your country, if even "against" your country, for the cause of liberty. It is absolutely the job of every informed American to be actively fighting for liberty because it is our obligation. If we want to see liberty succeed, then we private citizens have to take an active role in protecting it.

Pertaining to the mosque debate though, what we're seeing is the government jumping on the bandwagon along with the religious right, and saying this has got to stop, this cannot happen, this is unfair, this is an infringement, this is an outrage....blah, blah, blah... I guess my argument was that, the government has the voice to silence all this false information. The government's "voice" could be doing something by educating the public and saying, "Hey, they've done nothing wrong here. Just because you disagree or dislike it, doesn't mean its Constitutionally wrong."

Getting back to the private citizen part of it, I think its vitally important for those of us who DO know and want to uphold the Constitution to educate the public and fight for our liberties to be upheld. I myself am a Christian, but I cannot in good conscience deny someone else their right to worship or build their house of worship wherever they choose, just because I disagree with what they believe. I cannot do that either as a Christian, nor as someone who claims to defend our Constitution.

Does my position make more sense now?