Yesterday I learned that the U.S. Senate race in Missouri between Republican Roy Blunt and Democrat Robin Carnahan is now being waged over — wait for it — the so-called “ground zero mosque.”
Missouri’s candidates for U.S. Senate clashed Thursday over a proposed Islamic community center near ground zero in New York City, an issue that has dominated the national political debate in recent days.
Republican Roy Blunt said the center — which includes a mosque — should be nowhere near the “battleground” where Islamic terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
Democrat Robin Carnahan countered that New Yorkers should decide among themselves on what is essentially a local zoning matter.
Those of you moved to make a donation to the Carnahan campaign may do so through her website.
Meanwhile, I’m reading that construction workers and suppliers from all over the country are vowing not to build the Islamic Center.
The grass-roots movement is gaining momentum on the Internet. One construction worker created the “Hard Hat Pledge” on his blog and asked others to vow not to work on the project if it stays on Park Place.
“Thousands of people are signing up from all over the country,” said creator Andy Sullivan, a construction worker from Brooklyn. “People who sell glass, steel, lumber, insurance. They are all refusing to do work if they build there.”
“Hopefully, this will be a tool to get them to move it,” he said. “I got a problem with this ostentatious building looming over Ground Zero.”
If Mr. Sullivan lives in Brooklyn, I assume he’s been to lower Manhattan once or twice in his life, meaning he should know the Islamic Center will not be “looming over Ground Zero.” For all the visual impact it’s going to have on Ground Zero it might as well be built in Missouri.
And let me also point out that since there are no architectural drawings yet, we have no way to know how “ostentatious” the center will be. All we know is that the building will be modeled conceptually on the 92nd Street Y, a familiar New York institution that began as a YMHA — Young Men’s Hebrew Association. And I wouldn’t call the 92nd Street Y building “ostentatious.” One suspects Mr. Sullivan believes the “ground zero mosque” will be not only be built at “ground zero,” but will literally be a mosque.
Truly, Ignorance got up early and tar-papered the whole neighborhood while Truth was still asleep.
The article quotes one construction worker saying he’s on the fence on the issue, but it’s not hard to imagine that construction workers who really don’t mind the Islamic Center would have to be very courageous to say so, and possibly would have to find a new career.
Meanwhile meanwhile — Charles Krauthammer sinks further and further into duplicitous arguments about rights. But first, let’s review what CK said in his previous column:
America is a free country where you can build whatever you want — but not anywhere. That’s why we have zoning laws. No liquor store near a school, no strip malls where they offend local sensibilities, and, if your house doesn’t meet community architectural codes, you cannot build at all.
He’s arguing that government should stop the building of the center, is he not? But today he says, ‘No one disputes the right to build; the whole debate is about the propriety, the decency of doing so.”
“Rights” are not symbolic abstractions. A right that cannot be exercised is not a right. Krauthammer and others on the Right keep saying they don’t dispute the right to build the Islamic Center on private property, but are saying the Center shouldn’t be built. And, the conservatives say, we have a right to express our opinion. Yes, they do, just as I have a right to call them bigots and ignoramuses.
But if the Right somehow stops the Islamic Center from being built, whether by government, or by a privately organized campaign to deny the builders the ability to build, or by any other means, then they’re saying Rauf et al. don’t have a right to build an Islamic Center on private property. A right that cannot be exercised is not a right.
An analogy — this is like saying yes, you have a right to express your opinion, and we have a right to stick a gag in your mouth to shut you up if we disagree.
Now, on to the claim just because we think all Muslims are the same doesn’t make us bigots. You either understand that Muslims are not all associated with jihadists, or you don’t. Krauthammer writes,
Radical Islam is not, by any means, a majority of Islam. But with its financiers, clerics, propagandists, trainers, leaders, operatives and sympathizers — according to a conservative estimate, it commands the allegiance of 7 percent of Muslims, i.e., more than 80 million souls — it is a very powerful strain within Islam. It has changed the course of nations and affected the lives of millions. It is the reason every airport in the West is an armed camp and every land is on constant alert.
Ground Zero is the site of the most lethal attack of that worldwide movement, which consists entirely of Muslims, acts in the name of Islam and is deeply embedded within the Islamic world. These are regrettable facts, but facts they are. And that is why putting up a monument to Islam in this place is not just insensitive but provocative.
So, because a whole bleeping 7 percent of Muslims are jihadists, the other 93 percent of Muslims are guilty, too?
Here’s the thing: If you believe that it is “provocative” to put a center devoted to the study of all of Islam near the site of the attacks, then you are inescapably legitimizing the idea that all of Islam is somehow responsible for, or should be vaguely associated with, those attacks. If you don’t believe that — if you believe that the attacks were carried out by a group that perverted Islam and wasn’t genuinely acting on its behalf — then you wouldn’t have any reason to see the building of a project nearby devoted to studying Islam as “provocative.”
Claiming that the attacks were carried out “in the name” of Islam is a transparent way to dodge that simple truth. It’s a way for Krauthammer to make an argument premised inescapably on the idea that all of Islam should be somehow conflated with the attacks while claiming he isn’t doing that at all.
It’s generally the case that bigots can’t see their own bigotry. The minute you recognize your bigotry as bigotry, you begin the process of letting go of bigotry. Die-hard bigots, on the other hand, believe their opinions are simple facts and think people who disagree with them are nuts or naive. So the bigots will continue to deny they are bigots and take offense at being called bigots — but they’re still bigots.