There’s a lot of squawking about how the proposed Islamic center in lower Manhattan would cause pain to the families of September 11 victims, so it should not be built. But some of those families are Muslim. And notice that most of the people presuming to speak for the families of September 11 victims do not belong to families of September 11 victims, who as far as I know have not been polled for their opinions.
The Families of September 11 have made no statement about the Islamic Center that I could find on their website. The September 11 Families’ Association website hosts some news stories about the Islamic Center, but I could find no opinion or position about it on that site, one way or another.
But the September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, a group founded and steered by families of September 11 victims, has issued a strong opinion. It supports the building of the Islamic Center.
I realize some individuals who lost family members on September 11 have vocally opposed the Islamic Center, but it’s a leap to assume that they speak for anyone but themselves. So I say again to Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and the rest of the buttinskys who don’t live in New York and have no personal connection to those who died there — MYOB.
Today New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission is expected to reject a proposal to designate as a “landmark” the property at 45-47 Park Place in lower Manhattan. That is, of course, the proposed site of the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” that would not be a mosque and would not be at “Ground Zero.” And of course the proposal was made in an attempt to stop construction of the Islamic Center That Would Not Be a Mosque and Would Not Be at Ground Zero.
Via a deceptively headlined article by Michael Goldfarb of the Weekly Standard, I learned that that a Quinnipiac poll found 46 percent of voters living in Manhattan support the Islamic Center project; 36 percent oppose it, and I assume the remainder are undecided.
However, people living in the other four boroughs are less supportive, especially Staten Island voters, who oppose the center by 73 to 14 percent. All five boroughs put together show that 52 percent of New Yorkers oppose the center, but nearly as many either support it or don’t care.
This is interesting:
A mosque near Ground Zero would “foster understanding and teach people that not all Muslims are terrorists,” 42 percent of New York City voters say. Of this group, 68 percent support the mosque.
Another 42 percent of voters say the mosque “is an insult to the memory and families of 9/11 victims.” Of this group, 93 percent oppose the mosque.
So New Yorkers overall are split evenly between people who think the center (which would not be a mosque) would be a positive thing or a negative thing. But notice that a hefty minority of people who thought the center would be a positive thing still oppose building it. This suggests to me the effects of peer pressure, or perhaps people who are not personally bothered by the center oppose building it because other people are bothered. That’s not exactly a reason for trashing the Bill of Rights, though.
There have been plenty of times in American history that big majorities of Americans supported causes and policies that would appall later generations. Slavery and Jim Crow come to mind, and so do Wounded Knee, much of the Philippineâ€“American War, and the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II. Opposition to the Islamic center obviously fits into the same shameful, hateful category.
So sometimes a majority are wrong, which is why the Founders did not establish a purely majoritarian government. Stopping Muslims from doing something lawful just because they are Muslims obviously violates the First Amendment and is something that government has no power to do, even if it’s the will of the majority.
But conservatives, for whom the word “liberty” refers to their assumed license to stop other people from enjoying liberty, have formed a virtual mob to try to intimidate New York City officials into stopping the building of the center, Bill of Rights or no Bill of Rights. And if they succeed, they’ll go off to make speeches about how they support the rule of law over the rule of men.
Elsewhere — William McGurn writes for the Wall Street Journal about the Auschwitz nuns. These were Carmelite nuns who turned a building on the edge of the Auschwitz concentration camp site into a convent, intending to pray for the souls of the victims. Jewish groups took offense, and eventually Pope John Paul II asked the Carmelites to move into another convent. I infer from the WSJ editorial that the new convent is in the same city (OÅ›wiÄ™cim) as the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial, just not within site of it. In any event, McGurn’s argument is that the Islamic Center is analogous to the situation of the Auschwitz nuns, and the Islamic center builders should follow Pope John Paul II’s example and take the center elsewhere.
Except that it isn’t analogous. The proposed Islamic Center will not be visible from the old Trade Center site. And the people taking offense at the building of the Islamic Center are not a clearly defined group with a special connection to the site, but just people who don’t want it there.
Essentially, McGunn is saying that we can ignore the Bill of Rights whenever a big enough mob says we can.
And in associating all Muslims with the September 11 terrorists, the opponents are acting a lot more like, well, those who associated all Jews with some nefarious plot to undermine Germany. You do know who I’m talking about, I assume.
Update: Holy Joe should put the brakes on his mouth. Senators from Connecticut, not New York, should butt out.
Update: As expected, the Landmarks Commission decided the building on Park Place is not a landmark. I doubt very much that the mob will be able to stop the building of the Islamic Center. Unfortunately, the city may have to keep the construction under guard so that busloads of out-of-town yahoos don’t take it on themselves to stop construction.
Update: I can’t read the article because it’s behind a subscription firewall, but the blurb is bad enough — “An Open Letter on the Ground Zero Mosque: The location undermines the goal of interfaith understanding.” Translation: Those Muslims should understand they can’t get away with something that’s not conservatively correct.
Update to the last update: I picked up from a rightie blog that the WSJ article linked above says this:
Our deeper concern is what effect Cordoba House would have on the families of 9/11 victims, survivors of and first responders to the attacks, New Yorkers in general, and all Americans. As you have seen in the public reaction to the Cordoba House, 9/11 remains a deep wound for Americansâ€”especially those who experienced it directly in some way. They understandably see the area as sacred ground. Nearly all of them also reject the equation of Islam with terrorism and do not blame the attacks on Muslims generally or on the Muslim faith. But many believe that Ground Zero should be reserved for memorials to the event itself and to its victims. They do not understand why of all possible locations in the city, Cordoba House must be sited so near to there.
Again somebody presumes to speak for the families of 9/11 victims, who have pretty much been rendered voiceless in all the noise. “They understandably see the area as sacred ground. … many believe that Ground Zero should be reserved for memorials to the event itself and to its victims” — there’s a bleeping strip club south of Ground Zero (the Pussycat Lounge and Shogun Room, 96 Greenwich St.) that is about as close to Ground Zero as the Islamic Center would be. There are many, many bars closer to Ground Zero than the Islamic Center would be. There’s all kinds of stuff between Ground Zero and the Islamic Center site that don’t have a bleeping thing to do with September 11. So since when is all that territory “reserved for memorials”? Give me a break.
Another update: “If He Could, Bin Laden Would Bomb the Cordoba Initiative” by Jeffrey Goldberg.
I know Feisal Abdul Rauf; I’ve spoken with him at a public discussion at the 96th street mosque in New York about interfaith cooperation. He represents what Bin Laden fears most: a Muslim who believes that it is possible to remain true to the values of Islam and, at the same time, to be a loyal citizen of a Western, non-Muslim country. Bin Laden wants a clash of civilizations; the opponents of the this mosque project are giving him what he wants.
Updated Again: My nominee for Flaming Useless Idiot of the Hour … I started to say of the Week, but the Right cranks ’em out way faster than that … is Jennifer Rubin, who writes for Commentary —
The left continues to feign confusion (it is hard to believe its pundits are really this muddled) as to the reasons why conservatives (and a majority of fellow citizens) oppose the Ground Zero mosque. No, itâ€™s not about â€œreligious freedomâ€ â€” weâ€™re talking about the location of the mosque on the ash-strewn site of 3,000 dead Americans.
No, Jennifer, the center will not be on the ash-strewn site of 3,000 dead Americans.. It will be two city blocks away and hidden from view behind two larger buildings. It will actually be much closer to the New York Dolls topless bar and “gentleman’s club” than to Ground Zero.
And we’re not at all confused about why you righties are hysterical about the Islamic Center. It’s because you’re a pack of bigoted cowards who are so fearful of a few moderate Muslims you’d sell out every value this country stands for to keep them out of your sight.
It is interesting that the word mosque is not employed by those excoriating the mosque opponents. As a smart reader highlights, why is it described as a â€œcultural centerâ€?
Because it’s going to be a cultural center and not a mosque. A mosque is a particular kind of building that conforms to a specific format, and the cultural center will not be that. Instead, it will be modeled after the 92nd Street Y, a Jewish cultural center that nobody ever calls “synagogue.”
FYI, there are a number of locations in lower Manhattan in which Muslims gather for prayer services. This has been going on for many years, long before the 9/11 attacks. No, they are not mosques, either, just rooms set aside for the purpose.
Obviously, Jennifer, you are terribly confused, and about many things. If you need anything else explained to you, let me know.
Uppity Uppity Update: Mayor Bloomberg delivers stirring defense of Islamic center that Salon editors still confuse with a mosque.
How tipicle of u NY Librul Yankees.
Ah here how u hav Eyetalian, German and even Nip resturohnts up ther. Why the hell did we fight The Big One if ya’ll gonna eat there dam food? An u gotta hole Chinkytown. Ah never eats that stuff less’n its at a buffet – Ah no Ah can eat more’n eight dam bucks worth so ahm ‘eatin’ away at the debt you liberal democrat rung up with them, two plates at a time- ha, ha, ha.
An now, u NYers even got families of 9/11 sayin its ok to build that Mosky thingy. An ah bet them peski 9/11 widders is a part of it 2, Glenn Beck was right about all of them and us bein sick of ’em. Don you know this Mosky thingy they wanna build’s on hello’d ground in a city Ah, all ov us, hate more’n any other? We hate every dam part of NY ceptin that there hello’d ground where Murikans were murdered by them Islamofatshits.
Sometimes, you juss gotta admit us reel Murikans no better’n u dam liberal yankee uppity NYers bout what this great land of freedom and liberty is all bout an we say no to that there Mosky thingy on hello’d ground. Cause in the name of freedom and liberty if’n u dew build it, WE’LL blow IT up! There, we’ll say to ’em, lookin at ’em eye for an eye, “Even-steven!”*
*My apologies in advance to those who may be offended. This was a pastiche about the teabaggers and other xenophobes, and not any sort of an indictment on the people in the rest of the country.
And they yearn for the kind of mature, adult leadership that says “They didn’t decide to put it there because of the attacks. They chose that location, a perfectly neutral site, and then a bunch of people either got hateful, or realized they could kick up a fuss.”
But they won’t get it.
I recall that shortly after 9/11 Bill O’Reilly invited the son of a man who had been killed on 9/11 (worked in one of the towers.) O’Reilly had apparently expected the young man to be outraged, mad as hell, vindictive and consumed by revenge. He wasn’t and in fact said that his father would not have wanted his son to be any of those things. O’Reilly literally became unglued. Off camera he ordered the son out of his studio, in fact to get the fuckin’ hell out of his studio and never come back.
Unfortunately, the O’Reillys of this world are not few and far between.
As you have seen in the public reaction to the Cordoba House, 9/11 remains a deep wound for Americans
(OK, I omitted “especially those who experienced it directly,” because that statement, when compared to reality, mocks itself.)
Correction: As you have seen in the Southern reaction to the Civil Rights movement, the Civil War remains a deep wound for backward Americans….
So how extra-backward does one have to be, to think and act in 2010 like it’s still 1965? Ye gods.
You gotta keep that wound open and harness that emotion!..There’s a lot more mileage/emotion yet to be extracted. How’s Rudy been lately?
I think the sensible thing to do is get a reputable psychic surveyor to stake out the exact lines of demarcation for the sacred ground. Until the sacred boundaries are firmly established in law there is no point in arguing about locations. I kinda doubt the sacred boundaries would exceed the original building lines of the World Trade Center.
I’ve read the koran and haddiths and the greater sunnah. I’ve read the interpretations of them at the time, read the interpretations of them in the present day from both liberal “apostate” muslims, moderates and conservatives. I’ve spoken and worked with Muslims and actively respected their holidays (even when it meant I had to do more work) but I do not like Islam. It is as bad if not worse than Christianity. It has been trending down the path of conservatism since the 10th century with all the danger conservatism entails. The efforts of those who seek to make it compatible with liberal democracy are noble but ultimately I believed doomed to failure. I applaud them. I support them. I will not discriminate against followers of a religion because they are followers of a religion. My behavior towards people will be determined by their own actions. If it is not, then I deserve to suffer consequences.
Did the people at the Cordoba Center follow the law? Yes. So how in God’s name (heh) can you even think to prevent the construction of the mosque? The only way western liberal democratic values can succeed is if we put them into practice even if we hate the results. I find what is going on here fucking obscene.
I’m starting to think that global warming isn’t caused by industrialization, but by conservativism.
If you look at global warming, it has spiked at the same time that conservativism has increased around the globe.
Maybe global warming is caused by conservative morons (but, I repeat myself) who, when they have nothing instructive, constructive, or useful to say, still feel the need to say something, anything, to drive a wedge further and further between people just to get “Amens” from their idiotic followers, who would “Amen” anything they said as long as it was AGAINST someone or something.
All of that hot air expended, has caused the poor Earth to warm up drastically.
This Islamic Center is another perfect example of that. Instead of looking at this as an opportunity to heal wounds, they blow hot air about a subject they know nothing about, which is taking place in a city most of them loathe, just to get the expected yelps of approval from the Pavlovian dogs they’ve trained through Rush, Glenn, and the FOXification of this poor nation.
Maybe if we can get them to STFU for awhile, we can lower our air conditioning bills for the rest of the summer.
But no, after this, it’ll on to the next manufactured outrage, to gain more “Amens” from their lemming-like followers who are baptized on a daily basis in the waters of “Babblin’-On.”
Rinse and repeat…
Jennifer doesn’t know what “excoriate” means, either. Could this actually be Sarah Palin? 😉
“…but I do not like Islam. It is as bad if not worse than Christianity.”
MNPundit..thanks so much for expressing so eloquently my own thinking on this matter. I respect all religions, including some of my ‘new age-Buddhist-Hindu’ neighhbors (I deal with these guys with a sense of humor and fun while trying to clarify Buddhism to them). I find that dealing with my Christian neighbors is to be avoided as they do not have one shred of anything close to humor in them, which pretty much covers Muslims I have known. Remember the “We Are The World” song which seemed so sappy to me at the time? I long for those days now….
Maha–Keep up your great work, I love your blogs and my day is not complete til I have read them all….or, my mornings sometimes….hey, I retired, I can and do read them anytime. Thanks all…
Kathleen-still stuck in Baton Rouge without a paddle.
No, it’s not about â€œreligious freedomâ€ â€” we’re talking about the location of the mosque on the ash-strewn site of 3,000 dead Americans.
It seems to me that Jennifer’s primary concern is to keep alive the association of Muslims with terrorism. Jennifer is right..it’s not about religious freedom..it’s about religious bigotry.
“Until the sacred boundaries are firmly established in law there is no point in arguing about locations”
Swami great observation, maybe they could add to the radius calculation the number of dead and what race /religion they were. That way the more people get killed the larger the boundary, and if your killing Christians and Jews then that adds points as well, or is that too arbitrary?
This whole topic is the stupidest fucking thing I’ve heard from the wing-nuts to date, oh wait until they started talking about repeal of the 14th amendment!
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Re: the Uppity Uppity Update: The Salon article has a link to the video of Bloomberg’s speech, which was followed by several other speeches. Sit down, have a nice beverage, and watch them all. They’re perfectly beautiful.
why is it described as a â€œcultural centerâ€?
Holy crap, Jennifer Rubin… ignorant and unread much?
I vaguely remember a sort of “poem” I recited every school morning as a child.
It mentioned “one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”. The words were changed in ’54 to “one nation under God”, and the right seems to dwell on those new words more than all the others combined.
I prefer to dwell on the words “liberty and justice for all”.
It appears the attacks of 9/11 were carried out by Muslims; Shinto Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, but we don’t hate the Shinto faith.
Our prisons are overflowing with Christians.
There are vast underlying reasons why hatred of Muslims is encouraged by the right.
Never overlook the obvious.
A week ago a wingnut on a forum – writing on the topic of religious freedom – suggested that the founding fathers actually intended ‘freedom of Christianity’. Her words. SUch is not the case. Read Jefferson. “in proof that they [voting for religious freedom] meant to comprehend within the mantle of its protection the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination. ”
I think this issue is central to what motivates the anti-islamic wingnuts – and this is the same faction that idolizes Sarah Palin. That group believes that either the founding fathers intended to grant Christianity (evangelical christanity) a special status – or the founding fathers SHOULD have granted evangelical christianity a special status.
The issue of a ‘Mosque’ on the site of Ground Zero – howver fraudulent – is the battle cry of a movement devoted to a much more ambitious goal – the ascendency of their religous candidates who are determined to imbed their faith in our laws.
REGARDLESS OF THEIR RELIGION – any candidate who does not understand and respect the separation of Church and State is not qualified to serve in public office.
oh wait until they started talking about repeal of the 14th amendment!
Yeah,The problem of dealing with 12 million illegal latinos won’t seem like such a big deal when you have 50 million illegal black generational anchor babies to contend with. I think these wingnuts have some sort of contest going to see who can out stupid one another. Maybe they should amend the 14th amendment with a “going forward” clause.
Oh , Bloomberg’s speech is really good..except it should be read rather than viewed because Bloomberg doesn’t do it justice in it’s delivery. The power of it is diminished in Bloomberg’s speech making style. Whoever wrote it got it right. Good speech.
As an American Indian, I see a whole bunch of non-Indian anchor babies–many in the Congress of the US of A.
“Mayor Bloomberg delivers stirring defense of Islamic center”
As has been pointed out Bloomberg can really chunk up a speech. He said the right things but it was hard to listen to. A nice piece of history though, thanks for heads up KS. I thought Richy Daley sucked at public speaking!, Bloomberg is almost as bad. I agree with the message of all the speeches but why go so over the top about religion? I’d like to of heard from someone who doesn’t worship the sky wizard. I’m always a little suspicious of “interfaith” leaders. They talk a good game but at their core the religions they promote are divisive by design. If a rabbi, priest and Imam started a church two of them would be unemployed! So is this commission decision the end of this story? I hope so, nothing is more disheartening than watching the right-wing crazies and the evangelical fundies combine forces, spread fear and garner public opinion, will it ever end?
“As an American Indian, I see a whole bunch of non-Indian anchor babiesâ€“many in the Congress of the US of A”
Right, you know my “heritage” goes back to a signature on the declaration, William E. Floyd!, Surely either his folks or grandfolks didn’t have legal status at some point, so where do I and my forty some thousand “cousins” turn ourselves in?
Current events often bring to mind a quote cited by Joseph Campbell, “Religion is a way of insulating people from the experience of God.” The Buddha and Jesus both resisted the temptation of earthly power. The Christian Right has not. Here they embrace lies, half truths and ignorance because it serves their political goals to do so. Their spiritual goals seem to be playing second fiddle, if they are playing at all.
I don’t think it is any wonder that many young people seem attracted to Atheism. The dominant forms of Christianity seem corrrupt and distracted. What kind of church supports torture and opposes civil rights?
“What kind of church supports torture and opposes civil rights?”
Oooh, oooh, oooh! Can I play?
A “Fundamentalist” one – of any religion. Because “The Renaissance” and “The Enlightment” are sooooooo over-rated.
‘Give me that Ol’ Time Religion!’
@ Doug Hughes :
You raise a good point. Partly it is a conflict of which Founding Fathers one speaks of. Most of us who have opened a history book usually associate the term with our most intelligent, most resourceful, most liberty-obsessed early leaders. Jefferson and Madison are the best examples for the case of freedom from/of religion as given in the First Amendment.
However, the fundamentalists don’t give a damn about the course of history, so they don’t really care about who had the best justified reasoning or the sanest policies (at the time or now). They only care about furthering the specific goals of their group. They do indeed believe that they and they alone are “special”, and that nothing — no evidence, no reasoning, no reality however obvious — can change that. It was brainwashed into them from an early age. This is why nepotism and tribalism in education is so dangerous; someone who has never been exposed to other methods of thought would not understand due to their massive investment in the authority paradigm.
The Enlightenment is not over until its principles are understood by all.
The bulk, in fact all with one exception, of our Constitution is ‘lifted’ from mostly English law. The exception is ‘freedom of religion,’ and its attending law which were inserted for good reason and in its day were considered quite liberal and certainly ‘different.’
Many of the Framers were willing to put their reputations, standing in the community and perhaps political capital in jeopardy to include it. Their prescience was remarkable.
I don’t like the idea of the Islamic Center being built where it is planned. I believe that radical fundamentalists will see it as a victory for their ’cause’ and that it will cause a divisive feeling in the city, not foster peace as they hope. Also, I have read many personal accounts (including one published in the Washington Post by a Muslim) of the victims’ families that speak out against the center being built. As many of you liberals here on this site might expect I am a conservative from the South. I am a member of a very conservative Christian religion about which I feel strongly. That being said, I believe they have the right to build the center anyway. I love this country. I have a deep and abiding respect for our founders and their vision and their dedication to the ideal of a country where laws and not the anger of mobs or the whims of the elitist few govern our land. If we take their right to build from them, despite the law, because so many are so loudly calling for it then what prevents that from happening to me or to you should we, even legally, run against the opinions of the masses? In case you wanted to know, though I somehow doubt you do, you would do more for the cause of right-minded and clear thinking and to facilitate understanding should you try having sensible and fact based conversations than by acting like children and calling everyone who disagrees with you names. Yes, they’re wrong, but can’t you be a little more grown up about it?
Radical fundamentalists won’t think any such thing, because the imam building the center is a Sufi. Radical fundamentalist Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, hate Sufis and think they are heretics. Sufis in the Middle East are frequent targets of radical Islamic terrorism.
A few of them do, but it seems most do not. BTW, that article in the Washington Post was a crock; the woman who wrote it doesn’t seem to have ever visited Ground Zero as she claimed.
And I’m a 10th generation hillbilly who grew up in the Ozark Mountains and whose family has been here in North America for three centuries. I’m proud to say that my ancestors fought in the Revolution, as well as the Civil War (both sides), World War I, and World War II. I had an uncle in Korea, a brother in Vietnam, and a nephew in Iraq. The womenfolk of my family went West on buckboards and made homesteads in the wilderness. Is that American enough for you? And we “liberals” like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison created America, madam, and you should be grateful to us for it.
The very first clause in the Bill of Rights says as much.
I went back and re-read the post you are commenting on. I speak plainly, but toots, I speak the truth. There’s not a single gratuitous insult in that post. They are all heartfelt and dead-on accurate insults. And I’ve been writing political commentary for a long time; I learned years ago that wingjuts don’t listen to reason even if you try to be sweet about it.
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So should we ban synagogues from Wall St because Bernie Madoff is a Jew?
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