Ground Zero mosque: A monument to modernity


A mosque near Ground Zero would be the perfect rebuke to Islamic fundamentalists, and demonstrate the power of western liberalism

By Andrew Potter, Citizen Special August 22, 2010

OTTAWA — The fight over the Cordoba Initiative’s plan to build an Islamic cultural centre and mosque a few blocks from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan has revealed the basic mean-spiritedness of contemporary American conservatism. But more tellingly, the dispute has revealed the way in which conservatives have more in common with Islamic fundamentalists than they do with their fellow Americans.

Liberals have had an easy time of their usual strategy, portraying their opponents as xenophobes and ignoramuses. The campaign against the Cordoba centre has been a disgrace, with fat, dumb fish like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich swimming happily into the barrel to be shot. In the face of stiff competition, radio host Rush Limbaugh made probably the stupidest argument when he contrasted liberal support for the Cordoba project with the inability of Wal-Mart to get a store built in Manhattan. He then went on to accuse Barack Obama of being the first “anti-American president.”

(Photo Gallery: The Ground Zero mosque)

In response to the hysteria being whipped up by the lunatic right, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a speech at an event on Governors Island in which he defended religious tolerance and affirmed the constitutional right of American muslims to build a mosque anywhere Jews would be free to build a synagogue, or Christians a church. As he put it, “This nation was founded on the principle that the government must never choose between religions or favour one over another.” Yes, Ground Zero is the site of a great national tragedy, “But we would be untrue to the best part of ourselves and who we are as New Yorkers and Americans if we said no to a mosque in lower Manhattan.”

(Read a different viewpoint: Mischief in Manhattan)

Atlantic magazine editor Michael Kinsley probably summed it up best in a widely-circulated blogpost this week, where he asked, “Is there any reason to oppose the mosque that isn’t bigoted, or demagogic, or unconstitutional?”

Actually, responded some of the savvier conservatives, there is. It’s not a question of law, but a matter of manners. Sure, they concede, the constitution says that Muslims have the right to build the mosque there. But should they? Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani came out against the mosque on Wednesday, saying it was simply “creating more division, more anger, more hatred.” What it comes down to, he said, is a matter of “sensitivity.” And so the conservative rallying cry has evolved into the following: “That we let them build the mosque says a lot about us. That they will build it says a lot about them.”

The defining characteristic of Islamic fundamentalism is not its hostility to Christianity. Muslims are pretty convinced God is on their side, and they would easily win an even fight between competing religions. But when it comes to the fight between Islam and modernity, it’s another story. The rise of Islamic fundamentalism over the course of the 20th century was driven largely by a growing fear of the secularism, individualism, and consumerism of the modern West.

They should be afraid. While conservatives like to describe liberal society as “soft,” it is actually an incredibly strong and robust culture, one that can withstand and absorb almost any form of opposition or criticism, and come back even stronger than before. Just ask the radical left, which has spent the better part of the last 40 years trying to take down “the system,” only to see their efforts repeatedly co-opted, commodified, and sold back to them at a premium.

But beyond that, what makes western civilization so powerful is precisely the fact that people here are free to think, say, and do just about anything. Centuries ago, Voltaire remarked about England that it was a nation “of many faiths but only one sauce.” His point was that far from being a threat to the stability of society, diversity of opinion was actually its foundation. “If there were only one religion in England, there would be danger of despotism,” he wrote. “If there were only two they would cut each other’s throats; but there are 30, and they live in peace.”

(Photo Gallery: Remembering the tragedy of 9/11)

It is hard not to conclude that the reason conservatives are so upset by the proposed mosque is that they don’t have much faith in their own culture, and it is too bad they don’t have Voltaire’s confidence in liberalism. Imagine a society that could not just permit, but actually encourage Muslims to build a mosque a few blocks from Ground Zero. How fearsome would that be?

The Cordoba project has been repeatedly described as a 13-storey “raised middle finger” aimed at the relatives of the victims of 9/11. That is precisely the wrong way of thinking about it. If anything, it would be a raised middle finger aimed directly at America’s most implacable enemies.

Andrew Potter is the author of The Authenticity Hoax: How We Get Lost Finding Ourselves, published by McClelland & Stewart.

Read more:



  1. This idiot needs a good swift slap upside his head to rouse him from his dhimmi stupor.

    He’s under the impression that everyone learns from the good examples of others and they do NOT. We are seen as weak and they snicker behind our backs. They don”t learn from us, they don’t want to.

    Take for example the veiled females who recently whizzed through Air Canada airport security without being identified, who cackled under their breath “Canadians are so stupid” for not making them remove their veils.

    All cultures are not created equal and may never be equal. Some cultures have not evolved since the 7th century because of the ideology they worship.

    They will continue to employ whatever tactics meet their needs. And our laws & freedoms, along with our naivete, good nature, excessive tolerance and sheer stupidity already grant them most of their demands.

    There is no glory in being excessively tolerant with groups where it is a one way street. It is ignorance on our part & usury on theirs.

    In building this mosque islam is doing what islam has always done, building it’s monuments on the conquered ruins of their enemies, yes enemies. One only has to read history (true history not the doctored islamic version) to see the pattern., so don’t believe me, get out a legitimate history book and see for yourself.

    The “Victory” mosque is simply that, a monument to the victory of islam and a tower to memorialize the conquest of New York city, USA on 9/11 and if we allow it at Ground Zero it is a signal that we are not only stupid but malleable and ripe for the picking.

    Make no mistake, unless we wise up and show some strength they will continue to view us as cowards and that my friends is an invitation to the ummah to use aggression to make us submit.

    And islam means submission.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s