I WONDER IF ANYONE HAS TOLD THIS MORON THAT UNDER SHARIA LAW LEFTARDS WOULD BE FIRST TO GO…
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
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.