Sunday, August 15, 2010

More on the Ground Zero Mosque
Tom Smith

Tyler Cowen comes out in favor of the GZ mosque.  He says we should come up with ways to increase the status of Muslims in (American?) society.

I find this odd.  To the extent that the average American, if there is such a thing, has a negative association for the religion of Islam, I'm not sure he or she is wrong.  Here are some of the reasons, in no particular order.  First, the country of Iran, led by its religious nutcase president and a class of Muslim clerics, seems intent on developing nuclear weapons in order to finish the job Hitler started.  Unless we are lucky, their high jinks are going to start another regional war in the Middle East.  You can say they are not acting as Muslims, really, but they say that they are and they are in fact a Muslim theocracy. Second, Muslims declaring themselves to be acting as such perpetrated the ghastly crimes of 9/11. Third, the religion of Islam evidently espouses views about the status of women that it has been one of the great accomplishments of Christianity to establish the opposite of, starting in the 11th Century or so, namely that women are fundamentally, essentially, in all important respects, the equal of men. Obviously the principle of equality has been picked up and extended in many directions from there, to include people of all races and so forth.  There is a lot to be said for the rise of the West.  I'm no expert on Islam, but is it clear that it as a religion signs on to the, let's say, Jeffersonian idea that "all [persons] are created equal"? To the extent it does not, I have a problem with that. Fourth, there seems to be a lot on sentiment in the Muslim world against the general principle of freedom, of thought, economic activity, religion, you name it. Freedom is my most revered political principle and I would argue that of my country as well. Fifth, there seems sometimes to be a kind of unholy alliance between Muslim advocates and various left-wing critics of freedom.  Am I wrong to have these concerns?  So yes, I do have my doubts about Islam as a world religion and its consistency with freedom as that ideal has been articulated and refined over the course of European and American history.  I wonder how unrepresentative the suicide bombers really are.

Now you can say, this misrepresents the Muslim religion and Muslims in general, and no doubt there is some truth to this defense.  I would argue pedophile priests are not representative of the Catholic Church, by analogy.  But no Catholic wants to defend these crimes against children nor are they in any sense an expression of Catholic doctrine.  You won't find anything in the New Testament that says, go forth and abuse children.  The Church has put in place extraordinary measures to make sure these terrible crimes don't happen again.  The pope and bishops have apologized profusely and paid hundreds of millions in damages and will pay more.  They should be deeply ashamed of what they allowed to happen, and they are.  Perhaps this is not enough and the church should do more.  But, by contrast, I remember the dancing in the streets of Gaza and Cairo when the towers came down.  I do not remember any great rush of apologies or self-examination by prominent Muslims after 9/11. Perhaps I missed them.  If I had to generalize, I would say instead what I saw was the expedient taking of the ground of victim or potential victim -- as if to say, just wait!  The Americans will now start killing Muslims in the streets!  Of course, no such thing happened.  But terrorist attacks by self-proclaimed Muslims certainly continued, in Madrid, London, Fort Hood, and one could go on and on if one counts American soldiers not to mention civilians killed by Muslim fanatics in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it is not clear why these acts should not be included.  The perpetrators certainly see them as part of a holy war against our civilization.  As to any fervent patriotism for the motherland of the US or UK or France felt by Muslims citizens, this seems to me to be more something we are instructed by our leaders to believe exists than something we must infer exists based on the evidence before our eyes.

Lots of ethnic minorities have felt the need through our history to prove to their fellow Americans that they loved their country as much as anyone.  Irish Americans bled profusely in the Civil War, as did African-Americans fighting for the Union, as celebrated in the movie Glory.  Japanese-Americans volunteered out of the internment camps, risking and giving their lives to make a simple point:  They loved America, so much they were willing to die for it. When people do that, what can you say but, they're Americans alright. Is that the message this mosque will be sending, that Muslims love America so much they are willing to die for it?  It is hard to see how. It's not like it is a scholarship fund for the children of dead firefighters or Marines. 

There is this idea that nobody should ever have to prove that they love their country.  I'm not sure why that should be the case, however.  I see the point that attacks on the patriotism of fellow citizens are a dangerous and scurrilous business, but that is not the same thing as wondering where the Muslim voices were after 9/11.  No doubt I missed some of them.  But it's not like it was a chorus impossible to ignore.  One also wonders, is this mosque something that Muslim-Americans want?  Do they see it as a good thing?  I was glad when the Pope told the Carmelites to move their convent away from Auschwitz. As to that, how could one's attitude be anything but, for God's sake, respect the wishes of the Jews?   

Then there is the point few people seem to want to address directly, though I suspect we will hear more of it.  It hardly seems impossible that building the mosque so near Ground Zero will be seen by some or most of the donors behind it, and whatever their intentions, by many in the Muslim world, as a deliberate provocation of the Great Satan, as a kind of sick joke, a deliberate desecration of ground made holy by the ashes of thousands of innocent men, women and children and the firemen and policemen who tried to save them.  Our laws are such that we can't stop those behind the GZ mosque from doing this if they are determined to do so, as we are powerless to enjoin those evil anti-gay Christian fanatics who demonstrate at military funerals and elsewhere.  I know there are powerful people in the Muslim world, I hope not in this country too, to whom such an abomination would appeal. Look, we are speaking of people who think in terms of "filthy Jews" and of murdering innocents with suicide bombs.  One may reasonably worry that this mosque is the architectural equivalent of sending a mentally disabled suicide bomber into a crowd of school children, that is, an act so depraved we could not even conceive of it, except that we must, because our enemies have.  The project is certainly susceptible to being interpreted as, See how vulnerable their so-called freedom makes them!  We build a mosque on the ashes of their dead! Inevitably, this is a project that will not comfort the victims of 9/11 but will comfort our enemies.  On the other side of the balance is, what precisely?  Architecture is a statement and the builders of this mosque have their work cut out for them if they want to prove that this is not what they are saying, and it is not the skeptics of this project who cut that work out for them.

https://rightcoast.typepad.com/rightcoast/2010/08/more-on-the-ground-zero-mosque-tom-smith.html

| Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

https://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341bf6e253ef0133f3165aec970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference More on the Ground Zero Mosque
Tom Smith
:

Comments

Is there a reason you consistently misspell Tyler Cowen's name? I thought this wasn't the first time, so I Googled it and found at least three. Is it intentional?

As to the mosque, it seems simple to me. If that's what the owner of the property wants to do, that's what the owner gets to do. It seems silly to abandon the principles of property rights for symbolism.

Posted by: John Jenkins | Aug 15, 2010 1:08:03 PM

Persuade Warren Buffet to buy all the building land thereabouts and declare that none of it will be used for religious buildings. That could be the way he spends the 50% of his wealth to be dedicated to good causes - in this case the good cause of obstructing the deliberate attempt to provoke friction between the muslims and the kaffirs.

Posted by: dearieme | Aug 15, 2010 1:38:35 PM

Nope. I'm just a terrible speller and evidently getting worse.

Posted by: Tom Smith | Aug 15, 2010 1:56:58 PM

John - That may be simple, but it is not New York law. To get approval for an 11-story building in New York may take decades.

If someone wanted to build an 11-story Christian megachurch near the 9/11 site, I doubt it would be approved so easily. First Amendment or no First Amendment.

Posted by: pj | Aug 15, 2010 2:30:37 PM

IslamWILL DOMINATE!!!

Posted by: S. Robsville | Aug 15, 2010 3:30:42 PM

“To the extent that the average American, if there is such a thing, has a negative association for the religion of Islam, I'm not sure he or she is wrong.”
The average American is ignorant, if anything, about Islam. More ignorant even than he is about the Christian variants that are not his own. Hell, I haven’t met a Roman Catholic yet who can explain the Immaculate Conception doctrine of his own faith, except for one woman who had just converted from Lutheranism.
“ First, the country of Iran, led by its religious nutcase president and a class of Muslim clerics, seems intent on developing nuclear weapons in order to finish the job Hitler started.”
Whatever you think about their motives, they have the right to develop nuclear weapons to the same extent that the Americans and Russians have that right. Who the hell, anyway, has information on the motives of Americans or Russians in the development and use of their weapons? I sure don’t agree with Obama on American motives on most everything.
“You can say they are not acting as Muslims, really, but they say that they are and they are in fact a Muslim theocracy.”
Lots of confusion here: “They” refers to the self-proclaimed Muslim theocracy, not the Iranian people. When Obama makes proclamations and acts, he tries to claim support of the American people, who do not, in fact, support him.
“Muslims declaring themselves to be acting as such perpetrated the ghastly crimes of 9/11.”
Big hairy deal. The Boston Tea Party was carried out by Indians, remember?
“The religion of Islam evidently espouses views about the status of women that it has been one of the great accomplishments of Christianity to establish the opposite of, starting in the 11th Century or so, namely that women are fundamentally, essentially, in all important respects, the equal of men.”
This, of course, is a joke. Women don’t do mass, math, physics, cabinetmaking, auto mechanics, economics, chess, haute cuisine or haute couture, (or …) as a rule. Women are not the equal of men in American society, and no amount of your repeating the canard will make it so.
Fundamentalists understand this, and so does the Catholic Church, which has forbidden them to pass their wisdom onto men or congregations.
“I'm no expert on Islam, but is it clear that it as a religion signs on to the, let's say, Jeffersonian idea that ‘all [persons] are created equal?’ To the extent it does not, I have a problem with that.”
You are not an expert in a lot of things, but St. Paul, Orthodox Jews, the Mormon Church, many Evangelicals, and god-knows how many other religions have a long history of not treating women/blacks as equals.
“There seems to be a lot on sentiment in the Muslim world against the general principle of freedom, of thought, economic activity, religion, you name it. Freedom is my most revered political principle and I would argue that of my country as well.”
You only give lip service to freedom. In Amerika, where is the freedom to self-medicate, to refuse health insurance, to serve as an atheist judge or juror, to escape pronatalist, pro-marriage taxes, to have sex with a person of your choosing, regardless of age or family relationship?
“There seems sometimes to be a kind of unholy alliance between Muslim advocates and various left-wing critics of freedom. Am I wrong to have these concerns? So yes, I do have my doubts about Islam as a world religion and its consistency with freedom as that ideal has been articulated and refined over the course of European and American history. I wonder how unrepresentative the suicide bombers really are.”
Hell, you have no way of appreciating people like Patrick Henry, Nathan Hale, Baron von Stauffenberg, Timothy McVeigh and Ted Kaczynski and Joseph Stack. Some of us out here do.
“I would argue pedophile priests are not representative of the Catholic Church.”
In spite of what you seem to believe, it is the eternal cover-our-ass opacity of the Roman Catholic Church that has maintained and intensified whatever sins of buggery and hypocrisy.
“I remember the dancing in the streets of Gaza and Cairo when the towers came down. I do not remember any great rush of apologies or self-examination by prominent Muslims after 9/11. Perhaps I missed them.”
Well, you also missed the outright Schadenfreude, if not dancing in the streets, throughout a South and Central America newly freed from Kissinger’s Operation Condor and similar rampant assassinations and disappearances. You need to get out more.
“The perpetrators certainly see [attacks] as part of a holy war against our civilization. As to any fervent patriotism for the motherland of the US or UK or France felt by Muslims citizens, this seems to me to be more something we are instructed by our leaders to believe exists than something we must infer exists based on the evidence before our eyes.”
What we have here is a perverted “civilization” attacking one only slightly less “perverted,” at least in the eyes of folks ranging from Vietnamese to Argentines. Furthermore, you need to start thinking of patriotism as a blight, not a blessing, as did Einstein at age 15. You have to be a Christianist to talk about holy, hallowed and consecrated ground. As an atheist who carries no water for Muslims, I can think of lots of reasons to oppose praying for, consecrating, baptizing and circumcising everything around. Indeed, I enjoy thinking of putting a mosque right at Ground Zero as Jason tossing the stone at the emerging religionists. Let them have it out until there’s nothing left of religion but ashes! You are so blinded by religion that you can’t even imagine that lots of us consider your baptisms, funerals and weddings a serious infringement on our liberties. Of course we want to disturb your Arlingtons.

Posted by: Jimbino | Aug 15, 2010 3:33:04 PM

Queer. Queer how estrangement and ressentment fester into hetred of one's own folk.

Posted by: Lou Gots | Aug 15, 2010 6:10:36 PM

"but that is not the same thing as wondering where the Muslim voices were after 9/11. No doubt I missed some of them. But it's not like it was a chorus impossible to ignore."

The Muslim voice I heard after 9/11 was the Afghani muslim first grader leaving a message on my message machine to my first grade daughter, her classmate. What was the message?

"YOU'LL BE DEAD SOON ENOUGH!"

Amazingly, the school principal was able to identify the student from the message on the machine, who then admitted it. Police were called, police report filed and we were told nothing could be done about it. Not even check the immigration status of the perpetrator and family.

Although there were lots of media stories about potential "hate" crimes against Muslims after 9/11...not one ever mentioned the hate crime against my daughter. Just goes to show you hate crimes only exist for some people.

Posted by: kitty cat | Aug 15, 2010 6:56:07 PM

"Whatever you think about their motives, they have the right to develop nuclear weapons to the same extent that the Americans and Russians have that right"

And why do they have such a right and where does it originate from? This notion that just about everything is a right and such rights cannot be limited is nauseating.

Posted by: Steve | Aug 15, 2010 7:18:01 PM

And by the way Mr. President, how about mentioning that at the very least, the mosque is in very bad taste. Would be nice for the prez to just acknowledged that plain fact.

Posted by: Steve | Aug 15, 2010 7:20:50 PM

There is this idea that nobody should ever have to prove that they love their country. I'm not sure why that should be the case, however. I see the point that attacks on the patriotism of fellow citizens are a dangerous and scurrilous business, but that is not the same thing as wondering where the Muslim voices were after 9/11. No doubt I missed some of them. But it's not like it was a chorus impossible to ignore. One also wonders, is this mosque something that Muslim-Americans want? Do they see it as a good thing? I was glad when the Pope told the Carmelites to move their convent away from Auschwitz. As to that, how could one's attitude be anything but, for God's sake, respect the wishes of the Jews?

Posted by: vibram fivefingers | Aug 15, 2010 9:10:57 PM

Tyler Cowen has always shown a deep attachment to having views that will get him invited to all the best academic soirees. So he denounces the US for torture at the same time that he says nice things about Gulag enthusiast and academic charlatan Slavoj Zizek, Stalin's Lord Haw Haw, he happily links to personal attacks on Thomas Sowell while ignoring Brad DeLong's racist attacks on Sowell, and of course he sneers at Sarah Palin. A man who spent too much time at Harvard.

Posted by: William Sjostrom | Aug 16, 2010 12:52:35 AM

That the promoters of this "mosque" have REFUSED an offer of land for it farther away from the WTC site make it clear: This is in fact an Islamic Victory Monument. It is DESIGNED to demonstrate Islamic supremecy over America.

Posted by: Andrew | Aug 16, 2010 1:54:06 AM

Thanks a lot for sharing. You have done a brilliant job. Your article is truly relevant to my study at this moment, and I am really happy I discovered your website. However, I would like to see more details about this topic.

Posted by: christian louboutin | Aug 16, 2010 3:20:01 AM

"This is in fact an Islamic Victory Monument." Does anyone doubt it?

Posted by: dearieme | Aug 16, 2010 3:50:44 AM

Can we start calling it the "city hall mosque"? It's actually closer to city hall than to "ground zero", after all. It's barely further from my old work (the CIT) than from "ground zero". It's almost as if the people calling this the "ground zero" mosque were either a bit ignorant or else trying to mislead, or using it for nakedly political purposes. I don't know why I'd suspect that about people like Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich, but somehow I do suspect it.

Posted by: Matt Lister | Aug 16, 2010 5:24:07 AM

Better yet, why not just go with the American Spirit and just capitalize the hell out of this tragedy. A company could buy it out and build a giant weed plantation on there, a trademarked bud of course since that what seems to be coming down the pipeline: http://lawblog.legalmatch.com/2010/07/26/are-medical-marijuana-trademarks-in-the-pipeline/

I mean, it's no more disrespectful and inappropriate than a putting a mosque there.

Posted by: NormanMailer | Aug 16, 2010 6:17:54 AM

Norman: Mohamed Atta et al weren't a bunch of potheads crashing planes into buildings for the greater good of hemp, they had an agenda.

Posted by: anon | Aug 16, 2010 7:37:05 AM

Christ put women as equals. Never forget that. Everything else is a manipulation to dominate one soul over another. It is why all religions ultimately fade, people see the hypocrisy and power struggles, eventually, in any hierarchy.

Posted by: athena | Aug 16, 2010 8:19:02 AM

"Whatever you think about their motives, they have the right to develop nuclear weapons to the same extent that the Americans and Russians have that right"

Steve said: "And why do they have such a right and where does it originate from? This notion that just about everything is a right and such rights cannot be limited is nauseating."

Dear Steve: Rights do not come from government, but from "Our Creator." Iran is only fighting for the "equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them." Governments will rise and fall, come and go depending on the degree to which they observe those rights.

The right to justice and fair treatment has to be fundamental to other rights. Now that the USSA and Russia are denying Iran fair treatment, we need to contemplate the possibility of the fall of the oppressors, just as the Founding Fathers did.

Posted by: Jimbino | Aug 16, 2010 8:26:54 AM

"The right to justice and fair treatment has to be fundamental to other rights. Now that the USSA and Russia are denying Iran fair treatment, we need to contemplate the possibility of the fall of the oppressors, just as the Founding Fathers did."

As long as you're talking about Iran being one of the oppressors in the Middle East...I'm okay with this statement. Since when has Islam had the right to justice and fair treatment as a fundamental right?

Posted by: kitty cat | Aug 16, 2010 8:57:31 AM

Jimbino, You need to brush up on your natural rights philosophy. First, Iran doesn't have rights. Iranians do. Second, even if Iran is entitled to pursue nuclear weapons there is nothing in natural rights theory that demands you stand by as your neighbor prepares to destroy you. They might have a right to pursue them but we have every right to stop them.

As a side note, If you think that Mahmoud really is a closet Lockean and is only fighting for "equal station" then you haven't been paying attention to Mahmoud.

Posted by: john knox | Aug 16, 2010 9:05:56 AM

Jimbino - Murderers forfeit their rights. That's what the Law's of Nature's God say. Insofar as the Iranian mullahs ever had a "right" to nuclear weapons, it's long gone.

Posted by: pj | Aug 16, 2010 11:37:03 AM

Jimbino - no one argues that Women in the West are 100% identical to men (well, few do so anyway). However, to fail to acknowledge (or comprehend) the vast, radical, fundamental difference in approach of Christianity regarding women as opposed to other cultures of the past, ... well, that just undermines the credibility of any other observation you might wish to make.

Posted by: km | Aug 16, 2010 12:56:32 PM

A couple of points:

Matt Lister: It is my understanding that the building was struck by debris from the airplane that struck the WTC. That certainly connects it with the tragedy. Perhaps I am mistaken on my facts, but I don't think so. If not, then you need an additional argument.

John Jenkins: Wow, there is that Tyler Cowen spelling again. In the past, I have more than once mistake the spelling of his name and I get more than one e mail each time pointing it out. Who cares if you spell his name Cowan (as it sounds) or Cowen (the correct way, I guess), on a blog of all things?

William Sjostrom: Exactly!

Posted by: Michael Rappaport | Aug 16, 2010 2:34:31 PM