Saturday, August 14, 2010

Just Another Mosque

When the courts find someone guilty of a crime, they punish the criminal.  Our government does not directly punish his family, nor the criminal's employer, social clubs, favorite football team, or his church.  If an organization conspires, we only punish those responsible, not other affiliates (i.e., if Round Rock's First Baptist Church blew up Main Street, we would not levy fines or jail sentences against other Baptist churches and pastors).

So why the outcry over a community center that includes a mosque near Ground Zero?  Not on the site, not in view of the site, but three blocks away where another building already stood.  Any private development, whether religious, commercial, or residential, would be inappropriate on the site itself, but this lot is normal real estate in the area.  They want the site at least in part for its proximity, but I assume that has affected the value of all surrounding real estate, and many other purchasing decisions.  If the planned building celebrated the destruction or mocked the tragedy (such as neo-Nazis building a WWII museum at a former concentration camp), we should stop it.  But the developer and imam leading the mosque have a long, consistent history of preaching tolerance and interfaith harmony.

My heart still burns for the victims' families, but I don't see what jurisdiction they have outside the site.  I admire Gov. Paterson's offer of free land to build the development elsewhere - a great gesture towards a win-win solution.  But I find myself once again most impressed with President Obama.  He is the only high-profile politician enduring serious attempts to label him Muslim and non-American, and could have avoided comment on the mosque as a local issue.  But he dove in to defend religious freedom for all, knowing this would give snipers more ammo.  I want more politicians willing to do that, and I'd like to see the President do it more himself, but I've got to give credit where credit's due.

P.S. My information is heavily based on Newsweek's cover story, although it's consistent with everything else I've read.  Please let me know any factual errors I'm making, or any other comments that strike you.


  1. The usual crazies are already taking this as further proof of Obama's evil, how's he's disconnected from how real Americans (eg those who don't live in Washington or New York) feel.

    The most sane thing I've read on the subject has been Hendrik Hertzberg in the New Yorker -

  2. Very good, Charles.