I am horrified by this Ground Zero Mosque issue. More specifically, I am disgusted that an Imam is turning a blind eye to the pain it is causing 9/11 families in favor of promoting cross-cultural and religious tolerance, understanding and coorperation. As I see it, you don’t get someone to work with you by slapping them in the face. In a speech yesterday, President Obama said the following:
Recently, attention has been focused on the construction of mosques in certain communities -– particularly New York. Now, we must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of Lower Manhattan. The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country. And the pain and the experience of suffering by those who lost loved ones is just unimaginable. So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. And Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.
But let me be clear. As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. (Applause.) And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of the Founders must endure.
Now, I actually agree with the President ideologically here. The First Amendment must always be respected and honored, and never subject to the tyranny of the majority. Our Constitutional rights are never subject to the feelings and sensibilities of poll numbers.
Taking away any funding issues, and assuming this Imam doesn’t attempt to implement Sharia Law (which would pre-empt federal authority on a number of levels), assuming that all he does is to not denounce Hamas as a terrorist organization, even as they launch rockets and bombs into Israel, even when it calls for the destruction of Israel in their very charter, even when they have repeatedly shown no respect for human life, we cannot stop him from freely practicing religion on private property. Assuming that all he does is speak about how terrorists are made from American foreign policy, assuming that all he does is say America was a partner in causing 9/11, all he has are just words and worship, and no matter how repugnant, he has the right to say them and even believe them. It’s foul, but people who do not condemn Hamas still have the right to say so.
This is where people are getting caught up. In saying that this Imam and the mosque he represents have the right to freedom of religion and speech does not mean we should just turn around, whistle a jaunty tune and walk away. We also have the right to be offended, angry and intolerant at the building of this mosque. I have the right to look at this Imam, see the so-called moderate Muslim community not condemn him, and lose most of my respect for what constitutes the majority of Islam. Heck, even Greg Gutfeld has the right to buy his own property and build “Suspicious Packages” or whatever other Muslim-friendly gay bar he chooses to right next to the mosque. That’s the beauty of America.
Thus building this mosque, if the funding is kosher, is a right, but it is not “right”. I would like to point out the infamous ]The National Socialist Party v. Skokie case where the KKK planned a rally in Skokie, IL, a town with the 3rd highest Jewish population in the country. In this case, the court recognized that the presence of a hostile audience was insufficient in preventing the KKK’s right to freedom of speech. The court wrote, “We would not apply an “interest-balancing” approach to the prohibition of a peaceful neo-Nazi march through Skokie. The First Amendment contains the freedom-of-speech guarantee that the people ratified, which included exceptions for obscenity, libel, and disclosure of state secrets, but not for the expression of extremely unpopular and wrong-headed views.” In sum, even if the majority of people disagree with this Imam’s views, he still has the Constitutional right to have those fringe views. But just as the good people of Skokie, Jews and Christians and Agnostics and Atheist alike stood up when the KKK walked through the center of the town, hailing Hitler and denying the Holocaust and burning crosses, we, too have the right to stand against an Imam who, in the interest of “building bridges” refuses to condemn the worst cesspools of humanity who make it a life goal to murder, conquer and violate human rights. I will not build bridges with terrorists or terror-sympathizers. And anyone who seeks to do just that deserves neither our tolerance nor our respect. If this mosque is built and true moderate Muslims do not stand against this slap in the face to those who bear the deep scars of the tragedy of 9/11, to those who still mourn the loss of those they cherished most to the blood-soaked hands of radicals who wish to impose their horrific brand of “religion” on the rest of the world, they will do a grand disservice to the acceptance and respect for Islam in this country. I have, in past years, had no beef with or ill feelings toward Islam. I have Muslim friends, I live near a mosque and I work with many Muslims. But unless the Imams of the mosques that they belong to stand up and say that this is not right, I will lose a large amount of respect for them. Let me be very clear, this Imam does have the right to build a mosque on private ground, but doing so is not right. And as such, we have a right to be angry and offended by this building, and we have the right to say so. We have the right extend this anger to all who do not condemn terror organizations, and we have the right to protest and voice our feelings. We have the right to be intolerant of this Imam with our own free speech, and I will not back down from doing so. Many of those who “support” the building of this mosque cite Freedom of Speech as a reason why we should not be angry or offended or speak out against this, but in doing so are only advocating for suppressing our free speech.
In his statement expressing his appreciation for the NYC site not being deemed a “landmark historical site”, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said the following: “We believe that Park51 [Ground Zero Mosque] will become a landmark in New York City’s cultural, social and educational life, a community center to promote the American values we all aspire towards and to realize a better city for all”. Well, congratulations, Feisal Adbul Rauf. You’ve officially set your own cause back over a decade. Tell me which “American values” you are promoting in causing grief and pain to those who lost the most important people in their lives on 9/11? Apparently you do not understand America or its values very well.
Freedom of Speech was created so that government could not repress the thoughts and words of American citizens, religion included. As the court in the Skokie case wrote, even when those thoughts represent “extremely unpopular and wrong-headed views”. We are wrong in saying whether or not we should stop this mosque from being built. Assuming the funding doesn’t come from terrorist organizations, we cannot stop someone from practicing freedom of religion on private property, no matter how repugnant is disgusting we may find it. But in doing so we cannot allow ourselves to be silenced by those who use that very fact to say that we are “intolerant” or “wrong”. We can still stand against this mosque and the ideas it represents. Just as the Jews in Skokie stood in the street on the day the KKK marched in protest and horror at what the KKKs speech implied, we, too should practice our own freedom of speech in choosing to voice our own offense and disgust at what this Imam’s speech implies.