The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


It appears as if President Obama’s clumsy entry into the “ground zero mosque” debate has heated up rhetoric on both sides, but before considering the current debate, it might be useful to consider two snippets of history.

In the year 637 AD, Jerusalem was conquered by the Rashidun Caliphate army during the Muslim conquest of the region. Fifty years later, the Muslim conquerors decided to build a mosque which today is called the Dome of the Rock. The architects and engineers that constructed the mosque could have placed it anywhere within Jerusalem. There are beautiful hilltops overlooking the city that would have highlighted the magnificent structure. Instead, they chose to build the mosque directly on top of the ruins of the second Jewish Temple, even then the most holy of all Jewish sites. Some would argue that the Dome of the Rock was the first example of a "triumphal mosque"—built on the Temple Mount as a subtle reminder of Islam's conquest of this region.

Approximately a hundred years after the construction of the Dome of the Rock, the city of Cordoba, Spain became the seat of the Islamic Caliphate. Christians and Jews lived in the city, but were Dhimmi—that is, to live without harassment by Cordoba’s Muslim rulers, they were, according to Sharia Law, forced to pay special taxes that only second class citizens were required to pay. Today, it's interesting to note that the developers who insist on building the Mosque near ground zero have chosen the name "Cordoba Initiative."

It is neither paranoid nor bigoted to ask whether the site location for the “ground zero mosque” (on hallowed ground for all Americans) by a Muslim group that calls itself the “Cordoba Initiative” has symbolism beyond ecumenical understanding and interfaith diversity. It is reasonable to ask why the Muslim supporters of this project are incapable of exercising sensitivity to the raw emotions of the vast majority of all Americas and building their mosque elsewhere. But according to many commentators on the Left, those questions should not be asked, and those asking them are religious bigots, Islamophobes, and anti-freedom of religion.

As I stated in two earlier posts, the widespread objection to the “ground zero mosque” has absolutely nothing to do with religious freedom. It is not a constitutional question, and couching it in those terms (as the President and his supporters continually do) is intellectually dishonest. Muslims, Hindus, Mormons, Christians, Jews, Wiccans, Rastafarians and many, many others,have the right to practice their religions and do so openly and without harassment throughout the United States. Ironically, the same cannot be said in a significant majority of the Muslim countries.

And yet, the Left insists on cloaking this debate in terms of “religious freedom.” They do this because it then allows them to launch ad hominem attacks on anyone who disagrees with their point of view. It also allows them to engage in their favorite pastime—moral preening.

The same commentators who today castigate the public for its stand against the “ground zero mosque” and suggest that stupidity and bigotry are the drivers for that position, praised the American people for wisdom and insight immediately after the election of our current President. Stupid and bigoted, or smart and wise? You can’t have it both ways.