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Sunday, September 12, 2010

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Evan

"It will freak people out" hardly seems like a good reason to be against something like the Islamic center.

...I mean, it obviously works well as a herd mentality (just check the polls showing the atrociously high number of Americans opposed to the project), but it's hardly a reasoned opinion. Mention of Fr. Samir's knowledge of Islam doesn't justify goofy arguments like this:

Even if you say this project aims to build a greater understanding and a new dialogue with American Christians and so on, it is evident that any normal person will fear it.

Evan

This article, I think, does a good job of laying out how the media has utterly failed on both the Islamic center and the Koran burning (And yeah, yeah, you think you're clever calling these guys "Huff-and-Puff" or whatever. We know.)

Mark Brumley

Evan, I understand your reaction. But why is community reaction not a pertinent factor to consider in the center's placement? Even if one ultimately decides for the monument's proposed site, it hardly seems reasonable to call "goofy" the rejection of the placement of the monument at Ground Zero on grounds of community reaction.

Carl E. Olson

I understand Evan's reaction as well. It's the typical reaction of an elitist ("a herd mentality") know-it-all grad student who, for some strange reason, cannot stand that this blog doesn't agree with him on most issues and has the temerity to poke fun at the Huff-and-Puff Post, the favorite blog of liberal herdlings. How about addressing Fr. Samir's key point: "But all the positions of radical Muslims you’ll find in the Koran and in the tradition. You’ll find other positions, but this is one, and one that is very strongly presented in the Koran and in the Sunnah"? Perhaps because it is the elephant in the room that we are constantly exhorted to ignore because if we dare bring attention to it we will only "incite violence" and "provoke" the Religion of Peace?

Evan

Surly you and Carl (and myself!) hold to enough rather unpopular beliefs and convictions to know that an overwhelmingly unsupportive "community reaction" should never constitute reason enough to restrict peaceful and law-abiding actions in a free society. Are you seriously asking this?

I mean, yes, I want the public sphere to be an open place where people can voice their fears, wishes, objections, and beliefs... and from what I've seen the imam behind the center has interacted extensively with these voices. But I fail to see why this exchange of views is any sort of reasonable argument against the Park Place center. At a local council meeting (or however they run local policy) in Manhattan, I could see this being a pretty reasonable discussion to have as zoning was decided. But as a national issue with deep philosophical and symbolic consequences? This is just bizarre. It's a religious center. It's across the country from most of us, and the question of zoning has nothing to do with us.

There is no reason why peoples' qualms about "Muslims" as a vague and broad religious bloc should be taken as a reasonable basis for moving this religious center elsewhere than it has already been planned. It's not that peoples' concerns or taking of offense are themselves ridiculous or goofy. I understand that quite deep-seated reactions can arise in such difficult situations. What's ridiculous is the idea that peoples' (perfectly legitimate, perhaps) fears and discomfort should dictate against another's act of peaceful religious association. Neither you nor Carl strike me as the type of person who would argue that polling constitutes a good argument for what is actually a very complex social decision. Why is it now suddenly appropriate?

Fr. Samir's answer to the second question in the interview is especially distracting from the real point. Surely there are violent aspects of the Islamic faith, and one can't simply write out the unsavory parts of a religion as not genuine. But what does this have to do with the Islamic center currently being debated? The question was about the 9/11 terrorists. Does Imam Rauf present this violent tradition of Islam with the proposed center on Park Place? The argument made against the center goes in circles here... it is a violent Islamic mosque because it is a victory mosque, built on the very ground of the Twin Towers to shove it in our faces!... but saying this simply projects the objection of the detractors onto the intention of Imam Rauf!

The argument seriously consists of nothing more than this "This center should not be built near Ground Zero because it represents the violence of the Islamic tradition. Why does it represent the violence of Islam, you ask? Because it is being built near Ground Zero, of course!"

Just apply the transitive property of equality and the argument boils down to "it shouldn't be built near Ground Zero because it's being built near Ground Zero." This is why I am saying that Fr. Samir's argument is goofy, embraces herd mentality, and is not a reasoned opinion. I'm sure he's a smart guy, and that his expertise on Islam in particular is noteworthy. That doesn't magically make his argument against the Islamic center a reasonable one, however.

Evan

It's the typical reaction of an elitist ("a herd mentality") know-it-all grad student who, for some strange reason, cannot stand that this blog doesn't agree with him on most issues and has the temerity to poke fun at the Huff-and-Puff Post, the favorite blog of liberal herdlings.

Wow. A few things:

-I agree with this blog on more points than you'd think, although I tend to usually comment when I disagree, so I suppose I can understand why you'd assume that we disagree on most matters. The reason why I disagree strongly at times around here is because I actually give a damn about places like Ignatius Press (as opposed to Florida book-burning pastors, who are not worth my time).

-Grad students are "elitist". Okay, sure. Whatever. Educated Catholics who constantly bemoan the state of the naked public square and try to push good literature on us are "elitist" too, then. You see where this goes? I get the grad school stereotype-- some of it is certainly there. But throwing around the "elitist" accusation can be a dangerous thing, because it can easily drive everyone down to the lowest common denominator of ignorant populism, and that doesn't strike me as the sort of thing that you truly want to advance. If I'm an elitist, tell me why my brand of intellectual aristocracy is a sham. Don't simply attack a hierarchy because it's a hierarchy.

-Now wait a minute... "know-it-all"? Am I getting called this simply because I think I'm correct and that you're not? Have I claimed any sort of extensive expertise about anything here? What's the deal, Carl? Gimme a break. Fr. Samir or yourself could be considered a "know-it-all" as easily as I could. Can't a guy's expressed views simply be his expressed views? Did I ever claim that they were the keys to unlocking the mystery of the universe?

-I don't have a problem with you poking fun at the Huffington Post, and it's not a concern to me whether liberals flock to the Post. The reason why I preempted your inevitable retort was because I was afraid the article would simply be disregarded because of the banner at the top of the page. I'm sure that I'm less regular a reader of the Huffington Post than you are yourself, Carl. I linked an article purely on what I took to be its own merits, and you can agree with or dispute my assessment. The real problem isn't that you poke fun at the Huffington Post, but rather than in poking fun at it there's a possibility of failing to engage with people who disagree with you. I'm fine with you telling me that the article is crap, but come to that conclusion because the article is crap, and not because it was published in a certain venue.

Evan

...while I think I addressed it well enough in my above post, you say that the elephant in the room is the question of violent Islam, well attested in the Koran and the Sunnah.

I think that's wrongheaded, though, and misses the whole argument. The real question is: what does violent Islam have to do with the work of the Cordoba project that's currently underway? And it may have something to do with it, and if such is the conclusion then the Islamic center should probably be moved for issues of security. But I have not heard any real arguments for this center being a project of violent Islam except within the imagination of Americans who associate it with violent Islam because of its proximity to the Twin Towers.

Fr. Samir rightly says of violent Islam-- "You'll find other positions, but this is one." What I haven't seen an argument for is why the "position" of the proposed Islamic center has anything to do with the traditions of religious violence with which we are all rightly concerned.

Carl E. Olson

Evan,

First, an apology on my part. While we obviously disagree about this issue, my broadside above was out of line. I apologize for the personal and rather ad hominem attack. And I thank you for this statement, which is appreciated:

I agree with this blog on more points than you'd think, although I tend to usually comment when I disagree, so I suppose I can understand why you'd assume that we disagree on most matters. The reason why I disagree strongly at times around here is because I actually give a damn about places like Ignatius Press (as opposed to Florida book-burning pastors, who are not worth my time).

Re: this question: "what does violent Islam have to do with the work of the Cordoba project that's currently underway?" There are many concerns about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's beliefs and connections. Stephen Schwartz, a convert to Islam, touches on some of them in this August 3, 2010, op-ed for The New York Post:

Traditional, moderate Islam teaches Muslims living in non-Muslim-majority societies to obey the laws and customs of the country in which they reside. They must avoid conflict with their non-Muslim neighbors whenever possible.

Yet it was no secret that a major Islamic construction project near Ground Zero would offend many New Yorkers; indeed, American Muslims themselves were uneasy about the idea from the beginning. Rauf, while he preaches peace, chose the path of controversy and provocation by originating this mosque project.

Muslim leaders dealing with non-Muslims are also supposed to practice moderation -- not only in words, but also in their deeds and associations. Rauf portrays himself as a spiritual moderate. But he has maintained links with Muslim radicals, including enablers of terror, whom he declines to disavow. These include the Malaysian politician Mahathir Mohamad, who supports Hamas' Gaza dictatorship.

The imam refuses to identify the prospective financial contributors to his undertaking -- so we don't know if there are any radicals among his donors.

Andrew McCarthy, who was the lead prosecutor against Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and the others responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, has also written about the connections between the "moderate" Rauf and various supporters of terrorism, notably Hamas:

In considering Imam Rauf and his Ground Zero project, Qaradawi and the Muslim Brotherhood are extremely important. Like most Muslims, Rauf regards Qaradawi as a guide, and referred to him in 2001 as “the most well-known legal authority in the whole Muslim world today.” And indeed he is: a prominent, Qatar-based scholar whose weekly Al Jazeera program on the subject of sharia is viewed by millions and whose cyber-venture, Islam Online, is accessed by millions more, including Muslims in the United States. Not surprisingly, his rabble-rousing was a prime cause of the deadly global rioting by Muslims when an obscure Danish newspaper published cartoon depictions of Mohammed.

Qaradawi regards the United States as the enemy of Islam. He has urged that Muslims “fight the American military if we can, and if we cannot, we should fight the U.S. economically and politically.” In 2004, he issued a fatwa (an edict based on sharia) calling for Muslims to kill Americans in Iraq. A leading champion of Hamas, he has issued similar approvals of suicide bombings in Israel. Moreover, as recounted in Matthew Levitt’s history of Hamas, Qaradawi has decreed that Muslims must donate money to “support Palestinians fighting occupation. . . . If we can’t carry out acts of jihad ourselves, we at least should support and prop up the mujahideen [i.e., Islamic raiders or warriors] financially and morally.”

Qaradawi’s support for Hamas is only natural. Since that organization’s 1987 founding, it has been the top Muslim Brotherhood priority to underwrite Hamas’s jihadist onslaught against the Jewish state. Toward that end, the Muslim Brotherhood mobilized the Islamist infrastructure in the United States.

The original building block of that infrastructure was the Muslim Students Association (MSA), established in the early Sixties to groom young Muslims in the Brotherhood’s ideology — promoting sharia, Islamic supremacism, and a worldwide caliphate. As Andrew Bostom elaborated in a New York Post op-ed on Friday, Imam Rauf, too, is steeped in this ideology.

More here. And this, from the piece by Andrew Boston mentioned by McCarthy:

At least two of Imam Rauf's books, a 2000 treatise on Islamic law and his 2004 "What's Right with Islam," laud the implementation of sharia -- including within America -- and the "rejuvenating" Islamic religious spirit of Ibn Taymiyyah and al-Wahhab.

He also lionizes as two ostensible "modernists" Jamal al-Dinal-Afghani (d. 1897), and his student Muhammad Abduh (d. 1905). In fact, both defended the Wahhabis, praised the salutary influence of Ibn Taymiyyah and promoted the pretense that sha ria -- despite its permanent advocacy of jihad and dehumanizing injunctions on non-Muslims and women -- was somehow compatible with Western concepts of human rights, as in our own Bill of Rights.

In short, Feisal Rauf's public image as a devotee of the "contemplative" Sufi school of Islam cannot change the fact that his writings directed at Muslims are full of praise for the most noxious and dangerous Muslim thinkers.

Finally, I think McCarthy echoes Fr. Samir in pointing out that the notion of a "moderate Islam" is exceedingly problematic, especially when it applied to Muslim leaders whose idea of "moderate" is hardly moderate:

The sad fact, the fact no one wants to deal with but which the Ground Zero mosque debate has forced to the fore, is that Qaradawi is a moderate. So is Feisal Rauf, who endorses the Qaradawi position — the mainstream Islamic position — that sharia is a nonnegotiable requirement. Rauf wins the coveted “moderate” designation because he strains, at least when speaking for Western consumption, to paper over the incompatibility between sharia societies and Western societies.

Qaradawi and Rauf are “moderates” because we’ve abandoned reason. Our opinion elites are happy to paper over the gulf between “reformist” Islam and the “reformist” approval of mass-murder attacks. That’s why it matters not a whit to them that Imam Rauf refuses to renounce Hamas: If you’re going to give a pass to Qaradawi, the guy who actively promotes Hamas terrorists, how can you complain about a guy who merely refuses to condemn the terrorists?

When we are rational, we have confidence in our own frame of reference. We judge what is moderate based on a detached, commonsense understanding of what “moderate” means. We’re not rigging the outcome; we just want to know where we stand.

If we were in that objective frame of mind, we would easily see that a freedom culture requires separation of the spiritual from the secular. We would also see that sharia — with dictates that contradict liberty and equality while sanctioning cruel punishments and holy war — is not moderate. Consequently, no one who advocates sharia can be a moderate, no matter how well-meaning he may be, no matter how heartfelt may be his conviction that this is God’s will, and no matter how much higher on the food chain he may be than Osama bin Laden.

Instead, abandoning reason, we have deep-sixed our own frame of reference and substituted mainstream Islam’s. If that backward compass is to be our guide, then sure, Qaradawi and Rauf are moderates. But know this: When you capitulate to the authority and influence of Qaradawi and Rauf, you kill meaningful Islamic reform.

There is no moderate Islam in the mainstream of Muslim life, not in the doctrinal sense. There are millions of moderate Muslims who crave reform. Yet the fact that they seek real reform, rather than what Georgetown is content to call reform, means they are trying to invent something that does not currently exist.

There is more, but that goes a ways, I think, in answering your question: "Surely there are violent aspects of the Islamic faith, and one can't simply write out the unsavory parts of a religion as not genuine. But what does this have to do with the Islamic center currently being debated?" I also think that your depiction of the arguments used against the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" are quite unfair. Not that all of the arguments are equally good, or that they are always expressed with rigor and objectivity. Yet there are, it seems to me, plenty of unanswered questions about Rauf's background and beliefs and intentions, questions that are amplified many times over by his insistence (so far) of pursuing his building project near Ground Zero, an action that reveals either a remarkable level of insensitivity or a disturbing level of dismissive arrogance.

Finally, on a related note, I think George Neumayr makes some excellent observations in his most recent TAS piece, "The Founding Fathers' First Amendment" (Sept. 9, 2010).

Mark Brumley

Evan, it seems to me that you are needlessly spilling a lot of cyper-ink: if community reaction can be a major and legitimate factor in determining whether or not to allow a K-Mart or a liquor store, or a hotel, or a church, or a private school, or a pet store, in a neighborhood, surely community reaction should be allowed to be a factor in determining whether a mosque is permitted near a site of terrorist destruction undertaken in the name of Islam. Especially when all sorts of other radical Islamic terrorists will be encouraged by it.

And of course the attack at Ground Zero was an attack on the nation, not just NY. The opinion of others in the nation is relevant to whether or not putting a mosque there is a good idea. Being cognizant of the wider's community's opinions is not "goofy".

Evan

Here is a worthwhile post on the "relationship" with Qaradawi, and it's about what my response is. Okay, there are problematic people that we can draw a connection to. But apart from a 2001 article that everyone seems to be quoting (where he merely mentions Qaradawi as an authority on Islamic law and praises a fatwa of Qaradawi's that actually contributes to Muslim and non-Muslim cooperation against terror!) and some organizational ties (to be expected, surely, from two prominent Muslim public figures), I can't see what the big deal is. There may be a secret connection that is threatening our security, but this is just a classic case of guilt by association that people seem to be drawing.

I don't take reference to sharia as saying much of anything. Sharia is Islamic law. Of course he supports sharia. Ed Peters supports canon law. What's the big deal? If there are specific points or interpretations of sharia that he has advocated and are worrisome to us, then let's bring them up specifically and not act as if speaking of "sharia" is a complete argument.

Your first excerpt is the least helpful, and it's the same sort of circular argument... "We're justified in being opposed to the Park Place center because Imam Rauf says he's moderate, but he can't be moderate because we're opposed to the Park Place center that he's building." Furthermore, it's a dangerous argument to make because it opens the floodgates to all sorts of violent and intolerant reaction against peaceful Muslim citizens all over the world. Anyone who has a problem with a Muslim neighbor could use this sort of argument to initiate a witch-hunt. There's no rational basis to it.

The McCarthy article you quote seems to base his point on Qaradawi's opposition to "secularism". Without reading the book referred to, I don't know exactly what is meant by "secularism", but it strikes me that this blog argues against "secularism" often enough as well. Are you guys also against that secularism which "is nothing less than the framework by which the West defends religious freedom but denies legal and political authority to religious creeds"?

...nevermind the awkwardly-close-to-home comment about certain universities being "purchased into submission by tens of millions of Saudi petrodollars". Certain presidential administrations come to mind as well, which would nonetheless never be accused of radical Islamic tendencies.

I appreciate that people are concerned about Imam Rauf's connections and are looking into them, but all of the connections that you've mentioned thus far seem rather tenuous. In any case, if someone claims to be a bridge builder of sorts, you'd expect them to be connected with the less savory as well as the more progressive, wouldn't you? What bridges would need to be built, otherwise? Wasn't that our response to Benedict XVI's work with SSPX, which had some unsavory elements of its own? And Imam Rauf is no pope, either. He's simply an imam working on interreligious projects and seeking support for them. He's not in a position to exercise authority over other Muslims the way that the Vatican can state clearly the extent to which SSPX is or is not under some sort of sanction, or the way that the UN monitors human rights abuses in various countries. But I can't even see how he's really deep into anything horrible, based on what you've presented here. There's an argument from silence about who his donors are. There's the pretty straightforward statement of Qaradawi's influence (without mentioning what else was in the 2001 source article, about Qaradawi's fatwa in support of the "war on terror"). There are people he "declined to disavow" (heck, there are tons of people that I've declined to disavow that I probably could. I guess I'm an accessory of some sort).

Evan

To Mark... as I've said, this sort of discussion is indeed helpful. I hope by now it's clear that I have reasons why I think this opposition is goofy and unsubstantiated, though (if "psychologically" understandable). Are we to allow just any unsubstantiated opinions to act as legitimate factors in making these decisions? Mob rule? Surely good reasons should be privileged over bad ones. I'm trying to say that the reasons being presented against the center are bad ones, that they're goofy and ridiculous. That doesn't mean I'm trying to shut anyone out of dialogue. It means I don't want to give someone a pass to do what they will with free and law-abiding citizens simply because they disagree with these fellow citizens. It's a horrible precedent for a functioning democracy.

Carl E. Olson

Evan wrote, "This article, I think, does a good job of laying out..."

Here are a few snippets from that article:

The story of how one lone idiot, pimping an 18th-century brand of community terrorism, held the media hostage and forced some of this nation's most powerful people to their knees to fitfully beg an end to his wackdoodlery is an extraordinary one. It's a modern media retelling of Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying", in which a gang of Islamaphobes, cast in the role of Addie Bundren, bamboozle the media into carrying their coffin full of malevolence on a journey of pure debasement. Let's begin at the beginning. ...

The news didn't sit well with many people in New York, most notably people who didn't live in Manhattan. This is because they were told by a gaggle of dumb Islamophobes that what was planned was a "Ground Zero mosque." ....

And because the media couldn't do their job, a group of hack politicians, like Rick Lazio and Newt Gingrich, desperate to get a little famewhore attention for their quixotic political career goals, saw an opportunity to horn in on the "discussion." ....

Because deep down, your media all-stars knew that they had aided and abetted something that closely resembled an intellectual atrocity, and now it was time to atone by finding the lowest-hanging fruit available and make themselves feel better by beating on them repeatedly for being assholes -- something they should have already been doing for months! ...

These Islamophobes are objectively wrong, objectively stupid, objectively contradictory, objectively harmful, and by God, as someone with a functioning brain and a devotion to the pursuit of reason above all else, I am going to stand here and say no to all of this." [emphasis added]

Is it really any wonder why I call it "Huff-and-Puff Post"? Perhaps Linkins has some good points. But, goodness, if so, they are hard to find amidst all of the name-calling, chest-beating, insults, swearing, and vitriol. I agree that the pastor in Florida has acted wrongly and outrageously and has been in this for the attention. But writing about it like a spoiled high school sophomore doesn't seem helpful at all, no matter how intense the emotions.

Fernando Umberto Garcia de Nicaragua, Prefectus Minimus: The Jacksonian Institute

The fact is that, simply on the basis of national security, Islam has no place in America. Not near Ground Zero, not anywhere.

Carl E. Olson

Mollie Hemingway of "Get Religion" had a good post two days ago about Rauf and the project. She writes:

But one of the most interesting parts of the interview, I though, got the least amount of notice. Repeatedly during the hour, Imam Rauf says that if the Islamic center isn’t built at the current spot, that Muslim extremists will explode in a manner even worse than they did following the Danish cartoon crisis, when over 100 people were killed and embassies throughout the Middle East were set ablaze.

Whether or not that’s true, this seems like the unreported angle of many of this past month’s stories. At what point will we see good stories explaining why it’s more dangerous to burn a Koran or move an Islamic center than it is to burn a Bible or desecrate the sacrament or lampoon Mormons?

As important as discussions of the First Amendment are, shouldn’t we see some more stories about this issue of threats of violence among Muslim extremists?

I’d like to know more about why the high-profile burning of a Koran becomes a national security threat when a similar burning of the Torah wouldn’t. This just seems to be a huge part of the story that is begging for additional coverage.

Begging, indeed, but probably in vain. There is a clear double standard at work. When Bibles, crucifixes, icons, and other Christian symbols/sacred objects are burned, desecrated, or mocked, Christians do not act out in violence (and, in the rare cases that some wing-nut does go off, he is always and immediately roundly condemned). In fact, Christians who peacefully protest such actions are quite often portrayed as reactionary, narrow-minded, rigid, dogmatic, and even stupid. On the other hand, we repeatedly hear (from people across the political and religious spectrum) that we mustn't allow cartoons of Mohammed or anything deemed the least bit offensive to Muslim sensibilities -- even when an outrage is quite obviously manufactured and meant to intimidate. To add offense to insult, it is often said or implied (as Rauf apparently did in his interview) that if there is any violence on the part of Muslims, it won't really be their fault, but the fault of those who have supposed insulted or slighted them. Such behavior, from children, is childish; such behavior from adults is both childish and dangerous.

Evan

But, goodness, if so, they are hard to find amidst all of the name-calling, chest-beating, insults, swearing, and vitriol.

Yes, there was sharp and colorful language. No, I wouldn't have written such an article. I find it difficult to believe that one can't find the point of the article amidst the style, however. The media is making issues out of non-issues, and is avoiding coverage of basic facts in order to sensationalize things. I think that point came out pretty clearly in the article. And if that's the case, a lot of the strong language is probably warranted. We do have some politicians that are hacks and seek after attention, don't we? And isn't ignoring facts to make a story an "intellectual atrocity"? Wouldn't you say as much when the media smears the pope over something like the abuse scandal? It seems like you object to these strong accusations simply because you disagree with them. I'm not sure that the strong accusations are anything inappropriate in themselves, however. That leaves one or two swear words without good warrant, I suppose, for piety's sake. But it hardly leaves enough to make the point of the article hard to find. Put yourself in his shoes. Read some of your own critiques of the media. I think you can understand where his vitriol is coming from.

In any case, I think that "Islamaphobia" plays into this matter pretty heavily. Fernando's comment above, for instance, says that Islam has no place in America. Surely that's as problematic a bit of rhetoric as anything said in the Huffington Post article. Maybe it doesn't have the same superficial ring as "asshole", but I'd personally rather be called an asshole than told that I don't belong in this country for security reasons.

Evan

...I agree with you on the outrage and offense issue, but I think the Christian response is to not constantly seek to get even about all this. So the media is a lot more sensitive to blasphemies against Islam than blasphemies against Christianity. That's bad of course, and people should try to fix the system so that it isn't as prejudiced. But I don't see why that should change my personal opinion about causing offense.

I don't think that people should draw inflammatory cartoons because it causes offense to their Muslim neighbors, period. The neighbors who don't bomb churches as a result. The neighbors who don't threaten innocent victims as a result. It's not my concern that Muslim outrage can be out of control. That is a bad thing and should be tempered, but it's not why I seek to avoid offense to neighbors of other faiths. I avoid offense simply because of the second great commandment... because I'd hope that they'd be similarly sensitive to me, and I need to be a witness to such mutual sensitivity if I'm going to approach this as a disciple of Christ. That's enough for me. Someone else can fight a culture war with the media, and don't get me wrong- the culture war is a worthy project to work on. But it's not a reason for Christians to get into a tit-for-tat with Muslims about what should be tolerated and what should be met with offense. Why not try to avoid offending Muslims simply out of lovingkindness? Why does avoidance of offense have to mean that you're doing it for the same reason that the liberal media is supposedly doing it?

Christopher Lake

Jackson, I mean, Fernando, "Islam has no place in America"? I am certainly no Muslim, but what about the concept of freedom of religion? Do you desire that freedom to exist for everyone in America *except* Muslims?

Brian J. Schuettler

Islam is, first, a religion that makes large claims for itself, purporting to be the final word of God and expressing an ambition to become the world's only religion. Some of its adherents advocate the practice of plural marriage, forced marriage, female circumcision, compulsory veiling of women and censorship of non-Muslim media. Islam's teachings generally exhibit suspicion of the very idea of church-state separation. Other teachings, depending on context, can be held to exhibit a very strong dislike of other religions, as well as of heretical forms of Islam.

Muslims in America, including members of the armed forces, have already been found willing to respond to orders issued by foreign terrorist organizations. Most disturbingly, no authority within the faith appears to have the power to rule decisively that such practices, or such teachings, or such actions, are utterly in conflict with the precepts of the religion itself.

Reactions from even "moderate" Muslims to criticism are not uniformly reassuring. "Some of what people are saying in this mosque controversy is very similar to what German media was saying about Jews in the 1920s and 1930s," Imam Abdullah Antepli, Muslim chaplain at Duke University, told the New York Times. Yes, we all recall the Jewish suicide bombers of that period, as we recall the Jewish yells for holy war, the Jewish demands for the veiling of women and the stoning of homosexuals, and the Jewish burning of newspapers that published cartoons they did not like. What is needed from the supporters of this very confident faith is more self-criticism and less self-pity.

Those who wish that there would be no mosques in America have already lost the argument: Globalization mandates that the U.S. will have a Muslim population of some size. The only question is what kind of Islam it will follow. There's an excellent chance of a healthy pluralist outcome, but it's very unlikely that this can happen unless, as with their predecessors on these shores, Muslims are compelled to abandon certain presumptions that are exclusive to themselves.

Carl E. Olson

Well said, Brian. Both Fr. Samir and Robert R. Reilly (The Closing of the Muslim Mind) emphasize that Islam (speaking generally) made some decisive and tragic choices, via the influence of Al-Ghazali [d. 1111] and the Ash'arite school, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, rejecting rational, self-critical approaches to Islamic theology, and opting for a voluntaristic approach that severed faith from reason. Al-Ghazali was essentially Islam's William of Ockham (see my article, "What's In a Name?"), and his nominalist views prevailed, leading to a faith that believes will is free of reason, philosophy, and rational thought. This is put very succinctly by Pervez Hoodbhoy in a December 1997 essay:

In the heyday of its intellectual and scientific development, Islamic society was not a fatalistic society. The fierce debates between those believing in freewill (Qadarites) against the pre-destinarians (Jabrias) were generally resolved in favor of the former. But the gradual hegemony of fatalistic Asharite doctrines mortally weakened the "will to power" of Islamic society and led to a withering away of its scientific spirit. Asharite dogma insisted on the denial of any connection between cause and effect - and therefore repudiated rational thought. It also rejected "secondary causality", the notion that God is ultimately responsible for everything but only through the laws he has made for the world.

What this means, in a practical nutshell, is that most of the Islamic world is closed off from philosophical and scientific thought (not to be confused with sophistry and scientism). The "intellectual suicide" (Reilly's expression) of Islam, in turn, leads to violence and oppression when such things are believed to be the absolute will of Allah expressed through the Qur'an. Reason, logic, and natural law have no place within such an airtight and deadly system, which instead views them with either suspicion or outright disdain.

Fernando Umberto Garcia de Nicaragua, Prefectus Minimus: The Jacksonian Institute

Christopher, having rejected the Vatican II innovations regarding ecumenism and thus religious liberty, I've come to the traditional Catholic view of religious liberty. See, e.g., Gregory XVI's encyclical Mirari Vos (1832) where he condemns the idea of religious liberty as delirium, along with Pius IX's encyclical Quanta Cura (1864) and its accompanying Syllabus of Errors.

But notice above that I cited only national security as the basis for excluding Islam, entirely, from America, as conquest is an inherent part of Islam. I can provide support for this from American founding documents if you like.

As Justice Jackson said in his dissent in [i]Terminiello[/i], the Bill of Rights is not a suicide pact.

The various Protestant heresies don't generally pose the inherent national security risks of Islam, so I'd have them treated according to traditional Catholic teachings on religious liberty. In other words, in short, unlike Catholicism, these sects would receive no state recognition or support.

Fernando Umberto Garcia de Nicaragua, Prefectus Minimus: The Jacksonian Institute

"Islam is, first, a religion that makes large claims for itself, purporting to be the final word of God and expressing an ambition to become the world's only religion."

The same, on all counts, can be said of genuine Catholicism: It definitely makes large claims for itself, purports to be the final word of God, and aspires that all men embrace the one Way, Truth, and Life. The crux, vis Islam, is in this last point. Islam would do it by the sword, Christianity by persuasion through reason and grace. Islam thus poses a unique existential threat to the state that calls for its vigorous, total repulsion.

Fernando Umberto Garcia de Nicaragua, Prefectus Minimus: The Jacksonian Institute

"What is needed from the supporters of this very confident faith...."

Theodore Dalrymple makes the case that what we're seeing now with Islam expresses anything but confidence. Google for this essay:

When Islam Breaks Down

Manuel G. Daugherty Razetto

Why did the Greeks look down on the Romans? simple, they considered themselves superior; learned Romans concurred by feeling proud they spoke, as well, in good greek. Inca surgeons performed, successfully, trepanations while today Masai warriors carry a lance. Cultures differ.

The Muslim Sharia (doubtful spelling) code of justice is an example of barbaric behavior in the 21st century.
If an American goes to Saudi-Arabia and burns the Kuran, in public, he might as well buy a one-way ticket.

To ignore the abysmal disparity between the retrograde customs in their society and the lack off in ours is a great error.

Jack


Wow, Evan is such an apologist for a system of belief that degrades women and whose founder married a 9 year old. I daresay if I tried to start a cult like this today, I would be thrown in jail. But Rauf is an "imam" so we're supposed to treat him like Moses or something. It's comical.

All Islam wants to do is get the upper hand in every society which it infiltrates. Once it does, in comes sharia, out go the rights of the "dhimmis". Wake up America.

Lauri Friesen

For Evan and everyone else who uses "colourful language" to describe opponents to the Cordoba Centre/Ground Zero Mosque:

You misunderstand the foundation for this oppostion. It is neither individual stupidity nor herd mentality. It is a recognition that there are adherents to Islam who want nothing more than to impose their way of life on all of us. They may be a minority, but they have the stength of will and no compunction about using violence to achieve this end. The Cordoba Centre may be an attempt to "build bridges" but it can most easily become a tool and rallying centre for those who prefer to burn them. So, go ahead and point fingers and name call. Events will prove who has been more rational and far seeing when it comes to protecting those cherished American rights of freedom of religion and expression.

Evan

Lauri, yet again, I recognize that "there are adherents to Islam who want nothing more than to impose their way of life on all of us". I just stopped by the blog from reading this report of more violence against Christians over the Koran book-burning event, which never even happened!

But, again, the argument that the center "can most easily become a tool and rallying centre for those who prefer to burn [bridges]" isn't a reason to oppose its construction. Again, isn't this the sort of argument that people used against Benedict XVI with regard to SSPX? "Holocaust denial" and "Nazi affiliations" were all we ever heard about. I am perfectly willing to recognize that security issues may be present with this center, but all of the links that people have been drawing strike me as extremely tenuous.

Nevermind the fact that this isn't the only argument that people are offering about the center. Why are people using propaganda-like false names such as the "Ground Zero Mosque" or the "Victory Mosque"? The argument has often been that, simply by being an Islamic religious building near Ground Zero, it is an affront to those who died on 9/11 (one wonders... is it an affront to the Muslims who died in the towers that day?).

Evan

Wow, Evan is such an apologist for a system of belief that degrades women and whose founder married a 9 year old.

The general assumption here seems to be that if I don't want to drive the mosques from our shores, I must be an apologist for Islam. Am I an apologist for scientology and Hinduism then, too? This is bizarre.

...and I say this to everyone here who's opposed the mosque for security issues and the imam's ties to other Islamic organizations... not just to Fernando, who is honest enough to say that he doesn't think Islam should be allowed in the U.S. at all. Because if this Islamic center is a threat to us in Manhatten, how is it any less of a threat to us in Murfeesboro, TN?

Brain-in-a-vat

Why are people using propaganda-like false names such as the "Ground Zero Mosque" or the "Victory Mosque"? The argument has often been that, simply by being an Islamic religious building near Ground Zero, it is an affront to those who died on 9/11 (one wonders... is it an affront to the Muslims who died in the towers that day?).

Evan, please explain the difference between calling Rauf's Muslim Community Center (AKA "Cordoba House," AKA "Park51") the "Ground Zero Mosque" and your calling it "simply...an Islamic religious building near Ground Zero." It appears that you're splitting hairs and calling the difference propaganda -- oh, excuse me, "propaganda-like" -- to smear those with whom you disagree. How fair is that?

Also, since you're fond of comparing disparate phenomena (like Islam and the Catholic Church), I'd like to hear why you would or would not defend the contruction of a Japanese-funded 13-story, 100,000 square ft. Showa Emperor Community Center 2 blocks away from Pearl Harbor, or a 13-story, 100,000 square ft. US-funded Curtis E. LeMay Community Center 2 blocks away from Ground Zero at Nagasaki, Japan? Why or why not?

Fernando Umberto Garcia de Nicaragua, Prefectus Minimus: The Jacksonian Institute

Evan, the terms "Ground Zero Mosque" and "Victory Mosque" are used to cut through the Orwellian newspeak which seeks to mask the truth. You know this.

Speaking of your apologia, you consistently provide an model example of the suicidal nature of ecumenism. Your language is wrapped in the halo of tolerance and all the rest of it, and so it's very appealing to those afraid of being seen as ogres or troglodytes, not to mention its appeal to the indifferent. The continued drinking of this ecumenical acid, however chic, will lead not only to the death many individual souls, but to the whimpering death of the Church, to be only vaguely remembered through the mist by a sad remnant.

The Hollow Men
T. S. Eliot

I

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

II

Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death’s dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind’s singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer—

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom

III

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.

IV

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

V

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Evan

Here... this guy agrees with me (although it is in a pretty liberal rag).

In general, my presumption is that it’s OK for people to build what they want on their property, with the burden on opponents to show why that’s such a bad thing. The proper question is not “Why here?” but “Why not here?”

So much of the complaint about the mosque has centered around the idea that, because hijackers acting in the name of Islam attacked the towers, Muslims should maintain a respectful distance. But the developers of Cordoba House (why do I even need to say this?) are not terrorists and did not attack the towers. Placing a burden on all Muslims to keep their institutions out of the Financial District is unfair.

Furthermore, since Islam has 1.2 billion adherents and is not going away, it is important to set reasonable guidelines that promote harmony with Western society—such as, it’s okay to build a mosque in the Financial District, and it’s not okay to blow up buildings in the Financial District. A general policy of exclusion is unworkable.

That said, I would be more open to location-specific objections to the mosque if I believed they were actually location-specific. But opposition to mosque development this year has not been contained to Lower Manhattan. Neighborhood activists in Staten Island were riled this June when they found out the local Catholic diocese planned to sell a vacant convent to a mosque developer.

While some protesters raised the usual pretextual concerns about parking and traffic, others were not so politic. “We just want to leave our neighborhood the way it is—Christian, Catholic,” declared one protester. Another alleged that “mosques breed terrorism” and a third that “the city has had enough terrorism and everything else.” The protest wrapped up with chants of “USA! USA!” The protesters were successful in convincing the Catholic Church to cancel the sale.

The expansion of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee became an animating issue in primary elections in that state. The Lieutenant Governor of Tennessee declared that he was unsure whether the First Amendment applies to Islam, which might be a cult or a nationality rather than a religion. Lower-profile mosque controversies have also been seen in California and Wisconsin.

If it were generally the case that Muslims are being welcomed into our communities, and allowed to build their houses of worship without public hostility, then it would be possible to condemn the Cordoba House’s site without worrying about alienating and excluding Muslims generally. But unfortunately the complaints about Cordoba House are just the highest-profile example of a wish that Muslims would stay out of our neighborhoods—the trouble being that everywhere is somebody’s neighborhood.

In addition to being morally objectionable, undermining the integration and acceptance of Muslims in American society is a huge strategic error. Newt Gingrich doesn’t want mosques in Lower Manhattan until churches are allowed in Mecca—making the bizarre case that our level of religious liberty is fine so long as it is no worse than in Saudi Arabia. But Cordoba House presents an opportunity to show how we are better than Saudis—and that it is no skin off our back when mosques are built in America, even in the Financial District of Manhattan.

Evan

Evan, please explain the difference between calling Rauf's Muslim Community Center (AKA "Cordoba House," AKA "Park51") the "Ground Zero Mosque" and your calling it "simply...an Islamic religious building near Ground Zero." It appears that you're splitting hairs and calling the difference propaganda -- oh, excuse me, "propaganda-like" -- to smear those with whom you disagree. How fair is that?

One might be able to explain the "Ground Zero" bit this way, and I'm sure lots of people simply use it as a shorthand (although the name is tied to the argument that Ground Zero is hallowed territory, proximity to which should disallow an Islamic building... that is, it often isn't simply shorthand)

"Victory Mosque", however, is still common currency amongst opponents, and I don't see how that is explained away as a difference than makes no difference, or how it is inappropriately called "propaganda". That seems to be exactly what it is.

Speaking of your apologia, you consistently provide an model example of the suicidal nature of ecumenism. Your language is wrapped in the halo of tolerance and all the rest of it, and so it's very appealing to those afraid of being seen as ogres or troglodytes, not to mention its appeal to the indifferent. The continued drinking of this ecumenical acid, however chic, will lead not only to the death many individual souls, but to the whimpering death of the Church, to be only vaguely remembered through the mist by a sad remnant.

I'm not sure how this is ecumenism. I have said nothing of unity with Islam as one common household of faith. If you have a problem with "tolerance", well, I can't help you. I'm not one to get over-excited about buzzwords- either to gush over them or raise a strong case against them. "Tolerance" is an ordinary thing that I'm sure we all often practice towards virtuous end. There's no need to make a bogey man out of it.

...and as to the whimpering death of the Church? My faith in providence of God and her preservation must be a bit stronger than yours. Get a hold of yourself. The gates of hell will not prevail etc. etc. In any case, weren't you talking about the security of America before? What at all does that have to do with the preservation of the Church?

Brain-in-a-vat

Evan, please explain the difference between calling Rauf's Muslim Community Center (AKA "Cordoba House," AKA "Park51") the "Ground Zero Mosque" and your calling it "simply...an Islamic religious building near Ground Zero." It appears that you're splitting hairs and calling the difference propaganda -- oh, excuse me, "propaganda-like" -- to smear those with whom you disagree. How fair is that?

One might be able to explain the "Ground Zero" bit this way, and I'm sure lots of people simply use it as a shorthand (although the name is tied to the argument that Ground Zero is hallowed territory, proximity to which should disallow an Islamic building... that is, it often isn't simply shorthand)

"Victory Mosque", however, is still common currency amongst opponents, and I don't see how that is explained away as a difference than makes no difference, or how it is inappropriately called "propaganda". That seems to be exactly what it is.

Ah, so now we are discussing things you consider to be propaganda, not just "propaganda-like." Thanks for clarifying that point.

As for "Victory Mosque," as you already know this is a reference to the original designation of the Park51 project as "Cordoba House." I know a bit about the contested history of the Iberian peninsula, and the fact that the project organizers would put forth such a hot-potato of a name is bizarrely undiplomatic. Sorry, I don't consider it propaganda when those against Park51 make hay with Rauf and Co.'s bungling when they christened their project.

Given your original statement that both "Ground Zero Mosque" with "Victory Mosque" are "false" and "propaganda-like" names for Park51-- viz. Why are people using propaganda-like false names such as the "Ground Zero Mosque" or the "Victory Mosque"? -- may I ask whether your apparent change of heart in regards to "GZ Mosque" is indicative of an initial bungling on your part or is merely evidence of a "false" and propagandistic intent?

I find Josh Barro's statement that

In general, my presumption is that it’s OK for people to build what they want on their property, with the burden on opponents to show why that’s such a bad thing. The proper question is not “Why here?” but “Why not here?”

to be an almost textbook example of the moral and intellectual obtuseness typical of the libertarians who post on NRO. If you'd like to defend any of the arguments he makes, please do so.

As for the question "why not here," I refer anyone interested to a letter published by that hot-bed of American conservatism, the New York Times:

To the Editor:

Freedom of religion or expression and private property rights are not the issues raised by the proposed mosque near ground zero. Decency is; right and wrong is.

In today’s world, many believe that their “rights” supersede all other considerations, like what is respectful, considerate and decent. A mosque and Islamic community center steps from ground zero in a building damaged in the attacks is simply wrong. It is disrespectful. It is astoundingly insensitive.

It naturally provokes anger and when it does, its proponents are shocked. This project lacks common decency.

Michael Burke, Bronx, July 31, 2010

The writer’s brother was a New York City firefighter who died at the World Trade Center.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/04/opinion/l04mosque.html

I agree with Mr. Burke here. I find the suggested construction of Park51 so close to Ground Zero obnoxious because it is -- to expand upon his words -- dispespectful, inconsiderate, and indecent. It would be just like Japanese nationals with connections with far right-wing uyoku dantai building an outreach center (complete with a shrine to Hirohito) in the shadow of Pearl Harbor in 1950, or Col. Tibbets, Maj. Sweeney and their crews building outreach centers in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1954.

That this kind of public reaction would come as a surprise to Rauf and his Park51 associates, given the symbolic and moral significance the 9/11 attacks have held these past 9 years in the US and around the world, is hard to believe. Given the two-faced public nature of Rauf that Ibn Warraq has discussed, I can only assume that he his Park51 associates are either so singularly obtuse and inept in their attempts at interfaith outreach that they should try another line of business (I hear that the Keystone police force is looking for some new kops) or that they are merely wealthy propagandists attempting to score points with the ummah.

Christopher Lake

Fernando/Jackson, quoting from one of your responses to Evan:

"The continued drinking of this ecumenical acid, however chic, will lead not only to the death many individual souls, but to the whimpering death of the Church, to be only vaguely remembered through the mist by a sad remnant."

I am curious as to what you mean by "the whimpering death of the Church." How do you understand the concept of the gates of Hell never prevailing against the Church?

If you reject the "Vatican II innovations regarding ecumenicism and thus religious liberty," is it safe to say that you also reject the statements on the relationship of the Church to Muslims found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church?

Evan

may I ask whether your apparent change of heart in regards to "GZ Mosque" is indicative of an initial bungling on your part or is merely evidence of a "false" and propagandistic intent?

No, I still think that people use this name as propaganda or a propaganda-like reference (and I don't care which word you use... no need to over-analyze it). I simply thought that you made a good point, and I am (as I hope everyone else is) willing to acknowledge good points when they come along. Like Carl when he called me names earlier. This is what discourse is for, isn't it? Not to catch each other "bungling", but to get to the bottom of things (or does that sound too "tolerant" and "liberal" and risk too much "cyber ink" being spilled?)

Michael Burke's letter to the editor is well-taken, and I realize that people often feel this way, but he's simply wrong that it "naturally provokes anger"... or rather, it should at least be stated that it also "naturally provokes pride", or "joy", or "relief". Setting aside the basic arguments for freedom (which I think are worthwhile but do, indeed, need to take prudence into account), there also needs to be a recognition that this mosque doesn't instill fear and anger in everyone's heart. There also needs to be some strong scrutiny over whether the fear and anger that it does provoke in mean is reasonable and worthy of action against the center, or whether it isn't. My argument is that it isn't, and no one has seemed to offer more convincing arguments that it is.

Evan

*that it does provoke in many ...not mean

Evan

I am curious as to what you mean by "the whimpering death of the Church." How do you understand the concept of the gates of Hell never prevailing against the Church?

And for what it's worth... this is an example of what those godless liberals are talking about when they talk about a "culture of fear". (Fernando's point, of course, not yours Chris... I'm in agreement with you here)

While we're citing scripture, too... Perfect love casts out etc. etc. ...John the bleeding heart liberal!

Brain-in-a-vat

may I ask whether your apparent change of heart in regards to "GZ Mosque" is indicative of an initial bungling on your part or is merely evidence of a "false" and propagandistic intent?

No, I still think that people use this name as propaganda or a propaganda-like reference (and I don't care which word you use... no need to over-analyze it). I simply thought that you made a good point, and I am (as I hope everyone else is) willing to acknowledge good points when they come along. Like Carl when he called me names earlier. This is what discourse is for, isn't it? Not to catch each other "bungling", but to get to the bottom of things (or does that sound too "tolerant" and "liberal" and risk too much "cyber ink" being spilled?)

Your words here are puzzling. You say you think I "made a good point," and yet you disagree strongly with the point I made. If you're going to respond to my arguments with self-contradiction -- "I disagree with you on the point about which I agree with you" -- then perhaps it would be best for me to drop matter.

Michael Burke's letter to the editor is well-taken, and I realize that people often feel this way, but he's simply wrong that it "naturally provokes anger"... or rather, it should at least be stated that it also "naturally provokes pride", or "joy", or "relief". Setting aside the basic arguments for freedom (which I think are worthwhile but do, indeed, need to take prudence into account), there also needs to be a recognition that this mosque doesn't instill fear and anger in everyone's heart. There also needs to be some strong scrutiny over whether the fear and anger that it does provoke in mean is reasonable and worthy of action against the center, or whether it isn't. My argument is that it isn't, and no one has seemed to offer more convincing arguments that it is.

It's obvious that the Park51 project doesn't automatically instill anger in everyone's heart because of its dispespectful, inconsiderate, and indecent nature. As Mr. Burke would doubtless agree, Park51 will doubtless warm the cockles of the hearts of everyone who enjoys promoting certain kinds of indecency and disrespect (especially in relation to those murdered on 9/11).

I find your insertion of the word "fear" into your response to Mr. Burke's letter hard to understand. It's a word and a sentiment that he neither writes nor alludes to in his letter. He's not afraid of the persons who want to build Park51 600 ft. from the old WTC area; he's angry with them. It's an anger that's akin to what I would feel if someone wore a clown costume to an aunt's funeral, or what the citizens of Nagasaki and Hiroshima would feel if some American military veteran group building a community center in their respective cities. Which is to say it is a reasonable anger in response to what is perceived as a deliberately provocative act that is intended to dishonor the dead. Now, Mr. Burke can't peer into the hearts of Rauf and Associates to see what their true intentions are...aside from God, who can? Perhaps Rauf is just a pathetic bungler, perhaps he's a propagandist for jihad. No one can really know. However, since either way Rauf and Associates cause offense on a very sensitive matter, I'd argue that we follow the dictates of common sense and common decency and build the Park51 "interfaith" center in a place where it will not create, as its primary interfaith consensus, a strong belief among Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and even some Muslims that Rauf and Associates (and the Muslims they represent) lack common sense and common decency.

Fernando Umberto Garcia de Nicaragua, Prefectus Minimus: The Jacksonian Institute

The "remnant" part I mentioned addresses indefectibility.

"When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

-Luke 18:8

As for the new Catechism on the relationship of the Church to Muslims, I do reject this nonbinding teaching - as St. Pius V would have, for example.

"The gates of hell will not prevail etc. etc. In any case, weren't you talking about the security of America before? What at all does that have to do with the preservation of the Church?"

The preservation of national security is a sufficient ground for the total exclusion of Islam from American soil. It's not a necessary ground. I originally appealed to this in order to avoid appealing to the ultimate, necessary ground of total Islamic exclusion: the promotion of the social reign of Christ the King.

This repulses you, doesn't it? You'll find this even more repulsive: the encyclical of Pius XI, Quas Primas (1925).

Brian J. Schuettler

"The preservation of national security is a sufficient ground for the total exclusion of Islam from American soil." YES, THE IRONY OF FIGHTING THE TALIBAN IN AFGHANISTAN BUT LETTING THEM SIMULTANEOUSLY TAKE OUR OWN SOIL.

Some worry about deflation and inflation. I am more concerned about the next global holocaust of human destruction, and the bonfire of the vanities yet to come.

Christopher Lake

Fernando/Jackson,

What and/or who decides which of the teachings in the Catechism of the Catholic Church are binding on Catholics to believe, and which are not?

Evan

See, Brian is spouting nonsense here. How is everyone quick to jump on me, including the president of the Press, for spilling "cyber ink" and confusing matters, and yet statements about the "Taliban" taking over our soil are just left to be. This is simply a falsehood, and it's a smear against the Islamic center whether or not one wants the center in Manhattan (or Tennessee). This is just utter sloppiness, and baseless accusation, and it's the reason why many people find you all to be alarmists and fear-mongers. Why not respond to this rubbish and clear up the name of the anti-Muslim opposition a bit?

I continue to maintain, despite my disagreement with certain things that he has said, that Fernando is probably the most forthright and consistent one of the Islamic center opponents who is posting here. Although I'm the only proponent of allowing the plan to move forward, I'd also say that the idea that I've been talking in circles is just foolish. I've been equally straightforward, whether one takes or leaves my conclusions. Those in between have simply made Islamophobic points while trying to seem as if that isn't what they're doing, and they haven't addressed the points that I've brought up to justify this claim. Rather, I've just been dismissed as a "liberal" (that's a laugh!) or as ignoring the heart of the matter, or as having a rosy-eyed view of things.

Evan

Your words here are puzzling. You say you think I "made a good point," and yet you disagree strongly with the point I made.

You're right, and after posting this comment I realized I should have been more clear. When I said "No, I still think that people use this name as propaganda or a propaganda-like reference", it could readily have been interpreted as "I still think that [all] people use this name as propaganda". What I meant was that I still think there are many people who use this name as propaganda, and saying "some" or "many" rather than just "people" would have clarified this better. So, I agree with you that it is probably shorthand for many people. I also continue to think that for many people, it is not simply shorthand but rather a way to mislead and slander the center. So, you've made a good point, I agree with that it represents the stance of a lot of folks, and I continue to hold that propaganda is also a prominent motivating factor for using names like "Ground Zero Mosque". Is that more clear?

It's obvious that the Park51 project doesn't automatically instill anger in everyone's heart because of its dispespectful, inconsiderate, and indecent nature. As Mr. Burke would doubtless agree, Park51 will doubtless warm the cockles of the hearts of everyone who enjoys promoting certain kinds of indecency and disrespect (especially in relation to those murdered on 9/11).

You're offering your conclusion as if it's an argument for your conclusion here. This strikes me as a pretty useless venture, unless you wish to preach only to the choir. The entire disagreement between us is about whether this plan can reasonably be taken to be disrespectful/inconsiderate/indecent or a security risk. But while you're asserting this argument, is it fair to say that you think I enjoy promoting disrespect for the fallen of 9/11 because I am encouraged by the proposed Islamic center? If so, it might promote mutual understanding to just go out and say so. I won't melt from a little bit of direct sunlight... don't worry yourself about that if that's what's holding your punches.

I find your insertion of the word "fear" into your response to Mr. Burke's letter hard to understand. It's a word and a sentiment that he neither writes nor alludes to in his letter.

Quite right. I wasn't talking about Burke's letter here, but rather about other arguments based on fear for the security of the country and/or the Church. I think it should be taken as a given that a number of different arguments are being offered for the same position, and that responding to many of these arguments in turn does not imply that one assumes all of these arguments to be shared by everyone who shares the position (in this case, opposition to the Islamic center). Fernando, for instance, has offered arguments with which others on this blog disagree, even though Fernando and others agree as far as their position goes- that the Islamic center should not be built in the proposed location. Is that clear? Likewise, I've tried to insist that Carl and others shouldn't confuse my reasons for supporting the Islamic center for the reasons of others (see this comment, above)

Fernando Umberto Garcia de Nicaragua, Prefectus Minimus: The Jacksonian Institute

Christopher, as you know, any teachings inconsistent with Tradition and the deposit of faith are to be rejected. The new Catechism contains much good, yes. It also - flowing from the Vatican II cult of novelty as it does - contains many novelties. To wit:

"The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day" (CCC 841).

Incredible. Popes Pius V, Gregory XVI, and Pius IX, for example, couldn't imagine the sight of such teaching in a catechism. Muslims do not worship the Holy Trinity. They worship an entirely different "God." For more:

http://www.justforcatholics.org/islam.htm

Fernando Umberto Garcia de Nicaragua, Prefectus Minimus: The Jacksonian Institute

Evan, I open myself up to accusations of insufficient nuance, of a foolish consistency being the hobgoblin of my tiny mind, etc. etc.... I know. But what's needed today is less nuance, more clarity. The new Catechism, for example, and most papal documents today are awash in nuance. The impression is that they're watered down, and thus that they don't really believe. The impression is anything like that given here, for instance:

http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius09/p9quanta.htm

Evan

Fernando, I was offering my assessment of you in all honesty... I wasn't speaking of your consistency as a bad thing. While I disagree with you, I'm saying that you're at least someone with whom one can speak on even terms about the Islamic center-- you don't dodge issues.

In any case, I doubt you'd be paying as much mind to me if you knew what I think most others on this blog already know... I'm a Protestant, and so one further step removed (and in the wrong direction!) from your disputes with others about the current status of the Church (Roman) Catholic.

Evan

...and for the sake of showing that I'm not just being unjustifiably accusatory, here are some questions that I think have been dodged.


To those who are opposed to the center on Park Place but recoil from Fernando's stronger claim that Islam has no place in America, period:

if this Islamic center is a threat to us in Manhatten, how is it any less of a threat to us in Murfeesboro, TN? (from Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 05:04 AM)

For those who, following good ole' Newt, take sharia fears to be a good reason for opposing religious freedom (also here is a good article on sharia):

I don't take reference to sharia as saying much of anything. Sharia is Islamic law. Of course he supports sharia. Ed Peters supports canon law. What's the big deal? If there are specific points or interpretations of sharia that he has advocated and are worrisome to us, then let's bring them up specifically and not act as if speaking of "sharia" is a complete argument. (from Monday, September 13, 2010 at 06:40 AM)

Again for followers of Newt, who advocate the name "Victory Mosque":

"Victory Mosque", however, is still common currency amongst opponents, and I don't see how that is explained away as a difference than makes no difference, or how it is inappropriately called "propaganda". That seems to be exactly what it is.

...and yes, I know that one poster responded to the question of this name. I can't however, manage to take his/her response all that seriously. The "Cordoba" reference has been explained as one of interfaith harmony. This was never a "hot potato" of a name until people like Newt found it convenient to make it one. Issues of empire and political intolerance are (rightly enough, to an extent) explained away for Christendom or ancient Rome; why a name connected to the history of Islamic empire is so difficult to process for people is beyond me. Were England or France less great on a cultural level for the difficulties of the Jews that were unfortunately present? The Romans killed our Lord, for goodness sakes! But does this prevent us from embracing what was of great value in their empire? (also, here is an interesting related issue taking place in Cordoba today)

Brain-in-a-vat

So, I agree with you that it is probably shorthand for many people.

In what sense are you agreeing with me? The only point I made is that the name "GZ mozque" -- what you originally claimed was false and propagandistic -- was almost indistinguishable from your description of Park51: "simply...an Islamic religious building near Ground Zero." The only sense in which I'm saying that "GZ Mosque" is shorthand is that it's shorthand for YOUR descriptor, and thus -- if we grant your earlier assertion -- that YOU are either indulging in falsehood and propaganda or are babbling. Thus, you're not agreeing with me; you're agreeing with yourself.

It's obvious that the Park51 project doesn't automatically instill anger in everyone's heart because of its dispespectful, inconsiderate, and indecent nature. As Mr. Burke would doubtless agree, Park51 will doubtless warm the cockles of the hearts of everyone who enjoys promoting certain kinds of indecency and disrespect (especially in relation to those murdered on 9/11).

You're offering your conclusion as if it's an argument for your conclusion here.

No, I'm asserting that it's intuitively obvious to anyone with a shred of common decency and common sense -- anyone, that is, who hasn't been living in a cave these past nine years -- that the Park51 project should not be built 600 ft from GZ (and probably not even on the island of Manhattan). To back up that assertion, the only argument I've been making has been one from analogy -- which is why I've been bringing up hypothetical examples that include US and Japanese veterans of WWII and other "sacred sites" like Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I find very telling the fact that, after making such an argument three times, you have yet to respond to it.

I find your insertion of the word "fear" into your response to Mr. Burke's letter hard to understand. It's a word and a sentiment that he neither writes nor alludes to in his letter.

Quite right. I wasn't talking about Burke's letter here, but rather about other arguments based on fear for the security of the country and/or the Church.

Yes, but I was talking about Mr. Burke's letter and my response to it. Nothing else. If you don't want to address Mr. Burke's letter, perhaps it would be best if you...DON'T address his letter instead of arguing as if you were. Quo usque tandem abutere, Evan, patienta nostra?

Fernando Umberto Garcia de Nicaragua, Prefectus Minimus: The Jacksonian Institute

"I continue to hold that propaganda is also a prominent motivating factor for using names like 'Ground Zero Mosque.'"

But the motivations behind the change to Park51 are pure as snow? For greater clarity, I would have preferred them to leave it at Cordoba House. Now they have the mask of that new antiseptic, seemingly innocuous name.

"I wasn't talking about Burke's letter here, but rather about other arguments based on fear for the security of the country...."

Yes, that's exactly where I'm coming from regarding this sufficient ground of total exclusion. But the issue is what kind of fear: rational or irrational? You seem to think that any fear of Islam is irrational, and thus "phobic." I, on the contrary, find any failure to have such fear to be irrational. In other words, rationality demands this fear.

Christopher Lake

Fernando/Jackson,

I'm going to quote from your reply to me in order to highlight a serious problem therein:

"Christopher, as you know, any teachings inconsistent with Tradition and the deposit of faith are to be rejected. The new Catechism contains much good, yes. It also - flowing from the Vatican II cult of novelty as it does - contains many novelties."

Fernando, who decides which teachings in the Catechism are "inconsistent with Tradition and the deposit of faith"?

More to the point, who has the *authority* to *authoritatively interpret and apply* Sacred Tradition and the deposit of faith in the Catholic Church? Do you and I have that authority? Of course, we do not. That authority belongs to the Pope and the Bishops, teaching in communion with him.

Yet you assert that theological statements in the Catechism, on the relationship of the Church to Muslims, are utterly contradictory to previous statements made by the Church on this matter. Based on *your interpretation* of the past and current Church teachings, which you take to be contradictory, you reject the current Church teaching. That authority does not belong to me, you, or any other member of the laity in the Church.

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