When I saw a photo on the Time Magazine online site of the rear ends of Muslims praying in Washington, D.C. in connection with a story about the controversy over the planned building of an Islamic mosque near the 9/11 ground zero site in New York, I recalled that I used to tell my now late wife that the best way to strike back at that part of the Muslim world that is out to get us was to wait till they get down on their knees to pray to Mecca and take that opportunity to kick ’em in the behind.
My own silliness aside, I don’t see how the building of the proposed mosque, which got New York Landmark Commission approval this past week and which has the blessings, so to speak, of the current mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, but not of the former mayor and former Republican primary presidential candidate and all-around stick in the mud Rudy Giuliani, can be denied when we have the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
As we all know, the First Amendment guarantees religious freedom and prohibits our government from favoring one belief over another.
Opponents say it would be disrespectful to the surviving family members of 9/11 victims (probably conveniently setting aside the fact many were Muslim) and the victims themselves, and furthermore, they are suspicious of what might be the real intention of those building it — might they use it as a meeting place to work out further plots against our nation?
Now that last point is of some valid concern. And I would think that the authorities need to be aware of that possibility. But the constitution says explicitly that the government is not supposed to mess with the practice of religion or favor one over the other — even though many Christians would say, yes, yes, of course we have religious freedom, but ours (Christianity) is the historical main religion in the U.S. and needs special consideration.
But you know, I’m all for the proper undercover authorities keeping their eye out for conspirators against the nation, but I don’t think conspirators are limited to hatching their plots in churches or mosques.
I am unclear as to who all might be behind this mosque project. I know that the main person is supposed to be a supposedly moderate Muslim imam known as Faisal Abdul Rauf. Some, however, charge that he only pretends to be moderate for western ears (don’t know). At any rate, as long as there is no evidence that the project is anything more than a benign religious one, I don’t see any legal basis for denial.
It does seem troubling that the silence from the part of the Muslim community who are peaceful and not out to get us that we are told exists seems deafening at times.
It would also be troubling if the new mosque, which I understand is also to be an interfaith center, were to be used as a forum for spreading views subversive to our nation. But that can happen even in supposedly Christian churches — Jeremiah Wright?
And some of the white or predominantly white Christian fundamentalist churches seem to put out a message of extreme intolerance and even defiance of our democratic (note the small d) government.
So, having noted that, I have reminded myself of why subversives might prefer to meet in a church or mosque or temple, or whatever — to hide under the umbrella of the First Amendment.
Yes. Freedom of speech and religion and movement our society offers does pose a threat to security, but we have managed to come this far. I think we can continue without going to the police state — we don‘t want to become Iran.