Wading In to the Mosque Debate

A year ago, President Obama waded into the local conflict between a black Harvard professor and a white Cambridge, Massachusetts, police officer.

It ended with beers on the White House lawn, but it didn’t end well for the president’s reputation as a politician who often oversteps his bounds.

Two weeks ago, the president weighed in on another local issue that has become a national hot button: the New York City mosque planned meters from Ground Zero.

Mr. Obama subsequently backed off his initial endorsement of the “wisdom” of the idea, much to the chagrin of project proponents, no doubt.

Those proponents claim that nothing would uphold the values of freedom that were attacked on September 11, 2001, like an Islam worship facility near the terror site.

They assert that public support for the mosque will prove that our nation doesn’t implicate the faith of many because of the deeds of a few.

They also worry that opposing the mosque will provoke radical Islamists to further anti-American acts. My guess is the radicals are plenty committed to their cause already.

America is a sensitive land. For centuries it has welcomed wanderers from all walks of life. It doesn’t discriminate on the basis of color, creed, gender or handicap.

Mosque organizers should pay homage to this characteristic of our nation. They should recognize the strangeness that many feel about their building in that place.

Many Muslims such as Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, leader of the Ground Zero mosque movement, acknowledge the false teaching in their faith that they have yet to root out.

This admission shoulders them with a responsibility to deal carefully with the effects of their false teachers.

Rauf’s congregation currently meets twelve blocks from Ground Zero. Surely there are many real estate options for his new center that would include a wider buffer from the World Trade Center site but still offer proximity for his congregants.

Unfortunately, his priority seems to be proximity to Ground Zero and for presumably noble purposes (build bridges, heal the past, create community, etc.).

But one man’s bridge can be another man’s umbrage. Given that he has options, the imam should bend over backwards not to offend.

In 2008, a Netherlands legislator wanted to release a film about the violent and fascist elements of the Muslim faith. Many officials in the Dutch government condemned the idea.

In the Washington Post at that time, Imam Rauf commended the Dutch Foreign Minister for “standing by the right to free speech while putting reasonable parameters on the proviso, saying ‘freedom of expression doesn’t mean the right to offend.’”

I wonder if today he’d stand by the right to free worship while putting reasonable parameters on the proviso, saying “freedom of religion doesn’t mean the right to offend.’”

1 Response to “Wading In to the Mosque Debate”

  1. 1 Bennye Waskom August 27, 2010 at 04:37

    Once again….Kevin…a clear, concise, knowledgeable analysis of a political subject…Thanks for doing your part to wake up America to the reality of the creeping threat of Islam….that’s right….ISLAM….call it what it is! We still are a CHRISTIAN NATION regardless of what this administration says. High time we stand up and say so. Who can we fear with God on our side….not me..

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