Monday, August 02, 2010

ADL's Statement on the Proposed Islamic Center at Ground Zero

I have been a long-time fan of the Anti-Defamation League. Their consistent stand against extremism of all kinds, their oft-unpopular commitment to the the ideals of universal tolerance and (as their mission states) "justice and fair treatment to all" has made them absolute heroes in my eyes.

That is why I was shocked and literally disgusted to hear that they had issued the following statement:
We regard freedom of religion as a cornerstone of the American democracy, and that freedom must include the right of all Americans – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other faiths – to build community centers and houses of worship.

We categorically reject appeals to bigotry on the basis of religion, and condemn those whose opposition to this proposed Islamic Center is a manifestation of such bigotry.

However, there are understandably strong passions and keen sensitivities surrounding the World Trade Center site. We are ever mindful of the tragedy which befell our nation there, the pain we all still feel – and especially the anguish of the families and friends of those who were killed on September 11, 2001.

The controversy which has emerged regarding the building of an Islamic Center at this location is counterproductive to the healing process. Therefore, under these unique circumstances, we believe the City of New York would be better served if an alternative location could be found.

In recommending that a different location be found for the Islamic Center, we are mindful that some legitimate questions have been raised about who is providing the funding to build it, and what connections, if any, its leaders might have with groups whose ideologies stand in contradiction to our shared values. These questions deserve a response, and we hope those backing the project will be transparent and forthcoming. But regardless of how they respond, the issue at stake is a broader one.

Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong. But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right.
Much has been made in certain quarters about how this puts the ADL in league with the likes of Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, but having some opinions that overlap with people you'd otherwise consider unhinged is not uncommon in a complex world, so I don't see that as much of an issue.

Others have highlighted the following utter horse manure for logic in their statement:
In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right.
I won't insult the ADL by deconstructing that lame and irrational rubbish. Let's all please just pretend that sentence was one big typo.

No, I'll cut to the chase and use the ADL's own words as my entire response to their statement:
"Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site"
Only, take out the word "may."

Proponents of the center have EVERY right to build at this site. Full stop.


No other argument trumps this fact. Any attempt to deny it reeks of bigotry.

What I really can't understand is why they bothered at all. The ADL did not need to weigh in on this. Unless you go to extreme lengths to twist it into such, no part of this issue is truly central to their primary mission "to stop the defamation of the Jewish people."

Tragically, though, joining in to pressure the proponents of the site to change locations brings the ADL so close, at least in spirit, to actually supporting the violation of their civil rights, that they have, in one fell swoop, introduced serious questions about their credibility after a nearly flawless 100-year record.

Now I ask their leadership: was this one building worth such a loss?

UPDATE: Thankfully, calmer heads seem to be prevailing: Mosque Near Ground Zero Clears Key Hurdle. The law is clear, the rest is
merely wedge-issue politics.

Labels:

35 Comments:

Blogger kalm james said...

Hey Ed, it's great to see you extremely tolerant attitude towards the construction of this mosque, and your embrace of the rights of those of the Islamic faith. I just wish you'd reserve some of that tolerance for some other Americans of faith who you've gone after with hammer and tong.

I'm quoting from your November 13, 2008 posting, and to avoid being accused of "taking statements out of context" I invite anyone interested to read the full post.

"...were Bambino and I to have lived and married in California and then someone we knew, anyone, had the nerve (via their donations, or their votes) to pass judgement on how valid our marriage was, I know (because I'm bullheaded this way) that I'd spend every waking hour devoted to making them as miserable in every conceiveable way as possible. They would pay and then pay again and then pay again for such disrespect. And then Babmino would start in on them and, well, God help them then...."

There are other links to articles some disparaging members of the LDS church and other Christians (full disclosure, I was raised Mormon, but haven't practiced since I was eleven), but the below quote captures the tone.

"These supposedly "pro-family" monsters can indeed inflict even greater harm on the gay community and their loved ones."

You profess to believe the Islamists have every right to build wherever they wish without intimidation or restriction, that they are free to practice their religion in whatever way they please (though I don't see them being too tolerant of gay marriage ether, but maybe my Koran isn't the correct translation).

Is religious freedom only encouraged when it agrees with our agenda or it can be used as a wedge issue for the upcoming election? Americans of whatever religious persuasion can contribute or build or do what ever the law provides, it's just interesting that you've come down on this issue the way you have.

8/02/2010 07:29:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

James,

I'll try to let slide the ad hominem side of your comment to see if I can use it to clarify my position. (I will note though that my gut response to your tone and nearly hysterical assertions was to insist you perform the same sexual act on yourself that you do on your equine transportation).

Let's start with the most egregious lie in your list: "You profess to believe the Islamists have every right to build wherever they wish without intimidation or restriction"

First of all, the term "Islamist" is widely reserved for radical extremists who wish to establish Islam as the world's religion by force. There is nothing at all to suggest the proponents of the Islamic Center fall into that category, and as such you owe them an apology. Also, I've never said they were entitled to anything other than every other American...if there are restrictions that apply to others, then they apply to the proponents of the Center. But no more than that is fair, so no more than is appropriate.

Second of all, my opposition to Christians who work so hard to deny me the right to marry is an internal fight, my being a Christian. It's also consistent with my call for wider tolerance in general...at least as most sane people understand that term. Among intelligent people, it has never, as far as I know, been used to suggest you must support someone else's right to oppress others or deny them dignity to be "tolerant." The goal of tolerance is fairness to all...equality for all. Any stance that denies that is inconsistent with tolerance, making my passionate objections to anti-gay intolerance perfectly defensible.

Finally:

"Is religious freedom only encouraged when it agrees with our agenda or it can be used as a wedge issue for the upcoming election?"

Neither Christian nor Muslim theology agree with my gay marriage agenda, making this question illogical in this context.

Clearly you're passionate about this issue, but I'd rather see your well-formed response to whether ADL hurt its credibility with this statement than read a litany of nearly rabid babbling, which is what most of this sounds like to me. Why, is something you've yet to clarify, by the way.

8/02/2010 08:15:00 PM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Ed, I'm sorry that you have decided to misconstrue the intentions of my post, and it was not meant as an " ad hominem" attack, merely a nudge and questioning of what I perceived as an inconstancy. Nether did I believe the post to be hysterical, but you may be a better judge of those things than I.

Regarding my "most egregious lie", the name this project is referred to by, in the publications and article I've seen is, the Cordoba House Islamic Center, not the Muslim Center or Islam Center. As it was explained to me (by a Muslim), anyone who is a true believer in the Koran, a follower of Mohamed, and an advocate for devote Islamic belief is an "Islamist". To be fair here's a definition from Free Dictionary. 1. An Islamic revivalist movement, often characterized by moral conservatism, literalism, and the attempt to implement Islamic values in all spheres of life.
2. The religious faith, principles, or cause of Islam.
There is no mention of "radical extremists who wish to establish Islam as the world's religion by force", but as you know Islam, doesn't have the same kinds of central structure that Christianity has, so someone might have come up with a new definition.

"... every right to build wherever they wish without intimidation or restriction." Sorry, I assumed we understood that all the zoning restrictions, community board okays, architectural plans were not withstanding.

Now here's the touchy part, and the point of the post, "tolerance". I sympathies with you and respect your "internal fight" and believe tolerance is one of the greatest of virtues, but as you posted "I'd spend every waking hour devoted to making them as miserable in every conceivable way as possible. They would pay and then pay again and then pay again for such disrespect. And then Babmino would start in on them and, well, God help them then...." I don't want to be redundant by posting the definition of tolerance, mostly your right it's about having a fair objective and permissive attitude, however "equality" is not mentioned, but "endurance" is. I would never suggest you retreat in your cause, but sometimes simply enduring others faults or perceived stupidity is a form of tolerance.


"Neither Christian nor Muslim theology agree with my gay marriage agenda, making this question illogical in this context" This is an important point, and may be part of the cause of the misunderstanding. My post was not about gay marriage, or the mosque, but about how we react towards those we perceive as threatening the freedom of our lives. The ADL has responded in a way that reflects its constituency and I'm sure it wasn't taken lightly. You're apparently ready to support the building of a huge mosque and culture center near Ground Zero as a gesture of spiritual healing, yet you want to make millions of people's (or however many voted for or supported California's Prop 8) lives "miserable in every conceivable way".

You may still insist I perform the same sexual act on myself that I do on my equine transportation, but that doesn't seem to be the best position to try to conduct a conversation about a very sensitive issue. Once again sorry if this seems insensitive.

8/03/2010 03:02:00 AM  
Anonymous matt said...

James makes very excellent points. I have been reading your blog for a long time. You present yourself as a balanced and fair observer and writer , but there are times, such as now, that you really run afoul of that as soon as a comment doesn't fall within your parameters of agreement. You simply attack using, for example, "the most egregious lie in your list" and "a litany of nearly rabid babbling" to knock down the opposition.

And no, the ADL statement hardly reeks of bigotry. It's as simple as that.

8/03/2010 08:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed, you hit it right on the head. Proponents of the center have EVERY right to build at the site. Full stop.
Churches are there. Synagogues are there. Subways (the sandwich shops) are there.



I may not attend services there. I may not agree with the doctrines of the faith or any faith. But to argue a moral stance muddies the waters. This is, indeed a legal issue.

As for the equality vs endurance argument mentioned... my fighting for equal rights to marriage that others would deny me is equally a legal issue. I do not begrudge any religion their beliefs. I do begrudge the concept that their beliefs should encroach on others where no legal harm is done.

8/03/2010 08:32:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

James,

I appreciate your implied desire for civility here, but we seem to have a major breakdown in communications based on the lack of a shared understanding of some key concepts.

First is "ad hominem" ("an attempt to link the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise"), which I didn’t take as an "attack" as much as an attempt to switch the subject from the ADL to me. It's viewed as poor form whether it's mean-spirited or not because it basically dismisses the writer's original argument out of hand, without doing the more difficult work of actually addressing it. In your most recent comment you do this directly, impugning my argument about ADL's credibility being damaged by their statement---not by addressing the points of their statement or my objections---but by focusing instead on what you view as a character flaw in me. Ad hominem assertions are also viewed as intellectually dishonest.

Second is the critical distinction between "Islamic" (the term used in the name of the center [which is commonly referred to in the press [as well as in my post], including the New York Times as the "Islamic Center"...albeit your providing the readers here with its full title is much appreciated) and "Islamist" (the term you used and seem to be conflating with "Islamic").

Might I suggest this discussion on an anti-Jihadist website exploring the difference between "Islamic" and "Islamist," the key point of which is summarized as "Islamic Vs. Islamist: Righteous Believer vs. Political Ideology."

For the record, I am not at all indifferent toward Islamist ideology. I feel the Islamists are extremist radicals and many of their views, especially with regard to women's rights and gay rights, are barbaric.

In such discussion, I make a very clear distinction between Islamic and Islamist, which as you note describes an ideology that "attempt[s] to implement Islamic values in all spheres of life." To most people who debate and write on this subject as much as I have, the typical "Islamist" is a member of the Taliban. The "by force" part is inferred.

Andrew Sullivan, who blogs about this distinction incessantly recently wrote "Abe Foxman [head of the ADL] is not alone in his conflation of Islamist terror and peaceful American Islam," which is the point I'm making in so painfully drawing the distinction here as well. It is incorrect to conflate the two, which is why agreeing on distinct terms is so important.

Finally, to my mind, the gay marriage issue and the mosque issue involve the same central concept: a majority of people working to deny a minority their rights. To resist such injustice, even fiercely, is not the same as being intolerant. Free humans need not willingly endure second-class status at any point, not even in the service of tolerance. Such injustices should be resisted, always, and as strongly as possible.

I'm not implying that anyone isn't entitled to live their life the way they want to, according to their own beliefs. I'm arguing that my insistance that their beliefs will not dictate how I must live my life does not make me intolerant of their beliefs. I'm not asking them to change how they think, just to stay out of my life.

Also, it may just be a gay thing, but to me equality is a central, practical part of tolerance (so much so that there's an organization called Tolerance, Equality, and Awareness Movement.) As I view it, ensuring everyone access to equal treatment under the law, fairness, justice...these are the goals of tolerance. What assholes think in their own homes is their business.

8/03/2010 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Also, I feel you should be very careful in what you imply with this statement:

"You're apparently ready to support the building of a huge mosque and culture center near Ground Zero as a gesture of spiritual healing, yet you want to make millions of people's (or however many voted for or supported California's Prop 8) lives "miserable in every conceivable way"."

As there is no reason whatsoever to associate the people wanting to build the Mosque with the attacks on 9/11, I'm not at all viewing the mosque as a gesture of spiritual healing. Personally I don't like mosques any more than I like churches. I view the issue to be one of denying a minority their right to build any damn place they wish to.

Further, the people who want to build the mosque have done nothing to me. The people who supported Prop 8, on the other hand, who voted to take away a hard-earned right declared themselves as wanting to impose second-class citizen status on my people. A large number of those who supported Prop 8 didn't even live in California. They were interlopers. They declared war through their actions.

It's not intolerant to fight back.

The two situations are millions of miles apart.

Your insistence on comparing them still leaves open the big question of where you fall on the issue of the mosque and ADL's statement.

8/03/2010 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger vc said...

" In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right."

Winkleman responds this way to the preceding part of the ADL's statement:
"I won't insult the ADL by deconstructing that lame and irrational rubbish. Let's all please just pretend that sentence was one big typo."

I agree that it is lame and irrational. But the reality if the situation is that many people would buy this rationale. Therefore it is necessary to combat the erroneous perceptions to which it panders. Simply - that "we" were attacked by "them," that Islam attacked America. The corollary to this misperception is of course that American Muslims are not fully American. It is the responsibility of every elected official to clarify this and to remind people that American Muslims were every bit as much victims of the attacks as everyone else. This clarification would not constitute insensitivity to the pain of the victims and the bereft, but in fact just the opposite. Any public leader who fails to make this point makes clear his or her own bigotry and cowardice. But it's not surprising. No public issue is ever really debated, because it is presented in distorted and deceptive terms, like "Why do you want to give THEM a monument?" (I'm paraphrasing an anti-center tv ad I heard replayed on NPR)

8/03/2010 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Matt,

In my opinion you have it exactly backwards on nearly every point.

I didn't "simply attack"...I went to great lengths to explain why I disagreed.

I have never declared myself to be "balanced and fair." Fox has made that term entirely meaningless in our society, and I have frequently declared myself highly passionate about some issues.

Finally, nothing is ever "as simple as that." That's not even an argument.

8/03/2010 09:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Bambino said...

First of all, the people who want to build a mosque are as American as you are. There is no difference between you and any American Muslim, who was born in this country, or swore at their ceremony and promised that he/she will be equally as responsible as anyone else in this country, and has the same rights to say or do whatever he/she wants. So stop suggesting that Muslim do not have the exact same rights. You make a fool of yourself, thinking you're defending something on behalf of the American dream, but doing the complete opposite in the reality.

I can't believe that people quickly forget what happened after 9/11, especially in New York. Do you remember first week in NYC, everyone was helpful, kind, polite and ready to help anyone, share last bottle of water, etc without judging if you are white, black, gay, straight, Muslim, Jew, short, tall etc.

Besides when there was some metal left over from the World Trade Center, in the shape of the cross, and it was build as memorial, who asked those people who died, who were Muslim, Jewish, or Buddhist if that was ok to put up a cross on your behalf? As much as we want to be pushy and pretend to be equal, we're not until we can all stand up for what we say, and what we believe.

8/03/2010 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

You make a fool of yourself, thinking you're defending something on behalf of the American dream, but doing the complete opposite in the reality.

That should be tattooed on Sarah Palin's palm for her to read every day!

8/03/2010 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

one other note to Matt (because this has been bugging me):

You present yourself as a balanced and fair observer and writer , but there are times, such as now, that you really run afoul of that as soon as a comment doesn't fall within your parameters of agreement.

It wasn't that James' comments on the topic of the post don't fall within my parameters of agreement (if I understand that term), but rather that he implied I was being hypocritical that earned him my anger.

I don't see my position as being hypocritical in the slightest. I see my position as entirely consistent.

My response wasn't based on his disagreeing with my opinion (he didn't address it), but rather with him asserting I was being opportunistic. And erroneously so in my opinion. James, for reasons he still hasn't clarified, takes offense at my post and has the gall to lecture me:

"I just wish you'd reserve some of that tolerance for some other Americans of faith who you've gone after with hammer and tong."

What's worse is that in doing so he is conflating two situations that are not at all parallel, in my opinion. I have gone after others only when they've worked to enshrine my second-class citizenship (when they first attacked)...not when they were minding their own business. So long as they leave me alone, I'm very happy to let them carry on their merry way.

8/03/2010 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Ed, I apologize if you took my use your November 13, 2008 post as an attack or an "intellectually dishonest" argument. I've known and respected you long enough to realize you're a passionate guy, but even after two years this post still seems a bit out of character. My intention was simply to use it as an example of how people react towards those they perceive as enemies. You declared it a "war" and sated that " It's not intolerant to fight back." So you give yourself a justified reason to battle, the ADL feels they're under attack so they're justified, the "radical Islamists" feel they're under attack so they're justified, New Yorkers feel they're under attack, etc.

You claim " The two situations are millions of miles apart" I don't think so. You're dealing with people of faith who have set beliefs. The problem, as I see it is intractable beliefs, and I'll be the first to admit I'm stubborn and bullheaded, but discussions like this can only help the situation

I also agree that the people behind the Cordoba Islamic Center have the same rights as any American to build, but just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

One of the problems we face concerning Islam is that despite the interpretation of Whitewolf, that you linked to in your above reply, regarding "Islamic vs Islamist" there is no central authority in Islam, no Pope, no counsel of cardinals, no reformation, no guiding authority that dictates what is or isn't true Islam. What there is, is the Koran. So, not being an Islamic scholar, and even though I believe there are vast numbers of Muslims who want nothing more than the best for their families and friends, for you or I or anyone to assume they have the one true and single version, would be only one person's interpretation of the Koran. This is one issue (the interpretation of the Koran), that should be more deeply investigated.

8/03/2010 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger Max-Carlos said...

Build the mosque

8/03/2010 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

James, you write : "the ADL feels they're under attack so they're justified, the "radical Islamists" feel they're under attack so they're justified, New Yorkers feel they're under attack, etc."

Yet there is NOTHING in the ADL's statement to support your assertion. Where do they indicate they feel they're "under attack" by the people wanting to build the mosque?

This is what was unstated, but I sensed was implied, in your original comment. It's flat out wrong, though, in my opinion.

Anyone associating the 9/11 attacks with the Islamic Center is guilty of projecting the crimes of a subset of people onto a wider group of entirely innocent people just because they are of the same faith. That is one of the hallmarks of bigotry.

And I'm sorry, but I'll still insist the two political situations are not parallel.

In one situation, supporters of Prop 8 rallied (and reportedly strong-armed) people who didn't even live in California to spend a fortune in reversing a hard-won civil rights law. It was a textbook example of the tyranny of the majority. Every opponent of tyranny should condemn it.

In the other situation a law-abiding, peaceful group of Americans wish to build a center and are being pressured not to because others are ignorantly associating their mere being with the crimes of the attackers of 9/11.

The supporters of Prop 8 took it upon themselves to deny someone else something they fought hard to earn.

The supporters of the Islamic Center are simply asking that their right to build where they want be upheld under the law.

8/03/2010 12:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

speaking as an atheist; I think your all nuts! Each person is conforming the religion to fit their own agenda and logic. The Bible and the Koran both have passages that each person picks and chooses as they please. There is no God, but these annoying arguments will keep coming up until everyone can give up the delusion.

However, I do agree that tolerance is of utmost importance and the peaceful pursuit of whatever delusion you choose to have is up to you. To use an old anarchist phrase: "My freedom ends where your nose begins." And I have to admit that some of the most beautiful architecture and art has been created in pursuit religious ideals.

8/03/2010 03:30:00 PM  
Blogger Hrag said...

The ADLs idea of tolerance is a farce. The organization has been working against Armenian Genocide recognition for years. They have sided with the political interests of the Israeli state and their ties with Turkey and NOT for human rights. They have in fact sided with genocide deniers, contrary to their supposed stance against genocide (or more specifically Holocaust) denial. The latest statement about the mosque is no different than what we've been hearing from Abe Foxman, who is a morally bankrupt individual. The ADL is an organization whose time has past.

8/03/2010 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger kalm james said...

The ADL statement does mention the 9/11 attack, I didn't say they were under attack from the people wanting to build the mosque.

And to repeat, like any religion they have the right to build. However, in this particular circumstance, if they decide to continue, I think, to avoid further friction, they should strive for extreme transparency regarding their funding and the associations of the backers and organizers.

8/03/2010 05:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Oriane Stender said...

I'm a little unclear about James Kalm's point. I didn't go back and read Ed's complete post from 2008, but in the part you quoted, I don't see Ed saying "I'm gonna get those Christian (or Mormon) motherf*ckers." I see him saying he will fight any and all attempts to deny him the right to marry. So I'm not quite sure what the connection is between his anger over Prop 8 and anything to do with religion.

For the record, I'm with Bernard on the whole god thing, but that's not really the point here. Whatever gets you through the night - as long as it doesn't infringe on other people's rights, which religion quite often seems to do. How many millions of people have been killed in some holy war, crusade, inquisition, etc.,? But I digress. James Kalm, what exactly are you trying to say?

8/03/2010 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

I admit that a mosque on Ground Zero feels inflammatory and I wish it didnt have to be THERE, but if I'm going to live by democratic principles, then I believe the mosque should be built. (However, I don't think believers should use the street, as they do around Madison Avenue, as an alfresco mosque.)

A couple of thoughts:

. When I said to a Jewish friend advocating against the mosque that sweeping pronouncements about a religious group based on the religion was "hitlerian" I just about got called anti-semitic. WTF?
. I notice that no one railed against christian churches being built near the Oklahoma City bombing site.
. Everyone must recognize Armenian Genocide. Thanks, Hrag, for reminding us.
. Loren, we need to talk.

8/03/2010 05:50:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

The controversy which has emerged regarding the building of an Islamic Center at this location and we have decided to side with the bigots to be sure it remains is counterproductive to the healing process. (I did a britebart on their own words, which wasn't hard.)

What book do atheists thump on when they set out to scold others for their beliefs? I'm not much for religious politics but I have seen how some small spark of faith, however delusional, gets many people through one miserable day into the next, who am I do deny this even if I stand in a cloud of disbelief myself?

And by the same token I would suggest that any momentary tension posed by an architectural edifice may act more as an antiseptic than add further infection. Acceptance against anger.

8/03/2010 06:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

@George:

"On the Origin of Species" probably gets the nomination, though there were atheists before (Zeno, comes to mind as one).

8/03/2010 07:01:00 PM  
Anonymous matt said...

@Ed - You are trying way too hard. Of course, it's your blog.

8/04/2010 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Charles Kessler said...

Today's Times editorial has it exactly right except for one sentence: "The plans for the $100 million center should encourage those who want Muslims and non-Muslims in America to find common ground."

This implies Muslims and non-Muslims in America are on different sides -- which is certainly not the case, especially with these people. It's important to remember that.

8/04/2010 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

@Bernard -- LOL, Atheists cannot point to any one person or source without losing their status. Maybe you could thump on a telephone book?

8/04/2010 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Charles references it, but here's the link to the NYTimes editorial. I agree with Charles' one objection, but the rest is totally spot on. As for the ADL's assertion that the pain the center might bring to certain families who lost loved ones is a good reason not to build it, the NYT nails it:

"Some of the families of the victims of the attacks, who deserve our respect and sympathy, are uneasy about the mosque. But it would be a greater disservice to the memories of their loved ones to give into the very fear that the terrorists wanted to create and, thus, to abandon the principles of freedom and tolerance."

8/04/2010 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger annell said...

You know, it is New York, and of course should be up to New Yorkers. I doubt they give a big flip about what one New Mexican thinks, most don't even think New Mexico is a part of the good old USA. But really weren't Muslems killed in 9/11. What harm in a community center. As Christians, do Christians have to take responsibility for every wrong deed committed by other Christians? Give it a break!

8/04/2010 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Oriane Stender said...

George -
You're right, atheists don't have one person or one book as an authority. That's kind of the point. An atheist doesn't look to some external figure or teachings to explain the world; she figures it out for herself, with the help of other people, teachings and philosophies that she finds reasonable. She often doesn't find answers, but we all end up in the same place - the graveyard.

8/04/2010 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

@Oriane -- There is no point. The is no fundamental difference between believers and nonbelievers -- both are just manifestations of which way a belief bit is flipped. "Religions" including Atheism are just programs which trys to flip that bit one way or the other. On or off, it has consequences which are unknowable for an insignificant piece of organic protoplasm wiggling its way for a brief moment in a universe which may only be another protoplasmic bit flip.

8/04/2010 02:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Oriane Stender said...

George -
I believe
that you are wrong. So I guess I'm a believer after all.

8/04/2010 11:28:00 PM  
Blogger david brickman said...

Has anyone stopped to consider that there were a significant number of Muslims who died in the WTC from the 9/11 attacks? I doubt those victims or their families would be upset by this new mosque. Just as the victims as a whole were a randomly diverse group of people, the worshippers at this mosque will also be diverse - there's no monolithic Muslim enemy, nor is there a unified "us" to protect from the threats of insane idealogues. I support the construction of the mosque, just as I expect to be supported in my choice to not go there. Religious freedom is a cherished American value we all should fight to protect.

8/05/2010 05:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Saying that atheism is just another religion is like saying that freedom is just another kind of slavery.

8/07/2010 08:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definitely some interesting exchanges here, but the bottom line is, what will the long-term effect be if the proposed center is built?
This is not a question of rights, it is a question of the proper forum for the expression of those rights. I would honestly like to believe that people could be Ok if the center was built; however, I'm almost certain that it would create a huge conflict right in the heart of a place that should be free of conflict.
I'm certainly not in favor of denying anyone their legal rights, however, I believe that more is at stake than rights if the site were to be built and the public was not widely accepting of it.
I think it would be prudent to consider the situation from every possible angle because this is about much more than individual rights, it is about preserving social order and I believe this is where the ADL is coming from.

8/09/2010 04:52:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I entirely disagree Anonymous. Rights are worth fighting for and that means they're worth disturbing social order for.

8/09/2010 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Not that I expect the center to disrupt much in New York, though. We're a pretty tolerant city as such things go. Most of the most vocal (high-profile) opponents don't live here. Most of the high-profile politicians who do live here, support it.

8/09/2010 09:22:00 AM  

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