Thursday, August 19, 2010

Religious Tolerance Improves Our Nation

I have been slow to blog on this subject because I hoped that it would fall to the background quickly enough so that there would be no need. Unfortunately, it appears that I overestimated the advancement of religious tolerance and the quality of American political discourse. I find it absolutely appalling that anyone could oppose the construction of the Cordoba House Mosque on Park Place in NYC. Opposition to its construction is an insult to all decent Americans. Not only does the opposition movement act with a mean-spirited sense of bigotry, they are opposing a project which is good for America. Here are 5 reasons that the country will be better off with the Cordoba House's Mosque:

  1. The Cordoba House Mosque will increase America's national security

Allowing moderate Muslims to build a mosque near Ground Zero shows the world, especially Muslim extremists, that the American public understands who its enemy is. It will erode the extremist argument that America is intolerant of the Islamic faith. Building the Cordoba House Mosque will also allow domestic Muslims to assimilate more completely into American society, reducing the chances that they will be driven to extremism.

  1. It will show the dedication of American citizens to the opposition of terrorism

It is crucial that the Islamic world understands that we are at war with terrorists, not Muslims. Al Qaeda and other extremists hate moderate Muslims as much as they hate Americans. It is therefore strategically necessary that we take every opportunity to unite with moderate Muslims to fight extremism. As they say, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Supporting the Cordoba House Mosque will remind moderate Muslims that we are on the same side.

  1. Tolerance of the project shows a respect of religious freedom

This point needs little elaboration. The freedom of religion is a basic constitutional right. I find it ironic that those who oppose the building of the Cordoba House the most fervently are often the most outspoken supporters of the Constitution. To me, the freedom of religion is the freedom to practice your religion without any form of persecution. Opposing the building of a mosque is clearly an act that violates the religious freedom of American Muslims.

  1. It also shows a respect for the rights of private property

Respecting the rights of private property is another constitutionally guaranteed right. This is not only the freedom to have personal property protected from the government, but also the right to do what you wish with your own property, free of ridicule. These are two of the most fundamental democratic rights, and those who oppose them are damaging our democracy.

  1. The Cordoba Project will help Americans understand the teachings of Islam and the motivations of the Muslim world more completely

This is part of the official mission of the Cordoba Project. It is a noble goal that would improve our nation culturally, as well as improving our relations with the Islamic world. The fact that 60% of Americans oppose the building of the Cordoba House Mosque shows that this message is sorely needed.

I have found some small measure of support among America's citizens who support this project. Featured on the Cordoba Initiative's homepage is a letter from Rabbi Burt Visotzky thanking President Obama for his support of the "Ground Zero Mosque". I find the letter to be an inspiring reminder that interfaith understanding is not gone from this country.


  1. is there any reason they need tobuild a mosque right there? it is very insensitive
    you know how many muslims died in 911?...4
    they were hijackers

  2. Anonymous,
    Firstly, somewhere between 20-60 innocent Muslims were killed on 9/11 (also, there were 19 hijackers, not 4). The government doesn't track religion, so exact statistics are unknown, but here is a (probably incomplete) list of some Muslim victims:

    As for the location of building the mosque being insensitive, I strongly disagree. Most or all members of the KKK, an organization officially designated as a terrorist organization in some states, are Protestants. I wouldn't consider building a Protestant Church near the site of a KKK attack to be insensitive. Muslims as a whole no more condone the activities of Al Qaeda than Protestants do the attacks of the KKK. It would be just as productive to draw conclusions from the fact that all of the terrorists were male as it would be to draw conclusions from the fact that they were all Muslim.

    Finally, I think building the Mosque near Ground Zero strengthens my original argument. It is a site that is nearly sacred to most Americans, and building a mosque in such a location emphasizes this nation's determination to overcome stereotypes and protect our freedom.

  3. as good of a hypothetical situation as that might be the kkk wasnt responsible for the attack on the towers
    they were Muslim terrorists
    im going to go out on a limb and say all the terrorists from the mid east are muslim extremists
    but im not going out on a limb in saying that money for the construction of this mosque would be coming from the mid east
    do u think that all or even most of the money wont come from terrorists?

  4. Anonymous,
    I don't think that any of the money will come from terrorists. As I said, terrorists oppose the work of moderate Muslims, like those building the mosque, just like they oppose the West. They have no more reason to encourage the spread of a moderate form of Islam than they do to encourage the spread of Christianity. Religion may motivate Islamic extremists, but it shouldn't motivate our response to them. We are at war with terrorists because they are murderers, not because they are Muslims. Their religion should have as much influence on our response as their hair color.