An Appeal to Mitt Romney for Republican Leadership on the Mosque Issue

Does the Park51 Islamic Community Center in Lower Manhattan (also known by the misnomer “Ground Zero Mosque”) present an opportunity for Mitt Romney to assume and evince leadership in the Republican Party, possibly even ousting populist Tea Party Anti-Federalist demagogues based on fundamental Federalist principles in the process?

Setting aside the obvious Mormon angle to this mosque situation[1], and overlooking the regrettable statement by a Romney aide on August 10 that “Governor Romney opposes the construction of the mosque at Ground Zero”[2], this situation seems like it could be such an opening for Romney. Could he even turn the Tea Party (back) into the Federalist Party and thereby get Republicans back on track after the meltdown of 2008?

In Federalist No. 71, Alexander Hamilton lauded political leaders who had “courage and magnanimity enough to serve [the people] at the peril of their displeasure.” A bold but principled statement in support of the Muslims here, it appears, would indeed be issued at the peril of the displeasure of many who have been swayed by the demagoguery of certain high-profile “Tea Party” political pundits. But, as Hamilton notes, “the republican principle demands that the deliberate sense of the community should govern the conduct of those to whom they intrust the management of their affairs; but it does not require an unqualified complaisance to every sudden breeze of passion, or to every transient impulse which the people may receive from the arts of men, who flatter their prejudices to betray their interests.”

The mosque controversy is a “sudden breeze of passion” — it is in every sense a “transient impulse” that the people have received “from the arts of men [and women], who flatter their prejudices to betray their interests”. As noted in a recent New York Times opinion piece[3], plans to build an Islamic community center did not seem to bother anyone, even among Fox News’ commenters, when they were first announced in December 2009. As an important mid-term election year wore on, it seems that political pundits and demagogues recognized it as a powerful wedge issue and cynically employed it as such. Charged with emotion, especially as framed and presented by such calculating pundits, it has had the power to induce normally relatively tolerant and reasonable people to betray their own interests to see it through. These people are not bigots and are likely truly opposing the plans to build the community center out of a sense of indignation provoked by the way the political leaders they trust have framed the issue.

But successfully influencing the owners of Park51 not to build their planned community center there would indeed be a betrayal of all Americans’ interest, even if the people whose passions have been inflamed at the moment do not see it right now. If these Muslims are pressured not to build at Park51, it will be a strike against the “diversity of our cultural expression, and the vibrancy of our religious dialogue,” both of which truly set America apart, as Mitt Romney noted in his “Faith in America” speech during his 2008 presidential campaign. All people of faith in the United States, and particularly adherents of minority religions, should be interested in maintaining our atmosphere of religious and cultural pluralism. This diversity and indeed pluralism is made possible by our robust First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, which collectively incorporate the lofty ideals of the Declaration of Independence — the Lockean triumvirate of Life, Liberty and Property (in Jefferson’s gloss) — into the concrete Constitutional framework that makes our society possible. Romney continued in his speech, explaining that in this atmosphere of diversity, “we do not insist on a single strain of religion — rather, we welcome our nation’s symphony of faith.” That symphony is turning into a cacophony before our very ears and the dissonance will affect everyone eventually if the Muslims of Park51 are shouted down.[4]

Hamilton continues, noting that in a republican government, “when occasions present themselves, in which the interests of the people are at variance with their inclinations, it is the duty of the persons whom they have appointed to be the guardians of those interests, to withstand the temporary delusion, in order to give them time and opportunity for more cool and sedate reflection”. This is where we need leadership from Mitt Romney. Given his background and the principles he has stated, he is the person to whom we should be able to look at this time to stand firm against this sudden breeze of passion and to pursue the right course through principled leadership.

In the end, this might have been a missed opportunity for Mitt Romney after all. What might have put him in an even better position for a new bid for the presidency (because after “more cool and sedate reflection” the people will realize that it was right to support the community center and wrong to bully or pressure the owners of the site not to build their community center there, under any pretext), might instead mire him down in mediocrity and populism with the other Republican hopefuls, rendering him unremarkable.

If Mitt Romney does not take a stand, perhaps this will create room for another Republican politician who has already shown his value as a leader embodying the republican principle described by Hamilton in Federalist No. 71. New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently weighed in again on the issue, saying, “We must have the courage of our convictions. We must do what is right, not what is easy. And we must put our faith in the freedoms that have sustained our great country for more than 200 years.” Now this is a Republican statement if I ever heard one.

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[1] Stephen Prothero writes that in the end analysis, he holds Mormons to a higher standard on issues of religious freedom:

I thought that Romney, as a Mormon, might speak out passionately for the First Amendment. I thought he might remember how the founder of his religion, Joseph Smith Jr., was murdered by an anti-Mormon mob. I thought he might recall how the U.S. government brought down much of its coercive power against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the last decades of the nineteenth century.

Apparently not. According to a statement released on August 10 by his spokesperson Eric Fehrnstrom, “Governor Romney opposes the construction of the mosque at Ground Zero. The wishes of the families of the deceased and the potential for extremists to use the mosque for global recruiting and propaganda compel rejection of this site.”

But Romney’s aide’s initial (delayed) comment about the mosque violates his own principles, as adroitly noted in a recent Boston Globe editorial, with reference to Romney’s speech on religious freedom from his presidential campaign.

The more obvious Mormon angle to this mosque issue actually only seems to surface in discussions among Mormons. It can be summed up by a line in a friend’s recent exasperated email, “Mormons who want to keep Muslims from constructing a place of worship ANYWHERE make me sick to my stomach.” — The point being: How could any Mormon in good conscience side with a populist movement to influence a religious group not to build on property they own? Is this not what Mormons face nearly every time we try to build a temple, and sometimes even when we try to build a chapel?

The Muslims at issue here obviously have every right to build at the Park51 location under principles of religious freedom and private property, subject to compliance with zoning ordinances. As a result the pundits who are (cynically?) trying to use this as a wedge issue during an election year are appealing to a “sensitivity” argument instead. It would be insensitive of Muslims to build a community center here because Ground Zero is a couple of blocks away. This argument is based on flawed premises, as noted below, but it ultimately boils down to a statement that building the community center at that location in Lower Manhattan is in “bad taste”. If Mormons do not stand up in support of these Muslims on this issue, what will we say the next time residents oppose the building of a Mormon chapel or temple in their neighborhood? They can argue that building it there is in bad taste and add that to often pretextual arguments about blocking views and increased traffic.

Mormons should also be able to identify the following two main flawed premises underlying the insensitivity argument. The first one, in particular, should motivate Mormons to support these Muslims as a similar argument is often aimed at Mormons:

(1) The insensitivity argument necessarily relies on a false equivalency between the Islamist extremists who perpetrated 9/11 and the Muslims who are involved in building this mosque. Absent this false equivalency, the argument does not make any sense. Would it be insensitive for a group of Sikhs to build a temple on that spot? Of course not because Sikhs did not perpetrate 9/11. Is it insensitive for these Muslims to build a community center in Lower Manhattan? Of course not because these Muslims are not affiliated with Al Qaeda or other terrorists responsible for 9/11.

This fundamentally flawed premise should motivate Mormons to stand up for the Muslims who are being scrutinized here. How often does the same public that is opposing the building of this community center employ a false equivalency between Mormons and the FLDS? Would it be insensitive for Mormons to build a chapel a few blocks away from where the FLDS committed some bad act? Of course not — as Mormons we do not view ourselves as in any way affiliated with the FLDS, so we would protest being burdened with a collective blame or guilt for something done by the FLDS.

(2) The “insensitive” argument also seems to necessarily rely on the premise that “survivors” of 9/11 are uniformly offended by Muslims unaffiliated with 9/11 building a community center in Lower Manhattan. But among the casualties of 9/11 were many Muslims. Do their survivors object uniformly to building a community center there? Also, some survivors (family members of victims) support the idea of Muslims building a community center there. So which survivors matter, those who are taking offense or those who support the proposed building? Why should the preferences of the survivors who oppose the building, if there really are any, hold sway over the preferences of survivors who support it?

[2] The aide went on to say that “The wishes of the families of the deceased and the potential for extremists to use the mosque for global recruiting and propaganda compel rejection of this site.” In a certain sense, this statement by Romney’s aide could be seen as rendering the inquiry in this post merely theoretical because Romney might feel unable to speak out in support of the Muslims now given the accusations he fielded during his presidential campaign of having changed his position on key issues.

[3] Frank Rich, How Fox Betrayed Petraeus, The New York Times, August 21, 2010 (noting that “there was zero reaction to the ‘ground zero mosque’ from the front-line right or anyone else except marginal bloggers when The Times first reported on the Park51 plans in a lengthy front-page article on Dec. 9, 2009. The sole exception came some two weeks later at Fox News, where Laura Ingraham, filling in on ‘The O’Reilly Factor,’ interviewed Daisy Khan, the wife of the project’s organizer, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Ingraham gave the plans her blessing. ‘I can’t find many people who really have a problem with it,’ she said. ‘I like what you’re trying to do.’”). Interestingly, Rich points out another way that the opposition to the community center is clearly against our interests as a people and in particular against the interests of the most hawkish among the Tea Party/Republicans:

You’d think that American hawks invested in the Afghanistan ‘surge’ [led by General Petraeus] would not act against their own professed interests. But they couldn’t stop themselves from placing cynical domestic politics over country. . . .

After 9/11, President Bush praised Islam as a religion of peace and asked for tolerance for Muslims not necessarily because he was a humanitarian or knew much about Islam but because national security demanded it. An America at war with Islam plays right into Al Qaeda’s recruitment spiel. This month’s incessant and indiscriminate orgy of Muslim-bashing is a national security disaster for that reason — Osama bin Laden’s “next video script has just written itself,” as the former F.B.I. terrorist interrogator Ali Soufan put it — but not just for that reason. America’s Muslim partners, those our troops are fighting and dying for, are collateral damage. If the cleric behind Park51 — a man who has participated in events with Condoleezza Rice and Karen Hughes, for heaven’s sake — is labeled a closet terrorist sympathizer and a Nazi by some of the loudest and most powerful conservative voices in America, which Muslims are not?

In the latest CNN poll, American opposition is at an all-time high to both the ostensibly concluded war in Iraq (69 percent) and the endless one in Afghanistan (62 percent). Now, when the very same politicians and pundits who urge infinite patience for Afghanistan slime Muslims as Nazis, they will have to explain that they are not talking about Hamid Karzai or his corrupt narco-thug government or the questionably loyal Afghan armed forces our own forces are asked to entrust with their lives. The hawks will have to make the case that American troops should make the ultimate sacrifice to build a Nazi — Afghan, I mean — nation and that economically depressed taxpayers should keep paying for it. Good luck with that.

Poor General Petraeus. Over the last week he has been ubiquitous in the major newspapers and on television as he pursues a publicity tour to pitch the war he’s inherited. But have you heard any buzz about what he had to say? Any debate? Any anything? No one was listening and no one cared. Everyone was too busy yelling about the mosque.

It is not in America’s interest to give Islamist extremists evidence that, contrary to President Bush’s assurances that America is not at war with Islam but rather only with the terrorists who perpetrated 9/11, America really does oppose Islam in general, as shown by the strong opposition to allowing Muslims to build a community center that contains a prayer room on land they own in Lower Manhattan.

[4] What, for instance, will Mormons argue next time a sizeable group of people band together in opposition to the building of a Mormon temple in their community, especially if Mormons raised their voices in opposition to the building of the community center? (In the case of Mormon politicians, they will have raised their voices in opposition to the community center out of a perceived political expediency that runs directly contrary to Hamilton’s counsel in Federalist No. 71; in the case of other Mormons as a result of wanting to go along with a sizeable minority or even majority of those they view as political allies.)

Comments

  1. You think Mitt Romney can take a principled stand about anything? I’d hope that he could. But I’m still waiting for any evidence–any at all.

    Like Stephen Prothero I expect more. But Mitt has disappointed over and over and over again.

  2. I really hope he will. I was frankly shocked when I read about his aide’s statement. In was extremely disappointing.

  3. I was more surprised by Reid’s statement.
    I guess they do what they think will bring in the votes…

  4. This whole discussion reminds me of a quote by Joseph Smith–one that I’m not able to find at the moment, but I’m going to keep looking.

    Joseph talked about how he would willingly give his life for a Mormon, but also for a Presbyterian, a Methodist, a Catholic, a Jew or a Mohammedan, because the forces that would stifle one religion by force would stifle them all.

  5. Last night’s SLC news had an interview with Orrin Hatch supporting the building based on legislation that he sponsored in 2000 the the gov’t should not block religious institutions from building on land they owned that met zoning regulations. I don’t agree with Orrin often, but I’ll admit when he gets it right.

  6. Good for Senator Hatch. He deserves huge props for taking what, in this political moment, is a courageous stand for a Republican. Someone should ask John Huntsman Jr. what he thinks about it.

    Heaven knows I’ve done more that my fair share of things to piss off other people in my life, including my coreligionists. But Mormons who want to prevent Muslims from building a place of worship anywhere just make me sick to my stomach.

  7. john,

    You think Romney has many political principles? I mean, what the hell was the “double Guantanamo” crap? Romney will ride the coattails of the Tea Party if that is what gets him to the White House. Shifting to the “left of Ted Kennedy” helped him in the 90s. Being against the cultural center keeps him competitive and does not contain short term risk to his presidential aspirations.

    (because after “more cool and sedate reflection” the people will realize that it was right to support the community center and wrong to bully or pressure the owners of the site not to build their community center there, under any pretext),

    I think Mitt Romney’s grandkids will have already gone back to heaven before that happens. This anti-Islam anger is not a “monster of the week” phenomenon. This is real. Stoked by demagogues as it is, this is just the start.

    I’m with Tim, that the more surprising (and disappointing) response was from Harry Reid.

  8. Amen.

    Re: #4

    “The Saints can testify whether I am willing to lay down my life for my brethren. If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a “Mormon,” I am bold to declare before heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves.” (HC 5:498.)

  9. re #6, Brad, I already quoted you in the third paragraph of footnote 1 in the OP!

  10. Ha! That’s what I get for glossing over the footnotes, I suppose. Well posted, Johnny.

  11. Like Rousseau, I admire Locke, even though I disagree with. Unfortunately, we are seeing that Americans…and most Mormons…are more in line with Hobbes than Locke even if they wrap their Hobbesian outlook in the image of Locke. Also,like Rousseau, I loathe Hobbes.

  12. Well put, john. I would love to see Romney—or any republican, for that matter—take the stand you are suggesting.

    Also, I will always support a post that actually engages the Federalist rather than just paraphrase the mysterious corpus of the “founders” or “framers of the constitution” we often hear about.

  13. “Like Rousseau, I admire Locke, even though I disagree with Locke.”

    Additionally, I am used to viewing classical liberals as my primary opposition. The far right is pushing us closer and closer together. This is a crazy world today.

  14. Mad props, John. Nicely done.

  15. Nice post, John. Thanks.

  16. Mitt Romney? Leadership?

  17. A better question: who will disagree with this post?

  18. Well done.

  19. A better question: who will disagree with this post?

    Oh, I’d imagine the likes of Jettboy will be along soon enough to complain about mean Muslims who won’t be more sensitive to people who hold angry and irrational prejudices toward them…

  20. Even I will not disagree with this post, Steve Evans. Republicans are missing a big opportunity to take the high road on this issue, and Romney is only one of them to do so. It reminds me of the time during the campaign when Romney positioned himself as the most anti-immigrant of the Republicans to mark his differences with McCain. A huge missed opportunity.

    There is one prominent Republican who has taken at least a neutral stand on this issue — Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, who said: “And what offends me the most about all this, is that it’s being used as a political football by both parties.”

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0810/41141.html

    It would have been nice for Romney to have said something like that.

  21. Kevin Barney says:

    Great job, John. And props to Sen. Hatch. It all seems to obvious to me that it’s painful to see good men like Sen. Reid muff it in the nam of political expediency.

  22. Please come to http://www.MittRomneyCentral.com and tell those guys what you think about this. Maybe they can get a hold of Mitt.

  23. Cynthia L. says:

    Oh wow! I love this post! Bravo, John F!

  24. Hatch’s position seems about as straightforward as Obama’s, strongly supporting the right, by side stepping the issue whether the mosque is a good thing to be built there:

    “Clearly, the proponents of the mosque have a legal and a constitutional right to build a house of worship on private property,” Hatch said. “The question in this case is whether, given the inflamed passions of the community — including those of many people who lost family members on 9/11 — building the mosque at that location is a good idea.”

    But Hatch, in his statement, sidestepped his own rhetorical question by declining to take a stand for or against the project.

    A spokeswoman Tuesday said: “Senator Hatch believes it is up to the people of New York City to make this decision, not Senator Hatch.”

    The senator’s statement went on to say that he has “always fought for religious freedom and the rights and responsibilities that go along with this trust. I just hope that any final decision will be made with the appropriate sensitivity to the surrounding community, and the sacred role this location holds in the mourning process of so many Americans.”

    In mirroring a line from fellow Republicans, Hatch added that just because someone has the “right to do something doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.”

  25. John, thank you for saying what Mormons everywhere should be saying. This is important enough an issue that I hope you’ll consider submitting this post or an adapted version to a few media outlets for publication. We need to make a public record that we as a people believe in, and will fight for, religious freedom.

  26. I don’t think it is a good idea for Muslims to build a “community center” at that particular location, but I am not going to shed any tears if they do. I also think the debate about location is a major distraction when there are much more important issues at hand, such as whether the country is going to go bankrupt.

    Insignificance of the debate notwithstanding, I think the builders want it at that location as a purposeful provocation, roughly the equivalent of a Japanese sect wanting to build a Shinto shrine next to the USS Arizona, or the LDS Church building a chapel on the site of the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

    The government of course cannot and should not do anything about it of course, with perhaps one exception. The government should not allow foreign funding of any religious or political organization from countries that do not meet high standards of political and religious freedom themselves.

  27. Perhaps the real lesson here is that the soft bigotry of high expectations in Romney purely because he is LDS is a form of vanity, the projections of one’s own values onto a mirror.

    Except that the Romney mirror, like the Obama one that progressives and gays stared at so adoringly like the Mirror of Erised, emits more than reflects some shrewd political calculation.

    I do not hold the LDS Church or members to blame — or praise — for the mavericity of Mitt Romney. That would be unfair to all three. Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have a right to politic as their pollsters judge best. We have an obligation to stop looking in the mirror with such vanity. It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to treat others fairly, based on what they say and do, and not on the color of their skin or their religious affiliation.

  28. In the spirit of #22, for anyone interested in finding useful places to recommend this excellent post and potentially stovepiping the OP’s sentiments to Mitt Central, I’d suggest dropping a comment at http://www.article6blog.com

  29. I’m sorry but the comments made here are a waste of time and effort. They are just words and most people blow it off in about 2 seconds. Put your money into it, go out and make eye contact with others if you really believe in THOSE WORDS that everybody writes in these comments. Mitt Romney does. He puts money, time, and makes eye contact to spread his message.

  30. Dan, I think you’re right in general, but your critique is not apt in this particular case. It’s not mere vanity to suggest that Mormons ought to be held to a higher standard on this issue; our history as a people (and Mitt Romney’s family history, ferhevvinssake) ought to make us particularly sensitive to this issue, and more ardent in defending the freedom to worship “how, _where_, and what they may” than most Americans.

  31. You’re right, Stan, that Brother Mitt spends a lot of time and money talking about stuff. But I can’t figure out whether he actually believes a lot of what he’s saying–I hope to God he doesn’t.

  32. Mark D.,

    Insignificance of the debate notwithstanding, I think the builders want it at that location as a purposeful provocation, roughly the equivalent of a Japanese sect wanting to build a Shinto shrine next to the USS Arizona, or the LDS Church building a chapel on the site of the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

    I think the better comparison is if the Japanese already residing in Honolulu wanted to build a meetinghouse for their religion in the community in which they reside, which just happens to be in the same area as the USS Arizona.

  33. Thos. Patrick says:

    Everyone knows, of course that Mitt Romney’s Bain Capitol owns Burlington Coat Factories. Yes?

  34. Mark D.,

    One more thing, the Japanese didn’t represent Shinto in their attack. And of course, Al-Qaeda doesn’t speak for all of Islam. Just like we don’t want people to think the murderers of Mountain Meadows Massacre speak for our faith…or do we really think they do?

  35. Bro. Jones says:

    #6 Sure, it’s nice that Sen. Hatch gave a true and honest answer here, but to paraphrase something former Rep. Merrill Cook’s son told me once, “Orrin Hatch could set fire to Temple Square and still win re-election.”

  36. Kevin Barney says:

    There is now a FB group, “Mormons Who Support a Mosque Near Ground Zero,” which currently has 145 members, including moi. Check it out.

  37. Wow, great read! I usually find Ron Paul a tad kooky, but happen to agree with him on the whole ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ issue. Not quite a Republican, he is definitely standing forward as a leader on this apparently divisive issue. See http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20014453-503544.html

  38. Supporting the Islamic Community Center would only serve to heighten the “Mormonness” of Mitt Romney. He can’t afford to do that. So instead of staying silent, or doing something more principled like O. Hatch, Romney opposes the building. Nice, Mitt.

    Any chance that Elder Oaks will weigh in on this during his upcoming constitution speech?

  39. “Any chance that Elder Oaks will weigh in on this during his upcoming constitution speech?”

    Is this a specific speech? Details?

    I wonder…I thought that the most important aspect of freedom of religion was the right to be anti-gay.

  40. Such a well thought out and well-written post John. I’m proud to call you my friend.

  41. Chris H: Elder Oaks is the keynote speaker at a U of U sponsored Constitution Day event to be held in the SL Tabernacle on Sept. 17.

    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/home/50160515-76/constitution-lds-oaks-utah.html.csp

  42. Thanks Karen!

  43. I regret seeing here where some Latter-day Saints insisting that every other good Latter-day Saint must agree with them on this issue. Such opinions are wrong. Every Latter-day Saint is free to choose for him- or herself whether to have an opinion at all, or, if having one, to favor or oppose the permitting application. I would prefer to read these persons saying something resembling, “I [favor/oppose] the mosque in that location because ___” rather than remarks resembling, “Every good Mormon must agree with me that …”. The latter is demagogery, which might be appropriate in the political realm but seems inappropriate in the religious realm.

    I accept and rejoice in our American participative processes. Even as a Latter-day Saint, I am not offended when one of our temples faces a permitting challenge. Rather, I see such as part of the process, and we work through the process as good neighbors. The muslim mosque needs to work through the process without special exceptions because of their muslim-ness.

    But please, to my fellow Latter-day Saints, please don’t let your political leanings on this matter lead you to say that every good Latter-day Saint must agree with you on this small matter.

  44. Kevin Barney says:

    BYU’s law school sponsors a group called the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. It is run by professor Cole Durham. They hold annual conferences, which are attended by key religious leaders from around the world. This is very impressive, high level stuff. The Church fully supports it, and General Authorities are involved in the hosting of these dignataries, quite a few of whom are Muslim. And the whole point of the Center is to push for freedom of religion and tolerance for religious pluralism around the globe.

    I don’t have any insider knowledge, but I’ve got to think the folks involved in this can’t be happy to see prominent Mormons speaking against the community center. That cuts exactly counter to the Center’s mission.

    Here is their website, if anyone is interested:

    http://www.iclrs.org/

  45. “This is where we need leadership from Mitt Romney. Given his background and the principles he has stated, he is the person to whom we should be able to look at this time to stand firm against this sudden breeze of passion and to pursue the right course through principled leadership.”

    I am greatly surprised some Mormons still believe in Mitt Romney. It is my opinion that he is the poster child of the exact opposite described in the above quote. Stand firm agaisnt this sudden breeze of passion? He is not characterized for standing firm on anything, he is characterized for giving in to whatever is necessary to please his supporters. This was the number one criticism (with volumes of evidence) that led to his political demise.

    I think Mormons should move on from worshiping in vain the Mitt Romney golden icon. Trust me, there is life after Mitt Romney.

  46. I am not offended when one of our temples faces a permitting challenge. Rather, I see such as part of the process, and we work through the process as good neighbors. The muslim mosque needs to work through the process without special exceptions because of their muslim-ness….please don’t let your political leanings on this matter lead you to say that every good Latter-day Saint must agree with you on this small matter.

    Muslims are no more exempt from the effects of religious bigotry than Mormons are. But to suggest that members of either group shouldn’t be offended when such transparent prejudice not only makes itself known but tries to insinuate itself into day-to-day life under the guise of “sensitivity” is mind-boggling. This is not just a procedural technicality we’re talking about, and to suggest it’s just all part of a fair and rational process totally trivializes it. Mormons shouldn’t be offended automatically if our buildings face permitting challenges; but we all should when it’s clear that the source of the challenge is reflexive anti-Mormon sentiment. And all Mormons should be deeply alarmed when the same thing happens to members of other unpopular religions.

  47. Excellent point Kevin. I am sure you are right.

  48. ji,

    If is makes you feel better, I hope to never be on the same side of any issue with you.

    Hunter,

    Thanks for the link. I look forward to reading (and likely responding to) what Elder Oaks has to say.

  49. Republicans major talking points are fear based.

  50. ji-

    What if my religious leanings and my professional experience in land use planning and real estate development lead me to think those good Latter-Day Saints who may be opposed to the mosque are also highly misguided?

    In other words, my political views don’t really inform my opinion of the debate. The politicization of this whole thing by either side has been ridiculous, in other words, par for the course.

  51. So Brad (no. 44), will you allow every other Latter-day Saint the same privilege you claim of declaring that ALL Mormons should [fill-in an opinion on the issue of the day]? I am more troubled by strident “all Mormons should” statements regarding a small political issue than I am about the mosque. As far as the mosque is concerned, the people in New York have to work it out, and I’m not one of them. But regarding the “all Mormons should” fervor, I thought the BCC community generally didn’t like it when individual members extrapolated their individual political and even religious views onto others. For some reason, this small political matter seems to be different, and so many find it so easy to say “ALL Mormons” should agree with us. I might not disagree on the mosque, but I do disagree with your assertions that ALL Latter-day Saints should agree with you on a small political matter simply because they are Latter-day Saints.

  52. Mark Brown says:

    P.J. O’Rourke wrote a book called Parliament of Whores, and the fight over this project reminds me of the last chapter of his book. He’s is conservative/libertarian, mostly libertarian I think, and lives in a smallish New Hampshire village. A developer had proposed a townhouse development somewhere in the area and the majority opposed it. The developer responded to every objection — changed the project to a different location, changed the size of it, agreed to pay for all new roads and infrastructure, agreed to set aside a certain amount of land for a trees and open spaces, agreed to comply with stipulations which went even beyond the zoning laws, etc. So, after years of negotiation and hundreds of thousands of dollars right out of the man’s pocket, there was a village meeting at which the project was voted down, not on the basis of any legal objection but simply because the majority didn’t want it. O’Rourke records how he felt leaving the meeting — he was also one of the nay votes — about exercising the naked power of majority rule, and how he felt like he had participated in something low-down and dirty. The title of the book came from that village meeting.

    It is my understanding that even the most ardent opponents of this project acknowledge that there is no legal objection — it is in compliance with every law and every zoning ordinance. At this point it is all about the ability of the majority to enforce its will, the laws be damned. Our constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, is designed to ensure that our legal rights are protected, even if the majority doesn’t like it. I would think that Mormons with any awareness of our history would be hearing alarm bells by now, loud and clear.

  53. Yep, religious toleration and freedom are small political matters. Glad we settled that.

  54. Thanks for this post, john f.

  55. #49, ji: I don’t see this as a “small political issue” in the least. The intersection of politics and religion is a tremendous issue, and this particular case is a very visible manifestation of what lies beneath the surface in regards to American sentiment toward Islam.

  56. @35 – me too!

    I can’t think of a single reason not to support this thing. Either religious freedom is for all, or the term is meaningless.

  57. Mark Brown,

    That book is awesome. If he came out with an updated version, I would assign it.

  58. I suppose I just don’t like seeing a certain viewpoint (or lack of that certain viewpoint) as a test for whether one is a good Mormon. I don’t like it when someone says every member of the ward should vote in favor of a school bond issue because we as members of the Church believe in and must support education. I don’t like it when someone says I should join the Romney camp because he is a fellow Mormon. And I don’t like it when someone says every good Mormon should support the mosque because we want everyone else to support our temples. I might do some or even all three of these, and I might even do them for these reasons — but it is unfair for other Latter-day Saints to insist that I must agree with them on these issues solely because of a false notion that “ALL Mormons should…”

  59. ji,
    The problem is that there is no legal basis for opposing the mosque. In fact, if the normal proceedings proceeded, it would be built. So the current uproar is abnormal. And there doesn’t appear to be any cause for it aside from religious prejudice. And, as an oft-persecuted minority religion, one would think that we should be sympathetic to the peaceful adherents of another oft-persecuted minority (in America) religion.

    However, as Chris H. noted, if you are down with being the victim of religious discrimination in the name of majority rule, then I guess that is cool with you.

  60. ji,

    Nobody is demanding that you agree with them. I think the post is way over your head. It is addressing core principles and not issues like that of a school bond vote.

  61. ji,

    It’s not a “small political issue.” It’s an Article of Faith. I don’t think it’s such a stretch to expect fellow Latter-day Saints to honor those.

  62. I thought the BCC community generally didn’t like it when individual members extrapolated their individual political and even religious views onto others.

    Generally speaking, yes. But this is not a “small political matter” or a definitional quibble regarding doctrine or orthopraxy or some such. For you to treat this as “small,” to reduce it to any other political or religious disagreement is asinine. I don’t even think that all good Mormons should believe that the Book of Mormon contains ancient history, much less that good Mormonness should be defined by any purely political position. But I stand by my assertion that all Mormons should oppose religious bigotry, especially when it seeks to subject members of unpopular religious minorities to the whim of majority rule. All Mormons should be ashamed of what Reid and Romney are saying about this issue.

    They should be ashamed of themselves.

  63. Manuel,

    Are you saying the Mitt is not true?

    http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com/2007/06/i-know-that-mitt-is-true/

  64. ji, the Mormon issue was actually just a footnote to this post. The main post speaks of Republican leadership based on principles articulated by Alexander Hamilton. Strictly speaking, the post has nothing to do with Mormonism. But since Mitt Romney happens to be a Mormon, the obvious Mormon angle had to be addressed, which I chose to do in a footnote to get it out of the way. Did you get past the first footnote?

  65. I think that there are lots of issues where I as a Conservative Mormon could say that you cannot be a good Mormon and believe X. If Brad and Kristine and John want to play that game I can think of lots of examples where many permabloggers at BCC hold lots of unorthodox opinions that are far more spiritually dangerous then this silly overblown mosque issue.

    I can see the irony :) can you?

  66. bbell,
    Tread lightly, my friend. Read the post as well the comments from myself, Kristine, and John very carefully before you say anything stupid…

  67. “If Brad and Kristine and John want to play that game I can think of lots of examples where many permabloggers at BCC hold lots of unorthodox opinions that are far more spiritually dangerous then this silly overblown mosque issue.”

    Good to see that ji has friends.

    Opposing the mosque is not spiritually dangerous…but it is dangerous to democracy.

  68. but it is dangerous to democracy

    Bingo. I don’t see why bbell and ji don’t see that Mormons are next after these Muslims are shouted down. If we think it’s hard to build temples or chapels right now in the neighborhoods where the people live who are trying to influence the Muslims not to build on their land through majority tyranny, let’s just wait until these Muslims are bullied into building somewhere else. If a “bad taste” argument prevails against the Muslims, it will be a no-brainer against the Mormons who are by far a more insignificant minority in this country and the world than westernized, peaceful Muslims.

  69. I’ll be more direct: none of us have said anything about worthiness or orthodoxy. I could give a rat’s ass what Romney or Reid thinks about grace versus works, the historicity of the Book of Mormon, tithing net or gross income, whatever. And I think that a good Mormon can be very, very politically conservative (as, I suspect, most good Mormons in this part of the world, in fact, are). We’re talking about where Mormons would stand if expelling Muslims from the state of Missouri suddenly became a politically acceptable thing to advocate.

  70. “We’re talking about where Mormons would stand if expelling Muslims from the state of Missouri suddenly became a politically acceptable thing to advocate.”

    I think that most Mormons would see no connection at all and they would support that expulsion.

    This is very much about whether we support toleration in principle or whether we support it when we ourselves need toleration.

  71. Mark Brown says:

    I think that there are lots of issues where I as a Conservative Mormon could say that you cannot be a good Mormon and believe X.

    No doubt. But since my bishop and the brethren don’t see it your way, the point is moot.

  72. Steve Evans says:

    bbell: “I think that there are lots of issues where I as a Conservative Mormon could say that you cannot be a good Mormon and believe X.”

    Yes, and you actually do say this, on a regular basis, both here and everywhere else you comment. It is your M.O. Rejoice in your predictability.

  73. In other words, bbell, no, there is no irony.

  74. bbell, do you disagree with Alexander Hamilton? That is the bigger question and the one that this post is about.

  75. Peter LLC says:

    Thanks for a thoughtful post, john f.

  76. Chris, sorry I regretted and then deleted my snarky comment, as well as yours following it — hope you don’t mind.

  77. Steve Evans says:

    /dogpile

  78. Email me and I will explain my comment. American Heritage humor. Rock on.

  79. I don’t think Mitt Romney should say anything at all.  But then I don’t think that Obama, or Pelosi, or Beck, or Hatch should have said anything either, it is just feeding the beast.

    I guess the problem I have with the whole thing is, considering the uproar that has occurred, there is a good chance that its existence could easily devolve into a situation where all of lower Manhattan becomes a politico-religious territorial battleground.  Any number of religious groups could decide they want their own Ground Zero presence.  It would be like a bunch poodles running around peeing in the corners, marking their territories.  Lower Manhattan becomes Jerusalem and we have our very own Church of the Holy Sepulcher situation, with Fred Phelps and Al Sharpton screaming at each other on the corner for good measure.

    In truth, I can’t see how the actual developers can’t see this  and that concerns me.  Right or wrong, the zoning issue has been superseded by the political uproar, it is what it has become.  If the Cordoba Initiative’s original purpose is to build bridges it has to be evident at this point that there is a significant chance that it will have the opposite effect.  If this is the best that moderate Muslims can do, I am afraid that things are going to get worse before they get better.

    An few asides;

    If you really wanted support the building of the mosque, send the Cordoba Initiative donations to pay for a PR team, because these people seem to have only a slightly better grasp of handling the American media than Alvin Green.

    I worked for a short period in the building one block over from the site and it may be two small blocks away from the old World Trade Center plaza, but it is really right, right there.  After the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 the truck entrance to the World Trade Center was on the opposite corner.

  80. MAC,
    Do you really believe the relationship between Muslims and the people that oppose the mosque will be better if the developers decide to build elsewhere?

    If the developers back down, the opponents of the Mosque will see this is a victory against the Muslims. Palin and co. will brag about how they defeated the evil forces of Islam. They may even use those exact same words–especially Gingrich. I don’t think backing down at this point (or, for that matter, at any point) will help the bridge-building process. It may even make things worse.

    As far as a PR team goes, it’s hard to compete against FOX News and company, especially when they’re joined by much of the supposedly liberal media.

    As far as closeness goes, at least four other houses of worship sit just one block from Ground Zero, including two Catholic churches, a Greek Orthodox church, and a synagogue. And of course a strip club is “really right, right there” too…

  81. Well, if you can’t expect even a bona fide “Mormon hero” to get it right, what more can you expect of poor Mitt?

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2009/12/21/mormon-hero/

  82. Adam Ellsworth says:

    Assuming the aide accurately represented Mitt’s feelings, I respect his opinion and assume it was his own, and not based on a political need to please the people. Based on these assumptions, if Mitt spoke out in support of construction of the mosque, he’d be lying and pandering to the mosque supporters.

    I suspect he feels, like many others, that the building-developer’s freedom of religion is intact, since the State has done nothing to stop construction of the mosque, and that other Americans’ freedom of expression is intact in loudly expressing their opposition to the mosque.

    I suspect he feels that opposing a mosque near GZ is not similar to opposing building of Mormon buildings due to concern about traffic, noise, or even religious bigotry.

    With respect to the “sensitivity” arguments presented, I understand #1 and disagree with #2.

    I believe that there are some who are opposing the mosque because they oppose Islam. I have no way to quantify how many or what percentage of opponents are bigoted against Islam, generally. I do not believe you have to equate the mosque-builders to terrorists to oppose the mosque.

    The 9/11 terrorists were Muslim extremists who destroyed the trade towers of the WTC in the name of Islam. Therefore, it is considered by 60+% of the country to be insensitive of Muslims to build a large mosque very close to GZ, even if the mosque developers are not themselves murderous extremists. It’s associating, not equating. I don’t think it’s wrong to associate the two groups because they share a religion or to oppose the mosque for this reason, even though I believe it is better to support building of the mosque, since it shows more tolerance.

    But I have been continually frustrated by bloggers’, in particular Mormon bloggers, apparent inability to understand the non-bigoted motives of others on this issue, even if they disagree with those motives. I suppose I have no reason to expect any better, but I do.

  83. I’m willing to let them build their silly little mosque for their heathen religion so that they can froth at the mouth over American wickedness just blocks from where fanatical heathens destroyed one of its most prominent symbols of human progress. I’m also willing to let them build a silly little mosque for their heathen religion near those Buddhas that sharia-lovers destroyed. Frankly, I don’t care where those wicked little heathens worship their phony, perverted diety, just as long as they don’t begrudge us our rights to dance in the streets and hand out candy every time one of those blessed Israeli missiles lands in Lebanon or Gaza, or very time one of our God-sent, off-course American drones accidentally slaughters a heathen wedding party. (I think the time is ripe to dig up the tapes of Muslims all over the world dancing in the streets and handing out candy on 9/11)

  84. We can start the party. DKL’s here.

  85. Steve Evans says:

    What kind of candy?

  86. Adam (82),
    I understand your frustration, and I don’t think that all motives for those opposed to the mosque-building are bigoted. What continually frustrates me is the unwillingness of opponents to suggest an appropriate distance, or explain how many of the other structures located there are “appropriate” instead. If the ground is sacred or holy, why is a strip club allowed? If it’s only sacred or holy in relation to Muslim buildings, then that gets itchy-close to being definitionally bigotry.

    If no one is willing to take a leadership stance and make a determination of what constitutes “too close” to Ground Zero, then I will continue to see this as nothing more than an example of levering the memory of the dead to advance a political ideology.

  87. Adam, what’s your view when the media equates the FLDS with Mormons? Is it a similar instance of legitimate association?

  88. John Mansfield says:

    Tim, the Mohammed Atta Fan Club portion of the Muslim world can think whatever they want if the mosque is built, and has-been Republican media personalities can think whatever they want if the developers can’t pull it together.

  89. kandy

  90. Mark Brown says:

    Adam, in the absence of any good reasons to oppose it — and I notice that you didn’t offer any, either — bigotry and paranoia are about the only reasons left.

    The original post dealt very handily with all of the objections I have heard. What it boils down to now is that people just want to continue to be their potty little selves without being called on it.

  91. “If the Cordoba Initiative’s original purpose is to build bridges it has to be evident at this point that there is a significant chance that it will have the opposite effect.”

    That reflects very poorly on the Country, not on the people desiring to build the Center. As has been noted, this was a perfectly acceptable issue until certain special interests wanted to make it a political issue.

  92. Adam Ellsworth says:

    Scott B. –

    “What continually frustrates me is the unwillingness of opponents to suggest an appropriate distance, or explain how many of the other structures located there are “appropriate” instead.”

    Really? Is that really frustrating to you? Although as I said before, I don’t oppose the mosque, if that really were a concern of a mosque-developer I would urge them to use judgment. Maybe two blocks away would be appropriate for a smaller mosque and ten blocks away for a mega-mosque. Get feedback. Find out.

    I heard one person describe the area as “sacred,” but never “holy,” and I wouldn’t describe it as either. However, it is unique, and it’s uniqueness is specifically related to Islam, so it’s not unusual that the opposition is related to Islam and not to strippers. If it had been terrorist strippers, we may be having a different discussion.

    John F #87: “what’s your view when the media equates the FLDS with Mormons? Is it a similar instance of legitimate association?”
    In general, no, it is not a similar instance of legitimate association.
    But if FLDS terrorists took down the Sears towers and Chicagoans opposed the construction of an LDS temple nearby, I would at least understand the association, and I wouldn’t assume the opposition was based on bigotry to the LDS church based in SLC.

  93. Do you really believe the relationship between Muslims and the people that oppose the mosque will be better if the developers decide to build elsewhere?

    No, I don’t. But I do believe that it could get worse if they do build it there.

    the opponents of the Mosque will see this is a victory against the Muslim

    And the inverse if it is built, see here.

    I am not arguing for or against development of the mosque, just that the actual developers have failed to effectively deal with the fact that the dynamic around the project has changed. Considering the current state of the debate, I really doubt that mosque will be able to effectively serve its stated purpose or at least not for many years to come.

    Consider the two outcomes, 1) the mosque is built and becomes a magnet for every unbalanced political hack and a place where Muslims prefer not to walk near for having to defend it to their coworkers. 2) Developers take the high road and accept an alternative site in the area and all the Glenn Becks of the world are made to look like bigoted bullies and every worshiper at the mosque can feel free to know that their worship does not have to be interpreted through the political filter of anyone who has an opinion, pro or con about the “Ground Zero” mosque.  The Cordoba Initiative wins by losing.

    I think the second solution is self-evident enough that it begs the question why haven’t the developers jumped on it? They get their mosque AND a huge amount of goodwill capital that they could spend any number of ways.

  94. I would at least understand the association, and I wouldn’t assume the opposition was based on bigotry to the LDS church based in SLC.

    Huh. I would fight it and insist that Mormons aren’t FLDS and insist that we Mormons have a right to build a temple on the property we own as long as we are in compliance with zoning ordinances and any variances that have been granted. In doing so, I would expect all Americans and especially all Republicans to stand behind me on principle. Unfortunately, most of those opposing the building of a Mormon temple would probably be Republicans, wouldn’t they?

  95. By the way, did we go back to calling it a mosque? Where did that start? Was it with Adam’s comment?

    As a reminder, it’s a multi-purpose community center with a long list of functions (jjohnson has a list over at M*, I think, or maybe it was on Kent’s T&S thread) as well as a prayer room that, I understand, in proportion to the rest of the project is quite small.

    Park51 Islamic Community Center might be a more accurate description for this building than “Ground Zero Mosque” since it is neither at Ground Zero nor a mosque.

  96. Well, DKL surely wins the Miss Sensitivity prize. But why the hell can’t he spell “deity”?

  97. Adam Ellsworth says:

    john f #94:
    “In doing so, I would expect all Americans and especially all Republicans to stand behind me on principle.”
    There’s nothing wrong with standing for a principle. But there’s a competing principle that sometimes doing the right thing is being a peacemaker, even if it means giving up something you have a right to do. In my Chicago hypothetical, I would favor being a peacemaker (as I see it) and you would favor standing up for your rights. I believe both are valid avenues, and it is up to us to use our judgment when one principle should win out over the other.

  98. “the dynamic around the project has changed”

    So, a bunch of loud-mouth bullies raise a ruckus, and the objects of that ruckus have to move to keep the peace. Maybe we could get one of the FMHers to come over and explain how this is different from “she dressed provocatively and therefore deserved it.”

  99. Has the Church ever backed down and not built a temple in the United States (in the last 50 years) based on community objection to locating a temple there? My sense is that the Church works to address any (potentially pretextual) aesthetic or suitability concerns (e.g. blocking views or traffic) but never says, “Oh, the neighbors are baptists and don’t like Mormons and don’t want us there so we will fold up and build somewhere else.” I might not be aware of these instances though.

  100. Steve Evans says:

    John, yes, it’s happened, but predominantly those objections are voiced via zoning commissions.

  101. The Church stood its ground in Dallas.

  102. John, if Muslim “moderates” denounced Muslim extremists as vehemently and as vociferously as the LDS denounce the FLDS (I’d go so far as to say that LDS members express strong, or even extreme, feelings of repugnance of the FLDS), then your fantasy that equates Muslim “moderates” with Mormon might hold a drop of water, but not much more, mind you.

    Here’s the deal: When racism come up, people who aren’t willing to unequivocally reject it immediately suspect. If you hear a person equivocate about racism, then they immediately lose credibility — and that’s the way that it should be. But when “moderate” Muslims equivocate when talking about the evils of Islamic extremists and terrorists, we tell stupid stories about how they’re trying to reach out. That’s bullshit. Islamic extremists are anti-gay and anti-woman in ways that make even the most backward American viewpoints look progressive. They are against freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press. They pray to a false god who teaches love of evil and a hatred for everything that is good in this world. Nobody on earth deserves less respect, less tolerance, and less engagement than Islamic extremists. Not skinheads. Not child molesters. Not serial killers. People who aren’t willing to say otherwise should be marginalized, and we must lose no opportunity to say so.

  103. john f, I call it the “Ground Zero Mosque” because that’s what Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has called it in his fundraising literature. You object to Americans calling it that because you’re an idiot.

  104. Backing down? Yes–in Harrison, NY, where neighbors’ objections had resulted in the temple’s size being reduced to about a double wide with a steeple, and they still continued their crabbing, the church basically said ‘to hell with them” and abandoned plans to build on that property and built the Manhattan Temple instead.

  105. I venture to guess that if this center was proposed to be built two miles away from the WTC complaints about the location would be minimal to non-existent.

    I don’t think many people care about the siting of this center because it is Muslim at any rate, but rather because it being built by Muslims that refuse to condemn Hamas and are dedicated to the same political objectives that motivated the 9/11 attacks, namely Islamic supremacy, the end of secularism in government, and the imposition of sharia law throughout the world. Of course complaints about the location are more or less a sideshow to any serious discussion about the implications of that.

  106. MAC, those two outcomes are the only possible ones? Either the community center is built and becomes a magnet for bad, even criminal, behavior, or else the Muslims surrender and go elsewhere?

    You can’t see a possible outcome where the building is built and people behave civilly afterward? Or even where the furor is forgotten by all but the most unbalanced, as the manipulative political forces of the American right find some other issue to press? You honestly can’t imagine the possibility that Americans will come to their senses and behave like Americans again?

  107. Steve Evans says:

    Easy David! We’re all friends here.

  108. I agree with everything that Ardis said except that last sentence which suggests that “com[ing] to their senses” and “behav[ing] like Americans” are somehow related to each other.

  109. Mark Brown says:

    the end of secularism in government

    That is also the stated objective of Beck, Palin, et. al.

  110. very true Mark Brown

  111. @102, Islam is not a centralized religion. There are thousands of culturally “different” kinds of Muslims, just as there are many, many different moderate Muslim voices. Given your disdain of Islam, I’m assuming that you don’t have many sincere conversations with Muslims about their beliefs, or about their feelings about extremists. Fine, you have the right to your xenophobia, just as I have a right to my opinions. However, when you start painting all Muslims with the same brush, it just betrays a basic misunderstanding of the Islamic world. I find that kind of assumption to be unhelpful in a conversation of this sort.

  112. Is DKL joking? I can’t tell.

  113. That is also the stated objective of Beck, Palin, et. al.

    Sources, please? Do you mean to suggest that Beck and Palin propose to (for example) establish a state church? Or special laws that apply to adherents of one religion but not another? Or religious courts with binding authority to enforce those laws?

  114. Mark Brown says:

    Mark D., secular humanism is the bugbear of many conservatives.

  115. Of course we’re all friends here Steve, ji and bbell can certainly testify of that.

  116. They pray to a false god who teaches love of evil and a hatred for everything that is good in this world.

    That is a bit over the top, don’t you think? That is like saying that God is a false God. Or that Mormons worship a different Jesus. To say nothing of the suggestion that Islamic theology is intrinsically evil from beginning to end.

  117. I really don’t get why people have to be at odds with each other over this. I think most people seem to agree they have a legal right to build it. So they can build it if they get the funds legally and follow the appropriate rules.

    We may disagree about it being in good taste or not, or even some people thinking it being nefarious. But why argue about that? Just to argue over someone elses intentions? Until mosques are outlawed, they can build it. And mosques will never be outlawed, nor should they be.

    So all the arguing seems to be just to contend over an issue to create disunity.

    I’ll introduce my pet theory, but I don’t really care one way or another. This issue was brought up awhile back on Fox News no less, as has been mentioned before, but no progress was made in the construction. Unless I’m mistaken that was a year ago. Now all of the sudden its ginning up controversy and people are quick to blame Fox News. It could be it was just a slow news day, so someone reached back a year ago for something inflammatory. But I would think it equally likely the hailstorm of debate and attention would also serve to galvanize many wealthy muslims around the world and would actually help fund this thing. I wouldn’t be the least surprised if the people trying to get funding for the mosque were content to let the rest of the world gin up some attention for it, so they can get funding from wealthy backers.

    But whatever the case, that doesn’t really matter. It’s creating disunity among us, and that’s never good. But especially in a case like this were just about everyone agrees they have a right to build it, I don’t get why we’d want to work up such strong feelings over an issue we can’t change and drive away the spirit in the process.

  118. No, Mark D. Because the antecedent of “They” in that sentence is “Islamic extremists.” I don’t merely suggest that the theology of Islamic extremism is evil from beginning to end. I insist that the theology of Islamic extremism is evil from beginning to end.

    Steve, I’m happy to be friends with idiots. But john f has gone off half-cocked here as though he has an educated opinion on the topic. Being ignorant about something is OK, because it’s not fair to expect people to know everything about every topic. But to moralize from your own ignorance is idiocy, and my saying so isn’t nearly as bad as such moralizing.

  119. Has the Church ever backed down and not built a temple in the United States (in the last 50 years) based on community objection to locating a temple there?

    Yes

    http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/harrison/

  120. Mark Brown, Many conservatives are indeed deeply hostile to secular humanism. American style conservatives however who don’t believe in freedom of the press or of religion are borderline non-existent. One would have a hard time finding an American style conservative who would dissent from the principles enumerated in D&C 134 for example, where Islam in America is controversial primarily to the degree that it does.

  121. re # 119, that’s good because we’ll be doing it a lot more in the future if this effort to get the Muslims not to build their mosque there succeeds.

    DKL, I agree with you pretty much on your description of Islamic extremists (with Mark D.’s caveat that I won’t go so far as to say God is a false God or that Mormons worship a different Jesus just because that is what American Evangelicals think and preach), which is why the false equivalency point is so important. Only a small fraction of the world’s Muslims fall into the camp of Islamic extremists. We can’t paint all Muslims with that brush just because they both adhere to Islam. I do not think there is evidence justifying categorizing Rauf or other Muslims involved here as Islamic extremists.

  122. For a long time I have represented the Church on the Utah Valley Ministerial Association, developing wonderful relationships with those of other spiritual traditions. My work on this was in direct response to the plea from President Gordon B. Hinckley who sought for our members to build bridges of understanding with our neighbors of other faiths. Several years ago, I organized and conducted a large Provo fireside that featured men and women ecclesiastical leaders from other faiths. In particular, I was honored to hear from an Islamic faith leader who articulated his beliefs in Islam. Many Mormons attending the event were amazed to learn of similar perspectives which parallel their own faith.

    Now Mitt Romney opposes our Muslim brothers and sisters on the new center to be established near Ground Zero. This clearly is a sad situation. It’s un-American, illegal, and un-Mormon, as well. When he gets through his future political schemes, perhaps he will make time to read about Mormon history and the inclusive teachings of modern prophets and other Church leaders. Maybe he is aware of what he is doing, maybe not. But unfortunately he’s so busy aligning himself with extremists like Beck and Limbaugh, he can’t step back and consider his own religious precepts and true American values. I’m grateful I belong to a Church that has learned to partner with Islam, not attack it. I’m grateful to belong to a country which values its constitution, rather than praise it only when it fits the right-wing agenda and little minds of Tea Partiers.

  123. Steve Evans says:

    KLC, touche. And they say the internet has no memory!

  124. KLC, are you calling bbell and ji idiots? Cause I won’t stand for that.

  125. DKL, I don’t think that the theology of Islamic extremists (even of the terrorist sort) is evil from beginning to end. A fairer comparison is to those 16th century Christians who believed that killing opponents was doing God service.

  126. John Mansfield says:

    Since there was a request for this sort of thing:

    On Wednesday, January 28, 2009, Church officials announced that construction would no longer be pursued at the originally selected site adjacent to the institute building at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras and across from the Catholic Our Lady of Suyapa Basilica in eastern Tegucigalpa. Construction of the temple was halted shortly after excavation for the foundation in September 2007 when opposition was met from Tegucigalpa City officials and citizens, who felt the temple would overshadow and block the view of the iconic basilica. Despite months of negotiations, the Church did not succeed in obtaining a response of approval from the mayorship. Out of respect for the City officials’ feelings and to avoid the perception of any rivalry with the Catholic Church, Church officials made the decision to relocate the temple.

    http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/tegucigalpa/

  127. Somebody needs to put the bottle down and step away from the keyboard.

  128. SlagGlass says:

    Mark B.

    “the dynamic around the project has changed”

    So, a bunch of loud-mouth bullies raise a ruckus, and the objects of that ruckus have to move to keep the peace. Maybe we could get one of the FMHers to come over and explain how this is different from “she dressed provocatively and therefore deserved it.”

    If this afternoon a video of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf surfaced on Youtube, with him telling a US hostile audience that, in fact, the project was an act of fitna, an intentional affront to victims of 9/11, would the dynamic change?

  129. That’s too bad about Mexico but I asked about the United States only. I am interested in the space relevant to our Federal Constitution and the body of law, tradition and custom that prevails in the Union.

  130. Only a small fraction of the world’s Muslims fall into the camp of Islamic extremists…I do not think there is evidence justifying categorizing Rauf or other Muslims involved here as Islamic extremists.

    It depends on what you mean by “extremist”. If you mean “willing to engage in violence for religious ends”, absolutely. If you mean “willing to cheer on those who engage in violence for religious ends”, the fraction is regrettably far more than small. Likewise if you mean “willing to up end the rights and liberties that allow multiple religions and religious denominations to exist in peace”.

    Imam Rauf is controversial precisely because he falls into the third category, and appears dangerously close to falling into the second. In the American context I consider all three to be forms of religious extremism. Not too many Christians out there who want to nullify or repeal the First Amendment.

  131. #98–
    “Bullies” is right. I think that’s what annoys me most of all about all of this. Powerful political pundits ganging up on a minority and misunderstood religion, looking very much like 14-year-old jocks bullying the poor (insert Muslim, Mormon, or any other potentially unpopular title) kid.

    Of course, the fact that Palin’s a bully should be evident by the nickname she earned in high school, “Sarah Barracuda.”
    There’s no doubt about what kind of animal a barracuda is…

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1291690/Koral-Wira-needs-51-stitches-barracuda-savages-arm.html

  132. Adam (92),

    Really? Is that really frustrating to you? Although as I said before, I don’t oppose the mosque, if that really were a concern of a mosque-developer I would urge them to use judgment. Maybe two blocks away would be appropriate for a smaller mosque and ten blocks away for a mega-mosque. Get feedback. Find out.

    Yes, it’s frustrating for me, because I’m not a fan of listening to people gripe and complain unless they bring solutions to the table. The offense is not “building a Muslim structure” but seems to be (or is claimed to be, anyway) merely “building a Muslim structure too close to Point X.”

    You say, “Find out” and offer 2 blocks and 10 blocks, and I accept that solution. Now, let’s go into the camp of all those who oppose building the structure and see if 2 blocks is acceptable by a majority (or even a sizable proportion). I’m no seer, but I have a feeling that 2 blocks will be insufficient.

    Re holy/sacred–I used those two words to convey the idea that has been expressed all over the interwebs that Ground Zero is hallowed ground, or special ground, or different ground, or whatever you want to call it–the idea that builders and property owners should think differently about their plans within some distance of the area. However, when one accepts certain kinds of establishments in that circumference, and not others, an explanation is required.

  133. I actually am OK with the mosque as I stated in the last post on this topic on BCC. Somehow y’all are assuming that I am opposed. If it turns out that the Imam is getting funds from terrorists or has terrorist links I could change my mind to oppose the mosque. But for now I pretty much think that there is reason to compare this issue to our struggles to get temples and buildings built.

    My objection is somehow using this minor mosque issue to define who a “good Mormon is”. See #61 for example.

    When I think of ways to define who is practicing mormonism I generally think we should stop and start with the TR questions. Not a zoning issue in NYC

  134. john f, the argument isn’t over the moral indigence of Islamic extremism. My point is that every “moderate” Muslims of national or international stature that I’ve heard speak about the issue equivocates when discussing Islamic extremism. That’s why they aren’t credible. That’s why Americans distrust Muslims much more now that immediately following the 9/11 attacks (here’s the source for that), because Americans have been underwhelmed by what they’ve heard from Islamic “moderates” and because they find it uncomfortable to stair into the void of silence that fills the air when the topic of bedrock civil liberties arises around Muslim spokespeople. No matter what else he does, the continued equivocation by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf on issues relating to Islamic extremism means that he is not a credible American religious leader.

    Tim, When you call someone a bully means that she targets people who aren’t her equal to make unfair demonstrations of strength. You’re being incoherent when you say that Palin’s a total idiot and a bully at the same time. But kudos to you for mindless reciting talking points without regard to their cogency. Thinking for oneself is overrated.

  135. Mark Brown says:

    It is interesting to me that Mormons who grandparents and great-grandparents swore an oath of vengeance against the U.S.A. as part of their temple experience now think they are entitled to question the loyalty of Muslims.

  136. Mark Brown, that runs afoul of something called the genetic fallacy. But I understand. I feel the same way about the fact that Mormons are upset by the banking crisis caused by mortgage-backed securities. Given the church’s history with unchartered land banks, Mormons should know better.

  137. Mark Brown says:

    DKL, you know exactly what I mean. We were allowed to build and use temples even though people had good reason to wonder about our loyalty.

  138. Thomas Parkin says:
  139. Mark Brown, I know exactly what you mean: because of what our great-grandparents did, we are exactly the same as Muslims who do what our great-grandparents did. Good thinking.

  140. John Mansfield says:

    “We were allowed to build and use temples even though people had good reason to wonder about our loyalty.”

    What in the name of Nauvoo and Far West are you talking about being allowed to build and use temples?

  141. “You can’t see a possible outcome where the building is built and people behave civilly afterward? Or even where the furor is forgotten by all but the most unbalanced, as the manipulative political forces of the American right find some other issue to press? You honestly can’t imagine the possibility that Americans will come to their senses and behave like Americans again?”

    I don’t think we have to wait for it to be built for people to start acting civilly again (or as civil as we all were before, I’m not expecting miracles). All we have to do is wait for the midterm elections to be over. The Right will no longer need the it as a focus, and only a small vocal group will keep pressing the issue.

  142. Mark Brown says:

    Bad guess, DKL. Guess again.

    Mansfield, that practice in our temples wasn’t discontinued until the 1920s.

  143. Thomas Parkin says:

    “only a small vocal group will keep pressing the issue.”

    Even they could be satisfied with a couple games of basketball down at the Muslim Cultural Center. Of course, in order to get them in the door you might have to lobotomize that part of their noodle containing the xenophobia.

  144. Mark Brown says:

    Thomas, I think they only give out lobotomies one to a customer and many of those folks act like they have already been served.

  145. John Mansfield says:

    Mark, well, it just shows that if you want to be un-American and build your religious buildings, you need to keep it hush-hush. In Talmage’s House of the Lord (p. 100 of the 1912 PDF I’m looking at), it says “In every detail the endowment ceremony contributes to convenants of morality of life, consecration of person to high ideals, devoltion to truth, patriotism to nation, and allegiance to God.” I really don’t know what you are talking about, but it must have been a patriotic sort of vengeance against the nation.

  146. Mark Brown says:

    Oath of Vengeance, John. Google is your friend.

    We did it up until 1927.

  147. You all have to remember that DKL is the blogging equivalent of a pro-wrestler. Seriously, he takes off his shirt to write comments and as he types he reads them out loud in a shouting Chris Farley voice. After he clicks “send” he punches himself in the face 14 times and snaps into a Slimjim just to calm himself down.

    I can’t believe the extent to which otherwise (apparently) intelligent folks are willing to imbibe the angry-Palin Koolaid as regards Rauf. This is the man who gave the eulogy at Daniel Pearl’s funeral. He is a westernized, Sufi Muslim—the most hated and oft-attacked kind of Muslim for Islamist extremists. He was considered an ambassador of moderate Islam by all parties involved, Republican and Democrat, at the highest possible levels, until a few cynical opportunists decided to leverage this story into an election year windfall at the expense of American pluralism and religious toleration.

    If the area around ground zero in Oklahoma City were populated predominantly by African-Americans; if the bombing were carried out by the Lafferty brothers; if the majority (though not all) of the victims of the bombing were African-Americans; and if the local (mostly) Black residents and hundreds of thousands of their (mostly Black) allies around the country were angrily protesting building a multi-purpose LDS Institute building (with a dedicated place for weekly worship); and if said opponents cited the unwillingness of the Institute director or other local Mormon leaders to forcefully renounce all past and present racist doctrines and the people who spoke them—if all this were true, it wouldn’t just be Mormons up in arms. Palin would be twitterring incoherently and Gingrich would be bombasting eloquently about reverse racism and how horribly intolerant the Blacks with their Black churches are.

    It’s wrong to oppose the Cordoba project because of paranoid religious prejudice (even if it is rooted in ignorance); it’s wrong to oppose it out of “sensitivity” to the ignorant and paranoid prejudices of others; it’s wrong to oppose it in deference to those (whatever their polling percentage) who favor being sensitive to religious bigotry.

    At least DKL has the cajones to say what he really thinks (even if he does type his comments wearing stretchy pants). Mormons who try to rationalize opposition to the building project in the name of some twisted form of “common decency” just completely baffle me.

  148. Oaths of alternate loyalty were an important issue at the Smoot hearings (which I like to refer to as our own “Cordoba moment”).

  149. Adam Ellsworth says:

    #146 – “Mormons who try to rationalize opposition to the building project in the name of some twisted form of “common decency” just completely baffle me.”

    And Mormons who cannot understand what is generally considered (at least by most Americans) common decency completely baffle me. I enjoy some healthy disagreement, but some people just cannot fathom that another person could oppose a mosque based on anything other than religious bigotry.

  150. some people just cannot fathom that another person could oppose a mosque based on anything other than religious bigotry.

    Seriously. Did you read that one out loud before you hit send? Unbelievable…

  151. hehe

  152. I can imagine opposing a mosque based on criteria other than religious bigotry – for example a mosque on my street would be a traffic nightmare on worship days. But the reasons articulated for opposing this mosque are not such garden-variety zoning concerns.

  153. Was there ever a time when “most Americans” considered disincorporating the LDS Church or preventing Mormons from holding public office common decency? I couldn’t care less how many people think it’s decent to oppose this. Decency isn’t majority rule. Mormons should be especially “sensitive” to that fact.

  154. not gonna happen… this isn’t a constitutional rights issue… this isn’t a property rights issue… this isn’t a religious rights issue…

    this is a ‘why be so insensitive’ issue, and there is no advantage – moral or otherwise – for Mitt to wade into those waters.

    all IMO of course

  155. Sorry to break it to you, John F., but Tegucigalpa is not in Mexico–in fact, it’s the capital of Honduras. The reference in that article John Mansfield quoted to “Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras” was a hint for those who, like me, can’t even say Tegucigalpa.

    And, adding to the Harrison, NY, temple, didn’t the Nashville Temple end up getting moved to a different site?

  156. Brad, I got a good laugh out of the image of DKL/pro wrestler comparison.

    I will say as a relatively neutral observer on this issue that the whole “beating up the enemy who dares to disagree with you” thing is a bit problematic on this thread and many others. Don’t you think it’s a bit self-righteous to think there is only one “correct” position on this issue? What would you say to someone who thought there was only one “correct” position on say, social justice, which is basically what Glenn Beck says day in and day out?

    As a reminder, I have spoken out here and in many other places in support of the mosque/community center in southern Manhattan, and I will continue to do so.

  157. I favor a mosque on Ground Zero, because the USA needs high-profile symbols of Islamic civilization so that there are places where Christian hijackers can land their planes.

  158. Mark Brown says:

    Palin would be twitterring incoherently and Gingrich would be bombasting eloquently…..

    Yeah, nothing ever changes.

  159. Oh, Mark. I’ve seen plenty of LDS building sites relocated in my time. Serving a mission in Russia renders that kind of frustration commonplace. Of course Russian officials and local residents manage to channel their rather flagrant anti-Mormonism/-Americanism into some zoning violation involving foreign property owners.

  160. Brad, this isn’t professional wrestling, I’m not pretending, and this isn’t just for show. I actually am right. I actually am outwitting, out-argueing, and outsmarting everybody here.

    And in professional wresting, the losers don’t whine about how they got hit on the noggin with a chair.

  161. Mark Brown says:

    LOL!

  162. Don’t you think it’s a bit self-righteous to think there is only one “correct” position on this issue?

    On most issues I’d firmly agree with you (as I noted in my comment #69). But there are issues that move more in the direction of moral absolutes, particularly for members of an unpopular religious minority (Mormons) in a free, democratic, pluralistic society. Whether a person’s opposition to Cordoba is rooted in flagrant, unapologetic bigotry, in hapless ignorance, or in an impulse to express sensitivity to either of the former (or to the number of Americans who favor such sensitivity to prejudice)—it all comes from and leads to the same place. An America where unpopular religious groups are less secure than they should be.

  163. I heart DKL.

  164. Mark Brown says:

    I do too, especially when he agrees with Harry Reid.

  165. DKL,
    Do you really think Christian hijackers would bother stopping off in Manhattan en route to Temple Square?

  166. Brad, just to be clear: I agree with you that this is a central test of one’s true understanding of the First Amendment, which was not created to protect popular speech and popular religions but was created exactly for these circumstances, ie to protect minority religions when the mob is against them. One of the clear lessons from Mormon history is that when the mob gets fired up the first thing they do is go after people’s rights of free association and religion. Mormons should be the first people to go to the defense of other religious people being shouted down because of their beliefs, and this is what BCC is doing here, and three cheers for John F and the people here for doing so.

    I just think there’s a difference from stating that position (which people have eloquently done here) and ganging up on people who disagree with you, which is just a bit unseemly. But I will shut up now.

  167. Really not trying to gang up on you, Geoff. Your participation here is honestly appreciated. The only person who really got dogpiled was bbell, but that was not for expressing opposition to the substance of the post.

  168. I was really referring to comments by ji and bbell. I have no concerns personally. There is a fine line between disagreeing with somebody and “ganging up,” and it just seemed a bit like the latter to me, but I will shut up now, as I say. By the way, my guess is DKL likes it when you gang up on him. Kind of like Hulk Hogan taking on the world.

  169. DKL is nothing like Hulk Hogan. He’s more like Stone Cold Steve Austin.

  170. Ron Burgandy says:

    Geoff B.,

    I will fight you.

  171. Sarah Palin says:

    Shut up, Ron! I refudiate you!

  172. I think it is good that self-righteousness is limited to BCC and not found on any other MA blogs.

    “What would you say to someone who thought there was only one “correct” position on say, social justice, which is basically what Glenn Beck says day in and day out?”

    I usually just think to myself “What would the liberal-verson of DKL do in this situation?” It is the bloggernacle imperative.

  173. I’m thinking he’s a bit more old school than that, MCQ. Randy Savage, perhaps?

  174. You guys lay out an amusing smackdown, I gotta say.

    One interjection regarding the “equivocation” issue which was brought up before. There really does seem to be a loyalty or sympathy amongst Muslims whenever non-Muslims are involved. I remember a news report where Egyptians university students were reminiscing about the 9/11 attacks a year after the fact, and while they all categorically condemned the terrorists, they all admitted to a certain satisfaction that the little guys (them) managed to slug the bully USA. One even said it was good to see a Muslim get even. It seems like every imam I’ve heard interviewed does the same thing — terrorists are bad, BUT…. They’ve got to stop with the BUT part, and mean it.

    It’s precisely that reason I think the mosque should be built. Muslims have got to have an opportunity to self-identify as Americans, or else in the back of their minds, they’ll continue to identify with the terrorists.

  175. Nice thoughts, Martin. I think the equivocation phenomenon is a pretty common in situations with strong in-group/out-group dynamics. Even on things that I’m personally very critical of some Mormons for (past racism, Prop 8, all-male hierarchy, to name a few), I always find myself equivocating when outsiders condemn Mormons for the same things. I always try to inject a measure of complexity and compassion into the conversation, even (maybe especially) with things like Mountain Meadows. But that hardly means that I share a worldview with Brigham Young, John D. Lee, or Mark E. Petersen. Nevertheless, they are my people.

  176. Martin, the “but” factor bothers me as well, but the problem is that the more I’ve looked into it the less spotless the US looks. Not that I am advocating terrorism or justifying such extreme violence, but that it put it into sharper perspective for me.

  177. How about A Mountain Meadows Temple???

  178. Yep, that Mountain Meadows response is not getting old at all.

  179. If there were a large metropolitan area around the site of the MM massacre, it would be like the Church trying to build an Institute building (which includes rooms for conducting Sunday services) within a couple blocks of the monument. It strains analogy a bit because the attack happened at some remove from any settlement, let alone town or city, but I’ll bet you a dollar that you can’t walk 2 blocks from the spot where the conspiracy was hatched without running into an LDS meetinghouse.

  180. Mountain Meadow is in present-day Washington County, Utah. How far is it from St. George?

  181. BHodges, I know what you’re saying, but if you intend to be a citizen of the US, then you’ve got to fix the US from the inside. Using that “BUT” automatically puts you on the other side, and it’s indicative of where your personal loyalties lie. There’s a big difference between saying “terrorism is bad, BUT the US is creating them from its policies” and saying “terrorism is bad. We’ve got to establish US policy such that terrorists don’t find such ready recruits”. The two statements might mean exactly the same thing, but the self-identification is different. It’s not just a way of talking — it’s a way of thinking.

  182. It’s closer to Cedar City, I think, home of the Utah Shakespearean Festival.

    I wonder if prominent Mormons ever “equivocated” about MMM during the years and decades that followed…

  183. The two statements might mean exactly the same thing, but the self-identification is different.

    Unless you’re, you know, a prominent, high paid Conservative speechifier and bank on angrily telling people that they are, on all levels, exactly the same thing.

  184. Brad, you must be joking. DKL is not nearly manly enough to be compared to the Macho Man, the greatest wrestling champion of all time.

    But, I grant you, his wife does bear a striking resemblance to Miss Elizabeth, and their relationship dynamic is very similar.

  185. “I wonder if prominent Mormons ever “equivocated” about MMM during the years and decades that followed…”

    LOL.

    If “the decades that followed” include this decade, and if “prominent Mormons” includes my ward members then yeah, in spades.

  186. Indeed, MCQ. Actually, by “prominent Mormons” I was thinking something more along the lines of, say, the First Presidency and the Twelve, and by “equivocated” I was thinking “covered up” and/or “defended” and/or “protected the perpetrators”. But I digress. Let’s set aside the distracting irrelevancies and get back to talking about what a hopeless, dangerous radical Imam Rauf is.

  187. Peter LLC says:

    How far is it from St. George?

    About 30 miles.

  188. As for the MMM thing, the Church owns the property and built a monument there, much to some people’s chagrin (some of the descendants of the victims). In other words, the invoking of MMM cuts off its own head.

  189. Work’s over. Notify me of follow-up comments via email, this comment can be deleted.

  190. From the sound of it, those who are for the Ground Zero mosque would be for it even if the Taliban backed it. Pretend all you want that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf isn’t just another double-talking, western-hating Muslim figure who says one thing in English and another thing in Farsi (or worse, another thing in English, like when he drew a moral equivalence between the UN sanctions on Iraq and Islamic terrorism). That’s just a side show.

    If religious freedom is as important as you say it is, then let’s cut the crap and start raising funds to put a Wahhabi school and a Taliban mosque right in the middle of the ground zero. Which of you freedom-lovers here is game for that?

  191. re:123

    I thought the problem was the internet never forgets.

  192. See, I forgot that too.

    Ummm BHodges I’ll be sure to send those emails to right away.

  193. Peter LLC says:

    From the sound of it, those who are for the Ground Zero mosque would be for it even if the Taliban backed it.

    I see your genetic fallacy and raise you an association fallacy.

  194. Steve: Luckily wordpress will do it for you (I think he was triggering the button below).

  195. I’m all for planting YOU right in the middle of Ground Zero, DKL. Does that count?

  196. Triggering FAIL.

  197. Ardis, it does in my book, but I don’t know how much it counts for Muslims.

  198. Peter LLC, actually it’s a reductio of the freedom of religion argument for the mosque. Any time you need help straightening out your understanding of the taxonomies of argumentation, you just give me a holler.

  199. Ardis, would the DKL monument at Ground Zero also function as a fountain? Just wondering, as I’m trying to visualize the aesthetic appeal of the undertaking.

  200. DKL,

    If religious freedom is as important as you say it is, then let’s cut the crap and start raising funds to put a Wahhabi school and a Taliban mosque right in the middle of the ground zero. Which of you freedom-lovers here is game for that?

    Maybe you don’t understand freedom of religion, but it’s not that we should fund anything. If the Taliban wanted to plant a mosque at ground zero and had all the legal rights to do so, it does not become my responsibility to fund their project. It’s not my responsibility to fund any project, however, I will defend the right of anyone to build what they want on private property if all laws and regulations have been followed. If they cannot fund it, for whatever reason, it’s not my problem.

  201. DKL,
    One thing that we’ve learned from the commentary on this mosque by those opposed is that intent is less important than appearance and since your argument seemed to be based on association rather than reducio, Peter scored the point.

    Also, since the law seems to be okay with letting the KKK march so long as they have appropriate permits, I’m okay with moderate Muslims building properly paperworked public buildings on private property.

  202. Mark Brown says:

    What is it about this that you people don’t get? A major shareholder of Fox News gives money to Imam Rauf. That means that both Gov. Palin and Rauf are suckling from the same teat, as Alan Simpson would say.

    WAKE UP, AMERICA!!

  203. Nice try. John, If freedom of religion is the overriding principle that should dictate whether one thinks it’s a good idea to put the mosque there, then one should support the mosque just as much if the Taliban itself wanted to plant it there. That’s the logical extension of the argument that is presumed to be unacceptable. That’s a reductio. Since I like you, I’ll give you a little tip: next time you have a choice between trusting your instincts or trusting one of my arguments, you’ll do best to trust my arguments. And as long as you’re keeping score, make a careful notation indicating that you lost this round really bad — way worse than Peter LLC lost his.

  204. Ardis, that’s exactly it!

  205. I’ll give you a little tip: next time you have a choice between trusting your instincts or trusting one of my arguments, you’ll do best to trust my arguments.

    I love it!

    DKL, you’re so cute when you talk all indignant like about “moral equivalencies” and such. I feel safe. Like I could just fall asleep in your arms. Or vote for you for President.

  206. Ardis, FTW.

  207. Mark Brown says:

    Ardis, I looked at the pictures in your link and noticed that the third one down on the right had side appears to be wearing a tinfoil hat.

    WHAT ARE YOU IMPLYING!?!?!

  208. John C.,
    I don’t know how you possibly thought you could out-cagefight the DKL. Just watch how he hands Chris Matthews his ass here:

  209. Actually, DKL, when you started bringing up the Taliban, it appeared that you were arguing about association even though you had argued that you weren’t associating the two earlier, which made you appear inconsistent. And since, as we’ve already noted, appearance is more important that intent, you are hereby declared inconsistent as well. I score the point, as well as Peter. High fives all around.

  210. John & Peter: Here.

    The rest of you: Here.

  211. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN ???

  212. brilliant

  213. I want to thank my Mom, my Dad, my hairdresser, and, most importantly, Blue Steel Jesus.

  214. Scott B, that was pretty funny. I’ll have to use that sometime.

  215. John C, the fact that you’re confused about my argument doesn’t make the argument fallacious. But, as we’ve already seen, you share the idiots corner with John F. But I don’t mean to discourage you from gloating over how stupid you are. Seriously. It’s a real achievement.

  216. Peter LLC says:

    Thanks, Scott, but coaxing out DKL’s inner pedant is child’s play and hardly worthy of an award.

    DKL-As the great Steve Evans once said: “Rejoice in your predictability.”

  217. John Mansfield says:

    “I am interested in the space relevant to our Federal Constitution and the body of law, tradition and custom that prevails in the Union.”—John F. (#129)

    Since pretty much no one wants the federal government or any government to do anything one way or the other about Park51 (to use your preferred nomenclature), how is this interest in the Federal Constitution related to the case in hand? I looked back to the eloquent invocations of various amendments, and I don’t see the connection.

  218. DKL,
    Since I am a winner and you are a loser, it appears that you are the one confused by your own argument, not I. Especially since it is now time to let it go.

  219. John Mansfield,
    Not even the local zoning board?

  220. John Mansfield says:

    Yes, John C., not even the local zoning board. Pretty much no one wants any government entity to deal with Park51 any differently than any other development project.

  221. If I had a quarter for every time somebody said something stupid, started pretending that it actually advanced her argument, and self-proclaimed her “victory over DKL,” I’d have enough cash to pay for my trip to the next JWHA conference. Shoot, I’d have 50 cents alone from just this thread.

    Keep it up guys. It’s behavior like yours that makes people feel like it really is a big deal when they make a good point in an argument against me.

  222. I realise I’m late to the party, but I just finished reading through all of the comments, and wanted to throw in a few thoughts.

    This whole debate brings to mind one of my favourite quotes from Sir William Penn: “Right is right, even if everyone in the world is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone in the world is for it.” (I may have the wording slightly off.)

    I don’t see any of John F’s OP saying anything about being a “good Mormon” in response to this issue. Rather, I see an appeal to the ideals of the Federalists, and an appeal to rational thought. Bravo, for that.

    I agree with John and others that there has been no valid reason given by the opponents of Park51 to oppose. The community center has been in the works for almost a year. All the zoning and building codes and permits have been met or issued. The property is legally owned, so the owners can do whatever they wish, provided they meet the requirements of the law.

    Back in the late 80s or early 90s, the LDS church bought property next to the Missouri Baptist College near St. Louis. The college didn’t want a temple there, but one was built anyway, because the LDS church owned the land and got the permits.

    Every Latter-day Saint, whether good, bad, or other, should recognise the rights of individuals to act within the law, because that is what we profess to do. We also profess a belief in freedom of worship. So why shouldn’t we support the rights of the developers of Park51? And if other religious groups want to build in Lower Manhattan, who are we to oppose them?

    One other thought: don’t Christians profess to believe in a world ruled by Christ?

    “And the government shall be upon His shoulder… of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth and forever.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

    “The kingdoms of the world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever.” (Rev.11:15)

    How is this different from Muslims looking to a day when their religion rules the governments of the world? I think it is just more bigotry against Muslims.

  223. The funny thing is that I haven’t made a single good point, but I still seem to be winning. I hereby declare myself amazing. Root Beer Floats for Everyone, including DKL.

  224. Mark Brown says:

    DKL, What do you propose, from a practical standpoint?

    I see two options. First, if we proceed with the assumption that Imam Rauf doesn’t represent an extremist form of Islam and doesn’t pose a threat to anybody, the location of this building is a trivial matter.

    On the other hand, if you are correct that he is a serious threat who will provide cover for people who want to fund terrorism, recruit suicide bombers, blow their noses on the constitution and destroy America (That is what I infer from the way you have consistently used “moderate”), we have far, far greater problems than the Park51 project. If that is really his underlying motive it doesn’t matter if the building is 10 or 20 miles away from ground zero. He will pursue his agenda regardless of where his building is located.

    Either way, the location of the building is a trivial matter. Please tell me where I’m wrong.

  225. I guess I don’t understand.. Clearly the constitution stands on free exercise of religion, the zoning issues are set and a Muslim *name your building here* should be built.

    Insisting that the owners have a certain sensitivity or that their emotions or opinions should enter into the discussion is silly. Of course people can feel that way, and be completely justified in wishing for that sensitivity…but if you have to explain and demand sensitivity, please know you won’t ever get sensitivity…the best you could get is confused or annoyed compliance. Obviously the owners of the *insert building name here* don’t feel it’s insensitive. They’re building it on purpose right there. You don’t accidentally buy property and not know where it is. This is not cheap property they got on sale in a grab bag. The cost of the property implies someone at least drove be and knew it’s location and address. They don’t care. Why spend days upon days analyzing whether they should care? They don’t. Whether they care on not isn’t going to be of issue when it already fits the zoning law. A person can’t argue in court…I know it’s legal but it hurts my feelings. Where would that end?

    Shall we interview every Muslim who could possibly enter the building or feel tied to it to see if any of their feelings or past deeds are offensive to whom? every person in the united states? Then shall we discuss it in committee?

    Perhaps being an example of sensitivity would be a better idea than demanding it.

    I am far from feeling that those who demand sensitivty are all haters of Islam. I just think that making a non issue such a huge faux issue makes the building a statement when it never may have been one. It may be just a building. It may be a huge statement…which those demanding sensitivity have now given a lion’s share of the spotlight.

    I don’t get why this has become some sort of political explosion. If a politican or person really wish for more sensitivty for 9-11 victims and their families…why not go visit them. If we’re so sensitive why not do that..instead of demanding from others the sensitivity we scarcely remember to show

  226. I wonder why no one has mentioned the OTHER Ground Zero: the Pentagon — where Muslim services are held weekly, in a memorial chapel open to all faiths and specifically dedicated in remembrance of 9/11. (This is not merely close to the site of the attack, but within the Pentagon itself.)

    Those who claim that the issue is Park 51′s proximity to the former WTC site are strangely silent on that.

  227. Mark Brown, I think that we should exercise every legal option that it is our right to exercise to block the building of the mosque. It will probably get built anyway, and life will go on. At that point, I’ll be left to chortle over the Islam-themed gay bar that Greg Gutfeld is planning to open next door to the mosque. And New York City’s finest can prosecute drunks who pass by and piss on it. And American’s antagonism and distrust of Islam will continue to grow, as it has since 9/11, because Muslim leaders will demand a seat at the table in the post-Enlightenment western world while refusing to comport themselves in ways that align with post-Enlightenment western priorities values.

    And regarding Mormon history: I, for one, and damned glad that 19th century Mormon leaders were forced to repudiate polygamy and that we eliminated the oath of vengeance. I, for one, am very uncomfortable with the fact that Mormon forebears participated in such things. And I lose no opportunity to say so. Nothing would be better off — not the USA, not Mormonism, not Mormon temples — if the USA had decided to get all touchy-feely and tolerant with Utah leaders and their aberrant practices. We owe it to Islam to hold it to the same standard.

    SLK, nobody will object to the fact that people from all faiths will go to ground zero to unobtrusively thoughtfully meditate and pray on any topic of their choosing, and you’ve got to be more than a little obtuse to think that the Pentagon’s inter-faith chapel, which a bit nicer than an airport chapel but not much, is somehow equivalent.

  228. So an inter-faith chapel/memorial at the Pentagon is okay, but the inter-faith chapel/memorial in Park51 is not? Or should just continue to ignore everything else about the community center because one part of it will include an Islamic prayer room?

  229. I’ve read all the posts, and I am still believe it is unfair and unkind for some posters to suggest or insist that “ALL Mormons should…” support the mosque as a necessary and definitional outcome of their Mormon-ness, or that any particular politician with a Mormon background should. I still feel that Latter-day Saints of good will can reasonably hold differing views on this matter, and that all Latter-day Saints should be honored and esteemed as brothers and sisters regardless of their views on this small political matter. Yes, I still see the mosque as a small political matter that the people of New York can solve. None of my postings here have focused on the merits of the mosque matter; rather, all my posts and this one have been in reaction to my perceptions (and actual readings) that “ALL Mormons should…”. To me, one Mormon might feel this is an issue worth fighting for, and good for him or her. Another Mormon might think the whole matter is unimportant, and good for him or her. One might be strongly in favor, one might be strongly opposed. But any among them errs who requires all other Mormons to agree with them as a definitional question of Mormon-ness. Where is the charity? Where is the tolerance? I think there is good reading in Romans chapter 14 on diversities of opinion within the flock, and I recommend this reading as a wonderful example of patience and tolerance.

  230. DKL, explain to me if you can how allowing Muslim worship in the Pentagon is any less a “stab in the heart,” as Sarah Palin expressed it, than allowing Muslim worship in lower Manhattan. Who gets to decide what constitutes unobtrusive, thoughtful meditation and prayer, and where it is or is not appropriate? “Nobody will object” indeed. Meh.

    p.s. I don’t know what the comparison to an airport chapel has to do with anything.

    Alex T, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for reasonable answers to your very good questions.

  231. ji,

    You have done a decent job explaining what.concepts you feel should not be qualified with “all Mormons should…” statements. Are there any issues you feel SHOULD be qualified with such a statement?

  232. SLK, you’re trying to introduce a slippery-slope type of problem. Even if we allow that there are gray areas in the dividing line between the presence and absence of a mosque, it doesn’t follow that there’s no difference at all between the different areas.

    That said, your question is surprisingly obtuse. There’s a difference between some place where anyone can worship and a place set aside for the glorification of Allah and his followers. This is difference constitutes something akin to an epistemic primitive. If you don’t understand that difference, then there’s really nothing I can say to explain it. How do you explain the difference in appearance of the colors brown and green to someone who insists that they appear the same.

  233. The problem with arguing with DKL is that he cleverly treats as axiomatic (for example, “Islam is intrinsically evil” or “I’m winning this argument”) what he lures his interlocutors into treating as arguments or syllogistic outcomes. DKL is right because [DKL is right] is, in fact, a premise of the entire argument. It’s like trying to debate a Christian fundamentalist on Biblical inerrancy—it’s inerrant because it says it is! Or, better yet, like trying to wrestle an otter whose feet are nailed to the floor. The best possible outcome is a draw. And the only way to secure the stalemate is by completely wearing yourself out past the point of exhaustion and getting his slimy, wet otter stench all over you.

  234. Alex (no. 232),

    Regarding the pros and cons of particular matters of local politics, I tend to think there are VERY few circumstances where a person advocating one of the competing viewpoints can reasonably say, “ALL Mormons should…”

    At this moment, I can’t think of one.

  235. The problem with statements like Brad is that they rely on a clever mix of distortions and outright lies. Some of these are, no doubt, born of ignorance, like his assertion that I said Islam was intrinsically evil — he likely wasn’t diligent enough to catch my clarification of Mark Brown’s gross misrepresentation of my thesis; viz., that radical Islam is evil (anyone wish to argue with that?). Others are born of hubris, like his mistaken belief that fate will favor him if he speaks out against DKL at this moment now. Alas, Brad, this was the wrong moment for you, and you’ve done little more than join the boring army of commenters who have tried and failed to teach DKL a lesson. Better luck next time. (I mean that, Brad. You deserve better.)

  236. Brad, thanks for the pointer.

    DKL was sort of right about one thing, though: I was “obtuse” enough to hope that a reasonable question might elicit a reasonable answer instead of insults and obfuscation. I won’t be poking a stick under that particular bridge again any time soon. :-)

  237. SLK, I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.

  238. Others are born of hubris, like his mistaken belief that fate will favor him if he speaks out against DKL at this moment now. Alas, Brad, this was the wrong moment for you, and you’ve done little more than join the boring army of commenters who have tried and failed to teach DKL a lesson.

    Swear to God, this will be the epigraph for the chapter in my memoir that covers my experience in the ‘Naccle.

  239. ROTFLMAO!

  240. Mark Brown says:

    Uh, gross misrepresentation? Me?

    DKL, there are three people name Mark on this thread: Mark Brown, Mark B., and Mark D. You probably want to go back and check, you know, just so we don’t get into hubris, gross distortion, or lies.

    Tag, you’re it.

  241. This, DKL, calls the author of the original post an idiot.
    He uses crass language on this Mormon themed site: “bullshit”.
    He twists, this or that way, whatever logical he considers not his a fallacy.
    And he continues to post without censor.
    And he calls the author of the original post an idiot.
    Perhaps he is right.

  242. All Mormons should accept the Articles of Faith as basic tenets of our religion.

    “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and all men [and women] the SAME privilege, let them worship how, WHERE or what they may.” (A of F 1:11, emphasis added)

    If we as Latter-day Saints accept this statement, how can we oppose the privilege of Muslims in Lower Manhattan to worship as they see fit?

  243. At a certain point in this thread, DKL complained that moderate Muslims equivocate.

    We tend to make it easy for this to happen because we use terminology that is alien to Islam. There is no Islamic term for ‘moderate Islam’ or ‘radical Islam’ – these are Western concepts that have no moorings in actual Islam and when we use them in conversations with Muslims, we aren’t using terminology that bears weight, significance or consequences in the Islamic perspective.

    Shortly after 9/11 – I started asking Muslim friends of mine – mostly Jordanians and Egyptians – if they thought Osama Bin Laden was a murtad – the Arabic-Islamic term for an apostate from the Islamic religion.

    I found when I used actual Islamic terminology, the conversations got more interesting – because the terminology actually meant something to Muslims. The conversations were usually troubling as well – mainly because most of the Muslims I encountered were: a) uncomfortable that a non-Muslim was referring to a Muslim as an apostate and also b) very reluctant to say themselves that Osama bin Laden was an apostate from Islam.

    In general, the Muslims I knew wanted to leave judgment up to Allah. In fact, I can’t think of a single instance where a Muslim I knew was willing to come down and say that in Osama bin Laden’s case – organizing the 9-11 attacks was a definite excommunicable offense. And, I should add, that in too many instances, Muslims I knew were prepared to question whether or not bin Laden had actually been involved at all. There’s a certain kind of rampant denial out there in the Muslim world that would be unfathomable to most of us.

    In one conversation I had with two Egyptians, one of them a University of Utah student and another a visiting professor from al-Azhar – the visiting professor tried to simultaneously tell me that a) Arabs were incapable of making such an attack on America and b) that only Saudis were involved in the attacks. So I asked “what about al-Zawahiri and Mohammad Atta?” (both of whom were Egyptian) – and then he backed down. But it was immediately and painfully obvious that he was living in a bizarre unreal psychological reality – and over time as I had conversations with others, it became clear that he wasn’t alone.

  244. Alex (no. 243) — freedom of religion does not mean and never has meant exemption from building codes, zoning permits, and other real estate processes — not for Latter-day Saints, not for Muslims.

  245. Which is why the Cordoba Initiative got all the permits necessary and met all the zoning requirements.

  246. Richard,
    There is no excusing DKL.

    Actually, there is: he’s been a friend of the blog for 6 years, and we love his body.

    While his comments may be jarring for those unfamiliar with his craft, rest assured that the matter is under control.

  247. Scott,

    In other words, because he’s best of buds with you and Steve Evans, he’s not going to be banned…

  248. Those who claim that the issue is Park 51′s proximity to the former WTC site are strangely silent on that.

    Perhaps because the Pentagon mosque isn’t funded by an organization dedicated to ending equal protection, freedom of religion, free speech, and the press.

    Why should anyone care about a private place of Muslim worship? What people care about is a institution dedicated to achieving the same objectives as the 9/11 hijackers, namely the imposition of Islamic supremacy and sharia law throughout the world.

  249. Mark D.,
    You’re just embarrassing yourself.

  250. Brad, care to make a counter argument? This organization is run by a fellow who can’t bring himself to condemn Hamas, an organization dedicated to wiping Jews off the face of the earth, for example. Nice summary here.

  251. Richard, your comment needs a bit of work. It’s OK as fiction, but as poetry, it’s kind of awful.

    If you feel a need for me to be punished, take a number. If you feel a need for me to be excused, please refer to the Atonement. Otherwise, I’ll thank you to stay on topic, and not make this thread about me.

  252. Thomas Parkin says:

    The National Review! Big question where they might come down on this!

    A more fitting examination would be to go directly to the man’s own words rather than to a place where they can be interpreted according to one’s own bent. You can do that numerous places on the internets.

    When certain types of sectarians ‘interpret’ Mormonism, pulling out the quotes from this and that source, and building their distortions, we say that others should rather discuss our beliefs with us and take our word that we will do our best to answer in good faith. Seems like we can grant the same.

  253. Actually, Richard, I just reread your short poem, and I’d like to retract my earlier assessment, and substitute this one: It’s clever.

  254. Latter-day Guy says:

    252,

    To be fair, “whatever logical he considers not his a fallacy” does have a kind of E.E. Cummings-esque ring to it. You know in a with up so floating many bells down sort of way.

  255. Thomas P., There is no question that it takes a good deal of reading between the lines to try to divine what Imam Rauf’s position is on this or that. We know that he won’t condemn Hamas, an organization dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel by any means necessary. That happens to be number one on the list of things that he could do to put people at ease about his organization. But he refuses.

    We also know that he is dedicated to the expansion of sharia law throughout the world, and that the “Sharia Index Project” has been slated to occupy several floors of this center. Granting that relatively peaceful, quasi-democratic promotion of sharia throughout the world isn’t remotely as objectionable as trying to achieve the same goal by violent means, sharia as such is essentially an anti-Western form of law that would involve nullifying significant aspects of freedom of religion, speech, the press, and equal protection.

    In many countries the idea that Muslims should be governed by a different set of laws than non-Muslims is a live question. The UK is one of them. The idea is the very antithesis of the Western concept of equal protection.

    So where is Imam Rauf on this controversial issue? Giving speeches all over the world about how Muslims can spread sharia law throughout the world to restore peace and justice to the earth. Now it is possible that Rauf personally believes in a version of sharia law so stunted that no Westerner could regard it as out of the tenor of Western civilization for going on two millennia now, but every available piece of evidence suggests the opposite.

    Again if Imam Rauf wanted to put people at ease about his organization all he would have to do is get up and publicly disclaim a number of propositions such as the idea that Muslims should be governed under a different laws than everyone else, or that the government should enact special restrictions on speech and images offensive to Muslims.

    Speaking out against honor killings, the persecution and killing of homosexuals, and the idea that Muslims should kill and or persecute apostates would go a long way. As would speaking out against the atrocious treatment of women in many quarters of the Muslim world.

    If Imam Rauf was the second coming of Kemal Ataturk (with some allowances) no one would have the slightest complaint. What everyone is worried about is he has dedicated his life to undoing the Kemalist project and returning to the ideal of the Islamic state instead. The only question is how Islamic his Islamic state is.

    Either way, the idea of the United States as an Islamic state promoted by someone who can’t bring himself to condemn openly terrorist organizations is something that makes people understandably a little suspicious. Especially when he wants to raise tens of millions of dollars from avowed enemies of the United States and Western civilization as we know it to build a center on a site that is difficult to see as anything other than an intentional provocation.

  256. We know that he won’t condemn Hamas, an organization dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel by any means necessary.

    Why is the “condemnation of Hamas” such a big thing for what an Muslim American can do here? We’re not the United States of Israel last I checked, and Hamas is not our enemy.

    but every available piece of evidence suggests the opposite.

    Heh, that’s like saying that every piece of evidence from distrustful non-Mormons about Joseph Smith suggests he’s not a prophet…well, duh!

    Again if Imam Rauf wanted to put people at ease about his organization all he would have to do is …..

    go around and kiss the behind of every priest, rabbi and preacher in this country, promise to be a heedful dog and not bark at all the neighbors.

    Especially when he wants to raise tens of millions of dollars from avowed enemies of the United States

    heh, like Prince Waleed Bin Talal. Indeed.

  257. Thomas Parkin says:

    Mark D.,

    If he came out and spoke against each item on your list, word for word what you’d like to hear, most people against this mosque would still be against it – in fact, most of them wouldn’t even hear it, or even hear about it except through the filter of more or usually less reasonable commentators who are themselves more or less biased from the get go. I think you get your talking points from people you place more trust in than I do, and I sure don’t think you’ve gotten them from a dispassionate reading of what he himself has said. The thing is, I don’t think you have any idea what you are talking about, and are jacked up by words like “sharia”, which mean different things to different Muslims.

    I admit that I don’t know nearly as much as I should, either. In fact, except for listening to the conversation and reading what people have said against him and what I can find of what he has said for himself, I don’t know very much about it, at all.

    So, here’s a deal. The Imam has written a book, titled something like ‘What s Right with Islam.’ I will try to hunt down a copy if you will do the same, and maybe we can make some space here or someplace like here to discuss it. Let’s say, within a month.

  258. Thomas Parkin says:

    “go around and kiss the behind of every priest, rabbi and preacher in this country,”

    Like this? (spoken at the funeral of Daniel Pearl (of all people!!)):

    “We are here to assert the Islamic conviction of the moral equivalency of our Abrahamic faiths. If to be a Jew means to say with all one’s heart, mind and soul Shma` Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ahad; hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, not only today I am a Jew, I have always been one, Mr. Pearl.

    If to be a Christian is to love the Lord our God with all of my heart, mind and soul, and to love for my fellow human being what I love for myself, then not only am I a Christian, but I have always been one Mr. Pearl.”

  259. Thomas Parkin says:

    A couple more things! If we are going to refuse to accommodate religionists who won’t condemn Hamas (a blanket condemnation of terrorism, repeated over and over and over again won’t do?), we are going to have to get rid of half the churches in Seattle. And if we aren’t going to accommodate folks who think their religion to should take over running the United States, we’re going to have to eliminate about half the churches in Texas. (Of course, most of the guys wear ugly suits and hair gel instead of ‘towels’, and they haven’t been guilty of any major terrorist acts … yet.)

  260. The thing is they could be evil incarnate , believing everything wrong and bad,but they would still have the legal right to build a mosque until they ACT on their evil tendancies.

    I don’t see how their past or their support of murder or anything keeps them from building a building. We can’t legislate based on what they might do in the future…or what they might be happy about someone else doing. Or more to the “condemn hamas” crowd..we can’t legislate against them building something becuase they don’t condemn someting someone else has done. A good majority of the populace gets more worked up about nascar or the upcoming football season than what’ going on in Israel, and tempting as it may be to do otherwise, we let them build things.

  261. Britt, bravo! The day the United States punishes people or organisations for Thought Crimes is the day I give up my citizenship and move to a more rational country.

  262. Peter LLC says:

    That happens to be number one on the list of things that he could do to put people at ease about his organization. But he refuses.

    I think you’ll find that most people fail to respond positively to lists drawn up by their critics demanding satisfaction. In fact, some people call that very stubbornness “backbone” or “principle.”

  263. Daniel (248),
    Nice try. But as I said, DKL has been a friend of the blog for 6 years. I’ve been here for 1. I’d be banned before DKL was.

  264. I think you’ll find that most people fail to respond positively to lists drawn up by their critics demanding satisfaction.

    Who is “demanding” anything? He has the legal right to build his center. No one denies him that.

  265. “Why is the “condemnation of Hamas” such a big thing for what an Muslim American can do here?”

    Litmus test, nothing more. In the United States, it is a felony to give material support to any terrorist organization. Hamas has been designated by the State Department as one of those.

    If we as Latter-day Saints accept [Article of Faith 11], how can we oppose the privilege of Muslims in Lower Manhattan to worship as they see fit?

    No one is opposing the right of Muslims to worship as they see fit.

  266. Peter LLC says:

    Who is “demanding” anything?

    Right. You’re just making lists.

  267. Mark Brown, I typed all of my comments yesterday on the tiny keyboard of my cell phone while I was taking my family and kids to Minuteman Memorial Park at Concord and Lexington (hence the many typos — damn that autocorrect!). You’ll have to cut me some slack for failing to keep my Mark’s straight. If it makes you feel any better: I confuse the Orson’s in church history even when I’m not on my cell phone.

  268. Also, I want to add that this is one of the best threads ever. Totally epic. Thanks to everyone here who’s participated. You’re all amazing people. I love you all, and you totally deserve for this thread to stand as a memorial your awesomeness until radical Islam destroys the internet and slaughters us all as infidels.

  269. Left Field says:

    Has the LDS Church ever condemned Hamas? Just curious.

    If we’re searching for a litmus test that any particular person or organization has failed, I suspect we can find one. Even if someone has condemned Hamas, perhaps they forgot to condemn Pol Pot, Jeffery Dahmer, Benedict Arnold, Lord Voldemort, Sauron, the New York Yankees, or the designated hitter rule.

  270. Left Field, I never forget to the condemn the New York Yankees. Nor to I forget or neglect to condemn their fans, whose sins are certainly excluded from Christ’s otherwise infinite atonement. Frankly, you’re implication to the contrary is offensive.

  271. Mark Brown says:

    DKL, no problem.

    But since you have now outed yourself as someone who texts while driving, I will point out that this is AGAINST THE LAW in Massachusetts. You, sir, are a threat to our xountry, a scofflaw who undermines America, and a threat to our future. You might as well throw a Molotov cocktail at the Washington monument. As a lawbreaker you probably ought to be deported, but at a minimum, it is time for you to step down.

  272. Mark Brown,

    You, sir, are a threat to our xountry

    Uh, were YOU texting while driving? ;)

  273. Mark D.,

    Litmus test, nothing more. In the United States, it is a felony to give material support to any terrorist organization. Hamas has been designated by the State Department as one of those.

    uh, it shouldn’t have to be clarified, but refusing to denounce Hamas is not the same thing as giving material support to Hamas. I mean, com’on, Hamas is a complicated creature. They provide social services to Palestinians, and that ought not to be condemned but praised. In fact, one ought to give Hamas support to step away from terrorism and enhance their social services more.

    In any case, I applaud the Imam and his folks for standing for their principles in the face of such persecution and ridiculous demands from the angry mob.

  274. Left Field says:

    Ah, but DKL, given the opportunity, you quite conspicuously refused to condemn the designated hitter rule. Therefore, if you should ever build any structure on the sacred ground within 10 blocks of a place where baseball has been played, you will be rightfully condemned for your insensitivity.

  275. britt k (#261) FTW. :-) This passage from Thomas Jefferson’s Statute for Religious Freedom was cited both in Reynolds v. United States and (in reference to Reynolds) during the Reed Smoot Senate hearings, by one of Senator Smoot’s attorneys:

    “It is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order.”

    The Senator’s attorney explained,

    “a body of men can believe that the burning of witches or the burning of the unorthodox is right. They can believe it all they please and the State never interferes with them. It has no right to interfere with them. It protects their belief. It does not make any difference what they believe. It does not make any difference how fallacious their belief is. Their belief, as an abstract belief, is protected, and no court and no law under the Constitution has the right to interfere with it.”

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