Ok, So What is the Problem with Cordoba House?
If the response to Cordoba House isn't basically being anti-Muslim, what is it?
I keep thinking that each post that I write on Cordoba House/Park51 is my last, and yet the topic remains rather firmly ensconced in the news. Indeed, rather than letting the issue die down, new entrants into the parade continue to emerge (for example, say hello to Dr. Dean).
James Joyner’s post this morning, which was on target, makes me want to further his point by asking a simple question to which I would would be curious as to the readers’ answers: exactly what is it that is so offensive about this project?
I have been repeatedly told here and elsewhere, often by people I consider reasonable and thoughtful, that this project is offensive. Its offensive to the 9/11 families, it offensive to the neighborhood,* its offensive to America, etc.
Let’s face facts: the only thing that people find offensive is that Muslims are involved.
Is there something else that I am missing here? The logic (such as it is) appears to be: radical Muslims were responsible for 9/11, ergo any Muslims too near (exactly how near is “too near” is unclear) are offensive to the memories of those who died that day (never mind that some of those were innocent Muslims).
How am I wrong?
Isn’t the fundamental argument that “we” (i.e., non-Muslim Americans) can’t trust “them” (Muslim Americans) because, after all, they are sneaky.
As such, Jonah Goldberg’s protestations as to American tolerance are somewhat problematic.
This is especially true because the offense being taken at the Cordoba House project are not the only examples of anti-mosque/anti-Muslim sentiment in the news.
In Murfreesboro, Tenn., Republican candidates have denounced plans for a large Muslim center proposed near a subdivision, and hundreds of protesters have turned out for a march and a county meeting.
In late June, in Temecula, Calif., members of a local Tea Party group took dogs and picket signs to Friday prayers at a mosque that is seeking to build a new worship center on a vacant lot nearby.
In Sheboygan, Wis., a few Christian ministers led a noisy fight against a Muslim group that sought permission to open a mosque in a former health food store bought by a Muslim doctor.
Father Keith Fennessy, pastor of the Midland Beach church, had agreed to the deal but after intense community opposition he stepped down as head of the church and later withdrew his support of the sale.
Not to mention: Church plans Quran-burning event.
And then there’s Candidate: Islam is against everything America stands for**
Sure, a lot of this is overreaction or the fruit of extreme views. Still, if Baptists were being told they couldn’t build churches and that the local mosque was having a Bible burning, I don’t think it would be dismissed as a much ado about nothing.
I will say again, if mosques on American soil are considered a provocation, we, as a country, need to really re-evaluate our foreign policy on multiple levels.
Look, do I think that there is a massive wave of anti-Muslim opinion sweeping the country? No, and in that regards Goldberg has a point. However, just because it isn’t as bad as it could be, doesn’t mean that there aren’t issues here worthy of consideration and comment.
Scapegoating is an ugly thing. And whatever else this is, this is scapegoating: it is blaming one group of people for the actions of others. How is that fair? How is that true to American ideals?
Because I deeply believe in the ideals of America, including freedom of religion, freedom to use private property within the strictures of the law, as well as treating individuals as individuals who are responsible for themselves and not for the actions of people who can be seen as tangentially linked to them, I find the ire directed at the Park51 project to be disappointing, unseemly and a bit depressing.
However, it would bother me less if there wasn’t also the other examples cited above. I am even willing to mix in a bit of irrational reaction when it comes to 9/11. But I think, too, that one has to acknowledge the irrationality of the reaction.
*Although as I noted the other day, the one place where it appears that public opinion is in favor of the project, it is in the NY borough of Manhattan.
**This is an addition after the original post–I forgot to include it in the original version.