Banning a Mosque? The Corodoba House and The Politics of Religious Intolerance

“It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it was the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights.  For happily, the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.”
                George Washington, August 17, 1790 in reply to the Hebrew                         Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, Library of Congress.

Well before religious tolerance was enshrined in our First Amendment it was promoted as a pillar of this country’s then-fledgling democracy.  Yet here we are, over two hundred years later, still responding to religious intolerance in its most vile form.

Cordoba House – the Ground Zero Mosque

I’m talking about the Cordoba House–or, if you’ve been listening only to certain media outlets– the Ground Zero mosque.  In reality Cordoba House is much more than a mosque.  It is a community center with space for prayer.  And in reality Cordoba House will sit near, not on, Ground Zero (approximately two blocks from the site).  And in reality there are already at least two mosques that predate both Cordoba House and Ground Zero within this area.

But this is politics, not reality.

Hate as a Political Tool
The politics of the debate is another display of the most odious and basest elements of our culture.  Those who argue against its construction implicitly, or sometimes explicitly, equate Islam with terrorism and have argued that it is designed as a symbol of “conquest” by the Muslim world.  Those arguments have been persuasive as some polls show nationwide opposition to Cordoba House and on the heels of an increase in right wing vandalism against Muslim places of worship across the country.

The Costs of Courage
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was the first to stand up, in impassioned and beautiful fashion, and called out the anti-Cordoba House campaign for the misinformed racism that it is.  Finally, President Obama weighed in stating the obvious–that the commitment to religious freedom in this country must be unshakable and that the government cannot treat people of one faith differently than people of another.

Well, it just goes to show that the President is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.  No sooner were these remarks made then the right pounced on his “unfortunate endorsement” of the project.  In response the administration made clear that it was in no way saying whether or not the project was a good idea or a bad idea, just that religious freedom and religious tolerance must be embraced and endorsed by the government, and that means tolerance and freedom for all faiths.

Politico soon spun this as the President “walking back” on his earlier statements (indeed, there was no more a walking back than a desire by Politico to generate page views) and the left which had finally found an issue to applaud the President on began taking shots.  Today some of the left’s hullaboo has seemed to die down a bit, but once again what gets lost in all this bile is reality.

Opposing Radical Islam
As Digby points out, The Cordoba House is designed to stand in direct opposition to the Islam and world view of the 9/11 attackers.  It’s goal, its purpose, is to be a symbol of inclusion, reconciliation, healing and understanding across faiths and cultures.  This is precisely why Mayor Bloomberg gave such an impassioned response to its critics and threw his full-throated support behind the project.  As the Mayor suggested, and as Digby comes right out and says, the only way a person could conflate The Cordoba House with radical, militant Islam is if that person thought that Islam and terrorism are one in the same.  Which, I think, gets right to the heart of the debate.

Every religion has its radicals capable of hijacking faith in the name of political zealotry.  In this country Christians murder doctors and bomb federal buildings all in the name of their beliefs.  Catholics must find some peace in a history of child abuse that spawns generations.  Even the Anti-Defamation League showed a far-less tolerant side in the debate surrounding The Cordoba House.

The President did the right thing in coming out in strong support for the First Amendment and pointing out that it does in fact apply to people of all faiths.  He did not, nor should he have, given an emotional endorsement one way or another of the project.  Indeed, had he done so he would have blemished the very spirit of the religious protections enshrined in our Constitution.

photo courtesy of Chor Ip via Flickr


Russell R.
Russell R4 years ago

~ It is only a FEW ~

~ The moment of truth for three former high school classmates from Queens came as they sat in a car outside a neighborhood mosque with their militant religious views festering.

"Allah doesn't like only talk about something and not doing it,"
former New York City cab driver Zarein Ahmedzay, told his former "high school classmates" from Queens.

"Ahmedzay told them we have come here (Afghanistan) to give our lives," Ahmedzay testified, "and asked them, 'Are we going to accept it?'"

He recalled returning to New York City and using his cab to drive around the city in early 2009 and casing potential targets for a terrorist attack, including Grand Central Terminal, Times Square and the New York Stock Exchange. The conspirators also considered striking Penn Station or city movie theaters before settling on attacking the subways during Ramadan, he said.

Al-Qaida had told the men that pulling off a small-scale attack — even using guns instead of bombs to slaughter innocent New Yorkers — would be considered a success.

~ It is only a Few! That is all it takes!
*** No Ground Zero Mosque *** because of the Few!

Russell R.
Russell R5 years ago

KINGSTON, Ontario (AP) — A jury on Sunday found three members of an Afghan family guilty of killing three teenage sisters and another woman in what the judge described as "cold-blooded, shameful murders" resulting from a "twisted concept of honor," ending a case that shocked and riveted Canadians.

Prosecutors said the defendants allegedly killed the three teenage sisters because they dishonored the family by defying its disciplinarian rules on dress, dating, socializing and using the Internet.

Ontario Superior Court Judge Robert Maranger said the evidence clearly supported the conviction.

"It is difficult to conceive of a more heinous, more despicable, more honorless crime," Maranger said. "The apparent reason behind these cold-blooded, shameful murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your completely twisted concept of honor ... that has absolutely no place in any civilized society."

In a statement following the verdict, Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson called honor killings a practice that is "barbaric and unacceptable in Canada."
After the verdict was read, the three defendants again declared their innocence in the killings of sisters Zainab, 19, Sahar 17, and Geeti, 13, as well as Rona Amir Mohammad, 52, Shafia's childless first wife in a polygamous marriage.


Bill Reese
Bill Reese5 years ago

Sure, we see Shariah Law (via the terrorists, the Muslim Brotherhood) creeping into the Egyptian culture like a heat wave. On May 28, 2011, the Egyptian daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi published an article by Mamdouh Isma'll, an attorney for Egyptian Islamists and former jihad activist, title "The People Want an Islamic Egypt." In the article, Isma'll called on Egyptians to turn out en masse for demonstrations demanding the establishment of an Islamic state in Egypt.

Shariah Law is even taking hold in the moderate Muslim nation of Jordan. Today, the Muslim Brotherhood has called for almost daily demonstrations against the King. The "mob rule" is trying to force the moderate Jordanian government to be more SHARIAH-COMPLIANT!

But the biggest threat to you and me is right here in the United States of Shariah (America). Under the auspices of being "politically correct" and taking in "the poor, huddled masses," we have thrown the door wide open to radical Islam. Shariah is not complete until it controls every single area of our society. In Shariah Law, our United States Constitution would be finished. Women's rights would be a thing of the past.

Bill Reese
Bill Reese5 years ago

Under Shariah Law, there is a death sentence against any non-Muslim man who marries a Muslim woman!

Disgraced and former Jewish Congressman Anthony Weiner is married to Huma Abedin, a Muslim woman who is a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Her parents were devout Muslims who chose Saudi Arabia as their home, and her father was an Islamic scholar before his death.

Apparently, the former Congressman has bigger problems than he could ever imagine! He has dishonored a Muslim family. He is now facing a Muslim death sentence!

Everyone has heard of Muslims, but even still, MOST Americans have never understood the terminology - "Shariah Law."

Those who today support Shariah and the establishment of a global Islamic state (caliphate) are supporting objectives that are incompatible with the United States Constitution, the civil rights the Constitution guarantees and the representative, accountable government it authorizes. In fact, Shariah's pursuit in the United States is tantamount to sedition!

U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams (R-FL) introduced H.R. 973 which outlaws foreign law from our U.S. Court system. She had 56 co-sponsors.

Bill Reese
Bill Reese5 years ago

Until after the King hearings, we should all be relaxed and calm about just what is the Cordoba House being built to serve.
U.S. Representative Peter King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, will hold a third hearing on Islamic extremism in America in late July. This week's second Congressional hearing focused on extremist recruitment inside America's prisons. It was an eye-opener!

Last week, a powerful report was released. The Center for Security Policy found that an overwhelming majority of mosques in America promote JIHAD and SHARIAH Law. One of the report's most disturbing findings was that the most well-attended mosques were the most likely to provide violent materials to help coordinate the radical forces against you and me; and our beloved United States of America

Sakib H.
Sakib H6 years ago

@Charles: You have a knack of making stuff up. Bring proof if you be so kind about beating and raping women etc.

Just to save you time Saudi and Iran ARE NOT Islamic nor is any other country in the world nor has it been properly since the death of Caliph Ali ben Abi Taleb.

Sakib H.
Sakib H6 years ago

@Charles: You have a knack of making stuff up. Bring proof if you be so kind about beating and raping women etc.

Just to save you time Saudi and Iran ARE NOT Islamic nor is any other country in the world nor has it been properly since the death of Caliph Ali ben Abi Taleb.

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin6 years ago

nick s.: The more religion is staying out of politics, the better. No UN of religion, please. (The present UN is a toothless organization run by five countries who doesnt even pay their fees.)

All: The sooner we get rid of all religion, the better. In the mean time we should make sure religion have no bearing whatsoever in every day politics. Stay in your churches, mosques, synagoges and temples and stay out of people's lifes! Religion is an opium for the people!!!

Mara S.
Mara S6 years ago

Cindy O

Wouldn't be a mistake to consider all religions just the same?
Based on what you said ALL religions should be without blame ?
Even if a "religion" prescribes your elimination?

CYNTHIS O6 years ago

It is too early to tell, Does NYC citizens have a right to say anything? Yes!! I do not blame Religion, I blame People.