Friday, August 20, 2010

Senseless Furor over Building a House of Worship

Even more exasperating than the media frenzy every summer about what Bret Favre will do  (I don't give a %$@!) is the near hysteria in some quarters over the building of a mosque near the site of the 9/11 attack. The objections have no basis whatsoever unless one assumes the identity of the Muslims who attacked with Islam as a whole. Many critics who protest that they do no such thing end up doing it anyway de facto,  or else their objections are groundless and silly.

A compromise is that they they have a right to build, but it is unwise and insensitive to do so. Why? There are mosques all over New York City that nobody objects to them. Yet some, including the governor of the state, seem to think that just placing the house of worship a little further away would honor both the First Amendment and the sensitivities of those who are offended. Perhaps in sheer pragmatic terms that is the best way to resolve the issue, but it ignores principle in favor of feelings and misguided conceptions.

Some of the analogies are just plain dumb as well as committing at least one logical fallacy. The notion, e. g., that it would be like building a memorial to the Nazis next to Treblinka or Auschwitz is paraded by politicians more interested in political effect that rational soundness. But Nazis were evil as a whole, while Islam as a whole is not identical with a few radical extremists whose interpretation of the Koran is generally regarded by scholars as an insult to a great religion. Would we accept the identity of the Ku Klux Klan, whose symbol was a cross, with Christianity?

President George W. Bush took a sensible view and called Islam  a religion of peace that could not be identified with a terrorism. I wish the former president would emerge and say a strong and healing word to the  protesters, among whom are many Republicans.

By the way have we forgotten that the US has been killing Muslims on a regular basis in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003, amounting to hundreds of thousands of combat troops and civilians. Leaving aside Afghanistan for the moment, every person killed in Iraq by Americans is a horrible and unnecessary tragedy completely unjustified by either moral principle or national self-interest.

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