Religious hatred behind mosque opposition
A group started by noted hatemonger Pat Robertson (the story I saw called it a “conservative” group; doesn’t that go without saying?) has filed a lawsuit in what will no doubt be a long, expensive, but ultimately fruitless, attempt to stop the construction of an Islamic center a couple of blocks from Ground Zero. The action comes after the New York City Landmarks Preservation Committee unanimously refused to block demolition of a 152-year-old building that stands in the way of the project. Those proposing to build the Cordoba Mosque have made it very clear that their goal is to foster peace and understanding between Islam and people of other faiths. That didn’t stop one goofball at the committee’s hearing from holding up a sign that said, “Don’t glorify the murders of 3,000. No 9/11 victory mosque.” And Rick Lazio, a former Republican congressman now running for governor of New York, took the opportunity to do a little demagogueing, accusing the Islamic group’s imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, of being buddy-buddy with terrorists. He noted a “60 Minutes” interview in the wake of 9/11 in which Rauf said the attacks were in some part sparked by U.S. policies in the Middle East. Of course they were. Does anybody really doubt that the United States’ constant support of Israel against any other interests in that region just might have fostered some anger and resentment? One question I have for mosque opponents is this: Exactly how far must a mosque be from Ground Zero? Is is four blocks? Six? Eight? The distance from Ground Zero really isn’t the issue. It’s the hatred by many people of all things Muslim because of the actions of a militant, violent fringe of that religion. As an online poster noted recently on the O-R website, these folks won’t be calling for a ban on Catholic churches near grade schools because some priests raped children. Apparently, the central argument that will be made in the Robertson group’s lawsuit is that the landmarks panel “acted arbitrarily and abused its discretion.” No, it didn’t. It acted dispassionately, rationally and intelligently. The mosque opponents should give that a try sometime.