A Choice of Names: Tours House, Lepanto House, or Vienna House

Cordoba House is one heck of a symbolic poke in the eye at Ground Zero.

My colleague C.K. MacLeod does know how to set the cat amongst the pigeons.  He’s getting a lot of pushback today for his HotAir piece, “Fight Them All Together,” about conservatives and the proposed mosque at Ground Zero.  I do think he implies a question that can (and should) be treated seriously, about what our concepts of freedom and tolerance mean to us, and where the line is between being tolerant and being weak or clueless.

I myself would choose to discuss that question without suggesting that conservatives, in particular, have failed embarrassingly to recognize its validity.  Some have presented their conclusions on the matter without taking us through the whole argument, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t thought it through.

On the question of the mosque itself, however, I don’t think any treatment of the topic can be complete without reference to the meaning behind the name of the “initiative” that intends to establish it – the Cordoba Initiative – or to the plan to name the mosque Cordoba House.  My first question on hearing this a couple of weeks ago was whether Americans are completely ignorant of history.

Cordoba was, of course, the seat of the caliphate established in what is now modern Spain after the Islamic invasion from North Africa in the 8th century A.D.  The medieval occupation of Spain – “al-Andalus” – is considered by Islamic theorists to have been an inevitable step in the manifest destiny of Islam, and its eventual reversal through the lengthy European “Reconquista” a tragic but temporary triumph of the infidels.  The great mosque at Cordoba was built on the foundation of a Christian cathedral, and when Europeans retook Cordoba in the 13th century they turned the magnificent mosque back into a cathedral.

There is no question that the opulence and beauty of the mosque were the products of Muslim builders and artists.  But there is also no question that the mosque at Cordoba represents a history of conquest and reconquest that, from the perspective of Islamists, is at an unfinished stage as of today.  The caliphate of Cordoba was the geographic high point of Umayyad Muslim rule – that is, of the original caliphate that succeeded Mohammed – on European territory.  It represents a glory that Islamists intend to restore.  Its eventual loss to the Europeans represents, equally, an evil reversal, imposed by infidels, that requires redress.

“Cordoba,” in Islamic symbolic terms, means Islamic rule in the West.  It does not mean “coexistence,” unless coexistence is interpreted as referring to Islamic rule.  Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugs cites the article (original in Arabic) published by Iraqi-American Khudhayr Taher on 18 May, in which Taher explains the following:

We must note that a hostile and provocative name [Cordoba] has been chosen for this mosque…Choosing the name ‘Cordoba House’ for the mosque to be constructed in New York was not coincidental or random and innocent. It bears within it significance and dreams of expansion and invasion [into the territory] of the other, [while] striving to change his religion and to subjugate him…

It used to not even be a stretch for reasonably well educated Westerners to recognize the place of Spain and Cordoba in the history of the West and Islam.  Many of today’s younger adults, however, have learned nothing about the Mediterranean before 1492 except that the Muslim period in Spain was a flowering of science, art, and culture.  There was a great deal to admire in the accomplishments of the Muslim Cordobans, but they did, in fact, invade and conquer Spain, sell its inhabitants into slavery, provide a base for slaver raids into other parts of Europe, and rule by the sword in much of the caliphate.

“Cordoba” is not a name that evokes peaceful coexistence of Islam and the West.  Perhaps a contest should be held to come up with a name that does; I don’t know that I can think of one offhand.  That shouldn’t surprise us.  Our own lifetimes all began less than a century on from the demise of the Ottoman Empire, the entity that shifted over the centuries of its existence from fighting against Europe to buffering it from the restive tribes and sheikdoms in its hinterland.  Most of us today don’t have much of a cultural memory of Islamic invasion; the peoples of Southeast Europe would be the exception.  But the rest of us have grown so accustomed to the absolute character of the Pax Americana that we tend to dismiss, out of our privileged disconnectedness from history, the implications that the peoples of other times and places would have recognized – with greater wisdom – as meaningful.

A mosque at Ground Zero is something intelligent people can dispute honestly and in good faith.  But honesty is essential, and it would be dishonest to dismiss the implications of proposing to name it Cordoba House.  Let’s propose naming it instead Tours House, after the Battle of Tours and the defeat of the Umayyad Muslim forces there in 732; or Lepanto House, after the naval battle in the Eastern Mediterranean in 1571, in which the Western forces broke the maritime power of the Ottoman Empire; or Vienna House, after the battle of 1683 in which the Western armies broke the siege of Vienna by the Ottoman invaders.

"There is no presence of American infidels in the city of Baghdad."

Heck, let’s tell the mosque’s backers they can have a mosque there but its name will be Baghdad Bob House.  If these seem like bad ideas because they send the wrong signal – well, exactly.  So does “Cordoba House.” We should not passively accept that name out of fear of being ridiculed or second-guessed, any more than we should accept a mosque at all for such a reason.

The building of mosques in America does raise more and more civic questions for us, as the evidence mounts that some of them are centers for cultivating jihadism and facilitating the logistic end of terrorism.  But that’s not because conservatives are hidebound and reactionary in their thinking, it’s because of what goes on in the mosques. It’s a legitimate question, what form our affirmation that most Muslims are not Islamist radicals needs to take.  And it’s legitimate as well to argue that it need not take the form of agreeing to a prominent mosque at Ground Zero named Cordoba House.

Cross-posted at Hot Air.

27 thoughts on “A Choice of Names: Tours House, Lepanto House, or Vienna House”

  1. Boy, that MacLeod is an idiot.

    Show him that mounting evidence, opticon,

    “…as the evidence mounts that some of them are centers for cultivating jihadism and facilitating the logistic end of terrorism.”

    and explain to us the sum of that “some” and the way it relates to the suitability of that Manhattan mosque.

    Don’t settle for your good-mannered innuendo, opticon, lay out the evidence.

  2. I have an idea – let’s propose that people in America get to call their homes, children, places of worship, organizations, and multi-purpose facilities located two or three blocks away from symbolically important places, etc., whatever they want. Or is “Cordoba” now an obscenity, that needs to be scrubbed from our maps of Spain, too?

    While you’re touring history and summarizing the ills and evils of the Caliphate, a little tour of other contemporaneous or near-contemporaneous alternative ways of life might be fair – just for a little perspective. I had considered such a digression in the HA GR piece – details from the rich tapestry of human life ca. 1000 and beyond, since the anti-Islamist ideologues seem to imagine that little constitutional paradises of human freedom were being set upon by the monstrous Moors way back then – but I decided it was essentially irrelevant to the only issues that ought to matter to Americans. No one is responsible for the history he or his forefathers left behind before coming to this country, and it’s not for anyone else to judge what they choose to take pride in from 1,000 years ago.

    If there’s a security issue – a real one, not an imaginary one – with mosques, then by all means let’s deal with it forthrightly and directly, but the idea that we should be deciding “civic questions” about building mosques on that basis is repugnant, as is the notion that a selective religious exclusion zone around the WTC site should be declared. Proposals for religious exclusions should have to survive the the most stringent tests – undertaken with the recognition that there is no American value more fundamental (supposedly) than freedom of worship – before even being considered.

    Thank you at least for being relatively polite – for not calling me a traitor, fifth columnist, or facilitator of evil. I would have appreciated a serious confrontation with the issues much more.

    1. “While you’re touring history[snark] and summarizing the ills and evils of the Caliphate,[denies relevance without providing evidence or logical rebuttal] a little tour of other contemporaneous or near-contemporaneous alternative ways of life might be fair – just for a little perspective.[charges unfairness and incomplete perspective, essentially contending that Islamic behavior can only be judged in the light of other groups behavior, which fails the truism that responsibility remains, regardless of what other groups may do] I had considered such a digression in the HA GR piece – details from the rich tapestry of human life ca. 1000 [since other groups behaved badly by modern standards, to discuss only ones groups failings is unfair, which not being in dispute is irrelevant] and beyond, since the anti-Islamist ideologues [snark labeling, that asserts that ideology rather than rational evaluation of Islam’s precepts and behavior is determinative] seem to imagine that little constitutional paradises of human freedom [more snark] were being set upon by the monstrous Moors[dismisses barbaric behavior by implying its wildly exaggerated] way back then [attempts to assert that distance in time precludes relevance to current Islamic behavior]

      What a remarkably petty response, that attempts to belittle a serious evaluation of ones argument by labeling it as inadequate but ‘at least’ not derisive.

      You’re allowing your natural emotional response to the vociferous criticism you received @ HotAir to color your perceptions CK. J.E. didn’t argue with the validity of your point, just that it insufficiently addressed all of the aspects of the issue.

      She then focused upon one aspect, the name choice of the mosque, which she demonstrated had definite historical and symbolic importance. Asserting that choice of name needed to be considered, as a psychological aspect, in the war with radical Islam. You might honestly disagree, but the petty emotionalism of your response, indicates much more than mere intellectual disagreement.

      FWiW, I found your argument persuasive and strictly considered, correct on the merits but perhaps intentionally narrow in its perspective in considering solely one aspect of the issue. Your willingness however, to categorically characterize all objections solely to fear and hatred greatly undermined that argument because it implicitly denied that there were any other relevant perspectives to consider.

      Regrettably, I also found your assumptions about the connections between radical Islam and Islam itself to be superficial and reflective of a shallow understanding of just what we are dealing with in this war. That evaluation of your expressed assumptions was amply demonstrated by your implicit classification of Andy McCarthy’s long pondered conclusions about the Islamic threat to the West, as being mere anti-Islamic ideology.

      We are under attack in a myriad of external and internal ways and, your apparent confidence in the superiority of Western civilization’s rational precepts, necessarily translating into a certain victory, is eerily reminiscent of the complacent attitudes of the British elite in Singapore, just before the Japanese attacked in WWII.

      “When the Japanese did land at Kota Bharu aerodrome, in Malaya, Singapore’s governor, Sir Shenton Thomas is alleged to have said “Well, I suppose you’ll (the army) shove the little men off.” http://pajamasmedia.com/richardfernandez/2010/05/31/the-consolations-of-philosophy/#more-9231 (comment#4)

      It’s not Sir Thomas’ implicit racism of course that you fall prey too CK, rather its his complacent assurance that ‘good breeding’ shall prevail.

      After all, we’re the good guys, right? Rationality, enlightened self-interest and cooperative, well-intended and inclusive define us, so we have to win, right?

      1. Labeling disagreement as “snark,” Geoffrey, does not constitute a rebuttal. Some of the implications you suggest are entirely as intended: JED seems to find the historical resonances interesting and amusing. I briefly sketch what a fair historical argument might look like, but I consider it irrelevant to the issues I addressed, for the reasons stated. From my perspective, JED’s entire response qualifies as an extended exercise in “snark,” fittingly capped off with a reference to Baghdad Bob.

        I presented an argument – that conservative reaction to Cordoba House has been largely characterized by an invocation of collective guilt that is directly at odds with the core American values that conservatives champion – except apparently in cases like this one when they prove inconvenient. I analyzed a selection of representative opinion to support my contention, while addressing the Cordoba House issue on its own terms only secondarily, mainly as it relates the proportionality of the conservative reaction (“looming horror,” “conquer America,” etc.).

        There are numerous ways that someone who disagreed with the argument could have gone about addressing it. Two of the arguments that do not contradict it are: “Muslims are bad so we have a right to be upset,” and “the name ‘Cordoba House’ has disturbing connotations to me and should to you.” Like all or almost all of the commenters at HotAir, JED virtually ignores the main argument. That’s not “vociferous criticism” or “pushback.” It only just barely qualifies as a response at all. Most of the comments, including JED’s piece, could have been written in reply to virtually any post on this issue, pro-House, anti-House, long, short, or just for the fun of it.

        If you want, as you always seem to, to make a “this theater is crowded, FIRE!” argument, that’s another thing entirely. In that case, however, dwelling on a tone that you find off-puttingly “petty” or “snarky” is itself rather petty. Apparently, your position is that we need to suspend American values until we’re through with a worldwide clash of civilizations. You might as well declare the entire American idea defunct. In fact, I think think you have done so.

  3. As a person who has over the years actually spent time and when in the past I had it, money on inter-religious dialogue, I question any religion who looks backward to the future. If the backers of the mosque were so interested in religious dialogue and education they could have gotten together with the Jewish centers of New York, the Roman Catholic centers of New York , the Protestant centers of New York, etc. and built a center of religious dialogue. Then you could start having a dialogue on the many Islamic majority nations who are currently allowing actual murder of believers whose crime seems to be that they are not Muslims, the Copts of Egypt come to mind. And for the so-called lefty intelligentsia, how long have the Copts been in Egypt, longer than the Us or Harvard have been in existence, so why do they now have no right to exist?

  4. Good points J.E. The name was not chosen to suggest interfaith dialogue.

    But for me that’s all the better. The name and even more so the doings at that mosque will be perfect as continuing education for all Americans.

  5. I think an important distinction here is that between what is permitted by civic authorities under the law and what can be undertaken by private individuals. Sure, under the law, a religious organization can choose whatever name it wants. Apparently, in New York City at least, the city council will vote to approve the use of the land.

    But individuals can push back, can call attention to the meaning of the name, can protest and challenge. Would many of us favor Catholics building a Torquemada Academy? A Mary Tudor Outreach Center? And wouldn’t we let our Catholic neighbors know about it if one sprang up? After all, Catholics are challenged in the press every time the Pope says anything new: “Do you agree with this? How does this affect your ideas of public policy?”

    We really need some new private organizations to work on this: Explaining the meaning of the names, finding out where the humungous funds are coming from, sampling the literature, listening to the speeches, and reporting on them. Truth-detectors, something like MEMRI and CAMERA, putting out the word and also asking other Muslim organizations and individuals if they support this. It is time to expect of Muslims what we expect of everyone else–that they explain themselves to the wide polity, and face its criticism.

  6. There’s a report out that a Roman Catholic bishop has been stabbed to death in Turkey. The great tragedy here besides the man’s death is that Turkey was the scene of Angelo Roncalli’s diplomatic mission during WWII. This man became Pope John XXIII. People in the West have got to come to vocal discussion on the racism of not taking adherents of Islam to the same standards as other world religions.Hirsi Ali’s new book Nomad has the West’s racist approach as one of her central themes. She says that the West in their intellectual class are treating Muslims like errant children instead responsible adults. In Roncalli’s time in Turkey he was not allowed to wear clerical dress on the streets of Turkey, in spite of that minor restriction he grew as a voice of dialogue in a very dark time in human history. People have to speak out and not just brave women like Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

  7. CK,

    Labeling some of your comments as “snark” wasn’t intended to be a rebuttal, it was merely an observation. I’ll leave it to others to decide for themselves, whether it was a fair assessment. Shoot the messenger if you must but that changes the accuracy of the message, not at all.

    “JED seems to find the historical resonances interesting … but I consider it irrelevant to the issues I addressed”
    I’m reasonably confident that she considers them irrelevant to your points as well but she wasn’t addressing your argument’s points CK, she was saying OK, but what about this point?

    J.E. was saying this aspect is relevant to the issue as well and here’s my rationale for thinking that to be so. Your response was to say, no its not! and you’re being mean!

    “I presented an argument – that conservative reaction to Cordoba House has been largely characterized by an invocation of collective guilt that is directly at odds with the core American values that conservatives champion – except apparently in cases like this one when they prove inconvenient. I analyzed a selection of representative opinion to support my contention, while addressing the Cordoba House issue on its own terms only secondarily,”

    In the comments following, your ‘largely characterized’ and ‘representative opinion’ became a categorical and sweeping indictment, which essentially asserted that objections could only rest upon hate and fear. That amounted to clarification of your position.

    Your deciding that the Cordoba House issue was a secondary matter, clearly wasn’t shared by many, at least some of whom categorized it as the primary issue. Disagreement is fine but you basically insisted that your perception was the only correct perception.

    “vociferous criticism” certainly can include the objection that an argument fails to address all the aspects of an issue and, can do so without addressing the points you made, points that at least some of us, acknowledged as valid.

    Your argument essentially boiled down to an accusation that conservatives, given their expressed principles, are being hypocrites on this issue. You’ve used the narrowness of your perspective to preclude any other consideration, taking an essentially libertarian point of view upon the issue.

    But someone can agree that your points are valid, while maintaining that they fail to address other, equally valid points about the issue.

    Your denial has now made that the issue, rather than the argument you made. Your refusal to acknowledge the obvious, quite clearly reveals your emotional bias.

    I’m not clear on what you mean by my tendency to make a “this theater is crowded, FIRE!” argument, you’ll have to elaborate if you wish a response.

    Accusing me of being petty as rebuttal to my observation of your snarkiness is at best juvenile, essentially saying; “I’m NOT petty, you are!”

    No, my position is that you fight fire with fire and if you insist upon the Marquis of Queensbury rules in a fight with a Nazi, you’re going to lose and, lose every time.

    I’ll fight as cleanly and honorably as victory allows but when fighting evil, if in order to win, I have to engage in immoral, unconscionable behavior, I’ll live with it because after I’ve won, the world will have a chance at peace but if evil wins, only darkness will prevail.

    I define evil as denying other people, through the use of violence, the right to life, liberty and their pursuit of happiness.

    A pursuit only bound by the boundary of not impinging upon other people’s pursuit of happiness.

    By that definition Islam is evil because it most definitely seeks to restrict our freedoms and, to do so with violence when necessary.

    Moderates are complicit in that violence because they are facilitating it and through inaction, condoning it.

    Perhaps for you but for me, the Constitution is not a suicide pact.

  8. Islam is evil because it most definitely seeks to restrict our freedoms

    Do I even need to characterize that statement?

    Islam is what Muslims make or have made of it. There are said to be over one billion Muslims. Most of them don’t really care about “our freedoms.” Many of the rest admire and want freedoms like ours, and have fought and died at our side for them. At the same time, according to a close, doctrinal reading, virtually all religions require a restriction of freedom, and all religions present themselves as a total solution for all humankind, right where the others are wrong.

    Encouraging reformist tendencies, an Islamic reformation, is of critical importance. The pressures and realities of life on Earth in the modern world our on our side, over the long term, but social, economic, and political pressures and missteps can worsen things tremendously in the short- and mid-term. I don’t see how our interests in splitting the enemy coalition, or preventing it from being formed in the first place, and building the friendly coalition, are helped by open assaults on the dignity of Muslims. I think you’ll drive Muslims together, lose a lot of people in the middle, and open possibilities for opportunists. That’s the practical side of losing the moral high ground, which you’ve abandoned without a struggle.

    “this theater is crowded, FIRE!” No matter the topic, as soon as you engage on it, it’s an emergency, sorry if someone gets hurt, or something gets lost.

    You essentially agree that JED’s piece and HotAir comments were diversionary and non-responsive – you just think people have a right not to respond, or to assert their own priorities. Sure they do. Since you aren’t committed to core American values, it doesn’t make any difference to you which way the argument goes. Which underlines my argument: The attitude is rightwing, not conservative, and deserves to be opposed. It’s as or more dangerous than you believe ‘Islam’ to be. Once upon a time people were willing to fight and die for our freedoms. You’re ready to give them up ahead of time – and expect them to be there again on the day, who knows how many years and heaps of corpses from now, when you’re finally ready to say the emergency is over.

    1. “Islam is evil because it most definitely seeks to restrict our freedoms”

      “Do I even need to characterize that statement?

      You have characterized that statement CK, and dishonestly, by leaving off the qualifying parts of my assertion;
      By that definition, Islam is evil because it most definitely seeks to restrict our freedoms and, to do so with violence, when necessary.

      An omission that allows you to assert, “according to a close, doctrinal reading, virtually all religions require a restriction of freedom

      Yes, all religions do restrict freedoms, the difference, as you well know is that Islam uses deadly violence to restrict freedom. Not merely against the West but against their own adherents and especially against anyone who tries to leave Islam. It’s the sanctioned use of violence wherein the evil most deeply lies.

      Not to put words in your mouth but I’m reasonably confident that you regard the worst excesses of the Spanish Inquisition as evil. It’s the violence, used to force compliance, to which we object and, by that standard, Islam shares center stage with that period in Christianity’s past.

      The difference between the two is that the inquisition directly opposed Jesus’ tenets and, no one would suggest that Jesus would have condoned what the inquisition did but Islam’s use of violence, in all the various ways in which it is employed is fully in keeping with Muhammad’s directions and the tenets of Islam.

      Which leads me to your assertion that, “Encouraging reformist tendencies, an Islamic reformation, is of critical importance.”

      Here you reveal that your understanding of Islam is incomplete and superficial.

      You are correct that an Islamic reformation would be of critical importance.

      Regrettably, internal reform of Islam, such that it might have its reformation is theologically impossible. Before I explain why that is so, consider the implications of that assertion. For if in fact, Islam is incapable of reform, due to its theological infrastructure, then the implications are profoundly important.

      To start with, Islam is based in religious, theological assertions, so in order to understand it, one must examine it from that perspective. If one is unwilling to examine Islam’s theological premises, the extending logic that proceeds from those premises and the resultant conclusions it reaches, one cannot possibly gain a deep understanding of Islam, as it relates to our present circumstances.

      Which means, we have to talk about God, at least within the context of Islam.

      I base my assessment that Islam can’t change upon Islam’s holiest and most fundamental theological tenet, which when fully appreciated inexorably leads to the logical conclusion that it is Islam itself, which makes war upon Israel and the West.

      That tenet compels Islam to do so and allows for no deviation from that path. It also allows for no internal reform of Islam, makes reformation impossible and accounts for the silence of ‘moderate’ Islam.

      That fundamental, foundational theological Islamic tenet is simply this;

      Muhammad didn’t write the Qur’an (Koran) GOD did…

      Muhammad made this most extraordinary theological claim in establishing his religion, which inexorably leads to certain immutable assumptions from which Islam cannot retreat because to do so, would destroy Islam’s theological foundations and collapse the entire theological rationale and edifice.

      Muhammad claimed that the Archangel Gabriel physically visited with him on multiple occasions and directly transmitted God’s words directly to Muhammad for transcription. That Muhammad merely took dictation and that Gabriel was there, to make sure, that he got it, exactly right.

      This is what all Muslims believe, its actual truth irrelevant, their belief… all that matters. Thus, the Qur’an is the perfect word of God, directly from the ‘big guys’ mouth and therefore, inviolate.

      Theologically, to change even one word, even one comma is to distort God’s own, perfect words and that, no man may do.

      Upon this claim by Muhammad rests his assertion that he is God’s prophet and because he claimed to bring God’s words directly to mankind, implicit to that claim is that Muhammad is the final prophet. As there is no need for more prophets, God gets it right the first time (he’s perfect) and the Qur’an’s message is categorical; this is what God wants us to believe and how God wants us to behave and how to structure society in compliance with God’s desire.

      Theologically, there’s no where to go with that, there’s no equivocation, a matter of accept it or reject it.

      There are theological contradictions in the Qur’an but since Allah cannot be perfect if he contradicts himself and, as God’s perfect, final prophet, Muhammad can’t contradict himself either, by long settled Islamic doctrine, the later violent passages supersede the earlier, more peaceful passages.

      That this is highly convenient is irrelevant, what matters is that its settled doctrine.

      Of course moderate Muslims know this and that is why they are so strangely silent in the face of their culpability in the violence upon innocents.

      Quite simply, the radicals are on far firmer theological ground in their interpretation of Islam than the moderates. And, because of the aforementioned foundational tenets of Islam, the moderates have no theological basis upon which to propose reform or oppose the ‘radicals’ interpretation, who are simply following Muhammad’s instructions to follow the Qur’an’s dictates, i.e. to follow God’s dictates…thus the moderates are in effect reduced to quietly mumbling about their discomfort with the violence.

      This is why Islam cannot reform itself, for to do so it must ‘reform’ the Qur’an, but that implicitly rejects Muhammad’s claim that the Qur’an is the direct word of God.

      Which logically destroys Muhammad’s claim to being a prophet and his claim that Gabriel visited him. Literally begging the question; if Muhammad got something as basic as the Qur’an’s authorship wrong, what else did he get wrong?

      The inevitable theological result would be the removal of Islam’s theological foundation and the entire rationale for Islam disappears, collapsing into dust.

      Thus the only way to avoid the theological struggle, which medieval Islam, in its contact with the modernity of the West’s culture is confronted with is to subdue the West and make it submit. It’s either that or Islam will become theologically extinct.

      Osama bin Ladin, the radical Imams and Mullahs know this and that is why they hate the West. To them, we must be the great Satan, for our very existence; our culture and its philosophical tenets are a mortal threat to Islam’s theological foundations and, nothing can change that. The only alternative for them is the philosophical abandonment of Islam’s theological foundations.

      Which is exactly what the moderates have done, while living in denial of the theological reality of their denial, simply ignoring the parts of the Qur’an that they find uncomfortable.

      But the radicals can’t do that, they’re conservative and think deductively, so behavior must match premises. Moderates, Islam’s liberals… think inductively so behavior isn’t dependent upon premise, they can ignore the contradiction between their behavior and their premises. Sound familiar?

      Wherein the problem lies for the moderates is that participation in the ‘Ummah’ requires the condoning of and compliance with, the violence of the radicals, which by Western standards and law, equates to criminal culpability in the violence.

      Thus, moderates are confronted with a fundamental paradox; to remain Muslim means to participate in the violence by at the least, fulfilling Burke’s dictum; “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing” but to reject the violence, they must reject Islam and commit apostasy.

      So moderates have to decide, do they stand on the side of peace or hate?

      “For a man cannot serve two masters”…

      Yet, for practical and moral reasons, I do not propose to make war upon 1.5 billion Muslims and I’ll address the rest of your points next.

    2. You said: “No one can be prejudged on the basis of religion or other beliefs”
      Is the connection of a building built to worship ALLAH AND terrorists who flew planes into the world trade center while screaming “ALLAH AKBAR” a prejudgement or a fact? I don’t believe anyone is saying a Muslim cannot own the building. Would the reaction be the same if it was in the name of another God? I think so. You said: ” The CI is constructing a building, welcoming strangers, and preaching interfaith cooperation and exchange.” You may believe at face value what is being said by the CI owners but others know what words like TAQIAYAH and dhimmi mean. They are watching what is happening at Mosques in Western Europe and we can be specific by mentioning England. Historically mosques are set up and used as breeding grounds for radicalism and terrorism. These are facts. You may choose the face value explanation but others don’t have to and are not overreacting when voicing these concerns based on empirical evidence.
      You are adament that if opposing the mosque you are opposing American Values and thus making the entire American idea defunct. I would like you to be more specific when you say american values but for now I will just assume. As someone who lives in Los Angeles, not too long ago there was a big uproar regarding the Hollywood sign. The people who owned parts of the land around the sign were getting ready to sell to developers for 22 mil. dollars. and protests ensued. Residents led by city councilment, the Gov. etc exerted pressure on the owners to sell the property to a conservation group for almost half of its worth. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24182888/ In so many of the articles the titles were along the lines of the threat of developers and development. Did the developers face the prejudice of others? Was their liberty stifled, their right of ownership to land and to sell or profit from thier work infringed upon, thus destroying their American dream and making the American idea defunct? Does it make the protesters of the developers opposed to American values?
      The worst terror attack on American soil was committed in the name of “ALLAH”. Can we say this site would be considered sacred grounds to Americans? A group of developers come along and want to tear down a building that was damaged by pieces of a plane that hit the WTC and happens to be up for LANDMARK status because of the year built and facade. The developers want to tear down the building and replace it with a building to worshiping ALLAH. If people didn’t react emotionally I would question why? But you wish to take that argument away and insist if they oppose the building they oppose it because of prejudice against muslims, therefore they don’t support the American dream. That may be how narrow your thinking is but I don’t think your assertion stands up. As I said before, no one is saying a muslim cannot own the building, they are saying building a memorial to Allah is not an appropriate gesture considering the history of the building.
      What should be done? Give the building LANDMARK status, once given status it cannot be torn down, have the politicians intervene on behalf of protesters and maybe a conservation group who could obtain donations to buy the building from the developers and donate the building to the state of NYC and make it a 9/11 museum. I would say that would be very American. The site of the Trade Center bombing is sacred ground to americans and should be preserved in such a way the idea of having to defend that stance is unamerican.

    3. “I don’t see how our interests…are helped by open assaults on the dignity of Muslims.”

      Hopefully, clarity will help you to see. Though it is a bit of a subtle distinction and worth discussion, as to the practical implications; it’s not an assault upon moderate Muslims which I favor, it’s exposure of Islam’s foundational, theological tenets and the implicit reality of consequences that they present to the West, that I favor.

      Moderate Muslims are as much in denial about the issue I have raised, as you were previously ignorant of those tenets and the consequential results of Islam’s premises.

      Ah, now I see what you mean, “No matter the topic, as soon as you engage on it, it’s an emergency, “this theater is crowded, FIRE!” sorry if someone gets hurt, or something gets lost.” (I slightly rearranged the quote for clarity)

      I believe you’re basing that assessment upon this topic and the prior one we engaged in, on your site. I happen to think that the Islamic threat to the West and the societal importance of whether rights can be based in secular principles that rest upon the consensual whim of the mob are of fundamental importance. I also maintain that discussion that clarifies these import issues, demands urgency.

      However, I don’t think that the recent umpire’s error that ‘unjustly’ denied the Detroit pitcher Galarraga his unquestioned perfect game is an emergency. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/detroit-debacle-a-perfect-game-denied-2010-06-03 But I do think its both a personal and institutional ‘tragedy’.

      I don’t agree that “JED’s piece and HotAir comments were diversionary and non-responsive” and the fact that you continue to label them as such, confirms my assessment that your emotional investment in ‘being right’ has you adamantly maintaining that only your perspective is correct.

      “Since you aren’t committed to core American values, it doesn’t make any difference to you which way the argument goes.”

      Not only is that a cheap shot but an inaccurate one as well. I’ve amply demonstrated logical consistency both in the past and currently, so clearly it does matter to me “which way the argument goes”.

      As for my commitment to core American values, I’m confident that many would rank it, at least as highly as your commitment. But even if they did not, even if every person in the world judged my commitment to those values to be lacking, I would not change them based solely upon disagreement. My moral calculus rests upon my assessment of where I lie in relation to my God, his teachings as I understand them and my best understanding of the highest moral principles, to which I have been exposed.

      We simply disagree as to aspects of those values.

      I would defend your right to disagree with me, to the death.

      I would engage in the torture of a terrorist, to the extent of maiming and even killing them, if that was the only way to save lives.

      I would not hurt an innocent, physically or psychologically, not even to force that same terrorist to provide the information needed to save millions.

      You would allow millions to die, in order not to violate due process.

      So, which of us truly stands upon the higher moral ground?

      “The attitude is rightwing, not conservative, and deserves to be opposed.”
      I certainly support your right to oppose any attitude, ‘right-wing’ or otherwise . I simply disagree with your reasoning.

      “It’s as or more dangerous than you believe ‘Islam’ to be.
      No, its not. Here’s why; I don’t oppose anyone’s freedom to peacefully pursue their idea of happiness. But they’ll kill you, if your pursuit of happiness violates Shariah law. That practical difference easily supersedes your theoretical moral application.

      “Once upon a time people were willing to fight and die for our freedoms.”
      You mean like WWII, when we firebombed Dresden, to deal a psychological blow to Germany? And incinerated 175,000 Japanese old men, women and children to compel Japan’s surrender?

      “You’re ready to give them up ahead of time – and expect them to be there again on the day, who knows how many years and heaps of corpses from now, when you’re finally ready to say the emergency is over.”

      You mean like immediately after WWII and the examples previously cited? Or how about our seizure of America from the Indians, with its enforced reservations? And then there’s the enslavement of blacks, generations of broken families and beaten psyche’s…

      You might CK, reflect upon and consider that if America’s freedoms where really as fragile as you imply, they never should have lasted. The reason our freedoms did survive however was because while all of those events, taken strictly on their own terms were undeniably highly immoral and even evil, the circumstances surrounding those events necessarily imposed other considerations that made them unavoidable.

      Nazi Germany and Japan had to be defeated and decisively so. No peace treaty would have sufficed, the ideologies those nations embodied, had to be utterly destroyed. Truman made the correct moral decision in dropping the bombs. People were going to die no matter what he decided. 175,000 was a far lesser immorality than 5-25 million lost in invading Japan. And complete and unconditional surrender was the only way to destroy Japan’s Bushido ideology.

      The American Indian had no concept of private property, only tribal territorial claims to be defended. Never, in all of history has a weaker, less advanced society been left alone, sooner or later it is pushed aside because that is the law of the jungle or the law of evolution, that the strongest survive.

      Once Europe discovered the America’s, the indigent cultures were doomed. Just as the reverse would have been true, had the circumstances been reversed.

      That’s not an excuse for near genocide, that’s the reality of ‘human’ nature. That near-genocide however, doesn’t invalidate what the European settlers did with ‘their’ new land. They created the most just, free and morally advanced society the world has ever known. And it couldn’t have been done in the ‘old’ world.

      The same principles apply in regard to slavery, which is, an evil immorality, if one posits that we have rights granted by a transcendent, objectively real creator.

      The reason that is so, is because Dostoevsky got it right when he observed that, “If there is no God, then everything is permitted” (you didn’t really think the argument was over, did you? 🙂

      Which inexorably leads to; if everything is permitted, then there can be no right or wrong. (Because we are reduced to mere opinion and whether individual or consensus opinion, it remains opinion)

      And if there is no right or wrong, then all that is left is the law of the jungle…

      Which is what had led to the near-universal slavery that had always existed and still did at the time of this country’s founding. Every major American founder is on record as opposing slavery. (I have the quotes) The circumstances were such, as Edmund Randolph the representative from Virginia succinctly put it during the Constitutional Convention; “Sir, the question is not whether we shall have slavery, the question is whether we shall have union”.

      Had the Founders, by ‘modern’ standards, chosen the ‘morally correct’ thing to do, there would have been no American ‘union’. Instead, the world would have had another variation on the European model. But the industrial revolution would still have occurred and Russia would have had its Soviet revolution.

      Whether Hitler would have risen to power we can’t say, given the possibility that without American involvement in WWI, Germany would have signed an armistice rather than surrender and the resultant conditions in Germany might not have supported Hitler’s emergence.

      But whether Hitler or Stalin, one would be the sole superpower in the world today because a collection of European states on the American continent would never have acted in a coordinated, consistent pattern of response to the threat and, it is certain that freedom such as we know, wouldn’t exist.

      Compromise CK is sometimes the acceptance of what is undeniably immoral, in order to obtain a great moral advancement. In all of the pertinent examples I listed, that is exactly the ‘trade’ that took place.

      I believe that a world with an America that celebrates individual liberty, honors the economic freedom that capitalism brings and is a Constitutional republic is far more preferable than a world without America.

      If Andy McCarty is right about the assault from the Left and the Islamic Jihad both stealth and overt…and I am right about the threat from Islam being theologically based, with its concomitant acquiescence from moderate Islam…then the threat is far more grave and immediate in its consequences, than you allow.

      You won’t win a gun fight with a knife and refusing to acknowledge it as a gunfight won’t save you from a bullet, nor will it save America.

  9. Well, how does one “encourage reformist tendencies”? Bland toleration of “whatever Muslims make of Islam” iis not the way. What is required is very active and sustained challenge of the elements of bigotry, misogyny, and totalitarianism in Islam. This includes sustained exposure of the funding of American Islam by foreign countries, and of the literature found in mosques. Right now, American Muslims aren’t really making much of Islam, they are for the most part very heavily sponsored by Saudi Arabian funders, and the funders are defining the religion.

    I would have no problem limiting the “freedoms” of non-citizens, including non-residents, who fund and stock mosques for Americans with materials supporting active warfare against our country, any more than of foreign corporations that would do the same thing. It is quite in line with our freedoms to have laws against soliciting funds for terrorist organizations, for example.

  10. Fascinating debate, but for me it is all beside the point.

    It is simply a matter of decency and tact not to build a mosque in the vicinity of that very special place. Muslims should show some consideration and not demand such a thing, knowing full well that it will upset many people. That is how civilized people behave. It is not a matter of rights and lawyerly arguments. Civilized people would quietly drop the matter. Or earn whatever antipathy comes their way.

  11. Thanks all for a lively debate. I got sidetracked yesterday and must apologize for not getting back to this post sooner.

    The bottom line on the name “Cordoba” is that I believe it does matter what the intentions are of the people who are behind establishing a mosque with that name.

    It would be one thing if they simply wanted to build a mosque somewhere in the USA and call it Cordoba House; but El Gordo is right: they should take special care to be sensitive about the implications of everything related to their effort, if they want to put it at Ground Zero.

    I actually have had to conclude that I disagree with CKM on his original point. I don’t think the objections to the mosque at Ground Zero ARE based on a reflexive assignment of group guilt. Group guilt has to do with the characteristics of people, considered in demographic categories and associated by implication with real or imagined injuries.

    In the US, the classic example is “white guilt” over slavery and discrimination. In the larger West, “white male guilt” has been a staple for the last half century. At various times in European history, “Jewish guilt” has been postulated for a host of imaginary crimes. In the Arab (and Iranian) Muslim world, “female guilt” is an endemic mindset.

    That, at least, is how I have always understood the “group guilt” idea to work. It’s hard to define a single, all-encompassing category of the phenomenon. But I do think CKM’s argument defines it in a new direction, and one I can’t ultimately agree with.

    We have freedom of religious worship in the US, but no one has a “right” to build (or repurpose) whatever house of worship he wants anywhere he wants. Civil permits are required, as they are with any kind of structure. There is a step in the process at which the community inherently has a vote.

    For the most part, people are sensitive to local demographics and sentiments when they propose to establish a house of worship somewhere. I wouldn’t go in and try to plunk a megachurch down between the Chabad House and the synagogue, just as I wouldn’t build an eight-storey cathedral to tower over a four-storey mosque in the Muslim area of LA or Detroit. If I tried to, I would expect pushback from the local community.

    So the expectation of social sensitivity that El Gordo refers to isn’t something being uniquely laid on Muslims here. It may be something we think about mainly in the breach, but it is always at work. In fact, there are communities all across America in which community boards or activists have objected to mosques, churches, and synagogues being established in certain places, and the outcome is never guaranteed to be uniform by a rigid application of law. Sometimes lawsuits are involved, but my sense is that most of the disputes are settled by compromise, usually involving the house of worship being sited somewhere else.

    The reason I go through all that is to establish that locating buildings with religious purposes has never been held to be a “right” that trumps all other considerations. Therefore, those who object to having a mosque at Ground Zero are not proposing to deny Muslims a “right.” And that’s important to the discussion of whether this is a “group guilt” issue or not, because of the imputed actionability of group guilt for the state: e.g., group guilt justifies the abrogation of rights for the guilty group, or justifies requiring it to pay damages (restitution, disadvantage under quota systems), or justifies requiring it to live under targeted restrictions, like women under shari’a or Jews under the punitive codes imposed at various times in parts of Europe.

    The other aspect of this that militates against calling it a “group guilt” mindset is the long-established argument of many on the right that there ARE Muslims, many of them, who are personally moderate in their political beliefs and manner of life, but that Islam as a theology has not proven itself to have a form that qualifies as “moderate” in the terms of the West.

    The question here is not whether we agree with that proposition. The point is the fact that it is enunciated, and by many people whom I have no reason to believe are actually, at heart, anti-Muslim. They have a concern about Islam that they don’t have about Christianity or Judaism — not because of the PEOPLE who are members of mosque-based religious communities around the world, but because of the tenets of the religion.

    That is clearly a proposition different from group guilt. I’m not arguing for or against it, but what I am saying is that it’s not a “group guilt” premise. It’s a “perception of a religion” premise. Granted, it’s usually based on the incomplete understanding of Islam common to almost everyone in the West, but that doesn’t automatically mean that the concern is “really” one about a posited collective guilt, on the part of the human beings who are Muslims, for the 9/11 attacks.

    None of this, incidentally, means I would not, myself, approve putting a mosque at Ground Zero. But I would approach it in a different manner. I would assert up front that America is the land of religious freedom, where the government is a friend to the peaceful practice of religion by the citizens. Ground Zero will be open to religious worship but will not become the site of religious triumphalism or one-upmanship.

    Each of Protestant Christians, Catholics, Jews, and Muslims is welcome to establish a place of worship at the site of Ground Zero. There will be an equal limit on the height and square footage of the structure for each group. The cross, the Star of David/tablets of the Law, and the crescent will all be permitted prominent display, with a size limit on outdoor emblems.

    I would do this as the Borough of Manhattan in the City of New York, because that’s how we do business in the USA. I would do it because this is America, not Jerusalem; the bloody Idumaean legacy will not encroach on us here. There is no Al Aqsa in America. Nor is there a network of gray-clouded battlefields with the blood of centuries on them: the blood of Islamic invaders and Christians, or the blood of one faction using the cross as an excuse to slaughter another fighting under the same standard. There is no Prague Jewish cemetery in America. No Auschwitz, no Dachau, no Bergen-Belsen.

    The Christians came to America without blowing up buildings in the name of Jesus. The Jews came here without blowing up buildings in the name of YHWH. Many, many Muslims have come here without blowing up buildings in the name of Allah. Some have not

    The symbolism people carry in their minds is pretty accurate. Islam doesn’t exist in some category that must be reinterpreted abstractly to obscure the truth, lest we be untrue to our principles. Our principles demand, rather, that we acknowledge the truth.

    Islam must adhere to OUR ground rules for religious, philosophical, and social coexistence. The tendency of some of its practitioners to demand the converse, wherever they migrate, cannot be ignored if we are to uphold truth at the same time. We have been greatly blessed for a long time, to be able to peacefully absorb Muslim immigrants and converts in the USA, but to insist that nothing has changed in the last 40 years, with the rise of radical Islamism around the world, is to ignore the truth.

    Ground Zero is the site of a religiously motivated attack. In my view, there could not be anything more American than Manhattan affirming our freedom of religion by officially welcoming ALL the major religions practiced by Americans at the site — but in doing that, specifically reaffirming our national character as a haven for religious freedom and tolerance. That means demonstrating the positive intent to respect and uphold Christianity and Judaism as well as Islam. The signal should be unmistakable: Islam is here because America — an overwhelmingly Christian nation, with its laws and customs deriving from a Judeo-Christian tradition — is tolerant. America will remain so. If Islam wants to join us on that condition, excellent.

    1. What an incredibly evasive response. As if it’s a novelty in the Western world, and in America especially, to reject collective judgment of an entire religion and all the ills it brings on, as though freedom of conscience and freedom of worship weren’t core American values – and, more to the current point, as if a range of conservative voices can’t be found stirring up anti-Muslim hatred…

      …helping to lead to stances like Geoffrey’s – where he starts out accusing me of “dishonesty” in selecting a fragmentary statement that depicts his view, then spends, what, 1000, 2000 words, proving that the implication was accurate.

      1. Would you consider it a good idea to put the German consulate in New York inside a former synagogue? In 1955? Would you care to defend it?

  12. America — an overwhelmingly Christian nation, with its laws and customs deriving from a Judeo-Christian tradition — is tolerant. America will remain so. If Islam wants to join us on that condition, excellent.

    Christian, feh.

    Christians may have overwhelmed the people who were living here prior to their arrival, but that’s where the overwhelming about stops.

    Religions come and go and change along the way.
    Christianity has no great history of tolerance, all it has is a longer history than Islam.

    If Christians can be trained , Muslims can also be.

    Not yet sure about Mormons.

  13. It seems to me that this all boils down to respect v. admiration. Islam demands respect, and so receives it; begrudging at times but still respect. The Christian west wants admiration at the expense of respect, and in the end loses both.

  14. has history come to an end,TJ?

    or is it perhaps a bit soon to be declaring a loser?

  15. No loser declared. Just glancing at the scoreboard.

    I like, by the way, the hint you give which implies that like Christendom of the 1400’s this is a phase of a great religions adolescence. I would take more comfort in it if there were dozens of precedents in other faiths (or if I were simply more aware of them), and of course I am nagged by the fact that Muslims do have a history to look at in Christianity and may wish to avoid what they might see as its present nadir.

    I’m interested in peace, but not the kind that comes from morphine. Here’s hoping I’m over-cautious.

    1. caution is good.

      but you can’t win unless you get in the game.
      if we don’t spend a little time playing together, we stay apart.
      then we never really learn which guys on the other team play dirty and which are good sports.

  16. Would you consider it a good idea to put the German consulate in New York inside a former synagogue? In 1955? Would you care to defend it?

    Not a good analogy, ElG.
    Not even close to making any sense.

    A successor government to a national government that enlisted all the resources
    of the nation to murder millions, does not compare to the crimes of a few people assuming for themselves to declare their crimes to be representative of a widely followed religion that they in no other respect do represent.

    1. “that they in no other respect do represent”

      That is debateable, but it does not matter, nor does the size of the crime. The Federal Republic of Germany is a very different government, more clearly incompatible with the Führerprinzip and the ideology of national socialism than many muslims demonstrably are with violent islamism. The people using this building would not be guilty of the crimes of the Third Reich (let´s make them Social Democrats). Now do you defend it or not? Why would you?

      It is aggressive, deliberate provocation. It is in bad taste and the wronged party has every right to resent it. In the actual case, we are the wronged party.

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