Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Once More Into the Mosque

The Associated Press and the New York Times have banned the use of the term "Ground Zero Mosque" in all future stories about the "Unbelievably Benign Community Center Containing Acres and Acres of Facilities For All Kinds Of Inclusive and Unobjectionable Activities (including a nearly undetectable worship thingy of some sort) Located Two Vast, Gargantuan, All But Impassable City Blocks Away From A Place Where Something Vaguely Unpleasant May or May Not Have Happened At Some Indeterminate Point In The Past."  Instead, most stories about the . . . entity, are using "Park51," the name chosen by its sponsors, and a standard nomenclature for New York real estate developers promoting new office buildings, condos and retail sites.

The substitution of "Park51" for "Ground Zero Mosque" treats the fact that Park51 is more than a mosque, located near but not right at Ground Zero, as politically significant, not an incidental detail.  And that fact is indeed emphasized by those who believe that the Park51 controversy is about, not just the constitutional limits determining how government treats religion, but the social attitudes that make religious freedom a day-to-day reality in America.  Thus did President Obama say, in endorsing Park51, "This is America.  And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable."  Thus did his admirers interpret Obama's endorsement as "casting this as a larger argument over the bedrock moral principles that are the foundation of American identity."

As Clive Crook points out, however, if the Park51 controversy is simply and solely about Americans' tolerance for religious diversity, it wouldn't matter if the "Ground Zero Mosque" really were a Ground Zero Mosque.  Indeed, it wouldn't matter if it were the "Osama bin Laden Mosque," located as close as physically possible to where the World Trade Center stood, preaching every day about the vileness and treachery of the American infidels.  In that case, Park51 would be a deliberate provocation, like the attempts by neo-Nazis in the 1970s to march through Skokie, a Chicago suburb that was home to many Holocaust survivors.  Americans, you say you're tolerant? Tolerate this!

Park51 is supposed to be nothing like Nazis marching in Skokie.  Its defenders say it represents a "vision of interfaith harmony."  Its developer says, "we know the best way to start a conversation is by extending a hand."  These are relevant considerations if we are supposed to make a distinction, as President Obama did by the time he finished expressing his thinking on Park51 last weekend, between the right to build Park51 and the wisdom of exercising that right in that particular way, and place. 

It is, therefor, legitimate to inquire about the vision of interfaith harmony Park51 will represent, rather than accept the characterizations advanced by the project's defenders as dispositive.  Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the sponsor of Cordoba House, Park51's mosque and Islamic center, has at least some notions of interfaith relations that are not self-evidently harmonious.  Rauf's repudiation of the 9/11 attacks, delivered in a 2001 television interview, was notably equivocal: "I wouldn't say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened."  Rauf has had almost nine years to retract or clarify those remarks, and un-blame the victim.  If he has ever done so it is a remarkably well-kept secret, given that it would be so politically useful.

Moreover, if Park51's developers and defenders sincerely want the project to reconcile Muslims and non-Muslims, the undeniable fact that lots of Americans consider the project a gratuitous provocation cannot be dismissed as unimportant, or ascribed to bigotry and intolerance.  The "rights-ization" of the debate over Park51 is, for those purposes, exactly the wrong approach.  Defenders of Park51 who conflate the most strident opponents of the project with all opposition to it, thereby denying that there are any legitimate arguments or respectable sentiments against Park51, are guaranteeing that the whole endeavor will lose friends.  As Micheal Tomasky recently conceded, the argument that liberals have erred by framing the Park51 debate entirely in terms of rights and tolerance, leaving no room for the consideration of community norms, is "not wrong."  For them to continue to insist that those who consider Park51 an affront should simply accede to the idea that First Amendment rights trump all competing political considerations, as the Skokie residents were told they must do 30 years ago, is . . . not wise.


Discussions - 30 Comments

Friends of mine were working in Cairo during 9/11. They spoke of cheering mobs and a horrific anti-American atmosphere at the time. Fortunately, their employer was able to transfer them quickly to another country.

Can the proponents of the mosque guarantee it won't be used for such a purpose, or does such conduct fall under their definition of religious liberty?

And to comment on another analogy used in this debate: Does anyone doubt there are celebrations of Pearl Harbor in Japan today? And maybe it is celebrated in places outside of Japan, or so I have heard.

I have not heard anything of Pearl Harbor celebrations in Japan. I think they are more likely *outside* of Japan, if anywhere, as you say (btw - excellent post, Mr. Voegeli).

More post-modern obfuscation of reality by altering nomenclature. Becomes rather Orwellian rather quickly.

Right, Tony. For years, liberals have taken refuge in euphemisms, not to mention obfuscation and demonization. For example, pro choice really means pro abortion (who can be completely "for" abortion without odium?), as liberals have real difficulty with choice anywhere else, in commerce or education--and politics. Also, I remember how liberals tried to frame the debate over busing for racial balance into a question of whether children should ride the bus. And of course conservatives are regularly called vile names (when they are not calling for congressional investigations of their critics) by people who profess to be above mere partisanship. They are actually less civil than the unappreciated partisans. This suggests that liberals have great difficulty prevailing on issues on the merits. It is great burden to carry for those who have abandoned constitutional government for soft despotism. Anything to advance the liberal agenda, whatever they can get away with. I used to give liberals the benefit of the doubt; I don't anymore.

Yes, WV, a very nice post. The last point is the most important -- if "sensitivity" and "reconciliation" are indeed the touchstones of this project, then why is the obvious loathing of most Americans for the location ignored? Seems a very stupid way to precede unless you are actually after provocation/triumphalism.

Now, how soon can we expect Mr. Scanlon to appear, that paragon of constitutionalism?

So are you saying Neo-Nazism is a religion that should be protected by the Constitution? And Mr. says, "For years, liberals have taken refuge in euphemisms, not to mention obfuscation and demonization." Wow, those are some really big words and I thought liberals were the educated elitists. As Ted Olson recently said, "We don't want to turn an act of hate against us by extremists into an act of intolerance for people of religious faith." His wife died on 9/11 and he was in the Bush administration.

And yes, pro-choice does mean pro-choice because you personally can be against abortion, but not opposed to keeping it legal and safe for those who chose it.

No, Deborah. The neo-Nazis argued, in public and in court, that Skokie's attempts to prevent their march violated their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly. I thought it was germane as an example of a contest between First Amendment rights and the legal and political obligation to tolerate their exercise, and the concern about a community's sensibilities. [Here (http://www.chicagohistory.org/static_media/pdf/historyfair/aclu_and_nazis_in_skokie_1978.pdf) is some background.]

Deborah, elitists are not alone in using "really big words." They are defined by their claims to a privileged status and unchecked authority. As to choice, I repeat that liberals are reluctant to grant other choices, as in school choice or choice in retirement plans. And some choices are beyond the pale, such as the choice of whether to accept your child or to murder it. "Personal" opposition to abortion counts for nothing, as it is no obstacle to the crime.

Another way of looking at it is to try other words in the formulation offered.

"You personally can be against fraud, but not opposed to keeping it legal and safe for those who chose it."

"You personally can be against drunk driving, but not opposed to keeping it legal and safe for those who chose it."

"You personally can be against wife-beating, but not opposed to keeping it legal and safe for those who chose it."

"You personally can be against slavery, but not opposed to keeping it legal and safe for those who chose it."

We have laws against things we know are evil. How do you say something is evil and yet that it is perfectly all right for people to do if they choose? I confess that I have have known people who thought poker playing was evil. Somehow, "You personally can be against playing poker, but not opposed to keeping it legal and safe for those who chose it." has a different sense to it than the above examples. See, I can agree with that, yet not the abortion one.

If we were all religiously intolerant, would there be any mosques built post-9/11 in Manhattan or anywhere else? Would we not have demanded the dismantling of all places of Islamic worship all over America if we were all intolerant of Islam as is suggested? That the area of Lower Manhattan that was damaged by the planes on 9/11 has been so sacred that nothing could be built there for all these years and suddenly, this project gets a big public push by the same officials who have been holding up other private projects for all these years makes the whole thing mind-bogglingly ludicrous.

Yes, it is a very good and satisfying post. Thank you.

Kate, could you explain how Cordoba/Park51 has received "a big public push" by "officials"?? What does that mean, exactly?

Kate, I actually agree with you (wow!) about the way to formulate the issue - by substituting other words and ideas for the original. It's a good technique (or, perhaps, tactic, depending on how one thinks of it).

You're right - we outlaw evil things. How we determined what is evil (either now or in the past) is a matter of some complexity, however. But you're leaving out an essential element of the debate. The idea that it is evil to force a woman (by eliminating the option of having a knowledgeable doctor perform an operation -that they don't think is evil- in a safe, clean medical facility, via the physically coercive power of the government - by outlawing such acts) to maintain a pregnancy and have a baby when that woman does not wish to continue said pregnancy and take it to term (give birth). The idea that complete strangers have a right to tell any woman that she must complete her pregnancy when she feels that this is not possible - or, more like a living nightmare - some of us think that is evil, to compel her to give birth by threat (imprisonment, fine, etc.). So, either way, with abortion legal or illegal, someone (including Christians in both scenarios) will feel that an evil is being perpetuated. So, which evil will it be? Which evil to outlaw? Or does one side claim a monopoly on defining and describing what evil is?

Um, there is this guy named Michael Bloomberg...

In our tradition, Craig, we try to protect the victim. When a life is on the line, there is no "choice." Once a woman has allowed herself to get pregnant (and in the vast majority of cases, "allowed" is the proper word), she abrogates her "choice" in the matter. It is not a matter of "strangers" telling her what to do so much as the public protecting the rights of someone who can't do it themselves. We do the very same thing for children, the infirm, and the mentally handicapped. It's called "civilization," I think.

And please, let's not get into semantics over the beginning of life. That is a dodge, and you now it.

"It is not a matter of "strangers" telling her what to do so much as the public protecting the rights of someone who can't do it themselves. We do the very same thing for children, the infirm, and the mentally handicapped. It's called "civilization," I think."

Nonetheless, in effect, it becomes a woman forced to give birth - and you're comfortable with using small-government to see that she does / they do. And to the women who refuse this, you and your ever-so-civilized forces for righteousness are content for them to resort to hangers and basements like in the good old days.

Yes, I know how much modern-day (tea party) conservatives embrace "civilization":

http://www.texasobserver.org/cover-story/cracked

http://epicanthus.net/2010/02/22/japanese-soldiers-executed-for-waterboarding-wwii-american-pows/

(Waterboarding: It's torture when "they" do it, but merely an "enhanced interrogation technique" when we do it!)

Anyway, let's get back to the Islamophobic fear-mongering cabaret.

"Once a woman has allowed herself to get pregnant (and in the vast majority of cases, "allowed" is the proper word), she abrogates her "choice" in the matter."

One only needs to look to South Dakota's Women's Health and Human Life Protection Act to see how meaningless that issue, that distinction (pregnancy chosen or forced), is to the "pro-life" people.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_Health_and_Human_Life_Protection_Act

and Republican SD State Senator Bill Napoli's notion of what would be an allowable scenario for an abortion:

""A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life."

and it's also more than obvious that non-marital sex is a real target, too. Controlling people by pretending to "care" about them. (Hey, isn't that how Jonah Goldberg was describing "liberal fascists"??)

Okay, but really, let's get back to the Bin Laden Ground Zero Mosque and Terrorist Training Center "debate"!

"So, which evil will it be? Which evil to outlaw? Or does one side claim a monopoly on defining and describing what evil is?"

Craig, there is a kind of Hegelian synthesis here which most reasonable people take as their stance. Why wouldn't we just try to limit evil in toto by not outlawing abortion but limiting it to such an extent that only the cases which really require abortion count? Because some women need abortion does not make it the rule, but the exception.

Napoli's stance is a good example. His stance does not entail a political class "caring" for another class of people. It reflects that the conservative stance has, as its primary consideration, the right to life of the child -- a right which cannot be abrogated unless the circumstances are ridiculously severe on the mother, as in his "real life description."

Sorry, Owl, I'm not interested in having a government bureaucracy that is tasked with evaluating which women truly need the abortions that they want and which women don't really need them.

"[Napoli's] stance does not entail a political class "caring" for another class of people."

Well, there may be a kernel of truth in that, inasmuch as conservatives seem to care about (if not for) fetuses and those like Terri Schiavo (with liquefied brain matter that will never again function), but for everyone else, it's all about creating a vicious non-society of all-against-all.

"[Napoli's stance] reflects that the conservative stance has, as its primary consideration, the right to life of the child -- a right which cannot be abrogated unless the circumstances are ridiculously severe on the mother, as in his "real life description."

So, if a girl was "brutally raped, savaged" but NOT - as in his description - but not "religious" (ok, if she's Muslim?), nor necessarily planning "on saving her virginity until she was married," would her situation qualify as warranting an abortion if she wanted one? I also love how he pictured her as being "sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it." Is that an essential element for the allowable scenario?? Would just a routine sodomizing (not one as bad as you can possibly make it) remove the compassion/pity factor enough so that this man would be willing to go to the girl or woman's bedside and break the news to her that the state (functioning under laws set up by small-government conservatives) deemed it necessary for her to see the pregnancy to term? Lovely.

I'll say this, and I might have said it before. I've mostly only provided some verbal support to the pro-choice cause, but the righties are really wearing me down on this one. I'm thinking it's time to just let you have your way. BUT, the important thing is to just make it consistent. Murder is murder is murder, so any women or doctors involved should be arrested, jailed, and tried for premeditated murder (with a possible death sentence in states that allow for that). Let's just do that. It would be interesting.

News item, the year 2019: "Republican Senator Mack Musselfist (TX) introduced a bill today that would allow legal exceptions for abortions to be performed in the US if the mother or father were not both US citizens, and, in some cases, would provide financial aid for the procurement of the procedure..."

But no, seriously, let's get back to the scary Mozlems! (Did you know they don't eat bacon?)

((oh yeah, and as for Michael Bloomberg, I don't see how his speech qualifies as a "big public push." He's the mayor of NYC, RESPONDING to an obvious (although oddly delayed - due to the slow build-up of the contrived controversy) backlash against a house of worship being built on a piece of private property. He wasn't saying, "New York, let's build this thing with revenue from a bacon tax!! Also, Islam is the new official religion of NYC!"

He was just stating what should be fairly obvious to anyone - they've go the right to do it, and to badger them into not doing it is to belittle the notion of freedom of religion.))

Craig, I think most conservatives make an exception for rape or the endangerment of a woman's life (although both will be abused by women who want convenience abortions). And it should never be anyone's "choice" to take another's life. That's stupid, Craig.

And of course there are crazy religious fanatics who want to end all forms of abortion. So what? Should I dredge up all the crazy lefties who want to 1) deindustrialize the planet, 2) socialize the means of production, 3) outlaw marriage, 4) grant animals rights, ad nauseam?

Who taught you how to argue?

"And it should never be anyone's "choice" to take another's life. That's stupid, Craig."

So, presumably you're opposed to situations in which judges, juries, and governors can choose to take (via Big Government) another's life? (consider Bush and his 15-30 minute considerations for last-minute clemency in death penalty cases, such as those of a retarded man or, of course, Karla Faye Tucker (whose plea for mercy he mocked in an interview w/ Tucker Carlson).)

Talk to some Jews about when life begins. Even the Talmud states that the fetus is "mere water" until its 40th day. Consider Israel (a friend of yours?):

According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics report from 2004, in 2003 most abortion requests were granted, with 19,500 legal abortions performed and 200 requests for abortion denied. Reasons for termination went as follows: the woman was unmarried (42%), because of illegal circumstances (11%), health risks to the woman (about 20%), age of the woman (11%) and fetal birth defects (about 17%)

Please DO dredge up the crazy lefties who want to "outlaw marriage" (are you sure they're only lefties?) - I'd love to read their arguments! Oh, and give me the "deindustrialize the planet" list, too, while you're at it.

Are any of these people/groups making any inroads at all, to even the slightest degree? Are they passing laws anywhere (even if they do get repealed by referendum, like S. Dakota's law was; apparently folks there don't really value life, or, they do, until the obvious reality hits them, that sometimes not-poor Christian Republicans want abortions, too) ??

http://actuppity.com/

There's a long tradition of feminists calling for outlawing marriage as the foundation of patriarchy, and now some gay activists are saying "if we can't have it, no one should." Just cut and past the link, Craig -- and there are better sites out there, I just don't want to waste my time on this.

As for deindustrialization, ever read any Allan Schnaiberg and his "treadmill of production" work? Or, have you seen "the Story of Stuff" on YouTube? Craig, pull your head out of the sand -- your fellow Lefties are lunatics (just like you).

I knew you'd equate abortion with the death penalty; brain-dead leftists always do. Here's the difference, Craig: In legal executions, the criminal dies. In abortion, the victim dies. Pretty simple -- our laws are meant to protect the innocent. Abortion is generally a crime against a helpless creature; the death penalty is a sanction for someone who has committed a crime against a helpless creature.

As for "inroads," of course they have, but thank God they haven't succeeded yet. Anti-abortion activists have also made inroads, but also have yet to succeed.

You really don't have a point to make, do you?

"As for "inroads," of course they have..."

No, Redwald, having a website (pssst... that site you linked me to is more than a bit ironic, and is calling for banning divorce, too)) or a video on YouTube doesn't qualify as "inroads." The people you're referring to have made no appreciable impact on greater society; their views (such as outlawing marriage, deindustrializing society) are not going mainstream.

The extreme views on abortion, on the other hand (again, a law was actually passed in South Dakota, and similar laws are frequently discussed in mainstream venues, even at the national/federal level) have made tangible advances.

But clearly you're not really here to discuss anything, you're just firing off some assertions followed by some ad hominem ("...lunatics (just like you)", "brain-dead leftists", etc.) attacks.

Apparently you were taught how to behave and "how to argue" at the Rush Limbaugh Debate Academy and Finishing School.

Dude, I could out argue you in my sleep. You see, the facts are on my side, and so are the brains.

I'm happy that the anti-abortionists have had some impact -- murdering defenseless children is not cool, even if crazed Leftists think it is. A country that doesn't respect children won't respect anyone, ultimately.

But you are completely off-base when saying that the fringe Left has had no impact. Gay marriage is certainly a fringe idea, and yet it verges on legality in several States and is legal is several more. Divorce can be had for a song -- you don't even need a reason anymore. Women in the military (now they are pushing to place women in submarines!). Conservatives didn't accomplish any of this; crazed Leftists did.

The list could go on, but why bother. You aren't listening anyway.

"Dude, I could out argue you in my sleep. You see, the facts are on my side, and so are the brains."

Yeah, you definitely went to the Limbaugh Finishing School; you must have aced every course in barroom boasting.

"I'm happy that the anti-abortionists have had some impact -- murdering defenseless children is not cool, even if crazed Leftists think it is. A country that doesn't respect children won't respect anyone, ultimately."

Yes, clearly, respect for others is a high priority for you.

"...the facts are on my side..." and "Gay marriage is certainly a fringe idea..."

Okay, I concede your victory. You've got all the facts:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_upshot/20100812/pl_yblog_upshot/poll-majority-of-americans-support-gay-marriage

I'll see your poll and raise you actuality. More than 30 States have held up-and-down votes on gay marriage -- it has been voted down every single time. As for this CNN poll - methinks it's a load of crap. Pretty standard Leftist drivel.

And you clearly don't know how to argue (even though you seem to have some level of edumocation -- you know about demographers!) For every single law on the books we could find a tragic example of that law's terrible, unintended consequences for some single individual. That's anecdotal thinking, Mr. Craig. Laws are passed for the GREATER good -- killing millions of innocent babies for convenience's sake just so a single rape victim could have justice is retarded.

Still, I'm against abortion but would happily make a few exceptions for rape and health (even though, without doubt, these loopholes in the law would be abused). And here's a poll that shows just how mainstream I am:
http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/abortion_poll030122.html

I think you're done, son.

"As for this CNN poll - methinks it's a load of crap. Pretty standard Leftist drivel."

Yeah, CNN - the Communist News Network - the people who brought Glenn Beck to our TVs and now offer us Eric Erickson!! So leftist.

"I think you're done, son."

Oh, indeed! This Redwald Debate, in Redwald Hall, sponsored by The Redwald Finished Basements Institute, is officially over, with Redwald having declared Redwald the winner!!

Congrats, man, you really clobbered me.

Evidently I did, given that your last post was content-free. But, oh wait, that's pretty typical for you!

As for CNN, I think their pollster in this instance had a bum sample, or maybe a biased one. Either way, voting is the acid test, and as I've demonstrated, people have soundly rejected it all over the country.

Or, it could simply be a case of "social desirability bias." That's when pollsters ask moral questions and respondents answer in the way they think the pollster (or society) would want them to. They tell the interviewer what they want to hear, but in the privacy of the voting booth they express their true opinion.

Either way, Scanlon, you lose. Gay marriage remains a minority point of view.

This is known that money can make people autonomous. But how to act when one has no cash? The one way only is to receive the personal loans and short term loan.

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