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August 05, 2010

Ground Zero Mosque Debate: Religious Intolerance Is The New Racism

From Michael Bloomberg to various bloggers and commentators, more than a few liberals have taken to charging those who oppose the Ground Zero Mosque with intolerance and attempting to curtail religious freedom.

Much like most of the charges of racism we hear from the left these days, this is a content free way to put your adversaries on the defensive and shut down debate without engaging your opponents on the merits of the issue. If they can also stigmatize conservatives in the process, so much the better.

From Bloomberg's histrionic speech that is garnering so much praise.

“This morning, the city's Landmark Preservation Commission unanimously voted to extend -- not to extend -- landmark status to the building on Park Place where the mosque and community center are planned. The decision was based solely on the fact that there was little architectural significance to the building. But with or without landmark designation, there is nothing in the law that would prevent the owners from opening a mosque within the existing building.

“The simple fact is, this building is private property, and the owners have a right to use the building as a house of worship, and the government has no right whatsoever to deny that right. And if it were tried, the courts would almost certainly strike it down as a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

“Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question: Should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here.

From Adam Serwer of the American Prospect.

I'm glad Bloomberg is standing up for religious freedom and tolerance, and defending the rule of law against the passing bigotries of the moment is part of his charge as mayor.

...The Islamic community center near Ground Zero will most likely be built, but that doesn't solve the underlying problem--one of the two major American political parties is increasingly committed to denying equal rights to an unpopular group based solely on who they happen to be (the GOP), while the other party, which knows better, is too cowardly to do something about it (the Democrats).

The Atlantic Wire has a round up of those praising Bloomberg and deriding Republican 'bigotry'.

Here's the problem with Bloomberg and those praising him...they don't actually have any evidence of people wanting to deny Muslims the right to practice their religion. Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich are the two most high profile Republicans to take on this issue. Read their respective statements and show me where any of them call on the government to enforce their political will on the Mosque organizers.

Read Dan Senor's "Open Letter" in the WSJ to the mosque organizers. Show me the religious intolerance, show me the attempt to stifle freedom of worship. I'll wait. The thing is, you won't find any because there is none. What there is is an appeal to decency and an understanding of the sensibilities involved. Qualities Senor notes Americans have shown to Muslims before.

The American people have shown themselves to be respectful of Muslim religious sensibilities—even in cases in which it was not clear to them why or how those sensibilities were being offended. We shall confine ourselves to one example among hundreds. The original name for the military operation against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan was "Operating Infinite Justice." Several leading Muslim scholars and clerics objected that the term was offensive to Muslims because "infinite justice" can come only from Allah. The American government immediately changed the name to "Operation Enduring Freedom," with the full support of the American people.

The name seemed to us to be immaterial to the mission—which is why we judged the change to be a worthy gesture to people whom we did not wish to offend but hoped to honor. Similarly, the exact street address of your cultural center cannot matter to the performance of its mission—but it very much does matter to the perceptions of your fellow Americans. We urge you to reconsider.

Those who charge 'intolerance', 'bigotry' and the see the death of freedom of worship never actually quote anything a mosque opponent says, they just throw out the charge and move on.

Well, in fairness, Greg Sargent of the Washington Post does have a specific complaint...Gingrich and the ADL suggest ideas on how far away the mosque should be from Ground Zero.

The horror! The creeping jackboot of Nazism is upon us! Can armed gangs killing innocent Muslims and the repeal of the First Amendment be far behind?

Now, if you want to see someone threaten the use of government power to squash religious belief, then look no further than Democratic Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey. She floated that idea that the tax exempt status of the Catholic Church should be reviewed because of the participation of bishops in the health care debate.

Funny but I don't recall Democrats getting worked up about a Catholic Bishop comparing Arizona's immigration law to Nazism.

Liberals are also famous for their willingness to infringe on people's right to express their religious and political views when it comes to access to abortion clinics.

Apparently the boundaries of religious freedom and the First Amendment follow the rough contours of the Democratic Party's agenda. Good to know.

Like the claims of racial slurs being shouted at Congressmen leading to the health care vote, evidence of real animosity or bigotry isn't offered because it doesn't exist. But that's neither here nor there as the point of these charges isn't to shed light on bigots, it's to end debate and protect liberals from having to honestly say what and who they support.

If the issue is the Landmarks Board meeting, take it up with the city. Palin, Gingrich and the opponents of the mosque project didn't invent the process the organizers had to go to through to get municipal approval for the project. Yes there were protesters at the Landmarks Board who didn't argue solely on the aesthetic merits of the building but why are they, and they alone, held to such an exacting standard? Why don't we hear similar complaints about the danger to freedom when environmentalists try to use every imaginable law to keep some people from enjoying their property rights to their full extent? Where's the bitter outrage about that?

FTR- I don't think the Landmarks Board should not have considered anything but the historical significance of the building. I don't like it when government agencies overstep their mandates and authority. I also don't like when people abuse the landmark process and deny owners the right to use their property as they see fit. Can most of these liberals say the same?

Why do liberals want to argue about the religious freedom strawman? Because they are losing the argument both nationally and locally in NYC.

How badly does this issue cut? NY Senator Chuck Shumer and Rep. Anthony Weiner (who apparently wants to be Mayor of NYC some day) don't want to talk about it. Those two guys are famous for their willingness, nay, borderline psychotic need to talk about anything as long as they are on TV.

The bottom line is no one is denying that Muslims have a right to worship and that if they meet all local ordinances the organizers can do whatever they want with their property. But freedom of religion does not equal freedom from criticism, debate or persuasion.

What's really going on here is as sickening as it is predictable...liberals simply want to shutdown debate by hurling unproven slurs at people as a substitute for defending their position.

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posted by DrewM. at 10:19 AM

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