Its proposed location isn’t precisely “ground zero” and it isn’t exactly a mosque. Its meant to be a few blocks away and is designated a “cultural center.”
Sharif El-Gamal wants to tear down a building that was permanently damaged in the in-the-name-of-Islam mass-murder attack of 9/11, and on the site he wants to build a not-quite-a-mosque center for Muslims to, we can suppose, culturally and peacefully associate.
The equivalent to this would be if evangelist Pat Robertson were to trudge into Iraq—following in Mr Obama’s now victorious footsteps—and propose building a Christian church just around the corner from Saddam’s Baghdad palace.
Now, all lefty readers, a show of hands, please. All who would vociferously support Mr Robertson’s right to build a Christian church in Iraq, all those, that is, who would scream “Ignorant Bigots!” at any slobbish yokels who oppose the church, please raise your hands?
Oh wait, I forgot to add that proviso that, just like El-Gamal is doing, Robertson would seek to pay for a substantial portion of the church using tax-payer funds.
No hands. Well, let’s ask an easier question. How many would say that Robertson’s plan was “insensitive” (always a favorite words), or that it was at least in bad taste?
Only one hand. Yes, Michael?
“It’s a bad question. You can’t just go around building churches in Iraq.”
Why not? People can just go around building not-quite-a-mosques here, can they not?
“You don’t get it. Iraq doesn’t have freedom of religion. It’s a Muslim country and they can ban Christian churches if they want.”
Some of you in the back didn’t hear Michael’s answer. I’ll repeat it. Michael, you say that my question doesn’t have an answer because it is flawed. Since Iraq, a predominately Muslim country, has restrictions on building non-Muslim religious centers, a Christian church might be illegal, and thus my question is moot. Is that a fair summary?
Because the Iraqis are intolerant of other religions, they do not have to tolerate Christianity?
“I wouldn’t say it that way.”
Is my way wrong?
“I just don’t like that word.”
Intolerant? It’s meaning is well enough here. It says that they will not allow—that they will, if need be, forcibly ban—non-Muslim religious encroachment. So, would you say that those here in the States that argue the not-quite-a mosque should relocate, or that it is at least “insensitive”, are intolerant?
Intolerant in the same way? Notice that nobody here is arguing that the not-quite-a-mosque cannot be built, just that it should be built in a different location, one removed from the site of murderous attack committed in the name of Islam.
“Those who argue against the mosque are religious bigots. They’re just saying that their religion is right and everybody’s else’s is wrong.”
Since you didn’t answer, I can only assume that all levels of “intolerance” are equivalent to you. Pleas for good taste and civil accommodation by New York City residents are equivalent to their arguing for outright bans of Islam.
Then let me ask you this: are the Iraqis also bigots in banning a Christian church? Their religion preaches intolerance of all other religions. Should we tolerate that?
“You’re just trying to stir things up to get publicity and trying to polarize people to get some votes.”
In the same manner as Mr Obama when he stepped into the debate? Besides, you forget that I’m not running for any office, nor am I selling anything. Nor am I—and here you might want to take a note—proselytizing for any religion.
“Look. It’s simple. Building the mosque is a life-or-death test of religious freedom.”
By that you can only mean—because again, nobody is calling for a ban on building not-quite-a-mosques—that building the center in that precise location is a “life-or-death test”. Why is this precise location important in your labeling critics bigots and calling them intolerant?
“The location has nothing to do with it.”
If that’s so, then why not agree to move it?
“I’m not saying that. I’m saying you can’t have the government dictating where it should be located.”
You mean, our government should not act like the Iraqi government—a government whose actions you just said you support—and say where religious institutions can be built? But of course, nobody is asking the government to ban the not-quite-a-mosque. Private citizens are asking El-Gamal to consider his actions and the feelings of those in the community and move it on his own.
“It’s the same thing.”
Then your argument can be summarized thus: that governments should not tolerate that which you, Michael, do not like, and that government should not only allow but be complicit in obtaining anything that you, Michael, do like. Finally, that anybody who agrees with you, Michael, is tolerant, but that anybody who disagrees with you, Michael, is intolerant.