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The Mosque Debate Rages

I was surprised to see what was actually a pretty good debate in this Russian TV Clip. A number of the thoughts shared here reflected some of the internal debate I have been having on the issue.

I don't think Islam is really any more violent than any other religion. Perhaps it is in a more violent state of affairs in its current day situation, but really, belief in the unknowable can lead any group to violence without reason. I think I commented here before to say that I thought declaring Islam worse than other religions was in part, "taking sides" in a fight that we shouldn't really be a part of.

That said, I think the arguements defending this project always beg the question.

Just because its a Moderate "non-mosque" opposed in some large part by prejudiced individuals and grandstanding politicians who don't have a legal basis for stopping the project, doesn't mean that it isn't in bad taste.

Which it is.

Wouldn't it be in bad taste to build a center to explore moderated American imperialism on the site of the battle of little bighorn. Or to moderated Catholicism next to a center that treats the victims of HIV-AIDS.

Someone should tell them that some Muslim fellows perped a terrible act right up the block. Maybe you can kick off the moderation PR campaign over in Jersey and work your way over to the sight of a horrendous crime done in the name of your religion.

Should it be built? No, not there. Are the people opposing it more interested in getting votes based on hightened racial tension, than actually protecting good taste? probably.



I don't know if it was intended to offend, but as you point out, there is no legal basis for stopping the project - so why bitch about it? I agree with Glenn Greenwald who quotes both Bloomberg and Obama in his Salon blog. Obama should be commended for standing on principle with an unpopular position, one he could have ducked this entirely. He has done far too little standing on principle, so I'm glad he did so - even if it was in support of the right for religious screwballs to practice their religion on private property. (Islam may be one of the world's most popular forms of nuttiness, but it's still nutty nevertheless.)

I wasn't intending to offend.

In fact I removed the last paragraph of what I wrote where I basicly said I think reasonable people should stay out of it. A potentially ironic assertion after stating my opinion on the matter.

I find it in bad taste, I think most people do, but it isn't nearly bad enough to join the pitchfork and torches crew.

Sorry - my meaning was misunderstood. When I said, "I don't know if it was intended to offend..." I was referring to the building of the mosque - not you, Red.

The original intent is hard to figure out. Was ground Zero even a factor in choosing this location?

Hard to tell.


Taste is subjective. Some people think it is in bad taste. I do not agree. I have yet to hear a person articulate a good reason why it is in bad taste. Your reasons are not compelling, because you fail to provide a convincing link between the perpetrators of 9/11 and the builders of the prospective community center.

On and after 9/11, I lived in a town where there was a coffeeshop named "Osama's". The owner's first name was "Osama". After 9/11, his coffeeshop was vandalized, because his first name happened to be the same as Osama bin Ladin's. He changed the name.

Let's say he wanted to change the name back. Is the name "Osama's" in bad taste? I don't think so - a first name (and the weak cultural connection that it might imply) is just a name.

Likewise, there is no connection between the builders of the community center and the perpetrators of 9/11 except they call both call their religion "Islam". That's all. In practice, their religions are completely different. It's only a name.

You accuse the supporters of the community center of begging the question, and then you say its in bad taste. No, you THINK it's in bad taste. That doesn't actually add anything to the argument.

I disagree. As an Atheist, just as I should have the right to put up a poster saying 'there is no god' next to a church, temple, synagogue or mosque, they should have a right to build where they want. First, it is THEIR property. NO ONE has the right to tell them where to build including the government. Second, the actions of a few do not determine the entire faith or community. Just because Muslims were involved in 9/11, they should not build a mosque near ground zero? What logic is that? Look at the countries around the world affected by Islamic terrorism ?(Excepting Israel) Do you think they bar the building of mosques? This whole incident only shows how 'secular' the US really is, as do your comments.

I don't see why it's in bad taste. Look, I'm an atheist, but who gives a flying fuck. Forget the fact that muslims died on 9/11... forget the fact that we have muslim soldiers fighting and dying in afghanistan and iraq... and it's a cliche to say that these terrorist fanatics were unrepresentative of muslims at large. I mean, would it be in bad taste to build a church near the OK federal building? The terrorists wore pants, but I have no problem with clothing stores near ground zero.

The xenophobia and paranoia from this chick in the video is astounding. As much as I'm not a fan of organized religion, America is stronger with a mosque there. Symbolically, a mosque dedicated to cultural understanding is a big FU to those who "hate us for our freedoms". It says "we believe in freedom of religion, no matter how politically unpopular". It says "we're stronger than you" and "our principals are intact".

When she says "people compare this to the YMCA... there's no synagogue in the YMCA".. what does she think the C stands for?

Unlike many issues that came out of 9/11, this one is a clear. The mosque should be built wherever they want to build it. All this opposition is disgusting and divisive fear-mongering and political baiting of jingoistic morons.

There is a mosque within a few blocks of G.Z already. The community center is their project. What's the problem?

Daily Show pointed out two weeks ago that there's already a 40 year old mosque four blocks away from Ground Zero; it predates construction of the World Trade Center. I think that alone proves how ridiculous this 'controversy' is.

That said, Islam is just as silly and misguided as any other religion. But the first amendment is clear, and it's well within their legal rights. The man behind the project, Feisal Abdul Rauf, has a history of working on relations between the West and Islam. And unlike Newt Gingrich's accusations of the name "Cordoba," Cordoba in medieval Spain was actually in a cultural renaissance thanks to interfaith cooperation between muslims and christians.

So there's two things going on here: one is the first amendment rights, and the other is mending ties to the islamic world. Superstition is utter horeshit, but we should still endeavour to get on the better side of a massive international community that sees America as overly hostile. And who can blame them when we freak out over a non-mosque? I support the project, because many non-terrorist muslims died in 9-11 too, and because one day they may make rational thought an enemy of the state (creationists, anyone?) and I'll want the first amendment to still be working at that time, too.

Can't it be perfectly legal, have there be other mosques in the neighborhood, be done with the intent of bringing unity and still be a mistake, in bad taste?

@OmegaVader: Speaking of "The Daily Show", didn't they also point out the mosque INSIDE the Pentagon?

I think the real problem here is the attribution of the so-called "Ground Zero" as "hallowed ground" of any sort. BS. It was a crime scene that was (ironically) hijacked as an excuse for a modern crusade that was already planned.

The only thing that is "in bad taste" is the ignorant acceptance of the entire concept of a "Ground Zero".

I was there when it happened and continued to live there for years. The only people in NYC that called the WTC site "Ground Zero" were tourists and the people who make money from them.

I'm extremely disappointed in RedSeven's stance on this. In my opinion, the site is significant of what's wrong with AMERICA, not what's wrong with the rest of the world. I support the proposed community center because it will be an example of what we as a country can do right (much more so than a supposed "Freedom Tower")

The key mistake here is that the 9/11 attack wasn't about religion, according to Osama Bin Laden, anyhow. He stated that the US messed with their security, and so he messed with ours. To keep attacks from occurring, stop messing with them. He also wanted to get us into a conflict to 'drain us of gold and blood'. I think he won that one (the longest war in our history, and all).

But a new mosque has nothing to do with these guys, just like Iraq had nothing to do with them. They were also all men, and mostly from Saudi, do we find ourselves standing angrily against a YMCA?

So, R7, why is it in bad taste?

I think it all depends on their original intent, which is hard to garner from the crazyness going on.


From what I have seen this firestorm was set off when some conservatives noticed that this project was linking their promotion of a moderate islamic center with 9/11. I think using 9/11 to promote the center and a push for religious unity is in bad taste.

As much as religion can be a good thing it seems they were trying to do good here, but I think at some point they were sitting around a table and thought. "I have great idea how we can raise money and promote an interfaith alliance, we can tie our project in to 9/11" (one of the clips about how hipocritical fox has been shows a positive interview with folks from the center from a year ago, where they were discussing this community center and it closeness to ground zero.)

The key mistake here is that the 9/11 attack wasn't about religion

uhhhh, that just isn't true

the messing with their security we did is a long list, but its our unmasked pants wearing women that we allowed to dirty their precious Saudi Arabian soil that was a big part of this feud. Its pretty near impossible to say that the attack wasn't justified in religious terms by religious sects.

Perhaps my language of "done in the name of your religion" is a bit strong, but it's not a big stretch.

money quote:

Another factor in the apparent climbdown is a lack of funds to pay for construction of the center, estimated to cost a hundred million dollars. Backers hope moving it will lead to a wave of support, accompanied by cash donations.

They're playing us.

A comment so vague that it has to be true.

Sorry Red. What I mean is they're trying to look like the victims, and we're helping them do it. Sometimes the wisest thing to say is nothing at all.

True, but it makes for a boring blog.

Wow. that is the same reason the big news people are talking about it. Empty air about nothing, and completely incorrect about the details besides.

But go ahead and be incorrect... but interesting. ;)

I am not making up an opinion just to make news.

I am trying to express a nuanced position that could get me in trouble in the atmosphere of "for or against".

There is a difference

Will be a backlash?

What does national support for banning mosque builing sound like?


"Wouldn't it be in bad taste to build a center to explore moderated American imperialism on the site of the battle of little bighorn."

A preponderant fallacy in this debate, that is not a fair comparison. From a center for American imperialism to Little Bighorn, there is a direct causal relation.

So what you're implying by this comparison is that Islam was directly responsible for 9/11, in the same way that Japan was responsible for Pearl Harbor, to cite another example.

Danger: thin ice!

If you don't think it was Islam that brought down the twin towers, but rather a group of thugs who used Islam as a political tool, then there is no real relationship between a mosque and Ground Zero, no reason to be "offended".

But if you do blame Islam, than Muslims are your enemy, and you stand at odds with our constitution.

You can't have it both ways.

Exactly right. The terrorists did not attack us because of their religion. They did not do it, as Bush states, because they 'hate our freedom'. Osama's reply to that was "if we hate freedom, we would have attacked Sweden".

R7, imagine if a bunch of angry christian white supremacists helped finance the Oklahoma City Bombing (they did). Is it in bad taste if a christian church was built next to the memorial?

My guess is no, as there is no link between the two, just as there is no link between the 9/11 terrorists and the proposed Mosque.

1/5 of the world's population is Islamic. It is the second largest religion. You can't lump all its members together.

Exactly wrong.

Lets use the Pearl harbor example.

Lets say they wanted to put a Japanese immigrant cultural center in pearl harbor maybe 20 years after pearl harbor.

Is japanese culture at fault for the attack? not really?

Are japaness immigrants responsible? No.

Would it still be percieved as insensative and in poor taste? yes.

When you join a religion you aren't responsible for the actions of all other members of that religion, but you also don't get to choose what others will or will not do in the name of your religion. You don't need to apologize but you do need to be sensative to the fact that your religion is associated with the crime.

About Pearl Harbour: There actually IS a Japanese Cultural Center on Hawaii. Look it up:

So insensitive....

Founded 1954 on 400 feet from the air base, no doubt.

Oh no, 1986 and 7 miles.

You mean, an Islamic Cultural Center were okay with you by 2042 and in Harlem? Cool. Very freeminded.

Oh no, 2046, I'm sorry.


The most interesting question is, why do you consider it offensive, having a Muslim center in that area?

You can't just say it's in poor taste and leave it at that. Remember the Danish cartoons, how no one here was willing to print them? People get offended for all sorts of dumb reasons. If their arguments don't stand, should we bow to them all the same?

Yet here is perhaps a valid reason after all, the one nobody seems willing to admit: that we really do blame Islam for what happened.

No? Then pray explain why anyone would connect the two. Is it guilt by association, or what, exactly?

It's not the building a mosque or a center in the region is "offensive".

It's they were trying to sell a multi-cultural dialoge, but completely ignored what the obvious response would be from many families/Americans.

It is my guess that there original goal was to promote this dialog, and thought that the stigma of 9/11 was a major hurdle. They thought a center and an open dialog could help replace the community view of the NY muslims and replace those memories of the 9/11 attacks.

Unfortunately for them, the last place people want to give up their emotions and memories are when it comes the death of their friends, relatives, and countrymen.

Can you honestly see yourself sitting at the board of directors table at this organization, discussing how to improve Muslim-christian American dialog in New York and the guy next to you suggests a Islamic center at or near the site of terrorist attacks, and your response is..

a) "Great Idea!"

b) "That might not be the best idea."


RedSeven, your analysis regarding dialog is valid, but it's also speculative and doesn't really advance the argument. What does "obvious response" mean, if not "offense"? It just doesn't work to dismiss that more relevant question, if you consider the whole media debate: "offending" the 9/11 victims seems to be the entire argument against building that Muslim center.

So I must restate the question. If Islam is not responsible for 9/11, then whence the offense? To disdain something without culpability is prejudice.

Should the prejudices of victums be ignored even when trying to engage them in a dialoge?

If the criminals were christian, there would be no outrage. They were islamic, and thus 'look different'. Even though the Mosque has no relationship to the criminals, it reminds us of them because the same 'different looking' people go to it.

You want to get more specific with the BLAME for 9/11?

How about Saudi Arabia? Most of the terrorists were from there and thier Mission to the UN is 400 feet from the base of the towers at 102 North End Avenue. And YES, these people have closer ties to the criminals than the mosque, but no one has EVER given a shit. Bomb Iraq! Yeehaw!

Or, maybe you are defendeing the 'feelings' of Americans, who would feel bad if other Americans had the right to exercise thier religion. So, you are defending unknowledgable biggots because they have widely held ignorant beliefs.

Dude, your argument is weak sauce incarnate.

They didn't do it. It isn't 'in the shadow' of anything, and people in the neighborhood don't much care.

Al-Qaeda (pronounced /ælˈkaɪdə/ al-KYE-də or /ælˈkeɪdə/ al-KAY-də; Arabic: القاعدة‎, al-qāʿidah, "the base"), alternatively spelled al-Qaida and sometimes al-Qa'ida, is a militant Islamist group founded sometime between August 1988[6] and late 1989.[7] It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army[8] and a fundamentalist Sunni movement calling for global Jihad. It is considered a terrorist organization.

Seems like they aren't a foreign policy and international economics think tank.

Two miles from where I live a christian religious zealot amped-up on "sanctity of life" rhetoric decided to go shoot to death two people working in an abortion clinic.

As a Jew I get to hear that I am going to hell barfed at me by Christians when I accidentally click to the wrong TV channel at the wrong time.

So I personally find it in bad taste when when someone sets up a new church in my neighborhood.

But you know what? I'm so glad my country guarantees people the right to express their own beliefs in their own neighborhoods that I shut up, look for the good in what people do, and let others go on with their lives.

I mean, this center isn't supposed to be a pilgrimage site for Muslims world-wide, is it? It's for the use of Muslims who live/work near there. They live there, they suffered through 9/11 there - they should have their center there.

I find it disconcerting how many liberals and atheists are joining a debate that is so obviously stoked by the right wing, by Fox News, by the Republicans - and are even taking side with these groups.

Is this community center group representative for Islam? Are the 9/11 terrorists representative for Islam? That is not the issue. Even if it was a fundamentalist branch of Islam opening a center there: If they don't train terrorists, if they don't spread hateful propaganda, if they don't mock the victims of 9/11 - in other words: if they don't do anything illegal, they're free to be there. As long as the owners and the neighbours and the city institutions are fine with it, there shouldn't be any debate, really. Certainly not by people from all over the country. Certainly liberals should not give to poorly veiled arguments about "poor taste" and such.

Certainly liberals should not give to poorly veiled arguments about "poor taste" and such

What exactly are you saying I am "Veiling"?

You blame the whole religion, and thus 1/5 of the world's population, for the actions of 20-30 people.

How do I do that?

I simply think that people have responsibility to react to emotions of their fellow man, especially when they are dealing with the victims of a crime that took loved ones lives and definitely when attempting to start a dialog. This organization simply ignored the potential emotional response and plowed on out of arrogance and some potential for funding.

Is it right that those with a thick southern accent have to be a little more sensitive when talking about slavery and racism? Is it right that Germans need to be more sensitive when discussing the Holocaust?

Not really? They aren't all responsible or even related to those that were. But is it a reality they would be idiots to ignore?

I think it is.

It is not bigotry to accept that there are tensions between races and religions and that sometimes you are better off not enflaming that tension.

I should probably take my own advice on this, but like Red, I just can't help it.

I propose selling the holes that were once the WTC towers to the Cordoba project.

Think about it - we're clearly never going to do anything with it, and what better way to show our tolerance? Even better, we'll be getting some dollars reimported from Saudi Arabia the home country of most of the 9/11 terrorists.

It's a win-win!

Sure, it might piss off some of the victims families, but maybe some Saudi cash could make them feel better.

my office is literally across the street from ground zero. i ride my bike past the old burlington coat factory location every time i ride home. i think what people who don't live in nyc don't fully grasp is just how dense lower manhattan is.

looking at stuff in google maps is deceptive because basically EVERYTHING down there is 4 blocks from everything else. so the proposed community center site doesn't feel like it's "right by" ground zero at all. it's like 3 blocks up and over or whatever. might as well be across town. you won't be able to see the freedom tower from it. or vice versa.

also worth noting is that it's a shitty, shitty block anyway. the center will be across the street from a methadone clinic, two liquor stores and a strip club which typically has hookers standing around in front of it. "hallowed ground" indeed.

i'm pretty sure the "controversy" is pent up inside people who have spent very little time in or around the wtc site. to those of us who frequent the neighborhood is seems a completely insane debate.


why does everyone revert to the first ammendment arguement?!

It's a stupid arguement!

Of course its legal to build a mosque. Of course no law should be passed and no govt action should be taken to prevent the construction of a house of worship for any remotely political reasons.

But being allowed to do an act and having that act be a good idea are two almost entirely seperate things.

My whole arguement basicly starts by saying. Sure its perfectly legal and its strongest opposition comes from bigotry, but that doesn't make it a good idea.

I think my opinion is pretty moderate. I don't have any strong emotion wraped into what religious buildings get built near Gound zero. It's just clear to me that one of the groups goals was to promote interfaith and international communicaiton between moderate islam and the US.

The leader of cordoba has a long history of doing that. (He seems like a good advocate and even the more radical things he is accused of saying actually sound good to me)

Using a site near the 9/11 attacks as a place to facilitate that sort of cultural exchange was a bad idea. Not a horrendous idea, but just not a good one and one easily forseen as a possible offense to some of the victums and to the more radical christians.

BTW This is what going to far on this topic looks like.

this is interesting. i thought you guys loved this guy. yes, he's a bit strident, but he's consistent- he's against ALL religions. the real question is, how come (some) liberal atheists have a soft spot for islam? to put it bluntly, i think it's because "the enemy of my enemy is my friend"- the "enemy" here being the jews.

and please, i don't want to hear about how you just have a soft spot for the constitution. you want to use the constitution for your own purposes, just like everyone else. just admit it. it's nothing to be ashamed of.



Islam/Judaimus/Christi-inanity is a three headed especially loathsome monster in a monster's gallery. Even the lite filtered Buddhism is premised on everything being pain, suffering, temporary vs.eternal. Humbuggery! Boshhh!

The Mosque is akin to the Flag-pin pinheadderry. And the secular text=worchip of The Constitution is midway between lite religion and heavy religion. The last refudiation of scowlndrels.

Daniel Lazare wrote about this Holy of Holies Crap in (

The Velvet Coup: The Constitution, the Supreme Court and the Decline of American Democracy.

Quit worshipping disposable paper products. Open your ears and listen to The Word, only...

Quit worshipping The flipping Constitution, shift your gears, and listen to The Word, only as spoken...


liberal people usually have a soft spot for underdogs, or percieved minority opinions.

In a germans vs jews film, they root for the jews every time.

merle disapproves of all of you. your arguments are invalid.

now we're talkin'. :) never saw that clip, thanks.

Have you guys taken a position on this issue?

Yes. Merle was good, but Johnny was great. Did you see that leg over the mic move? Smoooth.

i caught that move, impressive. i still like merle better. johnny only has about 10 great songs, merle has more like 50. i'll admit "big river" is the best of all of them, but "mama tried" is a close second.

i'd give my position if i could get an answer to this question: how would you feel about ground zero itself (not a spot 2 blocks away) becoming a mosque? because my position is basically that americans should be able to make their own decisions, and this one seems to be based on a couple hundred yards as some kind of deal breaker.

I would support it. 100% (or as much as I support any new church like places, that is, so probably more like 50% grin)

Right now, having all Americans blaming the entire population of the second largest religion for 3000 murders by criminals is a 'bad idea'.

Blame the people that did it, not thier religion. The priest at Children's Hospital is not to blame for the Child Molestors in the Catholic Church.

Blaming their religion has been one of the central tenets of new atheism.

Yep. Weak sauce. ;)

So the virgin's weren't part of the inspiration?

Yep. Weak sauce. ;)

So you see that moderate and extreme christians think they want some sort of holy war but you find it impossible that their extemist counterparts on the Islamic side of the arguement might have similar thoughts?

Despite videos by osama saying as much?



So you admit you think Islam was at least partly to blame for 9/11? It seems to me this whole argument turns on that question.

Religious belief certainly did. Hitchens and Dawkins have written entire books based on that idea. I don't diasagree with it.

There are certainly some teachings within islam that seem to play a roll as well. The extent to which those teachings ace central teachings or cherry-picked outliars is a matter for the theologans to debate.


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