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Hitchens Chimes in on PARK51 Mosque

Never known for shying away from controversy, Good old Hitchbitch takes on the topic of the mosque at ground zero. i got myself in a little hot water the other week on this topic. I think Hitch supports my claim that I was taking a pretty moderate position. I am also interested in the reaction to his idea that some persecution of religions in America has actually moderated the beliefs of some pretty backwards superstitions. Maybe he is playing devils advocate, but I think he at least sets off an interesting discussion.

Free Exercise of Religion? No, Thanks.The taming and domestication of religious faith is one of the unceasing chores of civilization.

A recent blizzard of liberal columns has framed the debate over American Islam as if it were no more than the most recent stage in the glorious history of our religious tolerance. This phrasing of the question has the (presumably intentional) effect of marginalizing doubts and of lumping any doubters with the anti-Catholic Know-Nothings, the anti-Semites, and other bigots and shellbacks. So I pause to take part in a thought experiment, and to ask myself: Am I in favor of the untrammeled "free exercise of religion"?

No, I am not.

Read the rest



While I agree with his statements on "taming" of religion I don't see how this relates to the mosque controversy. How is building a cultural center at Ground Zero in any way promoting the atrocious elements of Islam any more than a mosque or cultural center anywhere else?

The argument isn't about the merits of Islam, it's about the right to exercise their religion. We are a nation of laws, not a nation of morals. If what they are doing is legal we must allow it.

For Hitchens, the famed defender of a Holocaust denier and inspirational first amendment supporter, to come out against this for moral reasons saddens me.

Norm, I'm curious to read your views (I've been away for a while so I must have missed it). I'll go check it out since I'm quite curious to know your stance.

Thanks for posting. Even when I disagree with Hitchens he always inspires me to think and question my own views which is why I love the guy.

I don't know that I disagree with him either but my answer to this..

How is building a cultural center at Ground Zero in any way promoting the atrocious elements of Islam any more than a mosque or cultural center anywhere else?

I think alot of this has been thrown around. How can they blame all Muslims for what a small minority has done. I don't think doing that is counter to Hitchen's point. It is at the heart of how bigotry works but it is also how many less sever public disaproval also work.

Are jokes about Catholic priests not painting with a broad brush and reducing the attendance of all catholic churches? Are they all to blame?

Did Mormons give up marrying 12 year olds and start considering black people human strictly because of legal ramifications or was it also because they were also made to feel unwelcome in the vast majority of America?

I think that is what hitchens is trying to point to here.

I don't know that I disagree

I didn't intend the double negative.

We are free to condemn Islam all we like but that doesn't change to legal status of their right to build where they like.

I'm not exactly surprised by their insensitivity in choosing the location, it's what I expect from any faction claiming to hold the one eternal truth.

Protesting it is fine - it's important to let them know that their religion is barbaric - but we have no right to stop the building of the mosque. That's the part I disagree with in what Hitchens seems to be saying is that we should make it illegal in order to tame their religion.

I agree with you. The Government should have no right to interfere and should even consider protecting the project if threatened by protesters.

I also think the project is lacking in sensitivity and the planners deserve to hear that.

My take on this matter is this: Build the fucking thing or not, it won’t mean anything to Americans—especially the major part of the stupid hillbillies opposing it who have never been to New York and never plan to go—yet this item has been at the top of the news for weeks. With that said, the Muslims should have backed off on the issue months ago and just built their precious mosque or whatever the hell it is somewhere else.

I found Hitchens's arguments to be uncharacteristically weak. All the Mormon references were completely irrelevant because, in being "tamed", Mormons were merely being forced to conform to the same lawes that all other citizens are expected to conform to. In building their silly prayer hangout (all churches have a silly purpose), the Muslims are obviously 'behaving' as we expect American citizens to behave.

LB: You got first half right, but as to building their holy hangout somewhere else - hell no! The imam (i.e., holy charlatan, if you like) should make a simple public statement: go f**k yourselves, rednecks. He should do that for exactly the same reason you were pushing Mohammed cartoon day - because he damn well feels like it and it is well within his rights to do so.

Absolutely, Tim. It's amazing how freedom of speech so often applies only to those things that one agrees with.

So you also oppose military leaders declaring opposition to Koran burning?

Book burning in general is a pretty bad idea - Just as burning a cross is a horrid form of protest. The emotional side of me wishes they'd toss in a whole heaping load of other religious and "spiritual" crap but the rational side prefers to live in a world where religious zealots (or zealots of any stripe) don't get to determine what we believe.

That the same ideological spectrum was outrages at the "General Betrayus" ads by and many other things that would "endanger the troops" yet approve of this rings of hysterical hypocrisy.

That said, it's a free country and we should be free to burn things in protest whether they be books, flags, effigies or whatever, and those who oppose it should be free to say they do as well.

This is why I am disappointed in Hitchen's comments. It's the opposite of what he's stood for in the past.

That the same ideological spectrum was outrages at the "General Betrayus" ads by and many other things that would "endanger the troops" yet approve of this rings of hysterical hypocrisy

I think we can same of those that supported the betray-us criticism but think this guy should be thrown in jail.

Book burning, while stupid/stooooopid, is legal as free speech. Will it be legal under open burning laws?

Someone should make a giant golden-rule poster across the street from the Quran burning circus: "Do unto others...", stand at the ready with pile of bibles, and for every Quran they throw in the fire...

They wouldn't care much. I really don't understand why Muslims care.

Me either - they could burn the Origin of Species or the Nature of the Chemical Bond and I'd probably sleep OK tonight.

They are fucking crazy.

One commenter at another site had a pretty great idea. Grab Bibles translated into Arabic and hand them to these guys.

Be the same ol' story if it's built. Short term the 61% against are going to whine. Long term the same 61% will say, "I was never against it".

I agree fully with Tim. It seems to me Hitchens wasn't opining so much about the mosque, but just reminding us (for whatever reason), that religions don't get to be strictly free to do what they want, they still have to abide by the law. It's baffling to me though, how this is not already obvious, like Tim said.

And of course "go fuck yourselves, rednecks!" is all right too.

agreed here.


I'm more angry at the herd of Liberals/conservatives than I've been since H. Katrina. Mosque, Schmosque!

I believe we have just transited a major, major flex point in History. To see it requires a figure-ground reversal worthy of an Escher printing.

On One good side we have the cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, and the atheists who were so offended that nobody drew a cartoon of nobody with a bomb in his (non)turban. But now comes the reversal: Pastor Jones, unwittingly the instrument of History-writ-enormous, and his burn-a-Quran/Koran-day.

Well I never!

The liberals join the conservatives in a classic blind stampede herd maneuver, but: I am 100% with Pastor Jones on this. Hell with Fahrenheit 451. Some bookburnings are downright HEROIC, in caps.

What has really happened, is that our wonderful "troops",in a classic blind stampede herd maneuver, have stirred up hornets nests circling the globe to the point that we can't even burn a Quran, the equivalent of a Bible, or a Flag, or a Bra, in our own country, on our own "soil" without being in so much danger that we need protection from law enforcement like a bunch or marching Nazis!

The troops have put US, U.S., in danger! General Betray-us is no great man. He is an overeducated mediocrity.

I say we all buy a Koran and burn it in front of our local public library.

Or local military industrial base!

In terms of this ICC Park 51, yes they have the legal right to be there. Bad taste? A matter of opinion. Perhaps we should have more more bars and strip joints?. What types of buildings should be erected there? Who are we to decide?

This cultural center has more than a mosque in it. I'm wondering how the poll results are so negative. I did expect some NYC dwellers to be against its presence, but not a majority. I feel that most of the people that are against Park 51 don't live there, won't go there, and/or are politicians scoring points. Where are the leaders in this controversy? Are they so a-feared of being labeled terrorist sympathizers that they can't come out and say that maybe this building is OK?

In the Weekend at Burnies clip from TDS, Jon, said enough that I don't have to post quotations from the old and new testament that show problems with Christianity and Judaism past (well, for the most part, past - end timers and their ilk excepted). The founder of Drinking Liberally is out hawking his book and made a great point about this building: if we aren't willing to connect with the moderate Muslims in this country, we cut off a relationship that could encourage the better practices of this culture? He also included anecdotes about non-Muslim friends that were looking forward to things like the swimming pool in the ICC: having something like this available in their neighborhood is seen as a bonus.

I used to spend a bit of time in the big apple when I lived in charm city. i could take the train from one Penn Station to the next as the most efficient way to travel in order to visit my brother or just the city. One block to the next in Manhattan is a separate neighborhood. Is Park 51 truly on hallowed ground? I suggest that i am in good company with those who've been in the area when I answer "no."

P.S. And yes, i get Hitchens's point that coming down hard on religions has been a good way to curtail their backward-looking ways of life.

Perhaps we should have more bars and strip joints?

As I understand it one of the black boxes did reveal that I Hijacker yelled, "Praise be to the Champagne room!" Just as the plane hit the south tower.


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