“I love New York, and I love the idea of a mosque at Ground Zero,” writes Boston University religion scholar Stephen Prothero. He’s half right. But, for a man of his intellect, that’s not too good.
I love New York, but I hate the idea of a mosque at Ground Zero. I believe most Americans, and indeed most New Yorkers, would disagree with Prothero when he says
I believe a small mosque ought to be integrated into the redesign of the World Trade Center site itself — a reminder in steel and stone that the United States is not at war either with Islam or with our core values.
The proposed construction of the 13-story, $100 million complex — complete with mosque and community center — only two blocks from the site of the worst attack in our nation’s history, has generated a firestorm of controversy. While big-name political figures, like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, vociferously oppose the Cordoba Initiative (here and here), others like Mr. Prothero and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg apparently see nothing wrong with building a mosque less than two blocks from where nearly 3000 of our fellow citizens were savagely slaughtered by Islamic extremists.
Mayor Bloomberg, responding to Sarah Palin’s tweet that building the mosque near Ground Zero is “UNNECESSARY provocation,” uses the worn-out trope of “tolerance” as THE reason why this mosque should be built near the site of the World Trade Center towers that were destroyed by terrorists, who were anything but tolerant. Makes you long for the days of America’s Mayor, Rudy Giuliani.
Bloomberg, who most certainly is not a blooming idiot, understands exactly what he is saying. Tolerance, as defined by elites in this country, may be one of the cultural gods that the left bows down to daily, but most Americans simply do not worship at this warped altar. Not to mention, there are some things even leftists will not tolerate. The use of salt in cooking for one, but I digress. Americans are a tolerant people, but we will not tolerate child abuse, rape, murder, and the like. When one resorts to “tolerance” as their main defense, you understand that the overall case hangs by a bare thread.
Mr. Prothero, the Boston University religion scholar, tries to defend the mosque’s construction by turning to the First Amendment’s “freedom of religion” protections. He insists that building a new mosque near Ground Zero will not only be good for NYC and America, but will enhance freedom of religion such that Americans should support this grand religious project. Would Mr. Prothero be as enthusiastic if a Southern Baptist or Assemblies of God church bought the same property and converted it into a huge evangelical Christian complex? Would he desire a small Christian chapel be integrated into the redesigned World Trade Center? I think we all know the answer to those questions.
Moreover, would members of the Manhattan Community Board 1, who voted 29 to 1 (with 10 abstentions by those unwilling to take a public stand) to support the construction of the Mega-Mosque, have given a similar endorsement to construction of an Evangelical Christian Mega-Church? Would Board Chairman Scott Stringer think that building a Southern Baptist church would likewise send “a clear message that our city is one that promotes diversity and tolerance“? I think we know the answer to those questions as well.
Because of my legal and faith experiences, I have a deep and abiding love for the First Amendment, particularly the freedom of religion that we enjoy in this country. But, freedom of religion and tolerance should never be used as a convenient cover for spineless politicians, pundits, and scholars to hide behind when trying to defend something so blatantly offensive as the Ground Zero mosque — Grand Opening on September 11, 2011. I love New York, but I hate the idea of a mosque at Ground Zero!