The Arrogance of Elites (Baptist & Otherwise)!

You come to this country, take advantage of the system and think because we are tolerant that we are weak and helpless. Your arrogance offends me.  Bryan Mills,  from the movie Taken

If Norman Jameson, the editor of the North Carolina Baptist Biblical Recorder, wanted to write a condescendingly arrogant opinion piece defending the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, in the infamous words of George W. Bush — Mission Accomplished!  Fresh on the heals of President Obama’s entirely predictable endorsement of the Ground Zero mosque, Jameson, in what has to be one of the most smarmy editorials written from a Baptist Christian perspective to weigh in on the Ground Zero mosque, has certainly outdone himself. 

Before any of my freedom loving, Baptist historian friends throw rocks, let me make it perfectly clear that I believe Jameson has every right to spout foolish non-sense, even under the guise of religious liberty and Baptist freedoms.  However, he should not expect his words to go unchallenged.  For the editor of any paper, much less a Baptist paper, to write such utter, insensitive drivel is mind-boggling!

If I have your attention, good!  Before I dissect Jameson’s “arguments” about why he thinks Americans in general, and Baptists in particular, should have warm, fuzzy feelings and be oh so thankful that a Muslim Cultural Center and Mosque is being built near the greatest mass murder in U.S. history, let me ask a question.  If Westboro “Baptist Church”, the hate-filled group known for its vile signs and despicable protests at military funerals, bought property in lower Manhattan and proposed to build a cultural center and church at the same location as the mosque, how many elites, including Jameson, Mayor Bloomberg, and President Obama, would be defending Westboro’s “rights” based on religious freedom grounds?  That’s what I thought.

After 18 months in office, one has come to expect this kind of lawyerese from Obama.  Sadly, one also has come to expect this type of blather from Baptists like Jameson.  In trying to defend the indefensible, Jameson resorting to Baptist history and First Amendment Religious Freedom grounds is both patronizing and belittling at the same time.  It smacks of hubris on a par with the likes of President Obama.

In a stunning grasp of the obvious that Jameson so eloquently points out, no one disputes that there are other mosques throughout New York City, including in Manhattan.  However, to equate mosques built pre-September 11, 2001 with the Ground Zero mosque, expected to be dedicated September 11, 2011, the 10th anniversary of the attack on this country by Muslim extremists, conveys an elitist pre-9/11 mentality that would be funny if it were not so sad. 

I’m glad that Jameson outed himself as an opponent of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  If he is not, you could have fooled me.  In one of the most ridiculous lines in his piece, Jameson writes:

That atrocity threw our country into a funk from which a stink cloud still rises. Because we could not bear the insult, we invaded Iraq and justified a pending invasion of Afghanistan.

No Mr. Jameson.  Our country is not in a funk.  We are in a war!  What happened on 9/11 was not an insult.  If I told you that you look funny, I would be insulting you.  To have almost 3,000 of our fellow citizens killed in the worst attack in our nation’s history is not an insult.  To say so is itself insulting beyond compare, but I highly doubt that he comprehends that fact.  And for the record, we attacked Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan before we went into Iraq.  And no sir.  We didn’t have to justify our response.  The Twin Towers, the Pentagon, the field in Shanksville, PA and all the dead — murdered in the name of militant Islam — was justification enough!  I guess for Mr. Jameson, it should have been just “grin and bear it time” for the uneducated masses.

I’m so glad that Mr. Jameson has it all figured out.  You see, to him, opposition to the Ground Zero mosque is  just some “self-absorbed Americans nourishing our pain from 9/11” while taking “another dip in the pool of self-pity,” as we proudly display our “irritating penchant for memorializing tragedy.”  Mr. Jameson, your arrogance offends me!

Please, spare us your sorrow for the families of 9/11/2001.  You might wish to live as if you were in pre-9/11 America.  But most Americans, and I would daresay most Baptists, do not, sir.  Support for building the mosque near Ground Zero is not, as you so high-mindedly claim, being “true to our principles” as Christians and as Americans.  Nor is opposition to the mosque merely the “sympathetic acquiescence to those families whose identity was arrested by the events of that day. . . .” 

Have you forgotten?  The events of 9/11 will, in a certain sense, always be related to what happens near Ground Zero.  That’s why most Americans believe that the building of a mosque near Ground Zero is remarkable in every way.  Your arrogance, in dismissing opposition to the mosque with such utter disdain, should offend us all!

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About Howell Scott

I have been a Southern Baptist pastor for the last fourteen years. Before entering the ministry, I was a practicing attorney in my homestate of Florida. I have been married to my wife, Brenda, for 18 years and we have three sons, Stephen, Jacob, and Andrew.
This entry was posted in Freedom of Religion, Freedoms, Islam and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The Arrogance of Elites (Baptist & Otherwise)!

  1. stephen fox says:

    Howell:
    I’m glad you are participating in the discussion at Bl.com
    I hope you have seen the Tony Cartledge and Ross Douthat pieces on this matter.
    I hope you will get a copy of the DVD http://www.differentbookscommonword.com ; show it in your church and have a strong discussion. Denzel Washington is a fan of the work.
    And I hope you become acquainted with the life and work of Martin Accad; great Baptist witness in the Mideast as seminary proff at Baptist Seminary in Lebanon.
    I am anxiously awaiting to see him engage this discussion if prudent.

    • Howell Scott says:

      Stephen,

      I enjoy the discussion and dialogue, even if I don’t always agree with others or when others disagree with me. As long as we keep it civil and Christ-like, I think its okay to have passionate debate and discussion on topics that are of interest. As always, thanks for stopping by and commenting. God bless,

      Howell

  2. stephen fox says:

    Newt Gingrich clip on Morning Joe is over the top.
    Gingrich, former member of Ike Reighard’s church, should compare what he said roundly condemned by Joe and Zeb Brezinski’s Daughter ( which brings the Carter administration and the Baptist struggle into the loop); Gingrich and the SBC should bring Jim Deloach into this discussion to compare his work in the Mideast to this matter.
    Strong case can be made Ed Young’s long time associate contributed to the evisceration of the indigenous Christian Community in the Mideast.
    Google Grace Halsell on the matter.
    Mika B has Gingrich number on Morning Joe.

  3. Bennett Willis says:

    “If every nation nursed, nourished and fed their injuries like America, the world would come to a grinding halt because human tragedies strike daily: terrorist attacks in markets, suicide bombers in restaurants, murderous horsemen in Sudan and Darfur, genocides, raids on villages to conscript children for armies, train wrecks in India, capsized ferries in Indonesia. The list goes on endlessly.”

    I thought this was an interesting statement–and inaccurate. Many of the deliberate events that he is talking about ARE the result of nursed and nourished “injuries.” Some of the injuries occurred well over a thousand years ago. Most of the rest are simply criminal–and they set up the injuries for future tragedies.

    If you are going to complain about how we in the US treat injuries, you probably should be concerned that we forget too soon. I gratefully don’t see anyone from Georgia suicide bombing NYC over the injuries of reconstruction–even though I do remember Richard Russell making a speech in Atlanta about 1963 where he said that the economic effects of reconstruction had finally disappeared. We buy Japanese and German cars without any anger toward the industry that produced the goods for WWII. We are very forgiving but it does take time–and 10 years is not much time even in human terms.

    • Howell Scott says:

      Bennett,

      There were several quotes in the Jameson article that not only stood out, but that were mind-boggling to say the least. Of course, most reasonable people would not deny that folks have the “right” to build the mosque near Ground Zero. The issue is not one of freedom of religion or Baptist principles. It is a political and cultural issue. But for Jameson to condescendingly dismiss the opponents of the mosque as “self-pitying” and “self-absorbed” is, in my opinion, over the top. Thus my strong response to him. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. God bless,

      Howell

    • Howell Scott says:

      Bennett,

      Certainly an interesting link, although it appears to be written from the perspective of someone who is sympathetic to the mosque. I may be wrong about that, but everyone has some kind of perspective on this, regardless of what side of the issue one falls on. I think some of the statements that Newt Gingrich has made are simply wrong-headed. But for those who defend the Muslim’s rights to build near Ground Zero (it is rather comical to see the contortions that supporters go through to “move” the mosque as far away from Ground Zero as possible, i.e., on Park Ave.), there is simply no acknowledgment of the appropriateness or sensitivity to this issue. I have tried to get the good folks at BaptistLife to tell me if they would similarly “support” Westboro “Baptist Church’s” rights to protest outside of military funerals, but so far everyone wants to avoid that debate. I understand why. I’ll have a post up tomorrow about First Amendment defense vs. support/endorsement. Thanks for the link. God bless,

      Howell

  4. Tikatu says:

    I’m sure that Mr. Jameson would have similar words for the Jewish people in regards to the Holocaust. He’d likely say, “It’s been nearly 70 years; get over it already!”

    He doesn’t realize that such tragedies are slow-healing wounds.

    When I look at this idea of building a mosque near Ground Zero, I feel it’s the moral equivalent of Nazi sympathizers (or members of the Nazi party, which I think still exists), building a meeting hall and museum next to Auschwitz or one of the other concentration camps.

    • Howell Scott says:

      Thanks for stopping by and reading. Charles Krauthammer wrote a spot-on article in last Friday’s Washington Post titled, Sacrilege at Ground Zero, which makes the same point regarding German culture centers near concentration camps. The opposition to those who oppose the mosque at Ground Zero is becoming ever more comical and outrageous, as Jameson’s article shows. Thanks and have a great day. God bless,

      Howell

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