Refudiate the 9/11 Mosque Boycott

August 4th, 2010 at 11:19 am David Frum | 73 Comments |

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National Review editorialized today against the so-called Ground Zero mosque. More than that: It urged a kind of secondary boycott, public protests against, any contractor or worker who works on the mosque. With this statement by the flagship of American conservatism, a full culture war is now joined. It’s a war that should have been refused.

Like the National Review editors, I remain skeptical that the sponsors of this mosque are quite as benign as they have been represented. The mosque’s funding sources remain mysterious – which ought to trouble anyone familiar with the history of foreign-funded mosques in the United Kingdom.

So there is reason not to relish the new project. But the rights guaranteed by the Constitution do not belong only to nice people. And whatever we may wonder about the mosque promoters, we should also remember the mosque’s users: the thousands of Muslims who work in lower Manhattan, every single one of whom is as entitled to pray as any member of Marble Presbyterian or Temple Emanu-el.

George Washington himself delivered the rebuke to those who would urge American Muslims to “refudiate” their right to worship freely.

All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens …

If there’s proof that the mosque promoters have failed to “demean themselves as good citizens” – bring it on. If not … these angry calls to mob action by those who call themselves “constitutionalist” are sad “refudiations” of their own professed creed.

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73 Comments so far ↓

  • TerryF98

    “I find the notion of discrmination in the Prop 8 litigation something like that Chicago Planned Parenthood deathscort who came up to an inch within the dude praying on the sidewalk to show that the dude had come too close to her.”

    Is that even English. Palinesque translation please!

  • forgetn

    Really, REFUDIATE is now part of the American language lexicon?

    First, the less said about Palin the better, second using invented words Ms. Palin gives her the credibility she craves. It would seem that the strict constitutionalist would have it, freedom of religion is a relatively important tenet of the American constitution, suddenly (Beck & Co) are not so strict in their enforcement of that document.

    I guess its like deficits — they only matter when the Democrats govern, they don’t when its the Republican. This is complete nonsense.

  • busboy33

    The Prop 8 decision isn’t too suprising given the closing arguments . . . and frankly they can appeal it all they want but Walker laid the case out pretty clearly as to why “Gays are icky” just doesn’t count as a good enough reason for the Government to prohibit or ban gay marriages.

    The only real distinction between gay marriage and “regular marriage” is the procreation issue . . . and procreation isn’t required of “regular” marriages. Not much else to argue about.

  • balconesfault

    Sinz: No Jews go around saying that the U.S. Constitution is illegitimate because it doesn’t enshrine the Torah.

    No, but you’ll find plenty of delusional Christians running around claiming that the US Constitution is legitimate solely because it enshrines Christian principles.

  • Oldskool

    “Everyone who is opposing the Cordoba Initiative building is not only trampling on our constitution but also giving aid and comfort to Osama Bin Laden.”

    That’s a stretch.

    Whoever came up with the idea must have known from the outset it would be controversial and possibly create more havoc than garner any goodwill. And yet they’re still at it. Which leads me to believe they’re trying to make a statement more than anything else. There must be umpteen dozen other things they could do with that space that would do more good for their effort, whatever it is, and also create less hostility.

    That’s why it looks so stupid on the face of it. If someone sat down several years ago and made an imaginary list of controversies guaranteed to be divisive and self-defeating at the same time, that idea would have to be top five.

  • Zivot39

    I take the use of the Palin word as a situational tongue in cheek, satirical slam…..

    But I agree that the constitution seems to fit what politicians want, much like Christianity fits what most “Christians” want…. Let’s remember to love our enemy, mmmmmmkkkkayy.

  • LFC

    Whoever came up with the idea must have known from the outset it would be controversial and possibly create more havoc than garner any goodwill.

    Then why is it overwhelmingly supported by the people of Manhattan? You know, the ones who ACTUALLY experienced the 9/11 attacks.

    It’s only controversial to people who conflate all Mooslims with terrorist Mooslims, and that’s religious bigotry at it’s worst.

  • Churl

    I have a sort of appalled admiration for the sheer in-your-face brass-necked unmitigated gall of the Cordoba House project. It strikes me as an end zone happy dance on the closest thing that the victims of 9/11 will ever have for graves.

    When the mosque is opened, radical imams and their parishoners all over the planet will howl with derision at the what they see as our craven response to a gross provocation.

    That said, it would be unAmerican to stop the imams and their shadowy financiers from building the thing.

    There being no legitimate way to stop the project, we could show our displeasure with that very American response: the belly laugh. The best idea so far came from a wag who suggested that, once it is built, have passers by fly rubber band powered balsa wood airplanes into it. Maybe even coat the little aircraft with lard so it will be necessary to hire infidels to dispose of them.

    Remember, our best people (leftish posters here included of course) agree that mocking religious fundamentalists is a perfectly acceptable form of amusement.

  • anniemargret

    I’m a native, born and bred in NYC, and frankly I find the idea of a mosque there an act of reconcilitation and healing. What’s all the fuss? Bin Laden is laughing in his soup . His greatest wish was disunity and division in the USA – the right wing is heading it up.

    Ignorance breeds fear and Limbaugh and company breed them both to the detriment of this nation. He and his ilk are not patriots – they are paid agitators, nothing more, nothing less.

    The insanity of lumping together a group of radical Muslims who attacked us on 9/11, and brand the entire Muslim religion with one broad brush reveals the inner insecurity (and bigotry) of the right wing of the Republican party.

    What, don’t we know the difference between radicals and peaceful people? Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers on 9/11 were Saudis. If those that are now protesting the mosque were really sincere, why not lobby their congressmen to ban all communication and commerce with Saudi Arabia? Maybe it has something to do with oil.

    Radical Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor – we don’t ostracize Japanese-Americans anymore do we? Radical Germans committed grievous sins against humanity, but do we brand the entire German people in with them?

    This is yet just another culture war for the right wing, led by the usual suspects…Limbaugh, Palin, Beck, Bachmann, Angle, and their Fox news enablers. They love culture wars; they thrive on them.

    Americans are just not that stupid. They can sift the wheat from the chaff, and they will not give in to the rabid fear-mongerers and hate-agitators.

    And as a proud New Yorker, I know the people there are solid gold. All of them – of every race, nationality, creed and culture.

    Reject the culture-warriors.

  • pampl

    Churl: Building a community center with a place of worship inside it doesn’t count as a fundamentalist action. Nor does celebrating religious diversity and toleration- just the opposite. Your understanding of how radicals think is, to put it mildly, dumb. Every mosque that preaches co-existence and non-radical theology is another mosque they’ll have to blow up. To put it near the place they declared their holy war is a finger in their eye.

  • anniemargret

    forgetn: I agree with you about the use of the word, ‘refudiate’ by David Frum. I’m sure it was a sarcastic tweak against Palin and her followers, but Palin loves attention – even negative attention.

    On the other hand, I think she ought to keep using the words, ‘refudiate’ and ‘cojones’ – it just makes her ever the more linguistically charming and classy.

  • anniemargret

    sinz: Have you never met a peaceful Muslim in your life? I have. I have met more than enough hate-mongering “Christians’ who ‘refudiate’ Christ’s peaceful, loving teachings every chance they get, and I’ve met peaceful caring Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics and atheists.

    This is not about a religious creed. This is about People. Not every Christian adheres to the principles of the New Testament. The OT God was violent and jealous and vengeful, wasn’t He?

    Rather, this is about whether or not we as Americans are just going to give lip service to freedom of religion, or is it just for Christians?

    As a Christian at heart myself, I find this continued assault against another’s religion, and in this case, Muslims, deeply offensive . Every religion on earth has its inanities and idiosyncrasies. Every person involved in that religion does not adhere to every single principle laid out by that religion.

    Case in point…. During the Civil War….
    “….parts of the Old Testament law recognized and regulated slavery. Jesus lived in a world where slavery existed, and he apparently uttered not a single word of censure against it. The letters of the apostle Paul contained explicit commands that slaves be obedient to their masters…”

    The argument you raise is nonsensical. Either we take people at face value, or we demonize them based on religion, culture, race.

  • fromks

    It’s interesting that people tend to forget, according to Al Queada central among their most hated enemies are Muslim’s they consider apostate, like the Imam leading this initiative. It’s also interesting that the man leading this has been so non-controversial as to only be able to be tied to anyone through loose connections (his wife’s brother-in-law’s friend might have ties to a group that supports Hamas) and vague quotes taken out of context about September 11.

    In fact, I find it distasteful that the author of this piece tries to paint the builders of this group as sinister without offering a shred of evidence that anything nasty is afoot. There has been intense scrutiny on this group for weeks and nothing, nothing has come out about it. Seems to me that the post on the one hand tries to refute the boycotts while on the other hand supporting their wild and baseless claims about the project. It’s almost a courageous post, but not quite.

  • rbottoms

    It’s not possible to argue with people this crazy.

    Point in fact:

    This week, former Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) “made good on his threat” to jump into the race for the Colorado statehouse after a prolonged temper tantrum about how unsatisfied he is with the GOP’s two candidates for the nomination, Scott McInnis and Dan Maes. Tancredo — who will run under the auspices of the American Constitution Party — immediately threw the GOP’s designs on the governor’s race into stunning disarray: polls indicate that Tancredo would divide the state’s conservatives nearly in half, paving the way for a John Hickenlooper victory.

    Dan Maes, however, isn’t going down without a fight, and has apparently decided to go all out in competition for Tancredo’s natural constituency — ridiculous xenophobes. So, what crazy paranoia over the creeping menace of foreigners is Maes fearmongering about? Let’s ask the Denver Post:

    Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes is warning voters that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper’s policies, particularly his efforts to boost bike riding, are “converting Denver into a United Nations community.”

    I’m sorry, what?

    “This is all very well-disguised, but it will be exposed,” Maes told about 50 supporters who showed up at a campaign rally last week in Centennial.

    Thank the Lord above for the dimwits of the GOP.

  • Churl

    pampl saith, “Churl: Building a community center with a place of worship inside it doesn’t count as a fundamentalist action.”

    Neither does building a community center with a place of worship for tongue-speaking snake handlers inside it. The fundamentalists are those who frequent the place.

    It will be interesting see what goes on in Cordoba House, if infidels are allowed to watch all the goings-on.

  • msmilack

    Great piece, David and I love your clever use of the new verb “refudiate”.

    To add one additional detail of horror, I read that one conservative group is arranging a public burning of the Koran, which I find unspeakable to say nothing of stupidly disrespectful and unnecessarily provocative. How much more unAmerican can people get?

    I am so grateful that you speak out in an intelligent voice of fairness and reason. It helps us all. Thank you.

  • John Q

    “Whoever came up with the idea must have known from the outset it would be controversial and possibly create more havoc than garner any goodwill. ”

    I doubt they had any idea the fundies would go so dementedly crazy.

  • msmilack

    You wrote: “But I agree that the constitution seems to fit what politicians want”

    I really do not think the meaning of the constitution changes depending on who is reading it — yes, there are nuances and some readings are stricter interpretations than others; but does not our whole society rest upon the premise that there are fundamental truths that we must uphold as they are outlined in those principles? Personally, I find many of the current interpretations — e.g. Sarah Palin asserting that she personally knows that the founders really intended the USA to be a Christian nation though they did not explicitly write that — somewhere between purposeful distortions and self-serving lies (with an added dash of ignorance of the law).

  • msmilack

    anniemargret wrote: “Reject the culture-warriors.”

    Great line, good advice.

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  • easton

    “It will be interesting see what goes on in Cordoba House, if infidels are allowed to watch all the goings-on.” You know, if you are so interested, pretend to want to convert and find out. And in point of fact, non mormons can not attend Mormon services. Do you propose to protest the Mormon church as well, lord know what devilry they are up to (I am being facetious)

  • msmilack

    rbottoms // Aug 4, 2010 at 8:05 pm
    What is it about Colorado that seems to bring out such craziness? Or what is it about western states (Arizona, Colorado)? Tancredo is so outrageous he is even criticized by GOP pundits including Megan Kelly.

  • msmilack

    I can think of no better way to achieve peace and stand up to radicals (Islam or otherwise) than to welcome this mosque and let peaceful Muslims (the majority, by the way) worship just as we allow other religions to worship; anything short of that is, in my opinion, no different from how we treated the Japanese Americans who were put in internment camps