The Ground Zero Mosque

There has been controversy over the Islamic community center and mosque that has been approved in downtown Manhattan, near where the World Trade Centers once stood. Given the events that have transpired there almost a decade ago, it’s certainly a project that was expected to gain a bit of attention. However, the conduct of elected, or otherwise public officials has been inexcusable, intolerant and misinformed as to the very nature of the war that the United States is currently engaged in.

People have been urged to protest and resist the introduction of the mosque and center because it represents an unnecessary provocation, and an insult to the survivors and families of those who have perished there, which is utter nonsense, and only highlights the ignorance of said officials and those willing to blindly follow them. The war abroad was most certainly begun by radical Islamic militants, acting in the interests of a foreign organization, which does elevate this conflict to a war, when two parties attempt to seek out some sort of political and practical gains by entering into hostilities. At the same time, such sentiments lump together the entirety of a global religion, of which these radical elements are only a small part.

As of 2009, it was believed that almost 23% of the global population identified themselves as Muslims, or about 1.57 billion people, across the globe, with a fifth living in countries where the religion is not a dominant one. Given the fairly localized nature of the fighting, with occasional strikes towards the western societies and the nature of the fighting, it’s fairly clear that there is far more that characterizes this war than simply a lot of religious people getting really angry. The global war on terror is an incredibly complicated act against a specific number of political groups, who use their faith to guide them and provide some set of misguided reasoning to support their political beliefs.

Depending on which wartime theorist that you subscribe to, warfare is generally a political act on the behalf of one group against another, and from everything that I have seen over the past couple of years, that is exactly what some of the larger and more well known groups are doing, from Al Qaeda to the Taliban to Hezbollah. Even more worrisome is their ability to convince young Muslims, who come from a poorer, disenfranchised area of the world, to blow themselves up. It’s a hell of a way to vent some misguided frustration and anger. It demonstrates incredibly poor government and leadership in those areas, where problems are directed elsewhere, and not addressed at their source.

The source of the World Trade Center destruction was Al Qaeda, not the people who want to build a community. I suspect that Palin’s words are deliberately inflammatory, designed to gain as much attention as possible, for the political beliefs of her own personal self, and that of her party, seeking to gain approval from the anger of those who don’t comprehend the differences between political terrorism and a religious community. To be sure, this religious community does harbor some very bad people, some angry people, and people looking for direction, which makes it prime for recruiting for overseas terrorist groups. But, one must also take into account the real anger and violence that boils up elsewhere, either singularly or in larger groups. There have been several attacks against federal authorities over the past year from angry people, but there is a discrepancy between the reactions taken in each case.

The real anger and action for the 9-11 attacks must be taken against those responsible, while we must all take the time to fully understand the nature of the conflict that is brewing around us, rather than blindly following misguided chatter from those who seek power, on both sides.


7 thoughts on “The Ground Zero Mosque

  1. A very interesting article, Andrew. I agree, objecting to a mosque on the grounds that the September 11th bombers happened to belong to an extreme version of Islam is just wrong.

    I’ll pick you up on one point though – religious extremists are not always recruited from amongst the poor and downtrodden. The men who bombed the tube system here in London were middle class, as are many extremists. The problem really is the extreme religion they belong to and the tribal identity that comes with it. To confuse that extreme version of the religion with the every day muslim, however, isn’t right.

    … I think. I suppose you could argue that without moderates there can be no extremists. But even then, the kind of knee jerk trouble stirring you describe isn’t the right way to do away with religion. We’ll only achieve that through patient, sensible argument.

    • That’s a good point, and I should note that I’m speaking in general terms – the Middle East is a very good recruiting ground, because of the various issues that people have. We’re also seeing people who are predominantly in the middle class who are acting on their behalf – the Time Square bomber who was just caught earlier this year is a good example. Extremism isn’t economicly dependent, but it certainly does help, I would argue, given the number of attacks in western cities, verses those that were squarely in the Middle East.

      Confusing extreme anything with the main grouping is problematic, and often hypocritical, because every religion has its bad points in its past. I would argue that extremism is religion becoming politics, where people use their religion as motivations for attacking others. I don’t necessarily disagree that there should be extreme points – that helps to define the center – but violence is just bad, and this seems to be the opposite of what’s going on.

      Understanding should preempt knee-jerk reactions. Understanding also doesn’t mean advocating or condoning.

  2. Actually, Andrew McCarthy recently pointed out that Feisal Abdul Rauf, the guy who’s pushing for the Islamic center near ground zero, has ties to both the Muslim Brotherhood and the International Institute of Islamic Thought, both of which are strong backers of Hamas, whose ultimate goal is the destruction of Israel.

    Furthermore, Rauf’s book is an explicit call to promote Sharia law within the United States.

    More details here:

    The Islamic center is not just a mosque, and indeed we already have numerous mosques all over the U.S. and in NYC. This particular institution is intentionally intended by Rauf to be a pro-sharia Islamist influence at Ground Zero, which (in my opinion) is unacceptable.

    • Interesting – I wasn’t aware of that, and within that context, there’s certainly more pause for thought.

      However, I think that a lot of my arguments still stand: regardless of its origin in funding and backing, I would bet that a lot of the same people would say the same things for a group going in that was free of these things.

      • Perhaps they would. Politicians love their talking points, after all.

        Nevertheless, there seems to be an overwhelming trend on the part of most politicians and media talking heads to let the indefensible aspects of Islam slide, in an effort to be “tolerant” and “multi-cultural.”

        Suppose for a moment that some racist militia group wanted to build an education center across the street from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Do you think anyone in the media, or any politician, would defend that even though those people have a Constitutional right to free speech? Of course not.

        So why is Islam different? Sharia law denigrates women, kills homosexuals, and is entirely intolerant of religious freedom outside of Islam. So why do all the feminists, gay groups, and others on the left constantly bend over backwards to avoid criticizing any aspects of Islam?

        Probably because they’re all afraid (for one), and because it works to their political benefit to just paint conservatives as a bunch of raving intolerant racists.

      • I think you’re probably right, and I do agree with you when you look at it from that perspective. At the same time though, people lump together religions, and at the heart of it, Religion is something that’s carried on by people, and those who do harbor deep, racist feelings towards any number of people are those who need to be reached, and communities can bring about a lot of different opinions.

        What pains me the most is the way that this sort of thing is twisted (on both sides) for political gain, but the knee-jerk reaction is worse, I think.

        Someone on facebook in the military noted that the Taliban would use this sort of thing as propaganda, which may be true – it can certainly be spun as a victory. But, when the Taliban begin to dictate what we should do, out of fear of making them a bit more cocky, I think that’s a dangerous slope for us to acquiesce to.

  3. “But, when the Taliban begin to dictate what we should do, out of fear of making them a bit more cocky, I think that’s a dangerous slope for us to acquiesce to.”

    I wholly agree.

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