A mosque at Ground Zero will hurt Islam more than us

In any legal or constitutional showdown over whether a mosque can be built near Ground Zero, the mosque would win, hands down.

The
First Amendment of the Constitution requires it. The amendment, perhaps
the most cherished of the Bill of Rights, guarantees that government
may not interfere with the practice of religion.

Not that Imam
Feisel Abdul Rauf and his Cordoba House have earned such protections.
The widespread feeling is that the imam is using our deeply rooted
belief in liberty to shove his mosque down our throats, knowing full
well that most Americans oppose building it near the 9/11 killing field.

The lower Manhattan building that will possibly house the Cordoba Initiative Mosque and Cultural Center is seen in New York August 16, 2010. The project, planned near the ground zero site of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, has emerged as an emotional issue 2-1/2 months before U.S. congressional elections in which Republicans are trying to take back control of Congress from Obama's fellow Democrats. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES - Tags: RELIGION POLITICS IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Here is a religion whose mainstream adherents repeatedly assert that the
Koran teaches tolerance. So, then why do so many of its adherents
engage in beheadings, the slaughter of medical missionaries, the stoning
of women and the execution of homosexuals -- not to mention the biggest
mass murder in American history at Ground Zero. All in the name of
Allah.

Don't bother reminding me of the brutal history of Christians and
other religions. Which currently is as bloodthirsty in the name of their
deity as this Islamic sect is now? And which insists on government
enforcement of their dictates through terror and violence, like the
Taliban?

The mosque's planned presence feels like an intentional
insult, a calculated smack-down, a purposeful rending of wounds too deep
to have healed. As Debra Burlingame, sister of a pilot killed in the
9/11 attacks, said, the mosque "is a deliberately provocative act that
will precipitate more bloodshed in the name of Allah."

Liberal
calls go out far and wide for us to exercise tolerance and respect
toward Rauf and his mosque in this matter, yet how many forcefully call
on Rauf for equal measures of tolerance and respect for the innocent
victims of 9/11? And yet. ...

The imam has got us cold. He has the
right to build it there, and he knows it. The U.S. Constitution's on his
side; so is America's tradition of freedom and religious liberty. He
can justifiably argue that a right not exercised because of vast public
disapprobation is a right denied.

The Constitution, law and
tradition prohibit government from dictating where a denomination can
build its house of worship. It's so enshrined in the law that the
Supreme Court has decreed that government can't prohibit American
Indians from smoking hallucinogenic peyote as part of a religious rite.
Thankfully. We've already had enough of government prohibitions on
expressions of faith, from the presence of a cross on isolated, public
property, to public schools erasing references to religious holidays.

Yes,
houses of worship located even on private property are not exempt from
zoning laws. And government can take property owned by religious
dominations if it serves a clear and compelling public interest and a no
"less burdensome" alternative to achieve this public good is available.

But
the Cordoba House has passed those tests. It doesn't violate local
zoning or landmark ordinances. And being insensitive -- as the imam
surely is -- is hardly sufficient legal grounds for blocking the
construction of a house of worship. Let's be honest: the opposition to
the mosque is fueled by discrimination against this religion. It's so
obvious that any attempt by any government to stop the mosque surely is a
loser. If Catholics, Protestants or Jews wanted to build there, we
wouldn't be having this debate.

So, conservatives, let's leave the
wailing about the imam's insensitivity to liberals, for whom it is the
highest of offenses. Let's not waste our breath hoping that a government
you believe should be limited would step in and do something about it.
Such an expansion of government powers would eventually and surely turn
against you in unforeseen ways.

Give Rauf his victory, if he must
have it. It'll be hollow because the mosque's presence will stand as a
concrete reminder of our devotion to liberty and acceptance of its
costs. Erect a plaque outside proclaiming, "This mosque brought to you
courtesy of America's dedication to freedom." The mosque will stand for
all to see as testimony to Rauf's rigid and Procrustean version of
Islam. Certainly, he and Islam will be the losers.

This column also appeared in the Chicago Tribune

Comments

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  • Put the mosque there and reap the whirlwind of anger that you as "the religion of peace"is looking for .You will never find peace here because that's not what you want.New York will now become a third class city.That piece of sh#t mayor they have can say all he wants because he'll just walk away.Another limosine liberal.ok islam,here we come and you will never rest...........

  • Leave it to Dennis Byrne to actually manage to come down on the right side of an issue for once, and do so in a way that is so wrong-headed and offensive.
    The so-called "ground zero mosque" is neither a mosque, nor is it at ground zero. It is a community center that will include an auditorium, a child-care center, meeting rooms, other facilities open to the public, and yes, a mosque. It is several blocks from ground zero, as is a strip club that I've yet to hear any of Byrne's right-wing compatriots complain about. Perhaps even stranger still is that I've yet to hear any objection from today's so-called Conservatives to the mosque that exists within the Pentagon itself, a building that was also attacked on 9/11 in case Byrne has forgotten.
    Byrne is honest enough to admit that the objection to the building is due to discrimination, then proceeds to embrace the worst type of ignorance as exhibited by its opponents. Islam is not the monolithic religion that Byrne likes to present it as. Certainly he understands that all Irish Catholics do not support the protection of pedophile priests, any more than all Southern Baptists support the gunning down of abortion doctors. Yet Byrne lumps all of Islam with a small group of radical extremists, and in so doing manages to actually become a wonderful propaganda tool to Osama Bin Laden and his ilk.

  • Are you for real??? Do you homework read the history.This is nothing but a building to show the nut jobs of islam that they have triumphed over the great satan.Community center?? When they allow a church to be built in mecca then I'll believe what they say.Why do you think they call us infidels????I can't understand your thinking.We as a nation have given this so called religion access to many places to pray but they will not be happy until the rest of the worshiping facilities are gone.Take off the rose colored glasses and see what your shoveling.This is exactely how they started in Europe.Look up what the meaning of the name of this "community center " really means.

  • Dennis, this article is fantastic, but I disagree with your assessment of them being the "losers". You really missed the mark in paragraph 5. You have associated the Taliban with this mosque, and that is not deserved.

    Do you recall after hurricane Katrina, Franklin Graham said the city deserved it because of their sins? So does he represent all Christians? Do the fundamentalists represent all, and do the Christians who say "God hates gays" and bomb abortion clinics-- do they have an association with you? Maybe we should not allow churches to be built near places where crimes were committed in the name of (Christian) God.

    Another analogy I will draw is something you should know, as a caucasian man. How would you like if someone made you personally feel bad for slavery? What if they said to you "You guys owned slaves," referring to whites. You would probably say "HEY, I had NOTHING to do with slavery, I take no responsibility for that." To shirk away IS to take RESPONSIBILITY at some level.

    The individuals wanting to build this Muslim community center have every right to do so, WITHOUT having to take shame or blame for something extremists did. Remember there are extremist Christians, too, as I referenced, who bomb clinics, kill people, and spew hatred. It is not representative of the entire religion.

  • Mr. Byrne, I

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