Earlier this week, the proposed New York City mosque at ground zero cleared its final hurdle. Nothing seems to stand in the way of its construction.
I am appalled that peace-loving Muslims would want to do this on what is, for most Americans, hallowed ground. I am even more appalled that the mayor of New York is in favor of the idea.
It would be like the Japanese building a Shinto shrine at Pearl Harbor! At a speech in front of the statue of liberty, Mayor Bloomberg made the case for the mosque on the grounds of tolerance. But tolerance isn’t the issue here. And certainly not tolerance as Bloomberg means it. Tolerance used to mean listening respectfully to others’ opinions, even when you disagree. Tolerance as Bloomberg understands it, means “I won’t say no to you for anything you want, and you don’t say no to me for anything I want.”—The ultimate expression of political correctness, and the most certain formula for moral chaos.
But the construction of the mosque at ground zero is not about tolerance. And it isn’t about religious liberty. This is about prudence: the good sense to do what is right. That’s one of the four classic, cardinal virtues given to the West.
Let me give you an example. It isn’t a violation of tolerance or religious liberty when a local zoning commission tells a church, or a synagogue, that it cannot build a sanctuary in a residential neighborhood. Parking issues, traffic, could adversely affect the neighborhood. So, local government can make the prudent decision to tell the church to build somewhere else.
So it would not be an act of intolerance to deny the construction of a mosque at a certain location—particularly one, ground zero, where the mosque will serve as a daily reminder to New Yorkers of the terrorists, who, motivated by their Islamo-fascist beliefs, killed 3,000 innocent people in the name of Islam.
Go build the mosque somewhere else.
Earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal, columnist Bill McGurn wrote about a marvelous example of prudence in a similar situation during the early 1990s. Catholic nuns had moved onto an abandoned building at Auschwitz—the site of the Nazi death camp—to pray for peace and the victims of the Holocaust. The Jewish community was quite outraged.
Although the nuns had the legal right to be at Auschwitz, Pope John Paul II intervened. Recognizing Jewish sensitivities, he ordered the nuns to move somewhere else to carry on their work. And they did.
Because I believe that the vast majority of Muslims are peace loving citizens who do not support terrorism, I can’t imagine why they would want to tempt us to think otherwise by building a mosque at the site where their co-religionists perpetrated the most barbaric acts of modern times.
If they—and Mayor Bloomberg—don’t have the prudence to respect the sensibilities of others, then Congress ought to step in. With the upcoming elections, I’m sure your congressman will be all ears to your concerns.
I understand the dilemma of religious freedom in this case. But as Bill McGurn pointed out, “having the right to do something doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.”
The Pope understood that at Auschwitz, and the Muslim community ought to understand it at ground zero.