Ground Zero Mosque: The Curse of Liberalism
by THE EDITOR
August 11, 2010
The issue of the Ground Zero Mosque has become an issue of national concern. New York’s Mayor Bloomberg made a speech on Tuesday, August 3, on Governor’s Island. Surrounded by representatives of different religions, he invoked historical precedent 1657 and the intentions of the Founding Fathers to maintain that government had no right to interfere with religion.
He finished with the statement:
“Political controversies come and go, but our values and our traditions endure – and there is no neighborhood in this City that is off limits to God’s love and mercy, as the religious leaders here with us today can attest.”
The issue of the Ground Zero Mosque is, as the Mayor states, a “political controversy” – and Islam has always been a political doctrine as much as a religious ideology. But Bloomberg’s admission that the Ground Zero Mosque affair is a political issue somewhat undermines his earlier comments about religious freedom.
The Founding Fathers did intend the First Amendment in the Bill of rights to allow religious freedom to those of all faiths. Thomas Jefferson’s Memoir includes the following passage:
“The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason and right. It still met with opposition; but, with some mutilations in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved, that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the words 'Jesus Christ,' so that it should read, 'a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;' the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination."
But ultimately, the issue of the locating of the Ground Zero Mosque is a political action and should be viewed as such. The news that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf , head of the Cordoba Initiative (which plans to erect the Ground Zero Mosque on the site of the old Burlington Coat Factory) is being FUNDED by the administration is discussed today on FSM by Andrew McCarthy.
Now that the mosque’s founder is already being paid from the federal budget as an “emissary” of the United States, Mayor Bloomberg’s argument about religious freedom and tolerance becomes irrelevant.
In the Daily Caller today, Jacob Shmukler claims that “Mayor Bloomberg gets it right”. Shmukler argues that:
The separation of church and state relies on the ability of defenders of liberty to disregard the sect of the church involved. The greatness of American government, including the establishment clause and private property rights, is diminished when passion and circumstance outweigh our founding principles. Miller’s claim that Bloomberg’s fear of being “blown up” underlies his defense of the mosque ignores the reasoning actually invoked, one of the bedrock principles on which our founders established this country and distinguished it from almost any other at the time.
Though Shmukler’s clarity of purpose and commitment to constitutional principle should be lauded, the political aspects of the mosque and its founder somewhat destroy the argument that Mayor Bloomberg wanted to present.
As Andrew McCarthy points out, the speech by Mayor Bloomberg has been posted on the administration’s website, suggesting that there is official condoning of the positioning of the mosque – even though the citizens of New York, and the nation, are opposed.
William Kristol, in an article in the Weekly Standard, saw Mayor Bloomberg’s speech as a symbol of elite liberalism gone astray:
As is the way of contemporary liberals, Bloomberg spoke at a very high level of abstraction. He appealed to the principle of religious toleration, while never mentioning the actual imam who is responsible for and would control the planned Ground Zero mosque. To name Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf might invite a consideration of his background, funding, and intentions. Do Rauf and his backers believe in the principles underlying the “inspiring symbol of liberty” that greets immigrants to the United States and before which Bloomberg stood? Bloomberg didn’t say. It apparently doesn’t matter. Toleration means asking nothing, criticizing nothing, saying nothing, about whom or what one is tolerating. This is the Sergeant Schultz standard of toleration: I know nothing.
The governor of New York State, David Paterson, seems more aware of the deep sense of revulsion that Mayor Bloomberg is unable to countenance. Governor Paterson has offered to assist Imam Rauf to relocate his mosque to a new location. He said:
“I think it’s rather clear that building a center there meets all the requirements, but it does seem to ignite an immense amount of anxiety among the citizens of New York and people everywhere, and I think not without cause.”
Bloomberg’s popularity among New Yorkers has sunk dramatically. For the first time in five years, less than half of those polled in the five boroughs approve of his performance. The main drop in Bloomberg’s popularity has happened since April, and it seems that the Ground Zero Mosque, which Bloomberg has supported, is a cause of New Yorkers’ concerns. A majority of the city of New York oppose the construction of the mosque.
Mayor Bloomberg may think he is acting out of fairness and religious tolerance, and he may delude himself that by supporting the Ground Zero Mosque, he is supporting the views of the Founding Fathers. However, as the saying goes: the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
Separation of Church and State?
The liberals and the left once argued that by entertaining the views of the religious right, the administrations of GOP presidents such as Ronald Reagan and others were acting against the First Amendment’s “Establishment Clause”. However, what is currently happening in the present administration is far more blatant in its promotion of one particular religion.
In July, a previous editorial discussed the issues of the separation of Church and State. It was argued that if the Establishment Clause were taken seriously, there should be no Muslim advisor in the White House. Hijab-wearing Dalia Mogahed is a researcher, but effectively she is a Muslim advisor in the White House. She holds two offices: as a member of the advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and as one of the five members of the Inter-religious Dialogue and Cooperation Task Force.
Let us assume that the administration is not pandering to Islamic sensibilities by having Islamic advisers, and that having “task forces” on interfaith dialog are not directly breaching the Establishment Clause. But what about the statement from Charles Bolden, made to Al Jazeera, that his main mission was to make Muslim nations feel good about themselves? He said:
“When I became the NASA administrator -- or before I became the NASA administrator -- he charged me with three things. One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science ... and math and engineering.”
When Dawud Walid of CAIR is paid by the State Department to go to Mali (his second visit to the country) questions must be raised. CAIR was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial, and because of this, the FBI stopped (pdf) dealing with the group. That resolution seems to have gone by the wayside. The Muslim Brotherhood is now an active partner of the administration, it seems.
U.S. State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley said of Rauf’s state-sponsored jaunts through the Middle East that the imam was “a distinguished Muslim cleric.” Crowley added;
“I think we are in the process of arranging for him to travel as part of this program, and it is to foster a greater understanding about the region around the world among Muslim-majority communities.”
Crowley denied that federal money could be used to assist Rauf to build the Ground Zero Mosque; “That would not be something he could do as part of our program.”
The locations where Rauf would be visiting, on an expense account funded by American taxpayers, would put him in direct contact with potential funders, according Debra Burlingame, a representative of 9/11 relatives. Crowley described Rauf as a “moderate” and listed the places where he would visit:
“Imam Feisal (Abdul Rauf) will be travelling to Qatar, Bahrain, and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) on a US government-sponsored trip to the Middle East.”
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Peter King of the House Homeland Security Committee have condemned the State Department for funding Rauf. In a statement they claimed:
“Abdul Rauf has cast blame for 9/11 on the US, and even refuses to call Hamas what it is - a foreign terrorist organization. This radical is a terrible choice to be one of the faces of our country overseas. The US should be using public diplomacy programs to combat extremism, not endorse it. The State Department's selection of Feisal Abdul Rauf to represent the American people through this program further calls into question the administration's policy and funding priorities.”
As Alyssa A. Lappen’s research suggests, the connections between the organizations headed by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan (respectively the Cordoba Initiative and ASMA) and the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood-related group CAIR appear too close to be coincidental. ASMA has its offices in a suite adjacent to CAIR’s NY office, at 475, Riverside Drive.
Rauf has not been forthcoming about where money is coming from to build the mosque. On Sunday, the New York Post reported that Rauf’s organization only owns half of the mosque.
Daisy Khan has shown contempt for the relatives of those who died on 9/11 by telling them to their faces that the Ground Zero mosque would provide “much needed party space and much needed venue space.” Naturally she was booed off the podium, but such a comment shows just how callous and insensitive to the victims Daisy Khan is. There is no “interfaith tolerance” when relatives are insulted in this manner.
While the issues of the mosque become part of a political game, I am drawn to a report highlighted by Andrew McCarthy in National Review’s The Corner, which shows that as recently as June 2010, human remains continued to be removed from the Ground Zero site.
The issue of the mosque is not about Peter Stuyvesant or 17th century arguments of religious liberties. This is an issue of deep emotions – where relatives of an act of open warfare are being sidelined and disrespected. This is an issue of denial of public sentiment, and a denial of American patriotism.
The administration’s support for both Imam Rauf and his mosque being located where almost 3,000 people lost their lives is an insult to the American people.
For Mayor Bloomberg to pretend that the proposed construction of this mosque is in line with the beliefs of the Founding Fathers is an insult to the constitution.
When an administration chooses to breach the Establishment Clause and claim it is supporting “peace and harmony” it is also an insult to the intelligence of the voters. Politically, support for this mosque will be seen by many voters as a sign of capitulation to alien forces. In a democracy, any administration that blatantly disregards the deep emotions and sensibilities of the electorate should also acknowledge that it is only in power with the assent of those same voters.