The Blog

'A mosque that wrecks bridges'

Caldwell on Ground Zero mosque.

12:38 PM, Aug 7, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Christopher Caldwell writes on the Ground Zero mosque in the Financial Times:

Not even the tongue-tied former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who called on “peaceful Muslims” to “refudiate” [sic] the project – disputes the right of Muslims to build houses of worship where they wish. Few mosque opponents argue seriously that this one can be blocked. The argument of Ms Palin and others is instead that it is insensitive to build a mega-mosque next to the spot where 2,700 people were killed in Islam’s name. This distinction – between what is constitutional and what is appropriate – is an important one.

It is lost on Mr Bloomberg. In May, he said: “If somebody was going to try, on that piece of property, to build a church or a synagogue, nobody would be yelling and screaming.” That is right. But history matters, too. The attacks of 2001 were not a political-science abstraction. They were an expression of Islam. Not all of Islam, certainly – and Islam is neither the only religion that has such crimes to answer for nor the only one that has provoked such controversies. The building of a Carmelite convent at Auschwitz in the 1980s so wounded Jewish sensibilities that Pope John Paul II ordered it removed in 1993, even though the Holocaust was not carried out in the name of any faith..

It was perhaps with that episode in mind that the Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-Semitism and other forms of religious bigotry, produced an admirably balanced response to the controversy, one that respected both the constitutional and historical aspects of it. While defending Muslim religious freedom unreservedly, the ADL warned that building the mosque at Ground Zero “will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right”. In other words, if the consortium wants to build it, it can build it. But it would be a very bad idea. They should build it somewhere else in Manhattan.

Read the whole thing here (free registration required). Also, see Bill Kristol's editorial on the Ground Zero mosque in the new issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD, and Claudia Rosett's latest on the "Further Travels Of Imam Feisal."

Recent Blog Posts