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An Orthodox Church at Srebrenica?

Thought experiment.

3:17 PM, Aug 18, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Opponents of the Ground Zero mosque have tried to use analogies to show that their opposition to the mosque is not rooted in anti-Muslim bigotry. For example, a Japanese cultural center at Pearl Harbor would be provocative and insensitive, even though many Japanese Americans fought and died in World War II.

Rod Dreher, an Orthodox Christian, runs through another thought experiment at Big Questions Online:

In July of 1995, Bosnian Serbs killed 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in and around the town of Srebrenica, in the worst atrocity of its kind since World War II. The Serbs did so in the name of ethnic supremacy and tribalism, not religion, but religious and tribal identities are so tightly knotted together in the Balkans that it's fruitless to insist on their separation as a practical matter.

Dreher asks: Would it be a good idea to build an Orthodox church at Srebrenica?

I think absolutely not. The pain and the offense created by the act of murderous terror carried out against Muslims by Orthodox Christians because they were Muslim makes such a project far too risky, no matter how good its organizers' intentions. It would seem to me to be rubbing salt in the wounds of Bosnian Muslims. If Orthodox Christians really wanted to sow seeds of peace and reconciliation, they should find other, less provocative ways to do it.

While Ground Zero mosque opponents have tried to use analogies to see how they'd react if the shoe were on the other foot, I haven't seen the same from mosque supporters in general. At The Atlantic's website, Michael Kinsley comes close to taking Charles Krauthammer's anti-Ground Zero mosque analogies seriously, but ultimately misses the point. Kinsley writes of the Pearl Harbor analogy: "the difference is that our constitution does not guarantee ... freedom of national (as opposed to religious) cultural centers." That seems to be a concession that a Japanese cultural center near Pearl Harbor would be offensive, and it wouldn't be protected by the Constitution. I think Kinsley is mistaken on the latter point, as the Constitution protects freedom of speech, not merely freedom of religion.

But if mosque supporters need a better, religious parallel to think through the issue, they should read through Dreher's whole post. If they conclude church at Srebrenica would at best be insensitive to Muslim victims, and at worst be a symbol of Serbian supremacy, why don't they think the same about a mosque at Ground Zero?

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