Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Is Ground Zero mosque a First Amendment issue?

I've been reading a lot of interesting things about the Cordoba Mosque. Some interesting, some amusing, some disturbing, but all hyped up and full of hyperbole:

Paul Shmelzer of the Minnesota Independent reports that Muslim groups are upset that Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty said the Ground Zero mosque is "inappropriate."

I would say he's probably right. If it is really being placed there to build bridges, it's planners need to wake up, because it is having the opposite effect. National head of the Anti-Defamation league Abraham H. Foxman used the example of the Carmelite convent established near Auschwitz as a model(1) for how the mosques planners should act:

The lessons of an earlier and different controversy echo in this one. In 1993, Pope John Paul II asked 14 Carmelite Nuns to move their convent from just outside the Auschwitz death camp. The establishment of the convent near Auschwitz had stirred dismay among Jewish groups and survivors who felt that the location was an affront and a terrible disservice to the memory of millions of Jews who died at the hands of the Nazis in the Holocaust.

Just as we thought then that well-meaning efforts by Carmelite nuns to build a Catholic structure were insensitive and counterproductive to reconciliation, so too we believe it will be with building a mosque so close to Ground Zero.

Is it really that hard to understand? The Carmelites had no connection to Hitlers death camps, yet Pope John Paul II understood that the location of the convent was an afront to the Jewish community and that it should be moved. Feisal Abdul Rauf should be able to understand the same of his Cordoba mosque.

I even read a translated Arabic article that said the U.S. government should confiscate all funds set aside for the mosque. But while I agree that the mosque should not be built two blocks from Ground Zero and that it is offensive to many, we have a document that says our federal government cannot stop it's being built. Unless there is proof that it will be a haven/planning center for terrorists, no one will argue that it is not being built by an established religion. As such the First Amendment to the Constitution applies.

If a project with the stated purpose of "building bridges" causes this much controversy and animosity, it needs to be re-evaluated. It's obviously heading in the wrong direction at the outset.

 

(1)Mr. Foxman didn't include the entire Carmelite Auschwitz story. The convent was moved, but the controversy is ongoing.

OUR VIEW; 'GROUND ZERO' MOSQUE? OFFENSIVE, BUT AMERICAN.(Editorials): An article from: The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM)