Some of these are on point, others are distractions introduced by dishonest “debaters” in an attempt to divert the discussion into unproductive fields. You should be able to tell the difference; I’m not going to flag them for you in every case.

Directly to the first update
Directly to the second update
Directly to the third update

Briefly summarized:

It’s not a mosque, it’s a community center.

A distinction without a difference. It is bedrock doctrine of Islam that there is no separation of religion and any public activity. A Government official instructs the people, and is therefore a religious official. A place where the community meets is also a place where the faithful meet. It’s a mosque because it’s a community center set up by Moslems[*]. Community centers set up by non-Moslems are also religious centers, but they’ve been profaned by infidels — that’s why Moslems agitate for foot-washing facilities, separation of the sexes, etc.

They have a legal right to do this.

No question. Raising that point is an attempt to divert the discussion away from the issue.

They have a Constitutional right to do this.

See above, “legal right”.

We have freedom of religion in this country.

Do we? I propose an Aztec pyramid on the Mall, where priests can perform human sacrifice to greet the Sun.

American jurisprudence back to before the Revolution firmly establishes that while we have freedom of worship, we do not have absolute freedom of practice. Not just human sacrifice, but animal sacrifice, too, will get people in bad trouble. More currently, does a Mormon or Pentecostal doctor have the right to refuse to perform an abortion? If a Catholic priest in California refuses to perform a gay marriage, should he be sanctioned? Curiously, it’s the people arguing most fervently for permitting the Blue Mosque of Manhattan who would say “No!” to the last two questions.

You just aren’t tolerant.

There is no better signature[**] of Progressive thought than the conflation of “tolerate” and “approve”. If I approve of something, there is no need for me to tolerate it — the basic equation behind “toleration” is I don’t approve, but I’m willing to let it be. I don’t approve of groups of chanting Baha’i blocking my way through public facilities, but I tolerate them on free speech grounds (among other reasons).

Nor is tolerance inseparable — just because one aspect of something is tolerated, it does not mean every aspect must be. I tolerate women wearing burkha and hijab, but there are plenty of nutcases and barely-capables on the roads and highways; I do not tolerate anyone wearing vision-obscuring face coverings while operating a motor vehicle or other power machinery, regardless of reason or motive.

And directly: tolerance has to go both ways. If you demand that I be tolerant of practices I despise, on the ground that intolerance of those practices causes inconvenience and emotional distress on the part of the practitioners, what ground have you to demand that my (and others’) inconvenience and emotional distress should not be met by tolerance? A requirement for “tolerance” that does not require tolerance in return is not “tolerance”, it is active support and promotion.

You just hate Moslems/Islam.

Another signature of Progressive <sneer>thought.</sneer> If you don’t believe in free speech — if all disagreement is “hate” — why the f* are you arguing freedom of religion? If you’re arguing freedom of religion, why does a Mormon or Catholic doctor who refuses to perform abortions or gay marriages incite you to shrieking denunciation? Pick a principle and stick to it.

For sure I hate some of the practices of Islam. Do you tolerate (and therefore approve, in good Progressive fashion) the stoning to death of homosexuals? If so, you have no business assuming you have the moral high ground. I’m quite sure we could find a corner of Golden Gate Park where we could set up a post, with manacles, lay in a supply of granite shards, and begin cleansing the City by the Bay.

The practices you don’t like aren’t really part of Islam, the Religion of Peace.

That’s either a lie or profound ignorance. Read the Koran. It’s on line in several places. As you do so, keep in mind that there’s a chronological order (not the order the Suras are presented) and that, by Moslem doctrine, later versions supercede earlier ones — just because you find a verse and conclude something from it, doesn’t mean some later verse doesn’t contradict it. And to be sure of an interpretation you have to consult the hadith, the scholarly writings and interpretations, and that will take a while.

Nevertheless, it’s clear from behavior that the practices I don’t tolerate are integral parts of Islam. Wherever shar’yah (use of the Koran and hadith as a legal code) is set up, those practices become everyday occurrences not merely supported but actively promoted by the leadership[***]. They are integral parts of Islam, and people who don’t practice them are severely denounced by those who do as representing an abandonment of the True Faith.

More to the point, suicide bombing is not just a sacrament of Islam, it’s a fundamental sacrament, as should be clear from extensive discussions of the subject by Moslems — six dozen virgins in Paradise, remember?

This is just community outreach, an attempt at reconciliation and breach-healing.

Two thoughts occur:

1) Why does it have to be right there? There are innumerable places where a “community outreach center” [haaark, spit] could be built, from “greenfields” where there’s no structure now, through existing buildings that could be modified for the purpose, to places where the structure to be demolished is not adjacent to the site of the WTC — and even buildings which are adjacent to Ground Zero[****] but were not actually damaged during the attack. Use of such a site would not be met by the outpouring of emotion resulting from the site actually selected, and I, for one, would either tolerate or actively support suppressing any objections that did occur, as would many others who are on the “objector” list now. Offers of such non- or less-offensive sites, or of assistance in selecting and acquiring one, have been made — and decisively rejected. Apparently, the only suitable site (in the minds of the organizer(s)) is the one that causes maximum offense to the maximum number of non-Moslems. See above: “tolerance”, third paragraph.

This is why I refer to the project as “The Blue Mosque of Manhattan”. For those who don’t know, the Blue Mosque sits atop the Temple Mount, the most sacred spot in Judaism, and its existence is used to justify preventing Jews from visiting there — until recently in historical terms, even the Wailing Wall, at the base of the Mount, was off-limits to Jews. The site was claimed on the most tenuous, not to say specious, ground — it is holy to Islam because Mohammad visited there by astral projection in a dream, a notion barely if at all supported by the cited text. It is a deliberate, triumphalist, practiced affront, intended that way from the beginning. The parallels should be obvious.

2) The only permissible form of “community outreach” in Islam is (a) bringing infidels (all non-Moslems, without exception) into the Faith and (b) killing off infidels who don’t respond to (a). I am tolerant of (a). I am not in any way, shape, form, or degree tolerant of (b), not least because tolerating it is a direct inversion of religious tolerance as envisioned, and enshrined in the Constitution, by the Founders.

At the time the United States was brought into existence, it was and had been for most of the history of humanity a common practice to kill “infidels”, defined as anyone whose religious faith wasn’t the same as that professed by the goon with a weapon in hand. Religious freedom was put high on the list of ideals in the United States specifically as a way to eliminate any legal justification for the practice, or its milder cognates such as religious preferences for office and disenfranchisement of those practicing the “wrong” faith.

If the imams, teachers, of Cordoba House are to “reach out to the community” by teaching Islam — as they must; it’s their only option — they must, of necessity, teach all the precepts of Islam, including the killing of infidels where necessary or prudent, by subterfuge ending in violence (i.e., suicide bombing) if the options of war, execution, or simple murder aren’t available. To support, or even tolerate, such teaching turns the intent of the Founders on its head. This is not a philosophical objection, it is a concrete one — having given one faith permission to teach the killing of infidels, how do you justify not extending that privilege to any or all of the others? That way lies Urban II and Geoffrey of Monmouth, not to exclude Habsburgs, Wallenstein, and a host of others. Been there, done that, my “kill the infidels!” T-shirt with red cross on a white field wore out long ago, and I, for one, would strongly prefer NOT to return to those particular “good old days”.

You’re just afraid of Moslems (titter, titter)

See “hate”, above.

Individual Moslems are simply individual people, scary or otherwise according to physiology, personality, and habit. However, Progressive doctrine requires that individuals can only be treated as members of groups, and must share the group-defining characteristics or be declared “inauthentic”. As a group, Moslems are cowards and weaklings, especially Arab Moslems, and especially when confronted by Western forces however constituted. The days of Sa’al-a-din are long past; the characteristic behavior of a Moslem army facing a Western one is not even to run away, it is to fade into the woodwork, gracing any following interrogators with a “who, me?” look of angelic innocence.  Their strongest expression of “honor” (=strength) is beating up on and killing women who have already been intimidated into submission; their highest form of “courage” is brick-in-the-hat practical jokery, planting bombs in the street and shouting in triumph when a ten-year-old sets one off; and, by their own repeated and forceful assertion, they lack the presence of mind and strength of character to behold a skimpily-clad woman without exploding into a paroxysm of rage and rapine, which (as we observe) they do manage to suppress if they fail to outnumber their victim(s) by three to one or better. I am wary of rattlesnakes, semis with bad brakes, open containers of flammables, high-voltage electricity, bulls, and Islamic bombers, among other modern hazards; I am not afraid of any of those, because the danger can be ameliorated by prudent precaution and/or the soothing effect of high-speed lead pellets.

I am afraid of the Sword of the State, which is the whole point of its existence. I am afraid that a mistaken, wrongheaded, and one-sided misapplication of the concept of “tolerance” will lead to an upsetting of the rights, freedoms, and privileges that sit as the foundation of the Nation and the society I live in; that the Sword of the State will be employed to support and enforce practices that I find repugnant to the point of evil; that that Sword will be used to prevent me from taking prudent precautions against obvious dangers. When I see that happening, even in embryo, I oppose it.

[updates follow]

George Bush supported imam Feisal.

Yup. That was before he, or we, knew for sure that Feisal was an America-despising supporter of mad bombers and “Islamic rage”. Then, he was making nice noises about reconciliation and a kinder, gentler Islam [snort]. Times change — isn’t that the mantra? Now we do know that, and Obama supports him. Does that make BO an anti-American, or just another Bush, but dumber?

You have to understand the terrorists and their motives.

It is Progressive doctrine that “understanding” leads to sympathy, then acceptance, then approval.

I understand the point of view of the terrorists in some depth. Do I sympathize? Not only no, but Hell no — and that chops the Progg progression right at the root.

The terrorists, and their enablers and sympathizers, have a firm and belligerent policy of not cooperating with Western procedures and customs. That’s fine, so long as they’re willing to live in the resulting shit-pile — it’s a free World. Their complaint, though, is that having rejected the strictures of Western civilization, they don’t get the benefits of it; to which I say, FOAD, assholes. When they attempt to coerce those benefits, I reserve the right to oppose them by whatever means may be necessary, and I have sympathy for neither the plight of the deliberately uncooperative (and anti-cooperative) nor the lesions and contusions resulting from the opposition to their attempt at coercion.

[update 2]

Islam didn’t attack us, only al-Qaida!

After 9-11-01, even the apologist US media showed us multiple demonstrations in Moslem countries relating to the event, and the BBC and other news organizations were even less restrained. Every one of those demonstrations — not a single exception — showed the demonstrators celebrating a Moslem victory, expressing hate for America, and anticipating a follow-through of something even more damaging.

Was every Moslem on the planet a participant in such demonstrations? Of course not. But the most, the absolute most, that any putative dissenters from that sentiment did was to stay home. NOT ONE SINGLE ISOLATED “PROTEST” expressed sympathy for the dead at the WTC, let alone any even grudging support for America and Americans.

Some of us — myself included — got back-channel, individual expressions of sympathy from Moslems, there were some condolences and qualified support from individuals on the Internet, and a few Moslem bigshots of one sort or another made mealy-mouthed statements of support. In the latter case, one only had to consult the English closed-caption crawl on al-Jazeera to discover that many, if not all, such statements sounded very different in the original language.

It’s not at all a difficult leap to the obvious conclusion.

That’s not a reason to start another Crusade; yanqui go home! has been a constant in the world since whenever. It tends to make me, and a lot of other people, justifiably less than eager to extend the benefit of the doubt.

Imam Feisal wants to heal the breaches and teach Moslems to be Americans

Again, two things come to mind:

1) Where are the fatwas? The fundamental rift between American jusrisprudence and culture and Islam is the matter of separation of Church and State. For us, it’s fundamental, one of the primary motives behind the original desire to separate from England and Europe; for them, it’s anathema — the identity, and the notion that religious functions are paramount, is a basic building-block of Islamic theology going all the way back to Mohammad himself. Suggesting that Islam be modified to conform to American principles strikes at the very heart of its doctrine, and should be met by vociferous denunciation by any correctly-thinking Islamic cleric or theologian, complete with calling Feisal an apostate whose death should be immediate, painful, and messy, pour encourger les autres.

But the Right Reverend Mr. Feisal (!) has been going up and down the Islamic portions of the Earth seeking funding for his project (with US taxpayers funding his travels, no less) and getting no worse than the cold shoulder. By contrast, Salman Rushdie and Ayaan Hirsi Ali cannot even leave their homes (in the West!) without competent bodyguards — set either one of them down in Saudi Arabia, and anyone whose hand wasn’t against them would be beaten up by the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Suppression of Vice. If Imam Feisal really were trying to come up with an interpretation of Islam that conformed to American doctrine, custom, and law, he couldn’t get off the plane in Riyadh without a division of troops to back him up. Instead he gets handshakes, backslaps, and bows — and the conclusion is obvious: what he’s teaching isn’t Islam conforming to America, it’s the other way around.

2) Still lurking in the background is the Casablanca Question (“Of all of the gin-joints in all of the world…”): If Imam Feisal’s goal is reconciliation of Islam with America, why did he and his backers pick the one place on the planet calculated to cause maximum offense to the maximum number of people in minimum time, and why are they sticking to that selection with stubbornness lapping over into obstreperousness even after that offense has been registered and expressed?

It’s a puzzle, is it not? Even Barack Obama, secure in his faith (in himself), hemms, haws, and backtracks when faced with broad-based criticism, however carefully worded his non-apology apologies may be. Imam Feisal and his backers have more spine. Oh, they’ll change the name — I’ve forgotten what replaced “Cordoba Center”; something innocuous and corporate-logoish — but they’ve picked their spot, and that’s where it’s gonna be, come Hell, high water, or the objections of going on three-quarters of Americans. Is this the behavior of people interested in cooperation, reconciliation, and general good chumship? Like Hell.

Third Update:

We’re better than that. We’re Americans!

Not only elitist drivel, it’s suicidal elitist drivel.

We aren’t “better than that”. We’re the same as that — that is, we’re a society, a community, defending itself and its moral and ethical foundations against challengers. It is all very well to be the Shining City on the Hill, but the way we got there was to exercise our own societal imperatives, one of which is any number can play, but you have to go by the rules. We don’t mind, in fact we’re delighted, when others want to join us, but they have to want to join, not just play our rules against theirs in a cynical attempt to exploit the differences for their own aggrandizement. Our rules provide for a better, more exciting, more enjoyable game, and bigger rewards for the participants, than any other so far. We have every reason to insist that new players adopt them rather than spoil the game.

Not even the most rabid, racist “winger” would demand the right to put up a memorial to “great figures” in the KKK overlooking the shrine to Martin Luther King’s assassination. It would be against the rules of American society.

You have to give him the lunch money, because you’re a kind, sensitive, good person, and he’s just a crude, nasty ol’ bully. That’s what that amounts to — and it amounts to giving the bully not only the lunch money, but the satisfaction of having extorted it. That satisfaction, that power, is what the bully was after in the first place, which is why he’s a “bully”, and because he got what he wanted this time, he’ll be back.

We have to be tolerant; so do they, if they want to join our society. And we have to insist that newcomers play by the established rules; this is not to say that the rules are immutable, but that until you’ve played the game a while, you have no way of judging what modifications to the rules might do. We cannot tolerate a minority playing by entirely different rules encapsulated within our own game; it destroys the whole game, and that’s the end of the society.

This is not exhaustive by any means; I will update as other items occur to me.


[*] Yes, I use the older transliteration. If it offends you, embrace the suck. Be thankful I don’t reach all the way back to “Mohammedans” — I’m something of a traditionalist.

[**] There are other, equally good ones.

[***] It is redundant to say “religious leadership”. Islam not only doesn’t include separation of church and State, it doesn’t tolerate such — as noted above, a Government functionary instructs the People, and is therefore a religious leader who must be a member of the True Faith and well-versed in it.

[****] A usage I don’t like; “why” would be worth another essay, and may get it.