By: Amy Lutz
As the midterm elections grow closer by the day, the political climate in the United States grows more and more volatile. Just when I thought that another issue could not top the controversy of health care or illegal immigration, I was proven wrong. This time, a political firestorm is raging over something much more specific, the so called “Ground Zero Mosque.” Before I start, let me be clear, this debate is not about freedom of religion or the right of Muslims to practice as the left likes to claim. I don’t intend to attack the Muslim religion itself, rather, it’s far more prudent to focus on this specific situation; this specific mosque. The planned “Cordoba House” mosque set to be opened on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 has been touted by the left as a symbolic step to religious tolerance and open discussions between Muslims and those of other faiths. As usual, the left has glossed over the darker aspects of this mosque, such as a radical Imam or insensitive dedication date, in favor of the broadest form of political correctness. This sort of one sided political correctness taken up by the modern left has recently given us a dropped case against the Black Panthers and the suspension of five high school students for wearing the flag on their shirts on a holiday that is barely celebrated in Mexico. Now, this same sort of political correctness, often falsely labeled as “tolerance,” has shown this radical administration’s true colors in their treatment of religious freedom. Let’s be honest, the government has often done its best to halt Christian practices in the public sphere such as forbidding the display of the Ten Commandments or suspending students because they bring Rosary beads to school, and a double standard is certainly emerging when it comes to the treatment of the Muslim religion. I am not saying that Muslims do not have a right to practice their religion or build places of worship, because they certainly do, like all other faiths. Though, tolerance of other faiths is not a limitless umbrella that covers every organization that claims to be religious in nature. Would the left really like a branch of the Westboro Baptist Church, headed by the radical Fred Phelps who enjoys protesting military funerals, to be built near Ground Zero (or anywhere else for that matter)? The answer is obviously no. Then why should we accept the potential radical roots of the Cordoba Initiative which is sponsoring this Mosque? Yet, again and again, the left has argued that this is simply about religious freedom and tolerance and that the mosque’s opposition simply dislikes people who follow different, non-Christian, faiths. Let me be clear to those on the left: This argument is not about religious freedom. I am an enormous supporter of Freedom of Religion and I still believe that it should cover all religions, including Islam. Opponents of the Cordoba House are not necessarily arguing that A mosque should not be built 500 feet from ground zero, rather, the argument should be solely focused on why THIS mosque should not be built in that location.

 

I suppose the first question to ask is, why build this mosque in this location? There are numerous other mosques in the vicinity and the likely Imam of the Cordoba House, Feisal Abdul Rauf, has been the Imam of another mosque 12 blocks away from Ground Zero for 27 years (according to the Cordoba Initiative website). It is not like there is a mosque desert in New York; I’m pretty sure they are covered on the Muslim worship front. The Cordoba Initiative and its supporters claim that this mosque will be an experience in “bridge-building” and that it will spark peaceful interfaith dialogue. If so, why did they choose to build it in the one place that would cause the most controversy? Is there not a better way to build bridges? This proposed mosque has done nothing but pull people apart, and as usual, President Obama, by publically commenting on it in his usual roundabout way, has only exacerbated the problem. To truly understand the goal of this mosque, it is important to first understand the meaning behind its proposed name, “Cordoba House.” Many people claim, including the Cordoba Initiative website, that it represents the time when Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived peacefully together in Cordoba, Spain. Sound great, huh? Too bad that version of the story is not entirely accurate. In 711, the city of Cordoba, Spain was conquered by Muslim soldiers and many of the citizens of Cordoba were killed in the process. The original Cordoba Mosque was built after the conquest on the ruins of a Christian cathedral. After the Muslims took over Cordoba, they gave non-Muslims the status of a second class “dhimmi” and forced them to pay a special tax. In the end, non-Muslims were given only three choices. They could accept the “dhimmitude” by paying the tax and living as second class citizens, convert to Islam, or be eliminated. How is this symbol of peace and equality? The part that disturbs me the most is the eerie similarity between the original Cordoba Mosque’s location on a razed Christian cathedral and the modern mosque’s proximity to Ground Zero. Cordoba symbolizes conquest and the subordination of non-Muslims if you look at the historical context, and this is not a theme that I want anywhere near Ground Zero. I am not saying that this is the way all Muslims feel because many Muslims are more peaceful, but the Cordoba Initiative’s stance has become clear through not only its name, but also in the words of its founder, the Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.

 

On September 30, 2001, during an interview with 60 Minutes, Feisal Abdul Rauf made the following statement, “I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened. But the United States’ policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.” When asked how he considered the U.S. an accessory, he replied, “Because we have been an accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, in the most direct sense, Osama Bin Laden is made in the USA.” Although the Imam claims that he was simply referring to the fact that the CIA had formerly funded Bin Laden before he was radically active, his message is still chilling. A lack of sensitivity is evident in his character judging by making such comments so soon after 9/11 and also in the act of building such a mosque near Ground Zero with a dedication date of 9/11/11. The National Review responded to his comments, saying, “While he cannot quite bring himself to blame the terrorists for being terrorists, he finds it easy to blame the United States for being a victim of terrorism.” Feisal Abdul Rauf has made public statements condemning the act of terrorism, yet has never been able to condemn Hamas as a terrorist organization. When asked about the subject, he simply gave a circular answer about his stance against terrorism without acknowledging that Hamas is a terrorist organization. Although the likely Imam seems to distance himself from suicide bombings, Al Qaeda, and other forms of terrorism, I do not believe that he is truly a moderate and sensitive to the feelings of all Americans who lost 3000 people on 9/11. This is especially evident in his choice to open the mosque on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. He claims that it is the beginning of new relations between Muslims and Westerners, but why not dedicate it on another day? September 11th will forever be a solemn scar on our history and Ground Zero has become almost a sacred location. To use 9/11 and Ground Zero for a political statement is horrendous.

 

The case of the Cordoba House once again reveals the left’s attempt to misdirect an argument to tolerance in order to ignore the holes in their own argument. This case is not about tolerance, or freedom of religion as the President likes to claim, in any way. As a side note, the left often likes to point out that there is supposedly a mosque in the Pentagon and that no one has come out against that. Unfortunately for them, there is not a mosque in the Pentagon (it is simply a nondenominational chapel) and if there was, as long as it does not have radical roots, I have no problem with it. Again, it’s not about A mosque being built, it is about THIS mosque being built in this location at this time. Had the situation been the same but involving Jews or Christians instead of Muslims, my position would be the same. Yet, the political correctness has spiraled out of control on the left. They are so afraid to offend anyone; many have become glorified people pleasers. The left has gone from being tolerant to ignorant and unable to say anything negative about anyone who has even visited the Middle East. This is especially evident in Attorney General Holder’s refusal to admit that radical Islamic terrorists actually exist. It is time for the left to start taking a stand on their issues. This infinitely broadminded “tolerance” has everyone walking on eggshells. Although most American Muslims are moderate and peaceful, some are not and it is important to acknowledge that for our own safety just like it is important to acknowledge that Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church do not represent true Christianity. There are good Muslims and bad Muslims, just like there are good and bad Christians or members of any other group. Tolerance does not mean the refusal to differentiate between the two. In the case of the Cordoba Mosque, it is important to look at the negatives and positives of the situation and weigh them. In my opinion, the construction of this mosque is fantastically insensitive to the victims of 9/11 and I will not stand by it. In this issue, and most issues of “tolerance” and political correctness, the left has polarized the argument. From their position, they see the right as xenophobic and disgusted with people different from us. On the other side, the left is so accommodating to people who are different that they can no longer take a stand on what is right and wrong. Of course, it is important to be tolerant of people who are different than us; diversity is often what makes us great, but it is still important to differentiate. The out of control political correctness that plagues our political debates needs to stop if we ever plan on making any progress in anything.