Saturday, August 14, 2010

They Want Their Mosque, Let Them Build It...

This is a link to the Frum Forum, of all sites for me to link to. Alex Knepper comes out in favor of President Obama's support for the Ground Zero mosque -- though he does have his reservations:

...Obama didn’t ground his support for allowing the mosque to be built on the basis of the upstanding character of the imams behind it. The only relevant factor in allowing the mosque’s development, as Obama correctly pointed out, is whether the property was acquired legally. Whether one is personally offended by its being built — as I am — has nothing to do with whether it should be permitted. One’s rights don’t evaporate upon the majority taking offense. Our rights exist primarily to defend not the majority, after all, but the offensive, the radical, the shocking, and the outlandish. Obama and I diverge drastically when it comes to the nature of Islam, and his respect for property rights has not always been particularly stellar. But on this issue, he is absolutely correct and the right is absolutely wrong.

I glanced around for a little information about the man who wants to build Cordoba House, Feisal Abdul Rauf. According to Wikipedia, he's a Kuwaiti-American who's been an imam in New York City since 1983. I'm guessing that he's no run-of-the-mill imam and he could lecture me for hours on what 9/11 means to him, because he's the author of a book with the curious title of What's Right With Islam Is What's Right With America. From what little I've gleaned thus far, Rauf sounds like he might be the Muslim version of former bishop John Shelby Spong. If so, then that's a good thing.

And I have to grab a copy of that book of Rauf's sometime for weekend reading. That should prove fascinating. Because Fareed Zakaria, the man who recently returned his award and $10,000 honorarium to the Anti-Defamation League for its opposition to the building of Cordoba House -- an appalling decision that runs directly against the grain of its own charter -- says Rauf calls America the "ideal Islamic society because it encourages diversity and promotes freedom for all individuals and for all religions." I read that line, cocked my head, and muttered, "It does?" That's a good one, Mr. Rauf -- you should tell that one to the Latinos who live in Arizona.

Or better yet, tell that to gays and lesbians who live anywhere in America. Just make sure you don't let slip that your religion considers homosexuality to be one of the worst sins out there. That may prove problematic. You're already toxic to Alex Knepper, who like me is a gay man, although I have no idea to what degree, if any, Islam's general take on homosexuality influences his opinions. It certainly isn't inspiring me to orient myself eastward and pray to Allah five times a day, that much I can assure you.

But a mosque at Ground Zero? I'm totally fine with that. I cannot see how that would not be an enormous step forward in mending relationships between America and the Islamic world. Most Americans might not think so. But I'm betting that most Muslims in other countries might.

We won't know for sure until after it's a done deal...

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