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Obligations, Mosques, and Such

July 19, 2010
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So yeah, not a good day for me.  It’s a difficult case, though, Maude — lotta ins, lotta outs.  Therefore, I’m taking a rain check on the “Top Secret America” story.  I’ll try to get to it tomorrow.  In lieu of that, I’ll talk about Sarah Palin and that Ground Zero Mosque thing, or rather I’ll talk about the Ground Zero Mosque thing.  Here’s something I wrote about a month ago:

It’s not as simple as “the liberal Muslims will worship here and al-Qaeda will just be distraught about it.”  My only question is, “Why is building a mosque at Ground Zero ‘the perfect f— you to al-Qaeda’?”  Would it be a big f— you to David Koresh’s followers if a church was constructed where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building used to be?  Is mainstream Christianity a weapon against perversions of the faith?  Sure, Christians get pissed off about Koreshes, but do Koreshes get pissed off at Christians?  I genuinely don’t know the answer to that question.  I do know, however, that there would be a lot more opposition to this if the religion in question were Christianity rather than Islam.  That’s not a reason not to do it, but it is something to keep in mind.

Well, it turns out that there is a church where the Mount Carmel Center used to be.  Yeah, that Mount Carmel Center: the one where the Waco Siege happened.  It’s very creatively called the Greater Mount Carmel Church.  Ackerman sees a double standard in play:

But I do know that if any politician implored the Greater Mount Carmel Church to close its doors because its all-too-reminiscent name represents an “UNNECESSARY provocation” that “stabs hearts,” that politician would be unfairly and ignorantly projecting Koresh’s crimes onto a community of faith that saw its beliefs misrepresented and exploited by conspiracy theorists. It is not the responsibility of that faith community to change its behavior in order to reassure ignorant politicians who seek power and wealth through washing themselves in the blood of a national trauma. It’s the responsibility of politicians not to implicate entire communities of faith with the crimes of violent conspiracists.

The items in between the quotation marks are taken from what Palin tweeted about the subject.  Don’t you follow the links?  Anyway, moving on:

Muslims died on 9/11, as 3000 Americans of every and no faith did. Muslim Americans serve their country in uniform, even after years of fear-borne ignorance by those who inadvertently buy into the sweaty worldview of Usama bin Laden. Would Sarah Palin dare to stop Marine Corps Sgt. Jamal Baadani from worshipping near Ground Zero?

Someone is indeed engaged in unnecessary provocation here, but it’s not those who want to build the Ground Zero Mosque. And if there’s something to be rejected in the interest of healing, it’s the guilt by association that Palin is peddling.

Fair enough, but the problem here is that the analogy doesn’t fly.  I can’t exactly prove that nobody’s opposed to the Greater Mount Carmel Church’s presence because there wasn’t a terrorist attack there but a raid that resulted in the death of 80 Davidians and four ATF agents, but it certainly makes sense.  Again, in this analogy, Ground Zero is the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building — at which there is a memorial nowadays — and Mount Carmel Center is some cave in Afghanistan.  I don’t think anybody’s opposed to building a mosque there.  I don’t think Muslims have any particular obligation to be opposed to the Ground Zero Mosque (and I also don’t think Sarah Palin is “peddling” guilt by association — are we punishing Christians by association with the Church of England by not allowing prayer at football games?), but I do think that if you’re going to cite other examples of religious terrorism as a basis for something, you have to get the analogy right.

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