The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

The Freedom Mosque

I’ve avoided this controversy because it’s so profoundly stupid, but since it won’t die and go away, let’s put it in terms even knuckle-draggers can understand.

Freedom of religion is a fundamental American value.

If you are against a mosque near the World Trade Center you are against freedom of religion.  That means you are anti-American.  You are a person who does not believe in the freedoms many Americans fought and died for.

In short, you’re anti-American scum.  If you don’t believe in freedom of religion, you aren’t an American worthy of the name.


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  1. tsisageya

    Yes. Well. Okay. Not exactly. The assumption that freedom of religion is an American value is bullshit. You’ve seen me raise my hackles here before about such assumptions. Let’s get it straight. “America” was not founded on freedom of religion except for the freedom of “religion” that suited some certain folks.

    The bullshit that happened when this country was “founded” is the same bullshit that is happening today—

    —white folks and their “religion”. Fake Christians. Bullshit—

    Instead, think about what actually HAPPENED when this country was founded. It’s plain and simple and extremely transparent. The same thing is happening today.

    No diff.

  2. tsisageya

    “I tremble for my country when I realize that God is just.”—Thomas Jefferson

  3. S Brennan

    “If you don’t believe in freedom of religion…you are scum”

    I don’t and the first amendment says:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an ESTABLISHMENT of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    Ian the constitution says congress shall make no law for or against…it doesn’t say a damn thing about what I can believe or not believe. Your personal beliefs are not in the constitution…and neither are zoning laws. So if I say it they have the right, but it’s a jack-ass’s my right…see the “or abridging the freedom of speech” above.

    As I pointed out earlier today:
    The Muslim faith [Mecca division, or Eastern Caliph…the only one left] has a long record of desecration of sites that are sacred to other faiths, slavery, dehumanizing and degradation of woman.

    Just as I would tell the Catholics to stow their moralizing about the sanctity of life after murdering more than a million Cathars, I feel pretty comfortable about advising Muslims not to build a shrine near a spot where 3,000 or so souls perished in the name of the Muslim God.

    Having the right to act like a jack-ass doesn’t mean you have to exercise it.

    Ripped from a 30 second google search

    “The statues were destroyed by dynamite over several weeks, carried out in different stages. Initially, the statues were fired at for several days using anti-aircraft guns and artillery. This caused severe damage, but did not obliterate them. Later, the Taliban placed anti-tank mines at the bottom of the niches, so that when fragments of rock broke off from artillery fire, the statues would receive additional destruction from particles that set off the mines. In the end, the Taliban lowered men down the cliff face and placed explosives into holes in the Buddhas. New Delhi offered to arrange for the transfer of all the artifacts in question to India, “where they would be kept safely and preserved for all mankind.”, but these overtures were rejected by the Taliban.”

    “Hawa Faruk and Aisha Saada Kassem had their heads cut off with swords in Riyadh and Jeddah. Both women were Nigerian; Ms Faruk was decapitated on 28 May and Ms Kassem was executed before a large crowd outside a mosque just a week ago…Needless to say, there have been no words of condemnation in the West, let alone in the United States, whose troops continue to be based in the kingdom and whose oil investments in Saudi Arabia render even the slightest criticism impossible.

  4. moonwolf

    How the first amendment was written:

    In the spring of 1778, the Constitutional Convention was held in Philadelphia, PA. They resolved three main religious controversies. They:
    bullet Decided that there would be no religious test, oath or other requirement for any federal elected office.
    Allowed Quakers and others to affirm (rather than swear) their oaths of

    Refrained from recognizing the religion of Christianity, or one of its denominations, as an established, state church.


    Jefferson was pleased with the constitution, but felt it was incomplete. He pushed for legislation that would guarantee individual rights, including what he felt was the prime guarantee: freedom of and from religion. Madison promised to promote such a bill, in order to gain support for the ratification of the constitution by the State of Virginia. In 1789, the first of ten amendments were written to the constitution; they have since been known as the Bill of Rights.

  5. Eureka Springs

    Well said, and I’m fine with that, But evolution requires we have freedom from religion at some point, imho. It (freedom of religion) will have to change / be modified.

    And it is not a mosque, nor would it be on ground zero property. The whole thing only reinforces the power of the swill known as teabaggers.

  6. tsisageya

    And blah, blah, blah, and blah. How do Native Americans fare today? Does anyone give much more than a crap? If not, why not?

  7. tsisageya

    P.S. Muslims? Muslims??? We’re worried about MUSLIMS?


  8. tsisageya

    We will not get “better” until we sit our white/black/yellow/purple asses down and raise our pitchforks. Fire. I like fire.

  9. Albatross

    Wow, look at all these unAmerican weasels trying to deny WHAT HAS BECOME recognized in America as a fundamental human right. I don’t give a damn what the Founding Fathers did or did not say. They’re not here. We’re here, and it’s up to us to INTERPRET the Constitution for modern times. The Founding Fathers didn’t think blacks or women should vote, either, and I’m sure the same equivocators would love to roll those notions back too. That America stands for freedom of religious expression HAS BECOME A FUNDAMENTAL AMERICAN VALUE AS WE INTERPRET THE FIRST AMENDMENT.

    So if you don’t like it, GET OUT AND GO LIVE SOMEWHERE ELSE.

  10. Bernard

    this is the American version of Gemany’s Weimar Republic. how soon before Kristalnacht American style? Mob rule is not a pretty sight, is it??

  11. Tom Hickey

    60 to 70% of Americans oppose the NYC Muslim center (it is not a mosque), although about 2/3 also think that freedom of religion is a constitutional right. Talk about cognitive-emotional disconnect. Lucky that 1st amendment thingie made it into the constitution.

  12. Mudduck

    What Eureka Springs note as an aside should be the first line of defence:

    The Cordoba Center is not a mosque, and it is not at Ground Zero. The whole thing is a manufactured controversy.

    Someone on another blog pointed out that the controversy also depends on people’s ignorance concerning New York City. Two blocks in Eureka Springs will take you from Douglas Street (where I used to live) down to Clark’s Grocery with only a few houses in between. Two blocks in New York City can take you from Little Italy to Chinatown, with stores along the way so rich in content and so little like anything you ever saw before that it’s like walking past whole neighborhoods. The old Burlington Coat Factory store is not across the street from the old World Trade Center.

    Why can’t non-wingnuts just say, It’s not a mosque and it’s clear out of sight of ground zero? Does our side have some secret interest in supporing right-wing talking points? Let Fox and Limbaugh scream, and the New York Times run balanced nonsense on the front page — just name the facts and do it until the opposition looks silly.

  13. Ian Welsh

    If you won’t hold people to their ideals, then you’re worthless. If America is nothing but a pile of shit with no ideals, then all that matters is power, and native Americans have none to speak of.

  14. jcapan

    A discussion of fundamental values or distinctive virtues is 9/10ths horseshit in any nation.

  15. beowulf

    There’s a specific federal law that prohibits local zoning authorities from discriminating against houses of worship, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA).

    Disputes like this happen all over the country, the house (of worship) ALWAYS wins.

  16. jcapan

    “If you won’t hold people to their ideals, then you’re worthless. If America is nothing but a pile of shit with no ideals, then all that matters is power, and native Americans have none to speak of.”

    Admirable sentiment but whose ideals? Like morals or facts, who can objectively/unequivocally speak of American ideals anymore? Doesn’t an equal margin of Americans think nuking two Japanese cities was in keeping with their ideals, or supporting how many butchers in Latin America, or torturing in freedom’s name? Any collective sense of justice, any defining or unifying characteristics, if they ever existed in the first place, are lost forever. May make me a nihilist, or at long last a step closer to anarchism. Power has always been what matters. Anyone or any party that gains it is irreparably destroyed (almost instantly), along with their ideals. They can’t be regained, anymore than one’s innocence.

    As for indigenous peoples, from the Ainu to the Pine Ridge Sioux to the Tibetans, these tribes possess ideals, dignity, as well as our regard simply b/c they lack power (much like liberals IMO). A ruling government with worthy ideals, I think for that one must turn to Thomas More. Any discussion vis a vis a project to re/fashion a just government is based on deceit, and perhaps in its worst form, of self.

  17. Muslimah

    Hello. American-Muslim here… of the extremely moderate variety. I will probably go to this mosque if it is built for holidays because I don’t have a mosque near my home that services me. My “local mosque” conducts services is Urdu and I don’t speak Urdu. I was very excited that a new Islamic Center would be built within 20 minutes of my home. I realize that people died in the WTC and for that I apologize on behalf of my supposedly muslim “brothers.” But many muslims died in the WTC (over 50) See
    Also, there was a mosque in the WTC that serviced the community. And when I say community, I mean, the men who work in the area on Fridays that are required to attend Friday Service. With Islam in the West, it’s not about where you live so much as where you work. Men must go to noon prayer on Friday and then they go back to work. So, their local mosque in Queens is not going to work. And being as the main mosque in the area was in the WTC, it does need to be replaced.
    The only condition I have is that we must know who the individual is that bought the property. If he is a fundamentalist, I’m not interested in having this mosque built either. But, if he is just a regular Joe Ismail American, then what do you have against people such as myself having a place to worship? Do we need empty churches on every block in Manhattan? No. But I appreciate that they are there as an option in any event.

  18. Lex

    First, associating the 9/11 attacks with Islams is hogwash (i’ll be posting a review of a new book “A World without Islam” at S&R – linked with my name – shortly that explains this). Islam didn’t attack anything. So attacking Islam in the name of 9/11 is bullshit.

    Islam’s record of desecrating religious sites of others is not nearly so long as Christianity’s. Islam didn’t desecrate sites or force conversion in its rapid expansion. Even when it took Constantinople it allowed the Orthodox Church great freedom. Over the full course of history, Islam has proven to be the most tolerant of the Abrahamic faiths.

    Third, let’s not confuse several founding ideas in America. The fervently religious colonizers did not come here because they were persecuted but because they were no longer allowed to persecute in England. And most of the Founders were not Christians (accept in a nominal, social way). They were rationalists, and Deism is pretty much just a codeword for elevating Reason to the level of God via Egyptian wisdom traditions…or call it Freemasonry if you’d like.

  19. Hassenpfeffer

    RE: Muslims descecrating other religious sites–ever read any English history? Ever heard of Henry VIII’s pillage of churches and monasteries? Get off your friggin’ high horse. Scumbags do scummy things because they are scumbags, even if they say their god told them to do it.

  20. John

    Religious wars are the deadliest and the bloodiest. Those who forget are bound to repeat.

  21. Pepe

    “In fairness, we’ve been building ground zeros near Iraqi mosques since March 2003.”

    – Jason Mustian’s twitter

    This has nothing to do with the 1st Amendment, or trying to zone around the 1st Amendment (which, as pointed out upthread, is specifically illegal now). If that was the only issue, the mosque would be built since there is no legal impediment – this has to do with demagoging by the Republicans (and fucktards like Reid).

    But yes, America is failing to live up to its ideals yet again. America is not America anymore, if it ever was.

  22. Diapazon

    Forget the mosque, build the shopping mall!

  23. “The Cordoba Center is not a mosque, and it is not at Ground Zero.”

    Other than that….

  24. dougR

    As unspeakable as I think the bigots are who are ginning this whole thing up from absolutely nothing, as misbegotten and foolish as I think the low-info Americans are who are letting themselves be gulled by these demagogues, even more unspeakable and sickeningly corrupt is the American media that is whipping this whole thing into a repellent blancmange (in the Python sense) that obscures (and i’m sure this is one of the purposes) any rational discourse about where the country’s headed.

    This country is so f*cked. SOOOO f*cked.

    PS, many interesting and challenging notions here to the concept of religious freedom that America supposedly stands for. All perhaps true, but I’m tired of being dictated to by drooling demagogues. Let the cultural center be built! (knowing that my taxes will be paying for 24/7 NYC police protection for it if it is.)

  25. jawbone

    Muslimah, I really appreciate the info you’ve brought to this, uh, issue (which should be a non-issue, as the cultural center is a non-mosque with the equivalent of a chapel, it is to be on non-Ground Zero land, and it should be a non-issue).

    I did not know there was a prayer space at the WTC complex. Was it an actual mosque or an area dedicated for Muslims to use for daily prayers? Thnx for your reply.

    (Does the Manhattan JCC have an area for worship or contemplation? Does it incorporate a synagogue? Any New Yorkers know?)

  26. S Brennan

    A House of Worship or a Symbol of Destruction?

    I cannot imagine that Muslims want a mosque on this particular site, because it will be turned into an arena for promoters of hatred, and a symbol of those who committed the crime. At the same time, there are no practicing Muslims in the district who need a place of worship, because it is indeed a commercial district. This is because the idea of the mosque specifically next to the destruction is not at all a clever deed. The last thing Muslims want today is to build just a religious center out of defiance to the others, or a symbolic mosque that people visit as a museum next to a cemetery.

    What the US citizens do not understand is that the battle against the 11 September terrorists is a Muslim battle, and not theirs, and this battle still is ablaze in more than 20 Muslim countries. Some Muslims will consider that building a mosque on this site immortalizes and commemorates what was done by the terrorists who committed their crime in the name of Islam. I do not think that the majority of Muslims want to build a symbol or a worship place that tomorrow might become a place about which the terrorists and their Muslim followers boast, and which will become a shrine for Islam haters whose aim is to turn the public opinion against Islam. This is what has started to happen now; they claim that there is a mosque being built over the corpses of 3,000 killed US citizens, who were buried alive by people chanting God is great, which is the same call that will be heard from the mosque.

    It is the wrong battle, because originally there was no mosque in order to rebuild it, and there are no practicing Muslims who want a place in which to worship.

    By Abdul Rahman Al-Rashid

  27. Muslimah

    I don’t know what that last comment is about. But, Jawbone, it will be a mosque and a community center as well. In many commercial buildings in the NYC that have shuls (or places to pray during the day for Jewish men). WTC had a shul and a mosque (or a place for muslim men to pray). And it is needed in the commercial area, because Muslim men work in the vicinity (and this muslim woman) who need to pray the obligatory Friday prayer. So, if there are muslims working in the area, they have no place to pray within walking distance, on Fridays. It’s not just about having a place near your home because Muslim Men, like Orthodox Jewish Men, pray in the middle of the work day. During Ramadan, I have a rug that I carry around with me and pull out and pray in a conference room or whatever. A mosque in the area will definitely be used. I will use it. The mosques near my home all cater to non-english speakers and I can’t understand the service. So. And I disagree with the alleged servant of God, ABDUL Rahman. His name is ironic. He is likely not a New Yorker and doesn’t see the benefit of a loving city that respects Muslims enough to allow for a mosque near 9/11? Muslims will appreciate it and COULD have seen it as a sign of benevolence. Now, it has become a symbol of hatred towards Muslims that will fuel the Anti-American sentiment abroad. However, we should not punish Muslim American Citizens for the tea party’s indiscretions. I am American as apple pie and I deserve to have a place of worship. It will be a mere 20 minutes from my home and I welcome it.

  28. S Brennan

    There are already two Mosques in the area, you said you live there and prayed regularly, I’m surprised I have to inform you of their presence.

  29. S Brennan


    “The Cordoba Center is not a mosque, and it is not at Ground Zero.”

    1] a) The mosque serves as a place where Muslims can come together for salat (prayer) (Arabic: صلاة‎, ṣalāt) as well as a center for information, education, and dispute settlement. Countries with a minority Muslim population are more likely than Muslim-majority countries of the Greater Middle East to use mosques as a way to promote civic participation. American mosques host voter registration and civic participation drives that promote involving Muslims, who are often first- or second-generation immigrants, in the political process. As a result of these efforts as well as attempts at mosques to keep Muslims informed about the issues facing the Muslim community, regular mosque attendants are more likely to participate in protests, sign petitions, and otherwise be involved in politics.

    As they are considered important to the Muslim community, mosques, like other places of worship, can be at the heart of social conflicts.

    Babri Mosque was the subject of such a conflict up until the early 1990s when it was demolished. Before a mutual solution could be devised, the mosque was destroyed by approximately 200,000 Hindus on December 6, 1992 as the mosque was built by Babur allegedly on the site of a previous Hindu temple marking the birthplace of Ram.[16] The controversy surrounded the mosque was directly linked to rioting in Bombay (present-day Mumbai) as well as bombings in 1993 that killed 257 people.

    A February 2006 bombing that seriously damaged Iraq’s al-Askari Mosque, exacerbated tensions that had already existed. Other mosque bombings in Iraq, both before and after the February 2006 bombing, have been part of the conflict between the country’s groups of Muslims. However, mosque bombings have not been exclusive to Iraq; in June 2005, a suicide bomber killed at least 19 people at an Afghan Shia mosque near Jade Maivand.[17] In April 2006, two explosions occurred at India’s Jama Masjid.

  30. S Brennan


    “The Cordoba Center is not a mosque, and it is not at Ground Zero.”

    2] The building was severely damaged by one of the planes landing gear [the heaviest part of any commercial jet.

  31. jawbone

    SBrennan, the NYTimes reported on the two mosques in lower Manhattan on Aughust 13th. They also report that both are small and “routinely” must turn people away as there is no room for them at these mosques. BTW, one is conservative and one is considered one of the most progressive in the city.

    Apparently there is a need for more space in the area.

    Also, as has been noted. there was space at the actual WTC for Muslims to pray.

    Concerning where airplane debris fell: I really don’t see that as making any real estate “sacred” or “hallowed ground.” I’m more concerned about where people fell or died.

    BTW, do you disapprove of any building being put up on the WTC site? Especially the shopping mall? I had neighbors who said on the day of the attack that they believed nothing should be built at te WTC site; I said, Nahgahappen. Too much expensive real estate. And that’s how it’s worked out.

  32. @Lex:

    Good info, thanks.

  33. jawbone

    Acckkkkk! NewsHour has Ross Douthat on to debate the Park51 (aka Cordoba) center with Eugene Robinson.

    Damn the NYTimes for giving this lout the standing to be asked onto NewsHour.

    Glenn Greenwald is too far to the left for NewsHour, but … Douthat???

    Aha, Howard Dean has come out for “compromise,” meaning that the Park51 ought to move to some other, an acceptable, location. He sure is clipping the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. Too sad. (Greenwald writes about it.)

  34. jawbone

    I caught a program on Ch. 13, NYC’s public TV station, about Benjamin Latrobe, the creator of the first uniquely American architecture. Architecture critic, Paul Goldberger, talked about his designs for buildings now lost to us, including such iconic buildings as the U.S. Capitol, the White House, and others. The only extant entire building is a Roman Catholic basilica in Baltimore.

    The basilica was the first and largest Catholic church in Maryland, and it was built because the Consitution and the Bill of Rights had been passed, making clear there was freedom of worship for all religions. Catholics had the right to worship in Maryland prior to the passage; however, according to Goldgerger, they were supposed to do so out of sight, preferably in dark windowless basements. BTW, this was filmed long before any issue about placement of an Islamic cultural center with a mosque.

    The basilica designed by Latrobe was designed to be prominent, glistening in white marble on a hill, and lighted by many large windows. It was commissioned by John Carroll, the first bishop and archbishop in the United States. He knew what Latrobe had designed for Thomas Jefferson in DC, and wanted something which would announce the Church was here and proud of it.

    How interesting, given our recent contretemps.

    It struck me that I’m partially a strong supporter of religious freedom because I was raised in the Northern Baptist church, and, while there were absolutely no saints, the closest we had was Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island for the purpose of religious freedom. That has stuck with me, while lots of the rest did not.

    Religions are not really free if they must hide or make sure they aren’t in places which make the predominant religious people “uncomfortable” or, more dangerously, surly and aggressive. And our founders, the writers of the Constitution, knew within living memory about the horrors of religious wars.

    I honor the work of those astonishing men of the Enlightenment more than I honor any “sacredness” of the WTC real estate. And. after all, if we give in on this haven’t the terrorists won? By making us eschew our founding principles?

  35. tsisageya

    If you won’t hold people to their ideals, then you’re worthless. If America is nothing but a pile of shit with no ideals, then all that matters is power, and native Americans have none to speak of.

    Yes. And?

    I’m sick of this discussion.

  36. S Brennan

    Since I have been critical of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf for touting his $300,000,000.00 Mosque’s proximity to the 911 site as creating needless civil unrest, let me take moment to criticize another member of the cloth for the same offense. Now I am sure those who rush to defend the Iman’s actions will also rush to defend this guy too. Yes, they both have the right and I am sure you will call me an un-American fascist for being critical, but I think Terry Jones is out of line too.

  37. Ian Welsh

    He has a right to burn Korans. Happy to defend his right to do that too. Although I don’t consider them equivalent, Rauf isn’t planning on burning Bibles, after all.

  38. S Brennan

    Just to be clear Ian, you’re saying burning qurans you’re all good…but when I say, yeah…they have the legal right, but it’s a tasteless provocation, then you say I am “against freedom of religion…an anti-American scum”


    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    Seems to give equal footing to free speech…but then I’m an un-American Fascist, so there’s probably a special provision for people like me not to have the right to call somebody down for behaving like a jack-ass, huh?

    FYI, those evil rednecks in Gainsville F L A aren’t going to let that cracker burn the books…they think he’s an uncivilized jerk and the have a law against open air burning which the plan on enforcing…however the VFD will still hold it’s regularly scheduled barbecue the following Sunday.

  39. Ian Welsh

    Do you believe in freedom of religion, or not? Do you believe in religious tolerance, or not?

    Do you enjoy associating with the knuckle-draggers whipping up anti-Islamic hysteria, fostering anti-Islamic prejudice? You think this is something the country should spend more than 2 seconds of its time on?

    They have the right to put a mosque wherever the hell they want so long as they aren’t violating the law, which they aren’t. Acting as if they’re doing something wrong is pandering to xenophobia and religious intolerance.

    They did nothing wrong, and they should not have to give up their rights. Period. I really couldn’t care less about people’s “feelings”. Americans’ paranoid fantasies are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, but which 70% of Americans thought did. Now they feel offended that someone wants to put a mosque near the 9/11 site, right next to a strip joint? Because all Muslims are responsible for what a few did?

    What I want is for Americans to either admit they don’t believe in the rule of law, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association: or to act like they do.

    This is a moronic fucking issue that no one should have spent more than 3 seconds on. The US has a 1,000 problems that are more important to this, and this is what you spend all this time debating? Who the acceptable out-group to hate is?

    Muslims haven’t done 1/1000th the bad things to Americans that Americans have done to Muslims. Ask Madeline Albright about that…

  40. Suspenders

    “I really couldn’t care less about people’s “feelings””

    Feelings are what really run the world, in one way or another, Ian.

  41. S Brennan

    “This is a moronic fucking issue that no one should have spent more than 3 seconds on.”

    Yes, but we did. And we did so because, as I stated and link innumerable times, “Imam Rauf touted his $300,000,000.00 Mosque’s proximity to the 911 site” Not the right wing Ian , this Iman.

    Whatever ulterior motive Rauf had, he decided a shit fight was what needed, [I think funding, but I have no evidence…yet].

    “Do you enjoy associating with the knuckle-draggers”

    Ian, read about guilt by association, it’s roots and why American law does not allow it into a courtroom, or law. You have the right to use this form of argumentation, through the 1st amendment [that is my argument all along] but be aware that civil slander laws restrict many applications of this form of speech.

    “What I want is for Americans to”

    …do….is to use their rational heads, see more than two possible responses and realize this “man of the cloth” is a provocateur, sowing apples of discord for personal gain and say:

    “yeah dude, you have the right to do this, but we can see what you are up to and you are an asshole for what you doing…particularly since you are suppose to be working for good.

  42. tsisageya

    Here’s a pretty good time line of this particular sordid mess. And yes, I’m STILL sick of this discussion.

  43. tsisageya

    Pam Geller. Really? Seriously?

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