I just got word from my SIOA colleague Pamela Geller that the New York City Landmarks Commission has, as expected, voted unanimously to deny landmark status to 45 Park Place, thus clearing the way for the demolition of the building currently there and the construction of the Islamic supremacist mega-mosque at Ground Zero.
Until the mosque is actually built, however, the game isn’t over — and with an increasing number of prominent politicians coming out against the mega-mosque, it can still be won in the court of public opinion.
The primary argument in favor of construction of the mosque, of course, is that it is a matter of religious freedom. We are endlessly told that if Muslims are denied permission to build this mega-mosque at Ground Zero, the door will be opened to the denial of the construction of synagogues and churches elsewhere. That argument advances in ignorance of the political and supremacist character of Islamic law, qualities that have no parallel in Jewish or Christian doctrine, but even aside from that, the question of this mosque is not actually a religious freedom issue.
Why not? Because opponents of the mosque, be they SIOA, or Palin, or Giuliani, or Gingrich, or anyone else, are not talking about banning mosques altogether. I do believe that mosques connected with the Saudis and/or the Muslim Brotherhood warrant careful scrutiny from law enforcement, but no one who is in the front line of the opposition to the mega-mosque at Ground Zero is calling for all mosques to be closed or for a ban on the construction of new mosques. And unless the property is marked as a war memorial, as it should be but will not be, no one is even calling for the expulsion of the Muslims who are currently praying in the existing former Burlington Coat Factory building at 45 Park Place; the Burlington Coat Factory is not a thirteen-story triumphal mega-mosque.
The question is, does the First Amendment really give every religious group the right to construct a house of worship wherever it wishes to do so? Is there never an occasion in which a location might be inappropriate? Many people have likened the construction of the mega-mosque at Ground Zero to the construction of a shrine to the kamikazes at Pearl Harbor or of a statue of Hitler outside the Auschwitz gates. Would the KKK be greenlighted to build a “reconciliation center” on the site of the 16th St. Baptist Church, as this parody has it? (Others have rejected these comparisons based on the claim that the Cordoba Initiative leaders are “moderate” Muslims who hold to a radically different point of view from that of the Muslims who took down the Twin Towers on 9/11, but the Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s record of deceit and advocacy of Sharia should be enough to establish that that argument is fallacious. And of course they’ll be reading from the same Qur’an that inspired the 9/11 attacks; there is no “reformed” version.) The question is, if the shrine to the kamikazes were sponsored by a religious group, or Auschwitz were subject to First Amendment law, would there be no stopping the building of such things?
I expect there would be a way to stop such construction, and that many people who are saying today that this mosque is a religious freedom issue would be calling for the construction to be stopped. The U.S. Government outlawed Mormon polygamy in the nineteenth century; considerations of religious freedom were not considered absolute. And today, government agencies do not hesitate to put roadblocks in the way of the construction of houses of worship — at least non-Islamic ones.
In any case, it seems clear that no one assumes that any religious group has an absolute right to build a house of worship wherever it wants, except in this case. But once this mega-mosque is built, if it is, I expect that many who today are anxious to prove their multiculturalist, non-“bigoted” bona fides will rue the day.