About The Whole Burlington Coat Factory Mosque Thing

Reading the KTBS site this morning, I came across a poll asking: “Are you in favor of allowing a mosque to be built near ground zero?” I wish I could have clicked “it’s none of my damn business.”  But, sadly, that’s not an option in today’s society, nor was it an option for this poll. So, with my first choice out, I – being a person who strongly favors both religious liberty and property rights – quickly clicked “yes.”

The results followed. Apparently, I’m in an extreme minority. Of the almost 1,500 people who responded, ninety four (94) per cent think the answer is no. Almost every person who took that poll thinks the government ought to prevent the building of that Mosque. I really can’t think of any better evidence for the powers of emotion over reason than these poll results. This entire manufactured controversy has really convinced me – if I wasn’t already – that the vast majority of people in this country make their decisions with their guts and not their brains.

First of all, nearly every one of the people who now strenuously oppose this mosque, and want to use the power of the law to stop it, have for years been arguing that local governments have almost no authority to hinder construction of churches. In fact, many of them supported a law know as the Religious Land Use and institutionalized Person’s Act. Basically, that law gives religious buildings exemptions from local zoning laws. But now, when it’s another religion that wants to build, all we hear is how the government needs to step in and prevent the building. Worse, by all accounts, everything about the Mosque is perfectly in line with all current land use requirements. In other words, the same people who would demand – in the name of religious liberty – an exception to any and all zoning ordinances if this was a Christian church, are nor demanding a stop to a law abiding Mosque. The hypocrisy is the rankest kind. Christian churches receive exceptions from the law, while Mosques don’t even get the protection of the law.

Second, the blatant appeal to the “feelings” of the 9-11 victims’ families is ridiculously simplistic and absolutely opposed to the basic idea of rights.

It’s simplistic because it assumes they all feel the exact same way. Almost three thousand people from seventy seven countries died that day. That’s a lot of surviving parents, grandparents, kids, brothers, sisters, cousins, friends and all else. I’m sure, amongst those thousands of people, are a few who either support this Mosque, or who, like me, think it’s none of their business.

Sure, there’s also probably a sizeable amount who oppose the Burlington Coat Factory Mosque. Let’s assume all of them oppose it. Let’s even assume all of them vehemently oppose it. You know what? That does not matter at all. Not one bit. It’s completely irrelevant. Why not? Because in this country we have rights. In this case, the right to use your property as you see fit, and the right to worship as you see fit. Those rights exist exactly because fundamental values like religion should not be subject to the emotions of the majority. Period. I don’t care how offended anyone may be, the Constitution protects property and religion, not feelings.

Next example of emotions trumping minds, and teabaggers, I’m talking to you: If the mantra of the day is “down with big government” how in God’s name do you reconcile your new belief in limited powers with giving the government the power to pick and choose which religions get to worship in which area? You’re arguing that the government can decide, based on nothing other than religious beliefs, that a religious group can’t purchase property and construct a building. Looks to me like the exception has swallowed the rule.

And finally, everyone opposing this Mosque is acting exactly like the same ignorant barbarians who throw a hissy fit every time someone draws a picture of their prophet. No, I don’t mean Newt Gingrich is going to murder someone. I do mean he’s asking the law to protect his offended feelings. That’s wrong. This is a free country. That means some people are going to be offended. Deal with it.

Listening to a debate about the Mosque on NPR the other day, I was amazed to hear it degenerate into a discussion about whether the purpose of the Mosque was to insult America, or else be some kind of attempt at reconciliation. It doesn’t matter. Let’s assume the purpose is an insult. Let’s assume they’re going to build it, and on the outside paint a mural of the towers falling, as seventy two virgins dance over the scene in heaven with the dead hijackers, carrying signs saying “death to America.” That would be offensive. But the answer isn’t the law. The law gives every American the right to be as big an asshole as they want to be. Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Harry Reid, and similar authoritarian cowards would fix the situation by throwing away that right. I say, use that right to fix the situation, by purchasing the building across the street and painting a mural of Mohamed being reamed by a rabid goat.

In short, let me say that I emphatically think the people who want to build this Mosque ought to be let alone to build whatever they want to build. I’m no fan of Islam. I’m not much of a fan of Christianity. But unless a church, or Mosque, causes real concrete harm to someone else, I’ve got no official say in how or where they’re built. And that’s the way it ought to be.

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5 Comments on “About The Whole Burlington Coat Factory Mosque Thing”

  1. John Peyton Says:

    Jed,

    Very good blog post, well written and supported by a bunch of facts. I was one of the people who opposed the building of the mosque based on the few bits and pieces I heard.

    The only reason I was opposed is because I thought that the government was responsible for building this, when in fact, they have no involvement other than the regulatory proceedings which every building must go through. I think this is the main reason so many people oppose it also is because it sounds like the government is the one doing this.

    After doing a little research, that isn’t the case, so what you are saying is spot on. Although I really don’t like it, it makes no difference at all. Thanks for clearing this up.

  2. Jeannine Says:

    Well said Jed! Although I do feel that wanting to build a Mosque next to ground zero is in poor taste, I wholeheartedly support their right to do so.

  3. raviner Says:

    I was under the impression that it’s not even really a Mosque, but a cultural center. Sort of like a YMCA for Muslims, I think. Either way, your point is valid. I can’t believe so many people are opposed to this. It should be a non-issue.

  4. KC Says:

    I guess I come down on the side of they clearly have a right to do so, but it doesn’t mean they ought to do it….


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