Friday, August 20, 2010

Courage and the Ground Zero Mosque

Are its defenders courageous to stand up for the Constitution? Are its detractors courageous to stand up for principle? Is the governor courageous for attempting to negotiate a compromise? And what about the construction workers who are declaring that they will not work to build the mosque? Are they the truest profile in courage?

In the midst of the increasingly contentious debate over the Ground Zero mosque, the question of courage has just emerged from the mist. It might help us to find some clarity.

Charles Krauthammer raised the issue in his column today. Link here.

In it he asked whether President Obama was being courageous when he addressed a Muslim congregation last week and declared himself foursquarely in favor of the Ground Zero mosque?

Obama' supporters cheered his statement as a great act of political courage. After all, Obama had stood up to Sarah Palin and Fox News.

And yet, as Krauthammer points out, it does not take or show any courage to tell a group exactly what it wants to hear. It belies an attitude of submissiveness and weakness, a willingness to sacrifice true courage to an impulse to please.

In Krauthammer's words: "It takes no courage whatsoever to bask in the applause of a Muslim audience as you promise to stand stoutly for their right to build a mosque, giving the unmistakable impression that you endorse the idea. What takes courage is to then respectfully ask that audience to reflect on the wisdom of the project and to consider whether the imam's alleged goal of interfaith understanding might not be better achieved by accepting the New York governor's offer to help find another site."

Truth be told, Gov. Patterson's offer to step into the controversy to help resolve it in a way that would be satisfactory to the concerns of both parties must count as one of the more courageous gestures in the brouhaha.

Krauthammer's point is important, and deserves exegesis. It is not courageous to tell an audience what they want to hear. It is weak-willed, servile, and fawning. But it is also not courageous to tell an audience exactly what they do not want to hear. It is foolhardy, reckless, and impudent.

Courage involves stating your own position and respecting the position of those who disagree with you. It might involve trying to persuade them, or it might involve trying to have them respect your point of view.

A courageous speech must open you to disagreement and dissent. If you cannot handle dissent you are not functioning with a democratic mindset.

It ought to go without saying, but courage does not involve telling people what they want to hear, and they trying to take it back the next day. That was Obama's second volley in the mosque controversy. As we all know, as soon as he saw that people were reacting badly to his speech at the Ramadan dinner, Obama tried to step back from it, telling the world that he only meant to defend the right of the imam to build the mosque. He was not actively saying that they should do it.

As Krauthammer notes, opinion is not divided over whether or not the imam hs the right to build a mosque. The divisive issue is whether or not they should do so? Not whether it is legal, but whether it is moral, whether it respects the feelings of the families of the victims? Is it moral in the context of the stated wish to build bridges of understanding.

Obama did himself no credit by retracting his first remarks. Talking out of both sides of your mouth suggests that you have no character whatever. You want to be both right and wrong at the same time, thus you show that you are afraid to defend your position against critics or even to engage those critics.

This does not represent confidence, but a distinct lack of same. If I and some others are right that Obama has heard too many people too often tell him how brilliant he is, then that would explain why he has never learned to engage detractors and critics. He will attempt to ridicule them, to dismiss them, to attack them.

When you keep hearing that you are smart no matter what you do, eventually you believe it. This does not give you confidence; it gives you arrogance.

If your confidence is based on unearned accolades, then it is not real confidence. Thus when you go looking for the confidence to take a stand on a difficult moral issue, it is not there.You show yourself as fearful and cowardly, too ready to bow down and submit to Islamic demands.

But then, what about Mayor Bloomberg? He has not spoken out of both sides of his mouth. He has been clear and forthright in his support of the mosque, even to the point of insisting that its funding should not be investigated.

Is he a profile in courage? Here, I think not, though for different reasons. The Mayor is expressing a different kind of arrogance, the kind that does not attempt to persuade, but that wants to impose its will on other people. Bloomberg has absolutely no truck with those who want the mosque to be built elsewhere. He insists zealously on the fundamental rectitude of his position and denounces the character of anyone who would dare disagree with him.

This is not a sign of good character, but a sign of arrogance. Admittedly not the same kind as Obama demonstrates, but arrogance nonetheless.

Not only is Bloomberg out of step with his constituents, but he shows no respect for their opinion. Naturally, no one really respects his.

Bloomberg has too much confidence; he feels that he can do no wrong. Obama has too little; he gives people the impression that he does not even know where he stands on the issue.

Dare we say that Nancy Pelosi's attempt to intimidate those who do not want the mosque built within two blocks of Ground Zero does not count as a profile in courage either. Threatening to investigate the families of the 9/11 victims does not make you courageous. It makes you a petty tyrant.

As I said, the politician who has shown the most character and the most courage has been Gov. Paterson.

But what about the construction workers who are signing petitions to say that they will not work on building the mosque. Link here.

Several people have declared that, in the end, the mosque will not be built. They believe that the imam has proposed it as a provocation and that, after he succeeds in producing enough ill feeling, alienating his flock from the city and the nation, he will concede the point and move the mosque elsewhere.

Others have said that it will not be built because New York's construction workers will simply refuse to work on it. They would not exactly be going John Galt, as Dr. Helen Smith has defined it, but they would be forgoing work and wages in favor of a principle. They would be making a true sacrifice, assuming a risk to themselves and their families, because they refuse to submit to Islam.

It is almost as though Mayor Bloomberg made a grand gesture of leading the march toward tolerance, only to discover that no one was following him. As of now, it looks like the mayor's foot soldiers are not going to follow his orders.


SSS said...

Nobody is courageous. It's a planned distraction from what really matters - the Gulf Oil Spill.

My god, it's a whole huge 2 New York blocks AWAY from "ground zero".

We need to get over it.

Anonymous said...

Kanwal's post is the best reason not to allow a
Mosque at Ground Zero. Really, sacking our quarteback was bad enough, but I am throwing the flag on the celebration....


Anonymous said...


Mayor "Napoleon" Bloomberg and his backstabbing cronies (including Obama and Pelosi) must have a $tupendou$ rea$on for wanting a sharia-hugging mosque near Ground Zero - a mosque threatening the collapse of the Islamophile Democrats come November!
God-haters and America-haters may not realize how high the collective temperature has now risen in the hearts of true American patriots - many of whom are now willing to die for America right here in America if they get pushed completely over the line by traitors!
Since the nation's headquarters for treason is the White House, readers can enjoy related material if they Google "Obama Avoids Bible Verses" and "Obama Supports Public Depravity." (This police-protected kinkiness, observable by children, occurs in "Madam" Nancy Pelosi's brothel district; Google "Zombietime" and see "Up Your Alley Fair"!)
Also Google "Sandra Bernhard, Larry David, Kathy Griffin, Bill Maher, Sarah Silverman" in addition to Googling "Obama...destined to become a black-slavery avenger."
And by all means visit Googleland and type in "Government-Approved Illegals" and "Un-Americans Fight Franklin Graham."
I hope Mayor Bloomberg, dressed as Napoleon, will thoroughly enjoy his mosquerade party!
PS - Since Jane Fonda still loves leftist causes, here's a one-liner I penned during the Vietnam War era that the big Kansas City paper ran: "I'm not Fonda Jane; her Laosy remarks Hanoi me!"

By a Kansas Patriot
(who won FIRST PLACE over 2200 entrants in a nationwide Americanism Essay Contest !)

[found the preceding web bit. Joe]

Jim said...

I am a conservative Southern Baptist "Bible-Thumper" but as an American, I am obligated to honor the US Constitution/First Amendment, which interestingly comes from a baptist concept. As I see it, there is no legal reason for our government to prevent Muslims from building a mosque two blocks from GZ. I may not like it but there are other religious buildings in the area also and it would be a violation of everything American Patriots stand for to prevent this. I may consider it to be insensitive, but it is their right under the law. Of course, that same constitution also allows me to hand out Bible tracts to the muslims who walk out of there. And while I am in an insensitive mood, I may also pass out tracts to the apostates who walk out of the Episcopalian church nearby. My Anglican and Muslim fellow citizens may not like it either, but that is also my right.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Let's at least define the issue. No one is contesting the "right" of the Imam to build a mosque in the shadow of Ground Zero.

Just because he has the right that does not make it the right thing to do.

It shows no respect for the feelings of the American people, and certainly not for the feelings of the families of the victims.

If he insists on building it, then that will show most people that his is a gesture of defiance and triumph over the West.

Those who defend the mosque, in their comments here and elsewhere, seem to believe that the onus should only be put on America. We are being obliged to be tolerant, while those who want to build the mosque are not being required to be tolerant or understanding or respectful.

To many Americans this feels like a demand for submission, which would not be illogical since the word Islam means submission.

That the worldwide Muslim community might feel better if America shows itself more willing to submit to demands made by an Imam... I do not doubt.

But for those who are not Muslims, such submission is humiliating, and thus, provokes anger.

If Imam Rauf wants to be a good neighbor, he can start by moving the mosque away from Ground Zero and then start denouncing the Islamic terrorist group, Hamas. And while he is at it, he can also denounce some of the systematic mistreatment of women that seems to be endemic to Islamic cultures and that even seems to be inscribed in Sharia law.

SSS said...

If these people are denied the right to build this masjid by our Government, you can be sure that the Government did so as part of a plan to deny the REST OF US rights in the future - and will use the masjid as an example when we protest.

Don't drink the Kool Aid!

Anonymous said...

If the Moslems have a right to build a mosque celebrating their victory--It is a tradition in Islam called "waqf"--Then I certainly have a right to draw funny pictures of Mo da Prophet.... Yes?


SSS said...

Yes of course you do. You may recall that recently "Draw Mohammed Day" took place on the internet, complete with very offensive pictures, and there was no incident. No fatwas declared, no death threats, nothing.

Anonymous said...

You have a selective memory, SSS. Molly Norris did get death threats and Pakistan banned Facebook under fatwa until she pulled the site down.

Ask the Southpark creators about Islamic threats and images of Mohammed....


Anonymous said...

Of course note that SSS did not refute, or even refudiate, my contention that the masjid is being built as a symbol of victory and held in perpetuity as waqif.


SSS said...

I saw several websites with offensive drawings on them.

Pakistan is it's own sovereign nation so if the Government there wants to ban facebook for a day or week or for however long they did, they obviously can, AND it's up to Pakistan's own citizens to fight against that - which they did through the media and through protests.

As far as a victory mosque, it's a full 2 blocks away from Ground 376. A full two, long city blocks.


I personally would welcome the eventual phasing out of all 3Abrahamic faiths, but what can we do? This is a country that allows them to flourish.

David Foster said...

"A full two, long city blocks"

...roughly the same distance horizontally that some of the 9-11 victims fell vertically.

SSS said...

David, it's time to get over it.

I'm so sick of the 9/11 Kool Aid. I never drank it.

Time for everyone else to sober up.

Read some consipiracy theory sites or something and move on.

Death is inevitable.