Sorry about the recent hiatus on blogging, I’ve spent the last week pretty busy working in LA. I did meet a very cool new friend, however, who I’ll post on probably tomorrow.
I do want to say something about the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy, though. Because it has been occupying mine (and most of the country’s) mind this week. If you haven’t heard, the controversy is over the plans to build a Islamic mosque and cultural centre in Manhattan a couple of blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center towers, attacked and destroyed by Islamists on 9/11. Some articles and pundits have been claiming that the mosque will be ‘on the site of 9/11’ or ‘overlooking Ground Zero’. Neither of these are true: the site is 2.5 blocks away without direct line of sight. The controversy is over whether the mosque should be allowed, or whether it is insulting to the memory of those who were murdered 9 years ago.
And right there is the problem, slipping in on that last sentence. Unnoticed by almost every pundit I’ve read.
Should the mosque be allowed, or is it insulting? Erm… Yes.
The mosque should be allowed. Nobody is talking about a state-run mosque. The mosque authorities have to buy the site, build their building, obey all local ordinances. They have the right to the free exercise of their religion, and their free speech rights allow them to declare their message anywhere they choose. The mosque should absolutely, 100%, be allowed on that spot. This, from a careful reading of his (politically naive, IMHO) speech, is what Obama was saying when he endorsed the right for the mosque to be built.
The mosque will be an insult to a large number of people. Okay, the mosque administrators and many liberals claim that the purpose of the mosque is to be a beacon of moderate Islam, to counter the radicalised caricature that poisoned the terrorists’ minds. Well, okay, fair enough, nice intention, I guess. But the mosque will be an insult to a large number of people. No-one has the authority to tell people whether they are allowed to be insulted. And the fact is, overwhelmingly, people who are polled find the idea insulting. You may want to change that, great. But that doesn’t change what is current reality. The mosque will be an insult to a large number of people.
Now, in the US, you have no right not to be insulted. The constitution is very clear that the rights lie with the person doing the insulting. That’s the way it goes. If you feel insulted, tough. You have no comeback on the person doing the insulting.
But someone who goes around insulting people: doing something that in advance they knew would cause insult; while pretending that they don’t want to cause that insult; well, that person is a dick. You have the legal right to be a dick, but that doesn’t make being a dick into a good thing. It just means you are a dick.
So, why isn’t this clear? For the country right now, with feelings and prejudices and emotions as they lie, right now, building the mosque on this site is a dickish thing to do. But let’s not forget that everyone in the US has the constitutional right to be a dick.