A correspondent asked me yesterday what I thought of this mosque controversy. Upon reflection, here is what I said (although I have changed a few words since my first response to her, just for clarity):
I think the Cordoba House is obnoxious (because it seems to be a deliberate attempt to provoke reaction, not because an Islamic Center in general is somehow inherently suspect). I think the sources of its funding should be made clear. And I don’t understand how that property could be adjudged to not be a landmark when, as I understand it, EVERY other building surrounding it has been so designated. (IF I am wrong on this claim, please correct me, civilly.)
But I think it’s also being overplayed as an issue. We are Americans. Lesser countries have conniption fits over things like this, because their very identities are wrapped around their grievances. But we’re bigger and better than that. We should make it clear that we consider this an affront, ask them to move it…. and then, regardless of whether they do so or not, we ourselves should move on. We shouldn’t let them so easily goad us. It makes us look weak.
….. That said, I DO think the place, if actually built as planned, should be under serious legal forms of surveillance by our appropriate intelligence agencies, and it should be regularly visited by undercover law enforcement personnel, to make sure it isn’t being used as a base for nefarious activity….. Again, this is not just a mosque but a 13-story coomplex with uncertain, probably foreign funding, and it is located right at a major terrorism site. There should be no civil-liberties concerns about keeping a close watch on the situation.
There are plenty of moderate Muslims out there. Many of them are patriotic Americans. But it also is a fact that there is more than the usual percentage of Muslim centers within the United States that are hotbeds of radicalism. There does seem to be something at least a mite suspicious about this particular project. We can keep an eye on it without using rhetoric insulting to all Muslims. And that’s what we should do.
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