Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Problem with Tolerance

I've stated publicly that I don't think the government should stop the building of the Ground Zero mosque. This isn't the same thing as saying it should be built; I think building a symbol to the religion that fired up the terrorists to attack us is in poor taste. My understanding of the Constitution, however, doesn't allow for the government to tell people to have better taste. If the public pressures the owners not to build it, then that's a good thing.

What has struck me in the supporters of the mosque is some of the false equivalencies used to support building it. A friend of mine posted on Facebook that he's not afraid of "Muslim basketball players or culinary students," as though the only use of the building will be purely secular activities. This is false and he must know this. Islam has a history of building mosques on or near the sites of their victories (see the Dome of the Rock and the Hagia Sophia for examples) and of turning Jewish synagogues or Christian churches into mosques as a way of showing their superiority to other religions. To trivialize the concerns of Americans who dislike the idea of raising a monument to the religion of the hijackers is abominable.

I was particularly offended by this comment:

"It could just as easily have been christians fundamentalists, jewish zealots, hindus, sikhs, buddhists...well, maybe not buddhists, the point is, the extremist muslims were just the first ones to get the idea of using planes."

There are a lot of things one could say about "Christian extremists" (whoever those are), but equating hijacking planes and running them into buildings as an act of martyrdom isn't one of them. This sort of martyrdom isn't uncommon among Islamic extremists, but I'm sorely pressed to find a similar event from 20th Century Christianity.