The Mosque Plan

JINSA’s mandate is support for a strong, capable United States defense establishment and close security cooperation between the U.S. military and those of like-minded, democratic allies.

JINSA’s mandate is support for a strong, capable United States defense establishment and close security cooperation between the U.S. military and those of like-minded, democratic allies.

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, various military forces, terrorists, governments and non-governmental actors have waged war against the United States, Israel and the West. Americans were targeted in Lebanon, in our embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, in Germany and on hijacked airplanes, including over Lockerbie, Scotland. In 1993, Americans were attacked in New York. On September 11, 2001 Americans were attacked again in their homeland. Nearly 3,000 people were killed in New York and hundreds more in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. It was the moment that most Americans recognized that we were, in fact, at war and after which the United States organized itself to fight back.

Ground Zero is a battlefield cemetery – the site of a battle for the liberal, democratic state.

So what to do about the mosque? Oppose it – because no sliver of American society should be permitted to lay claim to the site for its own purposes. Oppose it – because the sources of its money are secret and its religious leadership shows no evidence of the tolerance required in public American institutions, and if it isn’t a public institution, it doesn’t belong there for the first reason.

The United States created The American Battle Monuments Commission as the guardian of American military memorials. Its mandate includes “controlling the design and construction of permanent U.S. military monuments and markers by other U.S. citizens and organizations, both public and private, and encouraging their maintenance.” It seems reasonable to consider the other works of the Commission, including at Pointe du Hoc; Saipan; the Surrender Tree in Santiago, Cuba; the Kemmel Monument; and New York’s own East Coast Memorial and consider putting any memorial at or near Ground Zero in its hands. And as battlefield protection groups opposed a Walmart near the Manassas Battlefield in Virginia as inappropriate, so too, a sectarian memorial along the edges of Ground Zero is inappropriate.

There are two secondary issues that cannot be ignored because we’re talking about a mosque, not a Walmart.

1. The claim of those fighting against us that they are acting in the name of Islam and their claim that American – and other – deaths they cause are a religious obligation.

JINSA is not an expert in Islamic theology and does not presume to know whether those who attacked us acted in the name of “real” Islam, “political Islam,” “hijacked Islam” or any other Islam. It is not our place and beyond our skill set to engage in what one writer called “Koranic exegesis.” We have to take al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Muslim Brotherhood and others at their word that they believe Islam requires that they kill Americans, Israelis, other Westerners and insufficiently enthusiastic other Muslims – and we do NOT forget that many more Muslims than non-Muslims have been killed by those who claim they kill for Islam.

Conversely, we are clear that there is no American/Western “war against Islam.” In fact, the uses of American military force in the 1990s and in this decade have been primarily for the defense of Muslim people – in Bosnia, in Kosovo, in Somalia – or for the removal of regimes that repressed Muslim people – in Iraq and most particularly women in Afghanistan. The United States Navy was the most effective operator in Muslim Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami. The American people have been remarkably non-hostile to Muslims in this country since 9-11, even following the massacre at Ft. Hood by a Muslim soldier who announced his belief that the murders were religiously justified.

2. The battlefield in this war includes the necessary defeat of rabid ideologies that permit no deviation from their pronounced orthodoxy.

What does that have to do with the proposed mosque?

We’re not sure – and that’s the problem.

The source of the funding – tens of millions of dollars – is secret. If it comes from sources that are ideologically narrow and define themselves in opposition to the freedoms and civil liberties Americans cherish, it must be assumed that the mosque will promote those bigoted values. It is incumbent on those who want us to believe that the mosque will NOT be a source of religious and civil bigotry to prove that the sources are consistent with the immutable American requirement for tolerance.

It remains unclear what values the mosque’s leadership espouses in languages other than English, and even in English there is cause for concern. There is enough in the public statements of Feisal Abdul Rauf to require further assurances that tolerance – not triumphalism or worse – will be the goal.