Thursday, August 5, 2010

A New York Mosque

World Trade Center photo courtesy of

The building of an Islamic mosque in New York City near the 2001 attack site is controversial.

In May, Community Board 1 in lower Manhattan approved the construction of Cordoba House, a Muslim community center. The Islamic prayer room in Cordoba House is the cause of the controversy.

Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs is concerned. So is Peter Gadiel, a guest on the 8/4/2010 Peter Boyles show here in Denver on KHOW radio. He uses the disquieting Holocaust term “oven walkers” to make his point.

Others don’t see it that way. Hugh Hewitt worries about the Constitutional grounds. Parvez Ahmed sees the outcry as symptomatic of American hate and anger.

Your point of view on this issue is largely determined by whether you perceive Islam as a religious movement or a political movement. If you see Islam as a religion, then the 1st Amendment to the Constitution becomes the defining point. If you see Islam as a political movement, then you worry more about threats to peace and security.

The nexus of politics and religion is what is actually being debated. The passions of political ideology and religious fervor create power. Political forces seek religious fervor; religious forces seek political passion. When the two combine, we see far-reaching societal changes, often accompanied by a great deal of human suffering and death.

A political movement backed by religious zeal or a religion which incorporates political ideology: Which forms the path to the greatest power?

That’s a philosophical question worth considering. However, we really don’t need to fret about the starting point.

The goal is always the same.

Tim Daniel at Left Coast Rebel links!

UPDATE 8/18/2010:
Ayaan Hirsi Ali has an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal that characterizes the controversy as a "Clash of Civilizations", using the formulation of the late political scientist Samuel P. Huntington of Harvard.  She notes that the Western media frame the issue as one of religious tolerance while it is predominantly a cultural conflict.  She gives examples of this type of conflict in France, Morocco and Switzerland.  (She appears to come from the perspective that Islam is essentially a political movement.)

UPDATE 8/19/2010:
Roger L. Simon has a beautiful rebuttal to Nancy Pelosi's comments on the controversy.  If nothing else, it introduces you to the philosophy of Karl Potter.  That alone is worth a visit to Mr. Simon's site.

UPDATE 10/4/2010:
John Hinderaker of Power Line comments on a speech by Geert Wilder discussing the characterization of Islam as both a religion and a political movement.  Mr. Wilder comes down on the side of the political characterization.  That impression tends to result when you find yourself politically persecuted for "hate speech."

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