Reflecting on the “Ground Zero Mosque”

Remember that? It’s been two and a half months since September 11th, 2010, when anti-Islamic radicals, led by Sarah Palin, pushed Imam Rauf’s Cordoba House into the headlines, as a way to cast aspersion on the integrationist ambitions of moderate Muslims nationwide. But lately, if you haven’t been reading specialist blogs, or following the parallel controversy, where lawmakers tried to legally halt the construction of a mosque in Kentucky by redefining Islam as something less than a religion (they lost), you probably haven’t heard word one about the debate in a while yet.

This is a lesson we must learn going forwards: the right-wing controversy du jour is exactly as transitory as its merit should suggest. Momentary flare-ups of intolerance should be met aggressively and sharply checked, not just because of the danger such incidents pose to civil society, but because there are no long-range consquences to treating culture war partisans with the disdain they deserve, and that their short attention spans merit.

We should take this as a lesson, too, for all the concern trolls that purported to honestly worry whether the Cordoba House would threaten Islamic integration efforts. When hatred isn’t being actively fanned, it turns out that the American people have other concerns than who’s offended by what’s proximity to what.


  1. Not exactly; certain needful concessions were made by the Muslims and it was finally disclosed that it was unlikely that the center would be able to built anytime in the near future anyway due to lack of funding and the developer’s personal financial and legal issues.

    This made it less important to many people – for now.

    If and when the Muslims break ground on the project, things will fire back up again because Americans may be forced to tolerate such things, but we’ll never condone them or those who support such things.

    1. Dammit, I’ve drafted 3 different responses to you, but your idiotic “Americans… will never condone them” has me seething too much to craft anything coherent. YOU CAN BE AN AMERICAN AND APPROVE OF CORDOBA HOUSE. IDIOT!

      I hate this shit.

      1. No, in your heart and soul, you cannot be an American and condone Park 51, John.

        Similarly, in your heart and soul, you cannot be an American and demand the law intervene to prevent Park 51 from being built.

        BTW – At last estimate a quorum of the population agreed that it was insulting and wrong for it to be built but that it shouldn’t be prevented by law from being built.

        1. Rant deleted. I’m pretty sure whatever posting guidelines Ames has beyond which we deletes comments, I can meet them right not.

          I hope that you’re a troll.

        2. John, please post. I won’t redact :). If the software did it for me, let me know and I’ll pass it through

    2. But of course their side’s thesis is that tolerating the Other rebuts American-ness. Sigh.

    3. What are these “things” you speak of?

  2. What concessions? And when has temporal proximity ever been a culture war concern? It’s as distant as any construction project in Manhattan; no more, no less.

    1. Concessions: Name change, Mosque now unconsecrated prayer space, groundbreaking, if it happens, won’t be on an anniversary of 9/11.

      I’m still strongly offended by it, but those concessions showed a desire to compromise and limit offense since they didn’t legally have to make any, so I’m less bothered by it.

      Think of me as the Moderate American to their Moderate Muslim….;-)

  3. The name change was ludicrous. Anyone with a basic knowledge of history knows that Cordoba was a pretty great name.

    As for the groundbreaking, it was NEVER going to be on 911, and the prayer space was ALWAYS nondenominational, with another prayer space for Muslims.

    1. “Anyone with a basic knowledge of history knows that Cordoba was a pretty great name.”

      I would beg to differ, but that singular comment proved all my assertions and beliefs and rendered any hope of dialog moot.

      1. STL Lawyer · ·

        A basic knowledge of history might include such things as the Catholic Encyclopedia’s (1913) entry on Cordoba “In 786 the Arab caliph, Abd-er Rahman I, began the construction of the great mosque of Cordova, now the cathedral, and compelled many Christians to take part in the preparation of the site and foundations. Though they suffered many vexations, the Christians continued to enjoy freedom of worship, and this tolerant attitude of the ameers seduced not a few Christians from their original allegiance. Both Christians and Arabs co-operated at this time to make Cordova a flourishing city, the elegant refinement of which was unequalled in Europe. . . Owing to the peace which the Christians of Cordova then enjoyed, some knowledge of their condition has been preserved, among other things the name of their bishop, Joannes, also the fact that, at that period, the citizens of Cordova, Arabs, Christians, and Jews, enjoyed so high a degree of literary culture that the city was known as the New Athens. From all quarters came students eager to drink at its founts of knowledge. Among the men afterwards famous who studied at Cordova were the scholarly monk Gerbert, destined to sit on the Chair of Peter as [Pope] Sylvester II (999-1003), the Jewish rabbis Moses and Maimonides, and the famous Spanish-Arabian commentator on Aristotle, Averroes.”

      2. Perfect. Very well said :)

  4. It’s been two and a half months since September 11, 2010, and it’s been 9 years since September 11, 2001. I don’t care enough about it anymore to care what gets built there, and I think I’m not alone in that.

  5. […] not clear to me why you float this idea now. The battle is over. As we predicted months ago, fundamentalist ire dissipated as quickly as it flared up, with nary a mention since […]

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