Thursday, August 26, 2010

Park51: Not Just another Watering Hole

The name itself, Park51, conjures a place I’d like to go on a hot summer night and have a few drinks with some of my girlfriends. A place that would have zebra striped bathrobes hanging in the Spa massage rooms. A place where I could laugh and be loud, where I could move my body to the thumping beat of rock music as it flows out into the skies over New York City, and generally revel in life.
Sadly, it is not.
As a Muslim community center, Park51 would not only prohibit the serving of alcohol, but also the deep v-neck shirts that my large-breasted girlfriends may have chosen to wear out on a hot summer night would no doubt be considered haraam as would my inevitable use of colorful language. But for the thin line still protecting individual rights in this country, some who attend the planned mosque in the center might like to help my gay friends get stoned without benefit of smoking marijuana.
Far beyond my disappointment that Park51 is another shrine to mysticism rather than an upscale watering hole lies my concern that the metaphorical path to the watering hole, the Shari’a law the center will engender, is a threat to the very rights under which Park51 may be constructed.
Inasmuch as American Muslims are not radical Islamists practicing the barbaric hadd class of Shari’a as is practiced in some Islamic states (justice in the form of stoning, eye-for-an-eye, etc.), and consider themselves Americans first, Muslims second, Islam in America is just another religion which must properly be protected by the First Amendment including their right to build Muslim centers on property they own. Nonetheless, one need look no further than the recent South Park Mohammed cartoons uproar to see the threat of Islamists in this country attempting to force non-Muslims to observe Shari’a by clamoring, sometimes with threats of violence, about the offenses supposedly committed against them, their religion, and their prophet by those exercising their freedom of speech. Death threats were made to the South Park creators who intimated that Mohammed was in a bear suit as was a fatwa issued against the Seattle cartoonist who drew Mohammed as a spool of thread and called for Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.
The chilling effect of the Islamists’ rage (including riots, murders, and bombings outside the US) coupled with Muslim and non-Muslim calls for politically correct religious sensitivity notwithstanding, I am hesitant to use that same lack of sensitivity supplication regarding the disturbing siting of Park51.  It is the fundamental interpretation of Shari’a and the creeping expectations that non-Muslims should also submit to it which are in direct conflict with the laws of this country regarding individual rights, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion.  This conflict is what must not be evaded, but addressed by our leaders and by all Americans, including Muslims.
Yes, I understand that it is the historic practice of the Islamic religion, as well as others, to build their houses of worship on top of conquered houses of worship and that the placement of the formerly named Cordoba House blocks from where their radical Islamic brethren murdered near 3000 innocent people in one deftly coordinated terrorist attack on the United States trumpets of that practice. I understand that in choosing the skyward reaching Twin Towers as their target, the radical Islamists were destroying symbols of western ideals, illustrating how symbolism is particularly important to them. I understand that very name of the Cordoba House honors the hundreds of years of Islamic conquest and superiority beginning in eighth century Spain. But whether or not Park51 turns out to be a temple of taqiyya (Islamic allowance for lying to advance the cause of Islam) in lower Manhattan for a radical Muslim recruitment center, it remains a symbol of concern. 
My question for those who enthusiastically support the construction of the mosque is not rhetorical: At what point does the explicit canonical militant advance of an ideology whose religious leaders do not recognize the separation of church and state become an existential threat to that very ideal, and in turn, to the secular country in which it uses that protected right to subvert the same of others? More succinctly: What happens when the laws protecting religious freedom become subservient to religious laws?
In addition to Nancy Pelosi’s admission of conspiratorial lunacy and our President’s unwarranted remarks about New York City Muslim center plans and the 9/11 “tragedy” at an Iftar dinner at the White House, I found this question and answer section of the Cordoba Initiative itself the most enlightening of all that I have read regarding the actual threat of constructing a Muslim center within the impact zone of 9/11. 
The title of the section, rather than asking a question, states:  “Imam Feisal has not condemned Hamas”
This is the proponents’ answer (as of August 20, 2010):

Imam Feisal has always condemned terrorism (see his 1995 book “What’s Right With Islam is What’s Right with America” and his hundreds of speeches).  Hamas is both a political movement and a terrorist organization. Hamas commits atrocious acts of terror. Imam Feisal has forcefully and consistently condemned all forms of terrorism, including those committed by Hamas, as un-Islamic. In his book, he even went so far as to include a copy of the Fatwa issued after 9/11 by the most respected clerics of Egypt defining the 9/11 attack as an un-Islamic act of terror and giving permission to Muslims in the U.S. armed forces to fight against those who committed this act of terror. Imam Feisal included this in his book to prove that terrorism must be fought even if Muslims have to fight fellow Muslims to stop it.
In case you’ve missed the importance of what I have emphasized in the passage, it states that U.S. military personnel, who happen to be Muslim, were permitted by clerics in Egypt to pursue and defeat the terrorists responsible for the murder of near 3000 innocent people in the heart of New York City.
My imagining of Park51 being a fabulous New York City rooftop bar in a boutique hotel is just a little fantasy. The assertion made by the imam behind the construction of Park51—that Muslim members of our military require permission from clerics in order to fulfill their duties of protecting us from terrorists—is presented as a proud fact.
Think about what the presence, or absence, of such a proclamation means to the operational ability and success of our armed forces in defending us in this poorly defined war on terrorism.  Think about your son serving side by side with a Muslim who is torn between allegiance to his country and submission to his religion.  Think about the numerous acts of terrorism attempted and committed in the name of Islam and decide whether or not Islam is simply another religion to be protected proudly as a symbol of what makes America great.
Our elected leaders fall in two groups on this issue; both are wrong. Some turn a blind eye toward the evident connection between the Islamic religion and the Islamist political ideology of the dominance of Islamic law by practicing their own form of pre-Islamic dhimmitude on our behalf; others incorrectly identify the threat of Islam as being against the alleged Christian foundations of our country. The longer we go without identifying the actual danger—the threat to the protection of our individual rights—the further we are led down the path to the watering hole as it is being paved with our good intentions.  
I write this with the full knowledge that I may be labeled a bigot by some of my friends; however, I’d rather be called a bigot than be a coward for quietly allowing the service of what I see as a toxic cocktail muddling protected religious freedom with a dash of violent Islamists intolerance.


Katrina said...

This is a fantastic post. Witty, insightful and very well written. Thanks!

Lynne said...

Thank you, Katrina. It is a very difficult conflict and one that I've been wrestling with for a while. I'm glad you appreciate my understanding of the situation.