Who Cares about the Cordoba House?
President Obama’s speech on Islam over the weekend opened the floodgates for online (and newspaper) commentary on the plans to build a mosque (the Cordoba House) near Ground Zero. Although much of it focuses on domestic politics, there has been an international flavor to the debate as well. The Huffington Post’s Victoria Jones cites a recent university study which concluded that “contemporary mosques” deter the spread of Islamic extremism. Steve Bennen highlights a number of conservatives that he agrees with who argue, perhaps counterintuitively given their political leanings, that protesting the mosque’s construction plays into the hands of Bin Laden and company.
Josh Barro at the National Review is likewise baffled and writes that “it is important to set reasonable guidelines that promote harmony” between the West and a religion with “1.2 billion adherents.” Matthew Yglesias agrees with Barro’s larger point, but says there is less nuance than Barro and others are willing to admit. Those protesting the mosque are “bigoted opportunists,” while those that have no objections are “standing up for non-discrimination and religious freedom.”
On the opposite pole, Abe Greenwald at Contentions says tolerance isn’t even a value, and the only way toward a “truly moderate Islam” is to be intolerant of a “Hamas-indifferent Imam” (which he accuses planned Cordoba House Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf of being). And Greenberg’s post was actually a response to a Sam Harris Daily Beast item in which Harris said although tolerance should be valued, “it is not clear” that al-Qaeda and other terrorists “have misconstrued their religious obligations.”
But Dan Drezner over at Foreign Policy is having none of it from either side. “Of course the mosque should be built,” he writes, but the idea that not building it will let the terrorists win is hogwash (to put it in milder terms). Drezner says that those taking that line of argument are just fearmongering to silence debate.