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Obama makes clear his support for ground zero mosque - Comments

Dave H's Avatar Comment 31 by Dave H

It has always been a paradox of democracy that if you want a free country then you must put limits on those who would demolish those freedoms.

I've been reading the Koran, and the theme that first hit me is the repetitive, relentless "us versus them" mentality. It is a manifesto of devisiveness, where you are a Muslim first and a citizen second, and all non-Muslims are "one of them". Anyone who thinks that the ground-zero mosque should be allowed should read the Koran first to see what the Islamic agenda is. Ayaan Hirsi Ali herself, even with her first-hand knowledge of the trouble with Islam, has difficulty convincing people that Islam is a political movement as much as it is a religion, with the political goal (among others) of ripping democracy out by the roots to establish a theocracy.

When I travel to the Middle East (as I have done on many occasions for extended periods of time) I have to follow their customs, and when Middle-Easterners visit the UK they expect the surrounding UK citizens to bend over backwards to cater for Muslim practices. Reciprocal it's not. At my company we took some visiting conservative Muslim clients out to dinner, in Britain. The Muslims wanted the UK people not to have wine with the meal, as they would be offended. Not content with that, they were still offended because the people at the next table were having wine with their meal - and so close to them as well! It was simply not in their Muslim mentality to live and let live. They had no concept of what freedom is, because they had no concept of minding their own fucking business.

The argument I get from my more moderate Muslim friends (and yes, I do have them) is that the Koran has to be properly interpreted, and so I always ask them (as I also ask Christians) that if you have to use an indpendent morality to interpret the book, what's the point of the book? And if you rely on someone else to interpret it for you, how do you know that you're not hearing the ulterior motives of the interpeter? They don't have an answer to that, but still follow it as it has beaten into them that being a Muslim is where their identity resides.

As an analogy you have to ask yourself, would you allow the Nazi party to put up a headquarters in your neighbourhood, under the justification of freedom of expression, when you know damn well that their agenda is to destroy freedoms?

Sat, 14 Aug 2010 21:59:48 UTC | #500424

vjohn82's Avatar Comment 32 by vjohn82

Comment 21 by BanJoIvie :

If you read the actual article linked to in Comment 11 you will see that vjohn82 mischaracterizes Harris' point by calling it a refutation of Obama's position. Harris agrees with Obama's overall position while criticizing some of his (and others') rhetoric. Harris explicitly rejects the idea that we could or should legally ban or impede the building of this 'cultural center'. Sam takes the absolutely correct position of defending secularism in this regard.

"Obama is wrong" - and then Harris goes onto to say why he believes Obama is wrong.

Refutation is the act of proving someone wrong by using argument or evidence. I fail to see where I have misappropriated my remarks.

There seems to be some very odd comments on this board today.

Has the simple message been lost here? A mosque being built at Ground Zero? The mind boggles.

Sat, 14 Aug 2010 22:01:40 UTC | #500426

greenwich's Avatar Comment 33 by greenwich

I am newish here (and not planning to stay). Could someone please just set my mind at rest by confirming whether or not this poster is the real Prof. Dawkins. I really, really hope not. I used to have respect for him and I supposed that, being a busy man, he would never have time to come here, and therefore could not be held responsible for all the bigotry, against believers in general, and Muslims in particular, which gets aired here in the guise of Reason. If this really is him, then I guess he can't disassociate himself from it and from the charge of providing a platform for bigots and haters. If it's really you, Prof. Dawkins, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Comment 30 by Richard Dawkins :

Whatever else you may say about Sam Harris's article quoted above, and whether or not he is right about the NY mosque, the following two paragraphs, about Islam more generally, seem to me well worth repeating.

Richard

Sat, 14 Aug 2010 22:07:17 UTC | #500428

severalspeciesof's Avatar Comment 34 by severalspeciesof

Comment 30 by Richard Dawkins :

Whatever else you may say about Sam Harris's article quoted above, and whether or not he is right about the NY mosque, the following two paragraphs, about Islam more generally, seem to me well worth repeating.

Richard

The first thing that all honest students of Islam must admit is that it is not absolutely clear where members of al Qaeda, the Taliban, al-Shabab, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hamas, and other Muslim terrorist groups have misconstrued their religious obligations. If they are “extremists” who have deformed an ancient faith into a death cult, they haven’t deformed it by much. When one reads the Koran and the hadith, and consults the opinions of Muslim jurists over the centuries, one discovers that killing apostates, treating women like livestock, and waging jihad—not merely as an inner, spiritual struggle but as holy war against infidels—are practices that are central to the faith. Granted, one path out of this madness might be for mainstream Muslims to simply pretend that this isn’t so—and by this pretense persuade the next generation that the “true” Islam is peaceful, tolerant of difference, egalitarian, and fully compatible with a global civil society. But the holy books remain forever to be consulted, and no one will dare to edit them. Consequently, the most barbarous and divisive passages in these texts will remain forever open to being given their most plausible interpretations.

Thus, when Allah commands his followers to slay infidels wherever they find them, until Islam reigns supreme (2:191-193; 4:76; 8:39; 9:123; 47:4; 66:9)—only to emphasize that such violent conquest is obligatory, as unpleasant as that might seem (2:216), and that death in jihad is actually the best thing that can happen to a person, given the rewards that martyrs receive in Paradise (3:140-171; 4:74; 47:5-6)—He means just that. And, being the creator of the universe, his words were meant to guide Muslims for all time. Yes, it is true that the Old Testament contains even greater barbarism—but there are obvious historical and theological reasons why it inspires far less Jewish and Christian violence today. Anyone who elides these distinctions, or who acknowledges the problem of jihad and Muslim terrorism only to swiftly mention the Crusades, Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, the Tamil Tigers, and the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma, is simply not thinking honestly about the problem of Islam.

With all due respect I would add this (from Sam Harris's article, which was the first thing he wrote):

Should a 15-story mosque and Islamic cultural center be built two blocks from the site of the worst jihadist atrocity in living memory? Put this way, the question nearly answers itself. This is not to say, however, that I think we should prevent our fellow citizens from building “the ground zero mosque.” There is probably no legal basis to do so in any case—nor should there be.

Sat, 14 Aug 2010 22:07:44 UTC | #500429

vjohn82's Avatar Comment 35 by vjohn82

Comment 33 by greenwich :

I am newish here (and not planning to stay). Could someone please just set my mind at rest by confirming whether or not this poster is the real Prof. Dawkins. I really, really hope not. I used to have respect for him and I supposed that, being a busy man, he would never have time to come here, and therefore could not be held responsible for all the bigotry, against believers in general, and Muslims in particular, which gets aired here in the guise of Reason. If this really is him, then I guess he can't disassociate himself from it and from the charge of providing a platform for bigots and haters. If it's really you, Prof. Dawkins, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Sounds like another Islamophobia proponent to me. Don't you realise it's a defense mechanism by now designed to subvert debate? It's like calling people racist for speaking about uncontrolled immigration.

I do not see any bigotry on this page to be honest. Religion has placed itself on a pedestal and should be knocked off it's perch (and rightly so).

Updated: Sat, 14 Aug 2010 22:17:23 UTC | #500430

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 36 by mordacious1

It's disturbing that a pair of anti-gay dumbshits can use the threat of a gay bar to harass muslims, on the other hand it's funny in a warped sort of way.

Sat, 14 Aug 2010 22:13:52 UTC | #500431

vjohn82's Avatar Comment 37 by vjohn82

With all due respect I would add this (from Sam Harris's article, which was the first thing he wrote):

Should a 15-story mosque and Islamic cultural center be built two blocks from the site of the worst jihadist atrocity in living memory? Put this way, the question nearly answers itself. This is not to say, however, that I think we should prevent our fellow citizens from building “the ground zero mosque.” There is probably no legal basis to do so in any case—nor should there be.

You should also read the last part of the article too. I think the general point was that whether it was legally right to build a mosque, any person in their right mind would not even consider doing so under the circumstances.

Sat, 14 Aug 2010 22:14:40 UTC | #500432

severalspeciesof's Avatar Comment 38 by severalspeciesof

Comment 37 by vjohn82

You should also read the last part of the article too. I think the general point was that whether it was legally right to build a mosque, any person in their right mind would not even consider doing so under the circumstances.

I see your point, but here we also don't discriminate against people not in their right mind [and this is in regard to religious believers overall, you know, the deluded ones] ;-)

Sat, 14 Aug 2010 22:23:57 UTC | #500435

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 39 by Steve Zara

Comment 34 by severalspeciesof

I assumed that the comment I responded to was a refutation of the idea of the legal right of Muslims to build near Ground Zero. That would have been surprising from Sam. I glad was wrong.

Terrorism is often about stirring up hatred and conflict. I'm surprised at the suggestion that millions will see the allowing of the building to be a sign of decadence and cowardice. I see it as a reflection of pride in civilized secular values, and perhaps even a form of defiance against the terrorists.

Sat, 14 Aug 2010 22:32:14 UTC | #500439

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 40 by Richard Dawkins

Comment 33 by greenwich :

I am newish here (and not planning to stay). Could someone please just set my mind at rest by confirming whether or not this poster is the real Prof. Dawkins. I really, really hope not. I used to have respect for him and I supposed that, being a busy man, he would never have time to come here, and therefore could not be held responsible for all the bigotry, against believers in general, and Muslims in particular, which gets aired here in the guise of Reason. If this really is him, then I guess he can't disassociate himself from it and from the charge of providing a platform for bigots and haters. If it's really you, Prof. Dawkins, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Comment 30 by Richard Dawkins :

Whatever else you may say about Sam Harris's article quoted above, and whether or not he is right about the NY mosque, the following two paragraphs, about Islam more generally, seem to me well worth repeating.

Richard

You mean the Koran and the Hadith don't say what Sam claims they say? I'm delIghted to hear that, but can you substantiate it? I do hope you can, then we can all sleep easier. If, on the other hand, Sam is summarising Islamic scriptures accurately, why should I be ashamed of myself for simply quoting Sam's accurate summary?

Richard

Sat, 14 Aug 2010 22:42:15 UTC | #500440

vjohn82's Avatar Comment 41 by vjohn82

Comment 38 by severalspeciesof :

Comment 37 by vjohn82

You should also read the last part of the article too. I think the general point was that whether it was legally right to build a mosque, any person in their right mind would not even consider doing so under the circumstances.

I see your point, but here we also don't discriminate against people not in their right mind [and this is in regard to religious believers overall, you know, the deluded ones] ;-)

Ahhh, so in order not to discriminate against the mentally impaired we allow them their pet projects? Got ya... ;-)

In all seriousness, imagine a gay bar in the middle of the bible belt and you'll see religions propensity. I'm not implying a "when in Rome" message in refusing to allow a mosque to be built; only that such sensitivities do not appear to be an inclination of the religious and neither should this sort of "tolerance" be extended.

Religion has repeatedly encroached on areas where no respectable person would tread. I am certain this is another.

Comment 39 by Steve Zara :

Comment 34 by severalspeciesof

I assumed that the comment I responded to was a refutation of the idea of the legal right of Muslims to build near Ground Zero. That would have been surprising from Sam. I glad was wrong.

Terrorism is often about stirring up hatred and conflict. I'm surprised at the suggestion that millions will see the allowing of the building to be a sign of decadence and cowardice. I see it as a reflection of pride in civilized secular values, and perhaps even a form of defiance against the terrorists.

I work in the legal profession and such legal challenges tend to be on size and scope rather than anything else. I live near Coventry/Birmingham (UK) and the sheer number of religious temples is quite disproportionate to the number of churches. No such challenge on sensitivity would ever be part of a planning application.

However, I do not see how the building of a mosque in anyway adds to the values of secularism; I really don't. I've spent a lot of time in Turkey recently; ask them about erosion of secularism by the pious.

Sat, 14 Aug 2010 22:52:22 UTC | #500441

vjohn82's Avatar Comment 42 by vjohn82

Comment 33 by greenwich :

I am newish here (and not planning to stay). Could someone please just set my mind at rest by confirming whether or not this poster is the real Prof. Dawkins. I really, really hope not. I used to have respect for him and I supposed that, being a busy man, he would never have time to come here, and therefore could not be held responsible for all the bigotry, against believers in general, and Muslims in particular, which gets aired here in the guise of Reason. If this really is him, then I guess he can't disassociate himself from it and from the charge of providing a platform for bigots and haters. If it's really you, Prof. Dawkins, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Comment 40 by Richard Dawkins :

You mean the Koran and the Hadith don't say what Sam claims they say? I'm delIghted to hear that, but can you substantiate it? I do hope you can, then we can all sleep easier. If, on the other hand, Sam is summarising Islamic scriptures accurately, why should I be ashamed of myself for simply quoting Sam's accurate summary?

Richard

It's part of the embarrassment that religious sympathisers, or indeed the religious, have to face in defence of religion. Quoting such scripture is always "out of turn" or "misrepresentation" or "taking things too literally".

They still have to explain why they believe such nonsense could ever be espoused of course.

Sat, 14 Aug 2010 22:59:27 UTC | #500443

JamesR's Avatar Comment 43 by JamesR

I'll suggest that New Yorkers will handle this much like the Soviets did in building the US embassy. Listening devices everywhere. Not to mention the ability to observe and put the place under 24 hour surveillance.

Also probably some enterprising capitalist will open a Bar-b-que place right across the street to tempt them with the wonderful bar-b-que aroma of pig cooking slowly. I could go on but I think you get it.

Sat, 14 Aug 2010 23:08:35 UTC | #500444

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 44 by Steve Zara

comment 41 by vjohn82

In all seriousness, imagine a gay bar in the middle of the bible belt and you'll see religions propensity.

I don't have to imagine.. I have been to one, some time ago, I'll admit. This does assume I have a good idea of where the Bible Belt is. The car radio played nothing but gospel and country.

However, I do not see how the building of a mosque in anyway adds to the values of secularism; I really don't. I've spent a lot of time in Turkey recently; ask them about erosion of secularism by the pious.

I guess I have a different view of secularism. I don't see it as a fighting against religion, but as acting as though religion has no special privileges.

In the situation in New York, I see another aspect at work though. A sign that people won't be cowed by terrorists. That the values of that society won't be corrupted by fear. I can understand the very strong feelings, and I would not have been surprised if permission for the building had been denied. There's always some way to arrange things. But permission has been granted, and I can't help thinking there is something truly admirable about that.

Perhaps I am wrong. I hope not.

Sat, 14 Aug 2010 23:14:36 UTC | #500445

vjohn82's Avatar Comment 45 by vjohn82

Comment 44 by Steve Zara :

comment 41 by vjohn82

In all seriousness, imagine a gay bar in the middle of the bible belt and you'll see religions propensity.

I don't have to imagine.. I have been to one, some time ago, I'll admit. This does assume I have a good idea of where the Bible Belt is. The car radio played nothing but gospel and country.

However, I do not see how the building of a mosque in anyway adds to the values of secularism; I really don't. I've spent a lot of time in Turkey recently; ask them about erosion of secularism by the pious.

I guess I have a different view of secularism. I don't see it as a fighting against religion, but as acting as though religion has no special privileges.

In the situation in New York, I see another aspect at work though. A sign that people won't be cowed by terrorists. That the values of that society won't be corrupted by fear. I can understand the very strong feelings, and I would not have been surprised if permission for the building had been denied. There's always some way to arrange things. But permission has been granted, and I can't help thinking there is something truly admirable about that.

Perhaps I am wrong. I hope not.

Again I was pointing to the propensity of religion in those matters and not specific instances. Perhaps I take for granted the level of English spoken by my Atlantic cousins?

I do not necessarily share the view that secularism is not a fight against religion; If we look through the past it is religion that has fought for superiority in every field of discourse. Freedom of religion is also freedom from religion (I recall that was George Carlin but I'm not sure).

I'd rather that the anarchic views of religious dogma was kept strictly indoors and not promoted on any level.

Sat, 14 Aug 2010 23:24:26 UTC | #500447

vjohn82's Avatar Comment 46 by vjohn82

@ Steve Zara

I note your comments on another thread about the banning of faith schools.

How do you form your view that it is any different to resisting the erection of a mosque upon grounds of gross indecency?

Sat, 14 Aug 2010 23:30:50 UTC | #500448

Corylus's Avatar Comment 47 by Corylus

Comment 36 by mordacious1 :

It's disturbing that a pair of anti-gay dumbshits can use the threat of a gay bar to harass muslims, on the other hand it's funny in a warped sort of way.

[Winces] That video really does show some unpleasant individuals, doesn't it! I have heard about this and was amused, but hadn't seen the clip until now.

I am still amused, but mainly at the thought that this might cause someone to take the opportunity to build a gay bar next to Beck's place of worship, which would also make a point worth making.

Ah well, if the man does go ahead with his plans (and I see no reason why he should not) then here is hoping he spends some time with his customers - and learns about the tough time they face.

Might make him a little nicer.

Sat, 14 Aug 2010 23:41:50 UTC | #500449

Zurak's Avatar Comment 48 by Zurak

Comment 1 by Humanoid :

I agree with him on the point of principle. Most of the vociferous opponents are extreme right wing Christian cranks anyway. However I think the muslim guys behind the mosque probably should have been more pragmatic about their decision, all things considered and located it somewhere else to avoid unnecessary trouble.

Obama really has no choice as he's upholding the constitution.

Source? i live in NYC. I was just at the the area not too long ago. Protesters are of all backgrounds including Jews. But i saw no "vociferous extreme right wing Christians". When it comes to such topics why is it always dubbed "right-wing"? NYC is mostly liberal.

Sat, 14 Aug 2010 23:55:57 UTC | #500454

mikey3ul-2's Avatar Comment 49 by mikey3ul-2

Comment 40 by Richard Dawkins :

You mean the Koran and the Hadith don't say what Sam claims they say?

This is the most fascinating philosophical question that anybody could ask. It's a pity that philosophy isn't within the remit of this website, that we who stay on this site are doomed to continually revisit the inevitable innaccuracies of interpretation that come from limiting ourselves to "reason" and "science" - always putting philosophy second and ending up being unreasonable and unscientific in the process. It should be obvious to all of us that ideas can only exist in the minds of living people. The dead cannot think. Texts can only be given meaning when an intelligent being reads them. Texts cannot do anything other than help the reader to rearrange ideas in their own head. They can convey nothing to the reader that isn't already there. Yes a text can tell you that you can find buried treasure under a particular tree, but only if you have the concept of a tree in your mind already, and treasure, of course. I do hope that we get time on this site to discuss the many pros and cons of this position. Like most people in this country I have been conditioned in culturally protestant thought patterns which rank scripture as authentic messages from previous generations. But a culturally atheist position does not simply claim that scripture reveals the inaccurate thoughts of our ancestors, instead that scripture reveals absolutely nothing to us. We cannot interpret what scripture "says" any more than we can interpret what any text "says". We merely project our own knowledge and feelings onto it. We do, Christians do, Muslims do, everyone does. Only, we have a choice, as culturally atheist people - that is, not merely dictionary-defined atheists who are unable to liberate ourselves from our culturally protestant conditioning. We can choose to reject all scriptures - Bible, Koran etc - not because they contain inaccurate messages which like the believers we think we have the power to interpret differently from others. That route condemns us to a life of quoting bibles and scriptures at people, hardly the outcome most of us were looking for when we first decided to explore atheism. We can reject all scripture on the grounds that it can convey absolutely nothing to us, nor to Christians, nor Muslims. So does that mean I would never read a text book? It depends on how old the textbook is, the extent to which I think it can help me rearrange ideas already in my head into something more useful, and most importantly the amount of interaction I can have about its contents with a living tutor. I understand the Koran is over 1,000 years old. I don’t even know what the Hadith is. I reckon I don’t need to, because I’m an atheist, not just another interpretor of long-dead texts. I think we can't have the foggiest idea what the Koran says. If we claim we can, we have already fallen into the oldest religious trap in the world, we announce our submission to religious thinking, and we reinforce the same sectarian conflicts that we were trying to get away from in the first place.

Updated: Sun, 15 Aug 2010 00:26:38 UTC | #500460

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 50 by Steve Zara

Comment 49 by mikey3ul-2

I think you making things a lot more confused than they actually are.

We have to deal with the facts, and the facts are that the words in holy books do have meanings, meanings that are accepted to varying degrees by billions of people. We can also have a clear idea of what the holy books say. All we need do is ask the believers. We can also read these books ourselves.

Sam is right about the contents of holy books. Of course that does not mean that most religious people live lives following the words of those books to the letter. But what we need to be concerned about is the capability of religions which use those books to encourage barbaric attitudes and behaviour.

Someone who posts here regularly, Hungarianelephant, put this well recently. People's behaviour is on a bell curve. The problem with Islam is that it shifts that bell curve towards barbarity far more than other religions.

Sun, 15 Aug 2010 00:53:13 UTC | #500464

InYourFaceNewYorker's Avatar Comment 51 by InYourFaceNewYorker

I expressed my opposition to a mosque at Ground Zero today on Facebook, saying I wouldn't want any religious institution to be built there because religion is part of the cause of 9/11. I also said that it would be like building a church next to a bombed abortion clinic. A girl from a left-wing camp I worked at was telling me that all the Muslims she knows are peaceful and that I have to make sure my position doesn't have to do with the fact that many of these people are Arab because their skin color could be influencing my position. I assured her that it's not, that after 9/11 I naively spouted the mantra of "Islam is a peaceful religion."

Then I read "The God Delusion" in 2007 and watched/listened to Richard speak and changed my mind.

This girl was reaching, reminding us of the horrible things that America does-- such as the death penalty (which I may not be against in extreme circumstances such as a serial killer) and the torture to POWs. I pointed out that yes, the US has done these horrible things. This is the result of a somewhat corrupted government, which can happen anywhere. It's scarier when EVERYDAY people are doing these things. Mothers telling their daughters that they're "visiting an uncle in Bradford" and once they get there, the mother holds her down and lets some schmuck slice her clitoris. Or the fact that honor killings are so rampant among everyday people. And so forth.

I also said that, yes, I'm sure that the Muslims she knows are peaceful, and that's because they are peaceful PEOPLE and it has nothing to do with their religion. I also told her that after 9/11 I babysat a few times for kids who were being raised as Muslim (probably more cultural than anything else; they attended public school) and I would do it again. I told her she needs to realize that it's the RELIGION I'm against, not the people. The 9/11 hijackers were decent people who became religious nuts. Same with Nazis who followed Hitler's religion of sorts. Also, she pointed out that 70% of Americans are against the mosque. Yes, they're probably against it because they are some of these God-Bless-America-We're-a-Christian-Nation-and-I-Don't-Like-Arabs type of people.

It's really hard to convince her of my point because of the whole, "If I'm against Islam it might mean I'm racist" taboo. That said, why not build an ARAB CULTURAL CENTER there instead to combat racism and to show what non-Muslim Arab culture can be like?

Julie

Updated: Sun, 15 Aug 2010 01:07:09 UTC | #500467

Zelig's Avatar Comment 52 by Zelig

Why is it that most of those who positively celebrate (not only the legal/constitutional right of the mosque to be built, but the concrete reality that it WILL in fact be built), do so as affirmers of broadly western secular liberal democracy, while simultaneously vilifying and demonising anyone who has the gall and presumption to claim that these very values are qualitatively superior to the values of other cultures?

You can't have it both ways. Either western values are superior (in your eyes) to Islamic values or they are not. If they are not, then you have no logical right to champion and celebrate them over other value systems (including those who would outlaw the mosque). If, alternatively, you view western values as qualitatively superior, then why the reticence, why the deafening silence about criticising the values of the 'Other'?

Many of the very same people who celebrate the mosque's construction in the name of allegiance to "Enlightenment" and "humanity", are the very same people who keep their mouths conveniently shut when it comes to, e.g. apostasy, FGM, honour killings, forced marriages, the legal subordination of women in Shariah, western Muslim attitudes towards homosexuality, blasphemy, free speech etc etc etc.

Very few have principled support or objections to the Mosque, for the overwhelming majority, it's post hoc rationalisations for their particular brand of humbug.

Sun, 15 Aug 2010 01:07:44 UTC | #500468

NickNakorn's Avatar Comment 53 by NickNakorn

Mikey (comment 49),

I think you make some excellent points. I was brought up by Atheist grandparents, a non practicing Anglo-catholic mother and an Atheist stepfather, my father is a life-long Buddhist and my grandmother's great aunt was Jewish. I have never 'got' religion and was astounded as a child to find out that morning prayers at school were not just another type of fairy story; I did not understand fully why anyone would believe Christianity to be true and still have problems believing that anyone really believes in religion. So my antipathy towards religion is pretty much evenly distributed to all religions regardless of which might be politically ascendant.

While it is true that many vile ideas in the major Abrahamic religions (and other religions too) are not followed by all adherents, it is also true that sometimes they are. I think, therefore, that one has to encourage moderate interpretations of religion in addition to encouraging atheism and secularism. While one's own choices and reactions to the fact of the existance of relgions might put one on a scale between being a so-called radical atheist and so-called woolley appologist, I think it is possible to promote the whole range of those ideas as a political position; simply because all the positions on such a scale are preferable to literal interpretations of holy books. It is no suprise that in the UK we have an extraordinarily flexible and moderate approach to Christianity and a high proportion of Atheists. It is much easier to become an Atheist if one's culture is not much bothered by interpretations of religion that lead towards secularism and an independent judiciary in which relgion plays a relatively minor role.

Cultural change works best, in my view, as series of gentle steps and I have always felt myself a reformist rather than a revolutionary. And though I personally feel I'm at the radical atheist end of my suggested scale, I mostly try and adopt a relatavist position because peace is always preferable to conflict unless one is forced into a very tight corner. So if religious people prefer to treat their religion as a force for peace an non-violence and see the violent instructions in their holy books as metaphorical tales of what not to do, so much the better for everyone.

Nick

http://nicknakorn.wordpress.com

Sun, 15 Aug 2010 01:15:04 UTC | #500470

NickNakorn's Avatar Comment 54 by NickNakorn

David (comment 52),

"Either western values are superior (in your eyes) to Islamic values or they are not. If they are not, then you have no logical right to champion and celebrate them over other value systems (including those who would outlaw the mosque). If, alternatively, you view western values as qualitatively superior, then why the reticence, why the deafening silence about criticising the values of the 'Other'?"

I'm not at all convinced that the choices you propose are the choices we have. Western values are not a homogenous set of uncontradictory elements and at different times in history the 'West' has perpetrated some of the most horrific acts of which humans are capable. Further, it is wrong to imply that Western values, such as they are, are somehow intrinsically opposite to Islam; for one thing both Islam and Christianity are both Eastern religions (though even 'East' and 'West' are relative to an imperial line drawn at Greenwich) and both Islam and Christianity are very, very broad churches regardless what the Qur'an or the Bible might instruct in literal terms.

It is quite possible and legitimate to criticise both Islam and Christianity (and/or any other religion) without assuming that the 'West' has a special grasp of ethics or morality compared to the 'East' or compared to Islam. I think one should judge all ideas on their relative merits and take into account the aggressive political aspirations of the religious power-elites wherever they might reside and whatever religion they might follow. Secular Christianity is vastly preferable to state-sponsored extremist Islam but, by the same token, secular Islam is vastly preferable to state-sponsored extremist Christianity or state-sponsored extremist mysticism of any kind.

Nick

Nagara

Sun, 15 Aug 2010 01:50:34 UTC | #500475

Jay G's Avatar Comment 55 by Jay G

I remember driving home from work in New Jersey on Sept. 11 and from where I was driving I was able to see the cloud of dust and smoke rising up from where the WTC had been. That vision is etched in my memory for as long as I live. The thought of a mosque standing just a few feet from that site, where 3000 people were slaughtered in the name of Islam makes me want to throw up.

The right of the muslims to do this is not the point. They ought to know better. I still think this is an attempt to score a victory for islam over the west and we ought to oppose this strongly.

Sun, 15 Aug 2010 02:53:47 UTC | #500479

Gunga Lagunga's Avatar Comment 56 by Gunga Lagunga

"As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to publicly demonstrate their stupidity as everyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a temple honoring idiocy on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. After all, this is the American cattle farm, and our political tolerance for the most egregious forms of dumbfuckery, in the hopes of corralling mewling religious nitwits--both liberal and conservative--into casting Democratic votes in November, must be unshakable."

Sun, 15 Aug 2010 03:27:16 UTC | #500481

Sean_W's Avatar Comment 57 by Sean_W

There is no victory for Islam. Every religion is free to establish itself in the US, and that's not something the Islam we loath can tolerate. But it will and it must because of its second class status beneath our enlightenment. If we continue in defiance of our freedom of religion then we risk elevating Islam to the status of our enlightenment, were it might affect changes.

To hell with Islam rubbing shoulders as a peer of enlightenment in the age of reason. It must submit to reason. Therefore the mosque should be built and Islam confronted in its new home as a subordinate --mind you, in one of the few places Islam exist where that can actually happen.

Sun, 15 Aug 2010 03:30:20 UTC | #500483

MarkyMark81's Avatar Comment 58 by MarkyMark81

Oh man... I havent read everyones comments but some of the ones I have read are from people who are confusing the parameters.

I dislike Islam for everything it is.

But we need to pick our battles and this is one we cannot win, even from a moral standpoint.

The people behind the Islamic community centre played by the rules by submitting a proposal and getting that proposal accepted.

I dont know the details of the proposal... but perhaps the fact that it got accepted had nothing to do with religion, and more to do with the fact that it met the required criteria?

By opposing the mosque... we are also at risk of unintentionally weighing in with the Christians, whose argument is based on fear induced paranoia, and that is something we dont want.

This is for the Christians and Muslims to battle it out. Lets stay out of this one. Or at least open up a new front.

Sun, 15 Aug 2010 05:19:48 UTC | #500492

bltkitsap's Avatar Comment 59 by bltkitsap

In a society where we have freedom of speech and religion, As American's we should have the freedom to build any Church,Basilica,Cathedral,Duomo,Chapel,Oratory,Martyrium,Mosque,Mihrab,Imambargah,Monastery,Mithraeum,Fire Temple,Pyramid,Shrine,Synagogue,Temple,Pagoda and Gurdwara we like. As an Atheist I would prefer none, but we do have our freedom to believe in fantasia, if we like. Maybe we should Build a Tribute to DARWIN !!!!!!

Sun, 15 Aug 2010 05:37:36 UTC | #500493

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 60 by Richard Dawkins

Comment 55 by Jay G :

The right of the muslims to do this is not the point. They ought to know better.

I agree with Jay G. And the same.applies to the burka and many other issues that come up on our site. There's a difference between what people have a legal right to do and what they ought to know better than to do.

Richard

Sun, 15 Aug 2010 06:01:54 UTC | #500495