The invaluable Cary McMullen continues to be The Ledger’s finest asset of credibility. In the last two weeks, he’s twice tackled the largely abstract anti-Muslim hysteria growing in recent weeks as a certain breed of political conservative — read Newt Gingrich — looks for handy issues with which to gin up votes in November.
The biggest flashpoint has been the so-called Cordoba mosque locating, entirely within in its legal rights, not terribly far from the former World Trade Center site. From Cary’s outstanding column.
For the record, Cordoba House would not be primarily a mosque but a community center similar to a YMCA that would hold Islamic and interfaith programs. It will be named for the city in Spain where under the rule of the Moors there was a measure of religious tolerance among Muslims, Christians and Jews. The New York Community Board has approved the building of the center on the site of an abandoned business.
The chairman of the initiative behind Cordoba House, Feisal Abdul Rauf, has said quite perceptively that the center might actually prevent the next 9/11 attacks by opposing the extremism of al-Qaeda with the inclusiveness that would be embraced there.
But all the opponents could do was scream, “They’re building a mosque at the sacred site of Ground Zero!” Where do you even begin to talk about how legally and morally wrong-headed it is to oppose freedom of religion in the name of America?
I can’t say it much better than that. I would take Spanish commentary a bit further, though. I’ve never been to Cordoba, but I did spend some time in college in Granada, the last Spanish city held by Muslims before Ferdinand and Isabella reconquered the peninsula in 1492. Yep, the same. I’ve been in the room in the fabulously beautiful Alhambra Palace, built by Muslims, where the conquering Ferdinand and Isabella sent Columbus on his way to the new world in the same year. I’ve seen their graves, in the gargantuan, soulless Cathedral that they built in a failed attempt to upstage the Alhambra.
Ferdinand and Isabella’s defeat of the last Muslim ruler of Granada also brought one of the great maternal smackdowns of all time. When the emir of Granada began to weep after turning over the keys of the Alhambra to the Christians, his mother reportedly said: “Do not weep like a woman for that which you could not defend like a man.” Wow. That’s really neither here nor there, but if my mother ever said that to me I would just crawl into a hole and die.
In any event, by all accounts, the passing of the Muslim hegemony meant far less religious tolerance than the murderous Christian rule brought by “Los Reyes Catolicos,” as Ferdinand and Isabella are commemorated on streets in every Spanish city. This was especially true for Jews, whom Ferdinand and Isabella persecuted and expelled from Spain, along with the Muslims.
To this day in Spain, which may be the single friendliest place I’ve ever visited, many cities and towns put on annual “ferias” in honor of conquering the Moors/Muslims. In fairness, I should note that these ferias mostly provide excuses to party, dress up in funny costumes, and set off cherry bombs — a Spanish national pastime. And everything I’ve heard and read indicates that Spain is among Europe’s most generous destinations for Muslim immigrants. Life is always complicated.
Meanwhile, in Beirut, Hezbollah, let me repeat that — Hezbollah — just gave its blessing to refurbishing a rundown synagogue in the apparent hope of sustaining the dwindling Lebanese Jewish population.
This malicious hufflepuff over the Cordoba mosque in New York presents an intriguing test for all of our liberty-loving, pseudo-libertarian, supposedly conservative readers out there. Like say, Donkeyrock, although I fear he’s taken his ball and gone home.
This is a clear cut, simple case of property rights and religious liberty. Who among you, oh libertarian conservatives, will come into the comments and back the Cordoba mosque? Donkeyrock? Anybody? I have my doubts. I have learned through close observation that your supposed principles often pose no match for your cultural hatreds. But please, prove me wrong.
If not, if Muslims have no first amendment or property rights, they certainly don’t have fourth or fifth amendment rights. When will you get on with it and start rounding them up? We haven’t had a good old fashioned mob rule fascism wave in this country since the 20s.