George Jonas: The National Post
‘We have to let them build their mosque. But we don’t have to buy the project’s phony rationale’
The much-disputed mosque near Ground Zero has been described as a test of our commitment to liberty. With great respect to pundits on both sides of the issue, I think it is a test of our commitment to the wrong question.
The question isn’t whether people should be able to build whatever they like on their private properties. To this, the answer is a simple yes in a free society, subject only to the appropriate municipal zoning laws and building codes. Anyone who denies others this right because of religious or political sympathies needs a refresher course in the basics.
Except this isn’t the question to ask about the Cordoba Initiative.
Described in news reports as a non-profit organization whose stated goal is to promote cross-cultural understanding between Islam and the West, Cordoba Initiative spent US$4-million to purchase property two blocks from the one-time World Trade Centre in order to pull down an old building at the site and erect an US$100 million 13-storey Islamic cultural centre, including a mosque, in its place.
The question to ask is: Can any group genuinely believe that building a mosque two blocks from where jihadists pulverized 3,000 New Yorkers nine years ago will promote cross-cultural understanding between Islam and the West?
If the answer is yes (God knows, some people believe anything) the next question is: Having observed their New York neighbours’ actual reaction to their plan, do they believe it still?
The answer to this question can no longer be yes for anyone non-delusional with a measurable IQ. This leaves Cordoba Initiative with two choices. It can withdraw voluntarily, thereby demonstrating good faith, or continue building, thereby demonstrating that whatever it’s doing it for, it isn’t to promote understanding.
What is it for? Search me. Mischief? Subversion? Pushing the envelope? To rub salt into wounds, assert dominance, boost militant spirits?