August 18, 2010
Western Values & the “Ground Zero Mosque”
After days of commentary on the Ground Zero Mosque, there seems to be consensus that, in a free society, the property can be used for any legal purpose including an Islamic mosque. However, locating the Mosque at that specific location is recognized as insensitive to the 9/11 victims’ families and all Americans. Furthermore, there is concern that the location choice is politically motivated with negative symbolism. The insistence of the mosque supporters on the location amplifies the political and symbolic alarms. I personally agree with the consensus and I hope that President Obama joins the majority of Americans in requesting Imam Rauf to choose another location for his mosque.
Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal points out that the “moderate” spokesmen for Islam in the recent past have proven not to be moderate at all. (“Global View” column http://tinyurl.com/2aszn72 – subscription required to read entire column) This is important in the context of the mosque, because Imam Rauf is presented as a moderate Muslim, yet the mosque’s funding sources remain anonymous.
Consider the following: NBC Nightly News on 9 Dec 2004 ran a story on Bridges TV founded by husband and wife, Aasiya and Muzzamil Hassan. Bridges TV called itself the “American-Muslim lifestyle network.” Muzzamil is currently being prosecuted for beheading his wife in Feb 2009 after she filed for divorce and kicked him out of their home.
The New York Times, 19 Oct 2001 stated: “Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki, spiritual leader at the Dar al-Hijra mosque in Virginia, one of the nation’s largest … is held up as a new generation of Muslim leader capable of merging East and West.” What do we know about Awlaki? Awlaki, U.S. born, presided over the mosque attended by two of the 9/11 hijackers. Awlaki provided religious guidance to the Ft. Hood killer Nidal Malik Hasan. Furthermore, Awlaki has fled the U.S. and is believed to be hiding in Yemen. Notably, the Washington Post reported on this same mosque 30 times from Sep 1983 to Sep 2001. http://tinyurl.com/2ecvbg4
With these examples in mind, Mr. Stephens ponders the question of what exactly is a “moderate Muslim?” His conjecture is that what is moderate in the eyes of Islam is extreme to Americans, which brings us to the New York Times statement. Is it possible to merge East and West in the context of the Islam religion and western values?
My answer is that no, it is not possible to merge East and West in this context any more than it was possible to merge East and West in the past context of Marxist Russia and Capitalist United States. The foundations of East and West are diametrically opposed.
The East is based on the fundamental view of the collective: individuals exist to serve the collective. In the case of Islam, individuals are subservient to the religion. In secular Russia, individuals are subservient to the state.
In contrast, the foundation of the West has been the sovereignty of the individual, which includes the right of individuals to live their lives for their own purpose not for the state or for a particular religion. In many countries where Islam is the dominant religion, religion and the state are merged into a theocratic form of government where individuals live precisely for the purpose of the state and religion. This is totalitarian government, and the results are always the same. The peoples of Burma (Myanmar), North Korea and Iran share oppression under tyrannical governments that have zero respect for the individual rights of their people.
There is and can be no common ground between East and West. The only way that Eastern values can thrive in the West is if we abrogate Western values. If we lose respect for the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and for individual rights – for Locke, Jefferson and Madison – then our liberty will evaporate and our plight will be the same as for Iranians, North Koreans and Burmese. We will be fodder for our rulers.
In a free society, individual rights are protected. Those rights include the right to hold a religion and to practice it freely. It is only within this context that an Eastern religion can exist in a society dominated by Western values. The Western society must allow its citizens to hold and practice their religious views as long as the practice of them does not infringe on the rights of others. To the extent that Western society infringes on those rights, it has started down the road of adopting Eastern values. On the other hand, a society dominated by Eastern values can never tolerate an unsanctioned religion (or lack thereof). Eastern values require that individual rights and desires be repressed and subjugated to the will of society whether it is the state or the religion. Although the construction of a mosque at ground zero violates no ones’ rights, the promoters of the mosque are demonstrating their insensitivity to and incomprehension of western values. What motivates a person to erect a symbol of the faith invoked by evil men as they deprived thousands of human beings of their right to life and many magnitudes more of their happiness, their property, and their symbol of freedom?
The same principle underlies the November 2010 elections — the principle of freedom or subjugation. Will we restore Western values or continue our drift towards Eastern values? A persons resolution of the question of the Ground Zero Mosque provides a window into whether that person holds Western or Eastern values. As you prepare to vote, be sure to peer into windows such as these as they expose the souls of our would-be leaders and the path on which they seek to lead us.