Thursday, August 12, 2010

Morning Mosque Tweets

(1)  Curious. If you oppose [building the] mosque [adjacent to Ground Zero], how large should  [the] no-mosque buffer zone be? 10 blocks? Does prayer in [a] conf room count? [The great David Wilensky wonders what we'll do with Muslims who work in the new Freedom Tower building and wish to pray. Are we going to have a Newt/Palin Eruption every time a Muslim banker or trader tries to fulfill his religious duties?]

(2)  Why do frum Jews who happily (and correctly) use RLUIPA to protect every shul or yeshiva wish to exclude the mosque from RLUIPA protections? [If I want to build a shul on a quiet residential block, RLUIPA says I can. If I want to put a Yeshiva, with dorms, on a dead end street. RLUIPA says I can. The only exception is if the religious use will create a health or safety issue. Otherwise, RLUIPA gives shuls and yeshivas a golden ticket. Why would we Jews want to change that?]

(3) Why do Palin and Gingrich hate the 1st ammendment values of our founding fathers? [The founders are the ones who said that government can't stop the free exercise of religion, and that's what the Ground Zero Mosque issue is about.]

(4) Why do Palin and Gingrich have no respect for property rights? [The mosque owns the building. Since when do we say people can't do as they please with their own property? And though municipalities can impose some zoning regulations, those zoning regulations need to be uniformly applied. You couldn't, for example, ban this mosque if other mosques, synagogues, or churches, already exist in the neighborhood. Also, as RLUIPA makes clear as day, a municipality can't put ANY restrictions on a  religious use, unless they can demonstrate a health or safety issue.]

(5) If its ok when preachers talk about converting the Jews why isnt it ok when imans talk about putting the world under sharia? [I mention this because whenever some boneheaded evangelical says Jews don't go to heaven, or we need to convert them, a boneheaded Jew like Micheal Medved or Daniel Lapin defends them, claiming its okay because "That's their faith" Well, I call double standard. If a Christian can call for us to be converted, an Iman can call for Sharia law.] [Incidentally, I think both claims are obnoxious. Whoever makes them should be loudly jeered.]

(6) If Catholic bigots were hurt and offended about a Yeshiva adjacent to a shrine would we care? [I can imagine Catholics being upset about a Yeshiva being too-close to one of their virgin shrines. After all, we're the "perfidious people" who killed their Lord, and all. If Catholics were to object to a Yeshiva on the grounds that it hurt their feelings, would we give them the time of day? ...and people with hurt feelings about the mosque are different how?

These Tweets were all prompted by an especially shocking comment written by MrsRBS. Here is what she said: "please take your statements and repeat them word for word to a family member who lost a loved one. i dont recall the bill of rights stating that an islamic cultural center has the right to open on such an such street across from a terrorist attack on our soil. nobody is denying them the right to open their doors anywhere else that they choose. how dare you."

A short list of the things MrsRBS. doesn't understand would include:

(1) The law: Their right to build the mosque is undefeatable. RLUIPA trumps all.
(2) The Bill of Rights: Free exercise of religion, means free exercise of religion, not free exercise of religion so long as no ones feelings are hurt.
(3) How fighting the mosque hurts Jews: OJs use RLUIPA all the time. If you weaken RLUIPA, you weaken yeshivas and shuls.
(4) That hurt feelings don't trump settled law, or civil rights: Look, I understand that people are upset about this. I am sympathetic to their hurt feelings. But I don't want to live in a country where hurt feelings are the final word. I don't think you do either. That's PC gone wild.
(5) If you'd like me to repeat all this word for word to someone who lost someone on 9/11 I will. I'll be calm and sympathetic as I help them understand that an America which protects the civil rights of everyone is part of  what the sacrifices of 9/11 were about.


The Muslim group wants to open the ICC two blocks from Ground Zero. Many have voiced offense/hurt/suspicion/anger etc. regarding this plan, and that is understandable. However, those opposed to the ICC for those reasons are trying to prevent the ICC from being built, not on any legal grounds, but on their offense/hurt/suspicion/anger. Unfortunately for them, the law - in this case, bolstered by RUILPA - does not have a provision that says projects which cause offense/hurt/suspicion/anger can be stopped soley because of the offense/hurt/suspicion/anger felt by some. So, while they are free to bring up their offense/hurt/suspicion/anger, they cannot use it as the primary reason why the ICC should not be allowed to be built.

The Muslim group has gone through every legal channel required, and they have been approved. So, according to the law, there is nothing to prevent them from building the ICC. Therefore, they have a legal right, and there is no legal basis for denying them that right. The law also says that anyone who wishes is free to feel offense/hurt/suspicion/anger about this project. And building the ICC will not change that. Those who feel offense offense/hurt/suspicion/anger about it today will be free to do so tomorrow and will continue to be free to feel offense/hurt/suspicion/anger after it has been built.

So, what this means is that the opposition to the ICC will remain opinion, and only opinion, and will not and cannot become a legal reason to prevent the ICC from opening. Those opposed are free to hold and voice their opinions, but they cannot expect those opinions to form a legal basis for stopping the project.

If there is found to be a health or safety problem with the ICC, then it can be prevented, otherwise, there is no legal challenge to the project.

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