Last week, President Obama said he had “no regrets” about endorsing the building of a mosque near Ground Zero. This was between vacations and right before he started his trip around the country to raise money and campaign for Democratic members of Congress who are in electoral trouble, most of whom were not in electoral trouble until Obama started campaigning for them.
His statement of the obvious, that these Muslims have a right to build their mosque, has ignited a debate over this otherwise symbolic tweaking of our nation’s nose by the Islamic community. We should have ignored it. Clearly, they have a “right” to build it. But surely they are not so tone-deaf that they don’t realize that building a monument to Islam two blocks from where innocent Americans were murdered in the name of Islam will deal a major setback to their purported cause of “interreligious understanding and tolerance.”
The debate began to take shape after the right came out against the mosque. The left, in a conditioned response, took the opposite position. Liberals love to act “tolerant.” It makes them feel good about themselves and gives them something to talk about at cocktail parties. However, this is not about the left being more tolerant, it is about it opposing everything the right supports. The right happens to be wrong on this one, which puts the Democrats in the unfamiliar position of being correct on an issue. No wonder they are so confused.
The reality is that the mosque will probably never be funded or built. The 15-story development will cost $100 million to build; so far, very little of that money has been raised.
Obama equivocated about his position while on a stunt vacation to Panama City Beach, Florida. If he really does not want the mosque built, he should do what he does best when he wants to stop something (you know, like he has done to every other sector of the economy): regulate it, tax it, demand the participation of union workers, and impose complicated and uncertain rules on it. The project will grind to a halt.
The other choice (which I would help fund) is to meet symbolism with symbolism. Since imposing Sharia law on our society is one of the Islamists’ goals, we should use what is left of our capitalist society to make that as difficult as possible. I say we build a Jimmy Dean’s Sausage store on one side of the site and a strip club on the other. Better yet, maybe Nick Vergos could open another Rendezvous restaurant down the street and serve his famous ribs. The smell of pork being smoked would waft into the air for blocks.
We could also fund a movie theater that only shows Kevin Bacon movies across the street, and a sports bar that only shows Mia Hamm re-runs. You get the idea. Fight symbolism with capitalism.
Maybe Obama can put some shopping in the vicinity. How about a “Bed, Bath, Blame Bush and Beyond” franchise?
This mosque will, no doubt, be seen by some Muslims as a victory dance. Muslim societies are theocratic and have a history of conquering and imposing their religion/law upon the conquered. Muslim rulers often married the wives of their opponents in order to gain ties of kinship with their new subjects. Our country should be safe, since the notion of having to be married to Hillary Clinton or Janet Napolitano should deter Muslims from wanting to conquer us.
We have given them what they wanted: attention on this issue. We should, like Obama said, hold to our values. Politicians are going to demagogue the issue, as they are prone to do. It is fun to watch the lesser ones like Harry Reid squirm and flip-flop. Most troubling is Nancy Pelosi’s idea of investigating those who are speaking out against the mosque. That bothers me more than anything in this saga.
Ironically, we invaded two countries to impose democracy and our way of life on others. It seems a mistake not to live up to those ideals here in America.
As Americans, we can show the world what we stand for and why we deserve to be emulated. This is an opportunity to do so.
Ron Hart is a syndicated op-ed humorist, author and TV/radio commentator. Email Ron@RonaldHart.com or visit RonaldHart.com