Further Arguments Against the NYC Mosque

In the last couple of weeks Objectivists have been debating whether our government should interfere with the construction of a planned Mosque near Ground Zero in New York City. The debate seems to have started on Facebook, then continued on Diana Hsieh’s Noodle Food blog and elsewhere. Leonard Peikoff then devoted an entire podcast to the issue, which sparked even more debate, both on Facebook, and back on Diana’s blog, where both she and Paul Hsieh have written posts reiterating and further explaining their disagreement with Leonard on this issue. In this post I offer some further considerations in support of Leonard Peikoff’s stand on this issue, and try to address some of the arguments raised by the other side. Note that I am not speaking for Leonard Peikoff on this issue, although I am arguing in support of his stand on it.

As I understand it, we are at war with those who are animated by an ideology — Islam — that declares war on us (the nonbelievers) and our way of life. Because they have declared war on us, we are at war with them, regardless of whether our government has chosen to formally or explicitly declare war on anyone. This war is more than a cultural war, because this ideology explicitly advocates the use of force in order to propagate its ideas and way of life. Most importantly, in my view, a significant number of Islam’s adherents have acted according to its teachings, killing thousands of Americans. And, by all accounts, they will continue to do so. Finally, it seems that the majority of Islam’s adherents are sitting by, silent, refusing to denounce the initiation of force by their fellow believers.

Nonetheless, it has been argued that, because our government has not explicitly declared war, then any of the potential ways that our government might stop the mosque from being built, within the context of our current legal system, would negate property rights. Why? Because without that declaration of war, property rights are presumably retained by those who own the land and intend to build a mosque there.

I think there are a couple issues here that prevent some Objectivists from wholeheartedly agreeing with Leonard Peikoff’s view.

First, I think that one’s understanding of the nature of Islam will affect whether one believes that building a Mosque in the United States is an exercise of property rights. So long as one believes in the existence of a predominantly peaceful Islam, with only some fringe elements (call them what you want) being responsible for terrorist attacks on the U.S., then one is more likely to believe that property rights are the relevant principle at stake. Of the Objectivists who I have seen weigh in on this debate in the past couple of weeks, those on the “anti-mosque” side seem to be better versed in the nature of Islam and Jihad.

There’s another issue, however: even if you agree that in reality, there is no property right to build a Mosque in the U.S., much less near Ground Zero, you might still think that you want the government to follow proper procedures – i.e., respect the ideal of the rule of law – before stripping any legal rights away from the owners of the property at issue. You might be concerned that, should proper procedures/precedents not be followed or set, then you will be statism’s next victim. I have a few thoughts on this.

We are good people living under a bad government in a time of war. Objectivists have argued, properly, that if our government was bad, in the sense of being an aggressor in war, then we should be prepared to suffer the consequences when another country acts in self-defense. However, here our government is not the aggressor, it’s the appeaser. Do we similarly have to sit back – in the name of the rule of law – and let ourselves be wiped out as collateral damage? One argument that has been made is that, because we’ve allowed our government to go down this path, we have to be prepared to accept the consequences. But note that the argument is not that we have to accept the consequences in order to preserve the principle of property rights; instead the issue, as I see it, boils down to the preservation of the rule of law. So what can be said about that?

First, there probably are good legal arguments that could be made to stop this, arguments that need not presuppose that our government has formally declared war. This approach is tricky, of course, because you can’t say that someone doesn’t have a right to property, simply because his views, which he plans to promote via use of his property, at root negate the principle of private property. Plenty of ideologies do that. So this gets back to the problem of recognizing the unique nature of Islam in this regard. To make the proper sort of legal argument I have in mind – something along the lines of a well-defined trade embargo, or perhaps a charge of conspiracy to commit a crime, or, as James Valliant has suggested, solicitation to murder – one has to recognize that the distinguishing characteristic of Islam as a religion is its doctrine of Jihad, which is, in effect, an incitement to violence, even though many individual Muslims aren’t violent and never will be. If you don’t believe this about Islam as such, then you will naturally reject this approach.

Some have doubted whether Islam can be distinguished in this way, and have told me that the holy books of other religions have similarly violent passages. I am not an expert on religion, but what I have seen is that Islam is, today, inciting a significant number of Muslims, on a regular basis, to commit terrorist attacks against the US. For every attack or planned attack we learn about in the news, imagine how many have been thwarted, that we never hear about. There’s probably more to say about this distinction, but to me, a call to kill in the name of Catholicism, today, would pretty much fall on deaf ears the way that “Kill in the name of the blue-green martians” would.

OK, so much for using good legal arguments to stop the Mosque. There is also the option of using bad legal arguments. And given that our government won’t declare war or even acknowledge who the enemy is, a bad legal argument is likely what we’d be in for. So what we’d ask the government to use is some sort of invalid law, e.g., a land use regulation, to stop the building of the mosque. Note that here, if you don’t make a principled distinction between Islam and other ideologies, depending on which invalid law you choose to deploy, you are in danger of setting a precedent that can later be used against any ideology that challenges the government. This is what many Objectivists are concerned about: the use of invalid law to stop this mosque as setting a dangerous precedent. A few considerations here.

Longer-term vs. shorter-term perspective. Again, I return to recognizing the nature of Islam. If you believe the worst about Islam, you will see that there will be no long term unless the propagation of this ideology is stopped whenever possible, by whatever means. Ask the question this way: Should we argue for the adherence to proper legal procedure in a context where:

  1. Doing so puts American citizens at potential tremendous risk, in the immediate future, plus
  2. Nowhere else in the government are those procedures being strictly adhered to anyway.

Consider some other things we might support only in the context of a mixed economy:

One Facebook friend raised the issue of cheering for Apollo 11, even though one knows that government should not be investing in space exploration. Rand discusses similar (albeit less inspiring) examples  in her essay, “A Question of Scholarships,” where she argues that it is OK to take advantage of invalid laws (government scholarships and funding for research), so long as one advocates the abolition of such laws. Rand writes, “[A] scientist is morally justified in accepting government grants—so long as he opposes all forms of welfare statism. As in the case of scholarship-recipients, a scientist does not have to add self-martyrdom to the injustices he suffers.” Similarly, can’t we take advantage of whatever invalid laws might be used to stop the building of this mosque, so long as we consider any benefit to be gained thereby as retribution for all the damage done to us by a government that has not protected us, and so long as we advocate the abolition of these invalid laws?

Another example is that of promoting school vouchers. Given the context of public education, many promote school vouchers – using other people’s money to pay for your child’s private education – on the idea that we are at least moving towards relative freedom. One can argue that, here, using invalid laws to stop the building of the Mosque does move us towards relative freedom, in that it stops creeping Sharia law and indeed might even save our lives. But again, I think making this argument requires one to understand the essential nature of Islam, its role in the world now and in the immediate future.

I read Paul Hsieh’s post and I like his framing of the issue as a lose-lose situation which has arisen because the best option — that of our government declaring war against a properly identified enemy — has been taken off the table. I agree that there’s a judgment call to be made here, but if the choice is secular statism vs. Sharia law, I will pick the former. The goal of Islam’s consistent practitioners is the same as that of the secular statists: totalitarianism. The difference is that the Jihadists work to achieve this both via immediate violence, and via cultural infiltration/persuasion. The secular statists aren’t yet going the open immediate violence route. In addition, secular statism has less staying power than does theocratic statism, as Leonard Peikoff has discussed numerous times.

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56 responses to “Further Arguments Against the NYC Mosque

  1. Thank you for writing this essay. Especially helpful are: Your review of the problem; an understated style (which is a sign of respect for rational minds’ need of a “quiet space” in which to think); and identifications (e.g., the pivotal issue of the nature of Islam) that help thinkers wrestle with the problem.

  2. Thank you, Amy, it’s an excellent article! I will share it.

  3. Thanks so much for this post, Amy. You’ve made a very compelling case for the prevent-the-mosque view, and I appreciate that it was done in a friendly way that addressed the concerns I and others have raised.

    Paul is working on a reply, and since you’ve made this acrimonious debate into a friendly (and darn interesting!) discussion, he’ll likely post that to NoodleFood tomorrow. (I just don’t have time to write up what I’d like to say.)

    Ultimately, although we might still disagree, I don’t think the two sides of this debate will be as far apart as they seemed initially. I’m glad of that.

  4. Pingback: Trey Givens » Blog Archive » An Apology for Fanning the Flames

  5. Mark Wallace

    For information on the nature of Islam, this site is a good starting point:

    http://www.actforamerica.org/

    When you write “many individual Muslims aren’t violent and never will be,” I would add that the non-violent ones simply aren’t adequately observant. Most of them, however, will at least provide aid and shelter to those who are.

    And (applying a principle from Ayn Rand to this specific ideology), in any contest for who will get to rule Islam, the most consistent (which, in this case, means “violent”) practitioners will win.

  6. Steve Simpson

    This is a really terrific analysis of the issue, Amy. Thank you.

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  8. I echo the other commenters in saying that this, along with Paul Hsieh’s (and others’) work greatly contributes to turning this into a valuable and reasonable discussion.

    Now, I’d like focus on the boiled down argument for sake of simplicity. Let’s presume that you and I both agree about the nature of Islam — we believe the worst. (In fact, I do… no presumption here.) The issue, as you stated, in this lose-lose situation is “there’s a judgment call to be made here, but if the choice is secular statism vs. Sharia law, I will pick the former.”

    You mentioned the active, immediate violence of Islam. Is it possible that you may be discounting the active violence (and passive violence) done by our government on us, every moment of every day? We’ve got the obvious but somewhat less frequent examples of abuse of power, arbitrary imprisonment and death by police, drug laws, etc… Then there are the less obvious, “death by a million pin pricks” attacks of regulations, taxes, etc., killing us slowly.

    What I’m getting at is that we’re staring two evil enemies right in the face, and wondering which one we should give a little appeasement to in order to throttle the other one? Cost-benefit, risk-reward, which one can we least afford to appease in this lose-lose situation?

    Again, fully recognizing the virulent evil of Sharia and Islam, I come down on the side of stopping the growth of our government’s rights-violating practices at all costs. If I were to guess which will be a greater threat to my kids’ lives in 20 years, I would unquestionably pick the arbitrary force of our own government.

    Now, you brought up an important point, namely that “secular statism has less staying power than does theocratic statism” and I agree completely. That has me pondering my position, but I still think it is more important, right now, to check the power of our government.

    My reason is summed up in the question: What gives Sharia the possibility of establishing a foothold in this, the most moral rights-respecting nation on Earth? It should be impotent, but our government and our culture is allowing it to be a real threat. The dominant philosophical trends in the culture are eating us alive from the inside out, weakening our defenses. We are thus vulnerable to both foreign (Islam) and domestic (our government) enemies.

    But how do I then choose which threat must be stopped right now? I think that, because our government and the culture that drives it is, by the rule of law, the entity that is supposed to protect our rights, it is more important to strengthen it from within, to fortify those defenses, than it is to pick off one of the skirmishers from the foreign enemy camp.

    We’ve got both strategic and tactical problems here. What is the best long-term strategy, and what are the short-term tactics to use in this particular situation? I think most Objectivists would agree with what I believe is the strategy of the ARI, namely that we must change the culture of the West.

    My view is that the long-term and short-term thus align. Checking the power of our government now would save lives now. Changing the culture long-term would empower it and thus the government to stand proudly and show Islam for the impotent force it should be in our country.

    My concern is that if we don’t check the power of the state now, and start to roll it back, there won’t be anything left for Islam to conquer in the coming decades.

    • B Leigh Smith

      “we’re staring two evil enemies right in the face, and wondering which one we should give a little appeasement to in order to throttle the other one? ”

      Using bad law (while condemning the law and identifying what should be the proper law) to “throttle” the “other” enemy is not “appeasement” of either enemy. It is a condemnation and attack on both.

  9. “if the choice is secular statism vs. Sharia law, I will pick the former.” Unfortunately, our government is no longer secular: it is a Christianist regime under a secular paint job. I am one of millions who are in the process of being murdered (3.8 million per year of delay, 45 million to date) by the Christianists’ ban on medical research into cloning-based organ replacement technologies (see http://www.aynrand.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle/id=8018&news_iv_ctrl=1087 and http://borntoidentify.blogspot.com/2009/10/three-democides-by-false-morality-part.html .) The Islamists are more visibly violent, albeit several orders of magnitude less deadly, only because they have not yet learned how to game the system.

    Secular people in America have nothing between us, and the power of the Christianists, except the remnants of the Constitution. It is not much, but you are proposing a precedent that will destroy the core of what little is left. The precedent you propose to set will be used against my values and yours. Will you wait until the official bowdlerization of Atlas Shrugged, before you see whom you would have empowered?

  10. I too very much appreciate this article.

    Yesterday I took a deeper look at the Islamic center’s lead organizer, and he most definitely endorses Sharia law in the U.S.: http://bit.ly/bWqNsz

    However, I think the argument for blocking the mosque can be strengthen even beyond the case above. This particular center is different from the other mosques in the immediate area, because it was selected to be within the damage zone of the 9/11 attacks. I did not initially realize the significance of this fact (and I may post more about it later today). However, I still remain unpersuaded that even the strongest argument for blocking the center ultimately succeeds in the current political context.

    I for one cannot regret this debate, as heated as it sometimes has been. I think many of us have been pushed to think more seriously about the threat of Islamism, how Islamists abuse American law to advance their violent agenda, how thoroughly our government has failed to stop the threats against us, and how dangerous is an abusive government at home to our rights and lives.

    While the debate itself involves lose-lose options, I think the intellectual outcome of the debate, for its participants, can be win-win.

    -Ari Armstrong

  11. One other thing I just thought of regarding theocratic statism as the greater long-term threat…

    Considering this country’s history and some of the signs from the religious Right, I think it is more likely that we would swing toward Sarah Palin’s ideal of a Christian theocracy, both in response to the amoral secularism of the Left, and the threat of Islamic infiltration. The disdain of the “godless hippies” and the bloodlust for a religious war with Islam could be the perfect storm tipping us towards that hell. In that light, I think limiting our government is even more important, giving us more of a foundation to fight the Christians in our midst.

  12. A few things to keep in mind about those behind the mosque:

    As Leonard Peikoff noted in his podcast, the imam behind the mosque refused to condemn Hamas on a radio show, saying that he was a “peace builder” and didn’t want to make enemies of anyone, yet he blamed America for 9/11 right after the attacks.

    The grand opening of the mosque is to be on September 11, 2011.

    The mosque is named after The Cordoba Mosque in Spain, which IBD noted was “a legacy of Muslim Spain representing the zenith of Islamic dominance…”

    And don’t forget the “Crescent of Embrace” as the Flight 93 Memorial, which was a stealth way by Muslims to honor Islam.

    No doubt there are more “coincidences”, but that’ll do for now.

  13. Mike Poholka

    Excellent article, thank you!

  14. D. Patrick Garrett

    As a student of Objectivism, this debate shows me that thinking clearly about an issue such as this one requires very diligent research, and extremely careful thought. I thank everyone for being able to disagree about this, and be able to present their reasoning in ways that are very helpful to those of us who would be tempted to try and decide where they stand on this issue, without the clarity of thought that others have shown. This issue is not as straight forward as it appeared. There is quite a bit of nuanced reasoning needed to think clearly about the relevant concepts involved. It is educational to say the very least, and the implications are serious as they have the potential to affect survival of the United States.

  15. Paul Hsieh

    Amy Peikoff has posted a nice analysis of the NYC mosque issue, and I wanted to thank her for it. She’s raised some excellent points and given me much important food for thought. I very much liked her principled approach to the various issues and I highly recommend everyone read her piece.

    In particular, I’m glad she addressed my primary concern, namely the issue of rule-of-law and the specific question of using current bad non-objective laws (such as zoning regulations) to stop the mosque construction, even while opposing such laws in principle.

    One of the many good points she raised was that if one takes a long-term vs. a short-term perspective, trying to adhere to proper legal procedure could put Americans at potential tremendous risk in the immediate future, and that the government isn’t strictly following those procedures anyways.

    Others have made similar points online, for instance arguing that using these bad zoning laws wouldn’t create new victims but could help stop an immediate threat.

    However I’m still extremely concerned about the danger of setting such a bad legal precedent, precisely because I view it as the greater long-term danger. I’d like to explain why, below.

    First, I completely agree that the Islamists would love to destroy the US and/or impose totalitarian Sharia law upon us. And they are working hard to achieve this (as Amy notes) both “via immediate violence and via cultural/infiltration persuasion”.

    However, I don’t think that the Islamists could actually impose Sharia law here in the US. (This is in contrast to some European countries where the Islamists *are* taking over the culture alarmingly quickly through both methods.)

    Based on my best reading of the current American culture, I believe the Jihadists would fail in their quest to impose Sharia law here. Yes, they could do tremendous damage in the process, killing thousands of Americans. Because of our government’s failed policies, I believe we are at serious risk of future 9/11-style attacks or attacks along the lines of the failed Times Square bombing or attacks as have already occurred in London and Madrid.

    And in my darker moments, I also fear “nightmare scenarios” such as the bad guys sneaking 10 Iranian-made nuclear bombs into the 10 largest US cities and detonating them all simultaneously. Such attacks would be devastating and kill millions of Americans.

    But as devastating as such attacks could be, I don’t think this country would just roll over and submit to Sharia law. Instead, I believe we would face a much more serious danger — specifically, from the resultant backlash.

    A renewed attack (or series of attacks) on American soil would be the one thing that could rouse the dying embers of the American sense of life — and channel it into a dangerous totalitarian direction. The populace would (rightly) demand that we “do something” and I fear that this sentiment would sweep into power extremely bad conservative ideologues who would (correctly) identify the enemy as Islamic Totalitarianism — but instead offer as their alternative a Christian right-wing tyrannical regime.

    Already, such social and religious conservatives are working hard to exploit the anti-Obama sentiment at Tea Parties to advance their agenda. Any successful serious jihadist attacks on US soil could greatly accelerate this dangerous trend, and quickly propel American religionists into power. And they would have tremendous popular appeal. They would use all the right language of “protecting America”, demanding a “muscular response” in “self defense”, etc. And they would speak with a moral confidence that Americans desperately seek (and which our recent governments have lacked).

    Just as one example, I heard Brigitte Gabriel speak at the same LPR 2009 conference that Yaron Brook spoke at. She is a staunch Christian who took an uncompromising stand against the Islamic threat to America. She told some heart-rending stories of life as a Christian under Islamist rule in Lebanon. She made a compelling case as to what how the Islamists want destroy America. And she had the mostly-conservative crowd eating out of her hand.

    And she’s just one of many eloquent Christian conservatives out there on the lecture circuit making their case against the Islamic threat — and arguing that the only solution is for this country to recommit to Christian values.

    If they ever gained power, these American religious statists would also have tremendous staying power compared to the current secular statists for precisely the reasons Leonard Peikoff has discussed multiple times.

    Furthermore, these religious statists would have no qualms about using bad legal precedents set by prior secular leftist statists for their own ends — another danger that Leonard Peikoff warned about in one of his recent podcasts. So even assuming these American religious statists took some better (and much-needed) military actions against the jihadists at home and abroad, they would very likely also use the precedents of non-objective law to destroy freedoms at home in the name of “protecting American values”.

    So although we wouldn’t create any *immediate* new victims, we could create many more *later* victims under a future government which would tell us:

    “We’re denying the Ayn Rand Institute permission to expand its building facilities. According to our zoning board, the ARI has been violating anti-blasphemy laws by criticizing the religious agenda of our new President.”

    “The philosophy of selfishness has no place in America’s schools. The books sent to our impressionable youths under the ARI Books for Teachers program are corrupting their morals and undermining core Christian American values of selflessness and sacrifice for the greater good. The works of Ayn Rand are hereby placed on the banned list for K-through-12 schoolchildren.”

    “Dr. Paul Hsieh has been making pro-abortion statements on his blog. Now that the Congress has recognized a fertilized egg as a legal person with full rights, such statements are an incitement to murder. Because he is not a licensed journalist, his actions fall outside the scope of protected free speech, and we are thus issuing this warrant for his arrest.”

    In short, my biggest concern is that if we use non-objective to stop the mosque, we may help temporarily stop creeping Sharia law and we may stop some immediate attacks (which could save many lives). But because we still wouldn’t have dealt with the underlying problem in a proper fashion (i.e., by declaring and fighting a proper war), the danger from abroad will not be prevented — but merely delayed.

    And because of the non-objective means we chose to stop the mosque, reality will extract its inevitable price in the form of accelerating the trend towards a home-grown religious tyranny.

    Again, I’m not unmindful of the danger posed by the jihadists. The prospect of a new NYC mosque inspiring jihadists at home and abroad as a rallying point (and as a symbol of American weakness) fills me with dread. The prospect of further attacks on US soil make me sick to my stomach. And the prospect of thousands of needless American deaths fills me with horror.

    But in my personal judgment, I don’t think the jihadists — as violent and barbaric as they are — can ultimately conquer and enslave Americans. On the other hand, we Americans *can* enslave ourselves.

    Or to quote from Shakespeare’s “Richard II”:

    This other Eden, demi-paradise,
    This fortress built by Nature for herself
    Against infection and the hand of war,
    This happy breed of men, this little world…
    That England, that was wont to conquer others,
    Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.

    (Just substitute “America” for “England” and you’ll have our current unfortunate circumstances.)

    In other words, we may be on the verge of falling into the trap that Benjamin Franklin warned about of “trading essential liberty for a little temporary security”.

    As before, I recognize that others who I know and respect have come to the opposite judgment call on the NYC mosque issue. Again, this is a consequence of the fact that the only good option (of waging a proper war) has been taken off the table.

    I also again acknowledge that if the specifics of this particular situation were different, then I might come to the opposite conclusion and make that painful trade while hoping to best avert the dire downstream consequences. Likewise, if there is sufficient evidence that the mosque and/or its supporters are planning terrorist attacks against the US, then we should use all appropriate means to protect ourselves, including closing the mosque.

    As someone else who I respect noted on Facebook, during the Cold War we properly respected the free speech rights of Marxists (as odious as their views were), yet also properly employed government force against members of the Communist Party of the USA (who were receiving orders and funding from Moscow with the intent to overthrow the US government). We can and should apply the same principles to the current situation.

    I don’t want to leave this post on a too-gloomy note, so I want to end by thanking Amy for her post.

    She raised good points that I had not thought of before. She advanced the discussion in a positive direction and helped me understand the issue better. And she helped me re-examine and re-affirm my love for this great country in which I can still work, speak, and live as a relatively free man to pursue my own happiness and self-interest — something I will be especially thankful for this July 4 at OCON.

    References:

    Brigitte Gabriel:

    http://www.thecoloradoindex.com/the_colorado_index/leadership_program_of_the_rockies/

    Shakespeare quote

    http://shakespeare.mit.edu/richardii/richardii.2.1.html

    [This will also be crossposted to NoodleFood soon. - PSH]

    • Rob

      Awesome Points,i think your position is the correct one,the dangers within,especially the christian right(even if not violent,right now)are greater.Thank you Paul Hsieh.

    • Mark

      In my view the building of the Mosque is consistent with property rights arguments and a capitalist society.

      If the Mosque proves to be undermining constitutional law and breeding terrorists, then it can be stormed like Waco.

      However, there is a good argument in favor of preventing the mosque from being built based on national security in a time of war, but this argument is destroyed if the official reason for preventing the building of the Mosque is based on zoning laws. Then the rejection of the Mosque reduces down to another example of cowardly action in order to evade the task of identifying state supported Islamic Law as an unwelcome enemy.

  16. Bosch,

    I have illustrated my blog post, NYC Mosque and Property Rights, with your piece, TOWERING Over islam.

    Did you know that the Iman behind the mosque has published a book with the published a book with the title, “The Call From the WTC Rubble: Islamic Da’wah From the Heart of America Post-9/11″ (in Arabic: Seruan Azan Dari Puing WTC: Dakwah Islam di Jantung Amerika Pasca 9/11)?

    I have given some examples in my post on how leading people of mosques in Sweden have had links to terrorist groups.

  17. I had misspelled the title, so I have published a new post with the right spelling in the URL.

  18. Just FYI, Paul’s comment above is now posted on NoodleFood. I’ve got some preliminary remarks, mostly similar to what I said above.

    http://blog.dianahsieh.com/2010/06/reply-to-amy-peikoff-on-nyc-mosque.html

    Thanks again, Amy, for a really excellent examination of the issues.

  19. There are some absolutely fascinating arguments in this article that solidly apply Rand’s principles about being Objectivist while also receiving or using state benefits. Those amount to tools for coping for the reality of believing in a rational philosophy while living in a society with an irrational government and its irrational constituents.

    I have been solidly in favor of the property rights argument in this issue, but the arguments here are compelling and rational and are making me strongly examine my own views not only about the mosque, but other issues.

    I have to echo Diana Hsieh on her compliments about these arguments. And it is so refreshing to hear such a clear and compelling, and calm, argument in opposition to the mosque.

  20. Sajid Anjum

    Hi Amy. I am a frequent and avid reader of Diana’s Noodlefood blog and came across your linked post there. I have very few problems with the manipulation of non-objective existing laws to oppose the ground zero mosque near the twin towers. As I mentioned earlier in some of my comments on Noodlefood, I am fine with the liberal solution (build the mosque unless it has direct ties to terrorism) or the conservative solution (use the existing political system to stop the mosque being built). In the long run I really don’t think either scenario will make a huge difference. The war against Islam will be won or lost on much larger and much more fundamental battles.

    If I understand your article correctly, you were advancing the position of some conservative writers i.e. using or manipulating existing non-objective law to prevent the building of the mosque. However, Dr. Peikoff advocated something much more radical. He advocated *bypassing* existing laws and preventing the building of the mosque *by any means necessary*. He specifically included the scenario of destroying the mosque by government bombing if it were built.

    There is absolutely no political precedent in the history of the United States for such a scenario. Analogies can be drawn to the free speech rights of communists, fascists and supremacists. I think the only time ideological propagation was suppressed was during WWII and that was an immediate existential threat to the United States.

    I think Dr. Peikoff’s radical solution will NOT be harmless but extremely dangerous, both in the long term and in the short term. I reject it completely. In the short term, bypassing existing law and threatening to “bomb” a mosque is akin to stating Muslims have no right to organize with immediate effect. The Long range consequences of this is that any group in the USA that is considered threatening to national security can have its property stripped and destroyed by the government’s whim at any time. The short range consequences will be all out war or internment of Muslims in America coupled with an increase in terrorist attacks by outside Muslims on the USA.

  21. The bottom line in this situation is that one can not be concerned about preserving the rights (property or otherwise) for the followers of an ideology that does not respect rights and in fact wishes to obliterate them. Islam has a 1,000 year plus record of destruction.

    http://www.capitalismmagazine.com/index.php?news=5548

    We *are* at war or rather the followers of Islam are at war with all Americans. The replacing of the WTC with a mosque is the symbolic replacement of reason, purpose, self-interest, and rights in the United States of America with the mysticism and collectivism of the Islamo-fascists. That is totally inappropriate in war-time. It is giving the enemy the moral and psychological high ground. It is saying that the enemy is right.

    http://charlottecapitalist.blogspot.com/2010/06/devastating-symbolic-attack-on-america.html

  22. Pingback: Trey Givens » Blog Archive » An Basic on the Mosque Debate

  23. Mike Poholka

    Dr Hsieh

    But 911 did not rouse the dying embers of American sense of self preservation so I do not at all follow the logic behind your assertion that a new attack would do so. This seems like a gaping whole in your thesis. Can you please explain this?

    • Ashley

      Hi Mike,

      I thought the American sense of life was roused after 9/11! A lot of good men and women volunteered in the national guard and enlisted in the regular services. We toppled the Taliban, but then Bush had to undercut it with the “Islam-is-a-religion-of-peace” statements. Bush finally picked a target (not the right one, Iran) but proceeded to hem and haw before the UN, like our self-defense required their sanction!

      This imam is trouble like we can’t imagine. He has pretty much said he is going to use this blood-stained spot to recruit more killers. It is meant to say, see jihadis? The enemy is so weak he will let us set up camp right here! Sensing weakness, the jihadis are emboldened.

      No half-decent Muslim would want to set up a mosque right there.

    • Mike, I see the situation much differently than you seem to. 9-11 did rouse the “American sense of self preservation” and for a short time, it seemed to be channeled in the right direction: we attacked the Taliban in Afghanistan. Then the altruist/pragmatist culture swayed the country back to it’s original path for the most part.

      But the failure to prosecute the war to victory, the useless quagmire of Iraq, and the subsequent election of Obama, is mobilizing the religious right as we speak. If the jihadists then started successful attacks in the next couple of years, what is the most likely backlash?

      As I said in my comment above, and Paul expanded on it, it seems likely that the swing towards Christian theocracy would gain momentum. And it is not at all a stretch to guess that empowering the federal government right now to violate rights in the name of an _undeclared_ war on an evil ideology would be used against us.

      As others have said, the political process of officially declaring war has the important function of making war powers _temporary_ and thus they can be taken away after the war. Conceding de facto war powers in an undeclared war means that the powers will just be added to the executive branch and will never be taken away.

  24. Mark Nitikman

    I have been loathe to enter this debate while it was rather personal and negative, so I too am pleased that it has taken a far more scholarly tone. I thought both Paul’s and Diana’s and Amy’s latest posts (and some of the comments) raised good points and have significantly advanced the discussion, making the positions on both side both clearer and closer together. In short, I think both sides – and most if not all commenters – believe that if there were convincing evidence that those behind the mosque – the financial and spiritual backers – were actively engaged in direct violent action against the US, there would be no question that the federal, state and local governments with jurisdiction would be morally justified – and indeed morally required – to stop the mosque as a threat to national security. So, to a large extent, there are two questions, one factual and one ethical: (1) what evidence is there that the backers are a threat to national security; and (2) in the absence of such evidence (ignoring the burden of proof required), can one morally use immoral laws to stop the mosque?
    As to the first question, I believe there is clearly evidence that the backers support *eventual* Jihad and the imposition of Sharia law, and that their views on a variety of issues are offensive and antithetical to most Americans, but I have not seen evidence that they advocate the violent imposition of Sharia law or violent Jihad against America. I would be almost relieved to see such evidence, as that makes it a far easier case and I believe we could then all agree that to stop the mosque would be morally necessary. But while the backers have never expressly condemned or eschewed violence, neither have they endorsed it; while they may simply be acting cagey, the evidence is not there.
    As to the second issue, as some of you may know, I practice land use law for a living (in the most property-rights abusive state in the country) so I am keenly aware of its uses and abuses. I have been a participant or observer of many cases where these laws are used as an excuse to stop a project that somebody doesn’t like for unrelated reasons, such as stopping a competitor (in addition to the many cases where the opponents simply oppose any and all development). And I come to the conclusion i would think there would be universal agreement on, at least among Objectivists: the ends never justify the means. You cannot justify evil by the good you intend it to lead to. And ultimately, all the arguments about using evil laws to fight the mosque come down to an argument that the ends justify the means.
    One other point needs to be emphasize, as I believe it gets lost in the arguments: we must distinguish the military enemy from the philosophical “enemy”. While philosophically, all Moslems who preach Islam could fairly be said to represent an evil ideology which should be “fought” with every civilized tool available, the ideology of Islam is not the enemy in any military sense. We are at war with those who have declared war on us (whether or not our government acknowledges such declaration) – Jihadists who practice and/or support attacks on the US and its allies with the aim of establishing Sharia law by violent means. To defeat such enemy requires a concerted effort (which, again, we can all agree our government is woefully failing to undertake). If such people enter the US, and our government refuses to take action, we would certainly have the moral right to defend ourselves and our country by taking direct action against such people – by all means, including citizen’s arrest or lethal force if necessary. And so we come back to the factual issue – if the ones building the mosque are not our military enemy, we don’t have the moral right to take any such action, and neither does our government. We have every right to take actions not invoking private or government force – picketing, petitioning, trying to lobby the backers to withdraw their support, etc. – but we do not have the right to initiate the use of force against those who have not initiated it against us.
    As Diana pointedly observes, there are those who would say Objectivism is subversive – if you believe the US is fundamentally a Christian nation. In any event, even if the government were never to use these same immoral laws to shut down Objectivist causes, it would still be wrong to initate force against people solely because of their heinous beliefs.
    While I could write pages on this subject, I will respect Diana’s suggestion (especially since it is 230AM) and limit my remarks to these points.

    • Ashley King

      Hi Mark,

      I agree that the government must have evidence before it can use retaliatory force against a threat. We can’t shut down environmentalist organizations because some commit violence against labs and scientists. We can’t shut down churches because some bomb abortion clinics or kill doctors.

      You said, “I believe there is clearly evidence that the backers support *eventual* Jihad and the imposition of Sharia law, and that their views on a variety of issues are offensive and antithetical to most Americans, but I have not seen evidence that they advocate the violent imposition of Sharia law or violent Jihad against America.”

      First, remember American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki: he was the enlightened moderate the media went to after 9/11 to get the enlightened Muslim view on American policy. He was very careful to show one face to leftists and the media, and another clearer one to his jihadist allies. Now, the CIA is authorized to kill him for his links to the Fort Hood killer Hasan, and to 9/11 hijackers.

      Imam Rauf fits this perfectly. He is getting a lot of financial support for the mosque from left-liberal sources as well as Muslim countries. He portrays himself as the enlightened moderate wanting peaceful coexistence. Well, he is apparently a major financial contributor to the flotilla attacks on Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Those were attacks in support of Hamas’ terrorist attacks on Israel from Gaza. Hamas, of course, is supported by Iran. Rauf is also linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and MB front-groups. That is more evidence of ties to the violence and totalitarian Islam, also known as Islamism or political Islam. So apart from his vile beliefs, such as denying Hamas is a terrorist organization, or that Muslims were not involved in the 9/11 attacks, I think there is some evidence that the man has tried to keep from his supporters in New York and the west.

      I found this one link helpful:

      http://www.alyssaalappen.org/2010/05/14/the-ground-zero-mosque-developer-muslim-brotherhood-roots-radical-dreams-2/

    • Ashley King

      Whoa, memory jog:

      Terrorism expert and NBC News analyst Steve Emerson said, “The public face of Mr. Alamoudi was 180 degrees different from the private face. And the private face clearly showed that he was involved or directed fund-raising for Hamas, fund-raising for other terrorist groups.”

      That is an MSNBC report from 2003, after the indictment of Gitmo cleric and “enlightened moderate,” Abdurahman Alamoudi.

    • B Leigh Smith

      “You cannot justify evil by the good you intend it to lead to. And ultimately, all the arguments about using evil laws to fight the mosque come down to an argument that the ends justify the means.”

      Does this mean you reject the arguments given by Miss Rand concerning things like government scholarships etc?

  25. RussK

    I think that the concerns for the setting of new legal precedents is legitimate, and, really, it has been acknowledged as such by many since the beginning of this debate. Furthermore, the proposition that Christian totalitarianism poses a threat, or more of a threat to our freedom in the future, is also good analysis and may quite possibly come to pass. However, since the beginning of this discussion, what seems to have been lost on the side upholding legal rights at all costs, is that there is no reason to speculate on some potential, distant threat from set precedent or Christianity; there is already an -actual- threat in our current enemy of totalitarian Islam and the precedent set by our government in not identifying the enemy.

  26. Pingback: Amy Peikoff’s Argument’s Against the NYC Mosque « THE VINCENTON POST

  27. Steven Brockerman

    Re: Further Arguments Against the NYC Mosque

    No one has the right to use their property for conspiracy to commit acts to overthrow the government of the United States, which has been and is the *officially* stated purpose of Islam as espoused by its *ideological leader* since 1979, the nation of Iran.

    Moreover, as with the Communist Party of the United States under the guise of a political organization, Islam–as defined by its ideological spokesmen in Iran–is a criminal organization under the guise of a religion, committing acts of extortion, blackmail, murder, etc. The government has the right to hunt down and prosecute anyone associated with this organization if they are found to be either complicit in such felonious acts or if they aid and abet any such acts before or after the fact.

    Moreover, individuals themselves have the right to “rat out” anyone belonging to this organization who are guilty of such acts.

  28. Jim May

    Again, I return to recognizing the nature of Islam. If you believe the worst about Islam, you will see that there will be no long term unless the propagation of this ideology is stopped whenever possible, by whatever means.

    Well, there’s the trick. I agree completely that Islam *as an ideology* calls for our destruction.

    However, intent is not the same as capability, and it is on the grounds of capability that I hold my position.

    Someone who definitely wants to kill me, but is equipped with a knife, is objectively less dangerous than a man wielding a machine gun mounted to a tank who merely dislikes me at the moment.

    In the same manner that religion is an objectively greater danger in the long term even though the Left is nearer and at our throats *at the moment*, I consider the U.S. government to be the greater long-term danger to the entire world, even though it is Islamists who are currently and actively trying to kill us.

    And since the “good”, principled option is off the table, as Paul Hsieh wrote, I have to evaluate the alternative from a pragmatic or tactical approach, of the costs and benefits of either option.

    I therefore lean towards the focus on keeping the the U.S. government under control, versus the danger presented by a willing, but not necessarily capable, enemy.

    I nevertheless will continue to follow the discussion, and thank you for this post, Amy.

  29. Steven Brockerman

    PS. Rather than leave it implicit, let me make my overall point explicit:

    The United States government has the Constitutional power to prohibit the building of any mosque–as it did any *official* communist spy cell meeting house–because said mosque represents official Islamic dogma, which unabashly promotes the overthrow of the United States government by any means, including espionage, extortion, blackmail, murder, etc.–clearly criminal acts– all of which are sanctioned and aided by Islam’s intellectual center and leading ideological spokesman, the nation of Iran.

    It matters not what the Quran says–just as in the case of U.S. communists, it mattered not what Das Kapital said.

    And while individual Moslems may not be party to this, just as some individual members of the communist party were not party to that organization’s crimminal acts, a mosque–as an *official* site representing Islam’s official ideology as defined by its ideological spokesman, Iran–must be logically considered a site in which criminal conspiracy will occur and from which, therefore, criminal acts will be carried out.

    One could no more sanction the building of a mosque in the United States than one could sanction the building here of a brothel where prostitution is illegal, of a gambling house where gambling is illegal, of a meth house where meth is illegal, of a Nazi munitions factory or a Weatherman bomb assembly house.

    Bottom line: Official Islam, as defined by it intellectual leadership, is a criminal (at the least), not religious, organization. A mosque is an apparatus of said criminal organization, with its members official Islamic apparatchiks.

  30. Ed Matthews

    The US government has us in a contradiction of being and not being at war. The mosque issue arises entirely because of this. The proper action is for the government to identify it’s enemies, declare war on them, and prosecute the war, which includes shutting down domestic ideological support.

    But we can’t take a shortcut in this process. Preventing by force theconstruction of the mosque raises the issue of property rights of the land owners, which dependson whether their rights are suspended under the laws of wartime or protected under the laws of peacetime. Without a declaration of war, the government is stuck with allowing actual enemies to indoctrinate domestically and make siginificant symbolic victories, or violating the rights of land owners, using nonobjective laws, and abrogating free speech.

    It’s a false alternative in the long run as both endanger our rights. The answer is that this shows a clear and concrete consequnce of failing to identify the enemy and openly declare them as such.

    Until those two actions are taken I predict with certainty that our enemies will continue to use our indecision against us in this kind of manner.

  31. Sajid

    “Bottom line: Official Islam, as defined by it intellectual leadership, is a criminal (at the least), not religious, organization. A mosque is an apparatus of said criminal organization, with its members official Islamic apparatchiks.”

    Islam has no official intellectual relationship. In fact, 90% of Muslims are Sunni Muslims and the leadership of Iran is Shia. Recently, King Abdullah, the King of Saudi Arabia stated that two nations did not have the right to exist–Israel and Iran.

    http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2010/06/saudi-king-israel-and-iran-do-not.html

    There is the link. There are thousands of mosques in the USA and they are primarily used by Muslims as centers for communal organization akin to a church. Some of these mosques are no doubt also used for advancing political Islam. However, the underlying assumption seems to be that every mosque is evil and no mosque can be trusted. I have been to plenty of mosques in the USA and have never encountered any sort of pressure to become a terrorist, nor even seen any hush hush discussions happening off to the side. That doesn’t mean that they don’t happen, but its innocent until proven guilty. If every mosque in the USA has to be treated as a possible “spy cell” or “terrorist cell”, I have to ask, where is the evidence?

  32. Jim May

    Where I wrote above:

    “I consider the U.S. government to be the greater long-term danger”

    please substitute

    “I consider * an out-of-control U.S. government* to be the greater long-term *potential* danger”

    If the government were already this actual threat, we’d not be having this discussion at all, I daresay.

  33. Amy, thanks for providing a thought-provoking analysis. I think this is my first comment on your blog. Whether I like it or not, it’s going to be a (respectful) critique of a point you made in your post.

    I agree with your first point that we are at “war with those *animated* by an ideology” [emphasis mine]. I also agree that “[b]ecause they have declared war on us, we are at war with them, regardless of whether our government has chosen to formally or explicitly declare war on anyone.”

    But what is meant by being “animated”, and by what ideology? Does it involve acting violently against those disagreeing with Islam, as dictated by its Jihadist tenet? Or, does it merely mean spending time worshiping and persuading people about belief in Allah, although not using any coercion against “non-believers”?

    I would argue that physically (and hence, politically), I only need to act in self-defense against the first category i.e. against Jihadist, totalitarian-Islamists. As much as I condemn the second “non-violent” category, the only war I can wage against it is ideological, i.e. by trying to detract people from its influence by means of rational persuasion.

    Mosque preachers in the U.S. would fall into the second category, absent any evidence of them specifically supporting aggression (say, against the U.S.). It is true that an Imam preaches from Koran–a book that contains the Jihadist tenet–but unless he urges specific acts of violence, he is not a physical threat. My overall point is that, although the construction of a mosque advances Islam, it does not advance Islamic *totalitarianism*. Consequently, it is erroneous to say that “there is no property right to build a Mosque in the U.S.”

    Legally, the Imam can only be charged with treason if he urges individuals (or soldiers) to *act* against U.S.’ declared strategy (provided there is one). The question of employing a law (proper or improper) does not arise if the NYC mosque-builders do not constitute a physical threat against American lives.

  34. (Originally posted at NoodleFood. Re-posted here. Thank you for the opportunity to comment.)

    The issue that worries me is the need to objectively circumscribe the use of government power. This is true at all times, but especially true today when the government behaves lawlessly and our rights are routinely trampled. In this context especially (but in all contexts), it would be wrong to establish a new “range of action” or “freedom” for government to violate rights.

    This is what would happen if the government could prevent a construction of a mosque or shut it down simply because it is a mosque, albeit a large one and one that is built close to an important symbolic location, Ground Zero.

    If government gained this power in *peacetime*, it would have permanently gained a new power, which it will exercise in other contexts. There can be no doubt about this. In our mixed economy, once government gains a new power, it rarely lets it go. Instead, it uses the enhanced power to routinely and more viciously violate our rights. This is the ratcheting higher of government rights violations that we have witnessed in our own lifetimes, and which has progressed since the late 1800s in America.

    The ability to shut down a mosque *in peacetime* would be a significant ratcheting higher of that government rights-violating power.

    In the future, what other inflammatory opinion-generators would it be used to shut down, including those who *might* incite violence, but have not already done so? Could it shut down a Christian fundamentalist church that locates itself near an abortion clinic? Could it shut down a group advocating a limited government *and* the right to bear arms to defend those rights? On what *objective* basis would our government decide whom to shut down? (Consider Nancy Pelosi or Sarah Palin making these decisions.)

    Consider even the views advocated by the Ayn Rand Institute. After all, Atlas Shrugged is a book where “saboteurs” go on strike to stop and “destroy” the state. What kind of threat is that to today’s government?

    As I said before, I have basically no doubt that the mosque is and will be a force for evil, even deadly evil. I feel the same way, ultimately, about Christian fundamentalists, white supremacists, you name it. Their values do lead to death and, in fact, some of their members do actively kill people such as abortion doctors and members of hated racial groups. (Yes, the immediate existential threat from the Muslim fundamentalists is far greater; I am not equating these three groups in magnitude, but in principle they all represent threats.)

    But to shut down any of these groups *in peacetime* requires actual evidence that a crime is about to be committed. There must be an objective basis that a crime will be committed or that violence is being actively advocated in a way that would meet the standard for response by our justice system. (I am not a lawyer, so I leave the details of when such speech rises to that level to the lawyers, but I do know that inciting a riot is and should be a crime, for example.)

    All of this changes if we are in a state of war, but we are not. Our government has failed to declare and wage a war against the states that sponsor terrorism. The fact that we are at peace with Iran and have done very little or nothing against Saudi Arabia and other financial supporters of radical Islam is proof of that.

    To take extraordinary actions, governments *must* state their reasons and do it using a prescribed process. That is not mere legal semantics. That is required for an objective, delimited *and temporary* basis to be established for the (temporary and strictly circumscribed) enlargement of government power. By stating what conditions necessitated the expansion of government power, the government is also declaring in advance for everyone to see how that power will be terminated. Once those objective conditions no longer exist, the government relinquishes that power.

    Thus, there must be a formal, clearly-stated, and correct declaration of war for government to assume war-time emergency powers (and only those powers that are, in fact, absolutely necessary to win the war). The same principle applies in other emergencies, such as rebellion or massive civil disobedience.

    Yet our government has failed to even name the enemy, let alone declare war against it.

    This means that when today’s government arrogates to itself these enhanced powers, *it will never let them go.* The objective basis for gaining those powers has not been stated. Thus, no objective, measurable standard will exist for determining when they should be relinquished.

    That is why this abominable mosque must be treated no differently than all the other mosques that have cropped up all over New York City and around the country (although it should merit far greater police scrutiny owing to its greater threat).

    If our government stops these or any other mosques *before any crime has been committed*, it will have permanently gained a significantly greater ability to violate our rights to freedom of speech, freedom of religion (and as an atheist, that protects my rights!), and the right to property.

    Yes, this mosque being built is a slap in our face. The fact that we are allowing it is a sign of our prostration before Allah, and it is damn well intended that way. We lose by allowing it to be built, but we lose far more by stopping it, if by doing so, we permanently increase the power of our own government to terrorize us.

    On a final note, our best line of defense against this is a super-vigilant FBI and (quite good) New York City police force. Let’s support them by advocating the removal of shackles against their proper, effective operation. They should conduct surveillance, infiltrating the mosque, recording conversations, and looking for actual evidence of criminal activity (sanctioned by proper legal procedure). I trust and hope that they will do that, and if support of terrorist groups is discovered, take any and all proper legal actions including, potentially, shutting the whole mosque down and imprisoning or deporting its leaders.

    Such is our only line of defense unless and until a proper declaration and prosecution of war is undertaken and a mosque like this could justifiably be shut down as an objective threat from an enemy country. But if war were declared, this mosque would not even be a meaningful threat, because we *would* be ending the states that sponsor terrorism.

  35. I 100% agree with Dr. Amy Peikoff and I’d like to thank her for articulating her excellent argument against the NYC mosque. I think her latest post http://dontletitgo.com/2010/07/02/symbolism-and-emotion/ is the best answer to the arguments of those who defend the Islamists’ right to their property and to transform it into a genocidal brainwashing machine against America and the infidels.
    Simply put, if an organization wants to commit crimes and genocide against it enemies and to defeat an enemy nation, the best thing it could do is create a religion to justify its genocidal acts and ideological infiltration.

  36. Pingback: The Mosque Question — The New Clarion

  37. Steven Brockerman

    I respectfully disagree only with Dr. Amy Peikoff’s evaluation of Mosques.

    Mosques are the staging areas from which the Islamics plan and mount their attacks on the West. They should be closed down and banned in all Western nations.

    [PDF] http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/hamas_e065.pdf
    Hamas and other terrorist organizations and Islamic groups
    The extensive use made of mosques by terrorist organizations and radical … The use made by terrorist organizations of mosques for military purposes and as …

    http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=151413 Times Square terrorist’s mystery mosque found? Feds raid radical Islamic center owned by terror front

    http://hotair.com/archives/2009/03/05/video-terrorist-mosque-in-minneapolis/

    CBS News actually produced a probing look into the growing concern here in the Twin Cities that a local mosque may be producing terrorists in the Somali population.

    Last Sunday the arrest of 17 home-grown Canadian terrorists brought home to the world that many mosques are terrorist incubators.

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,198050,00.html

    Sunni or Shia is a matter of internecine rivalry; both are united against the West. And in that context, Iran is the foremost ideological spokesman for Islam. Saudi Arabia, based on its educational methods, disagrees only that it is Iran doing the speaking, rather than itself. Meanwhile, it is happy to be the banker of the revolution.

    The issues with which they disagree are matters that will be settled only after the West has been destroyed.

    Iran is to Islam what the Soviet Union was to world communism, with Saudia Arabia playing the role of Red China. Note the friction between the two in their various interpretations of Marxism. Note, too, their united front in Vietnam and elsewhere around the globe in their war to dominate the West.

    In short, the differences–in the context of destroying the West–are trivial. No matter the remarks of one Saudi or 1,000.

  38. Ed Mazlish

    Donald Trump is not allowed to build an office building in Manhattan because of the arbitrary zoning regulations and permitting processes of NYC. Likewise, Walmart is not even allowed to open a store in NYC because of those arbitrary laws. It makes no sense that a special exemption needs to be made for this mosque, particularly when the people building it chose to build it right at Ground Zero and to have their “Grand Opening” on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. To me, that is strong circumstantial evidence that the purpose of this mosque is not a peaceful exercise of property rights but an integrated act of war perpetrated by the people at war with the United States. Just as the right of contract would not justify allowing an invading army to enter the country for the purpose of making deals with American citizens, I do not think property rights justify allowing this mosque to be built in that place under the regulatory apparatus already in place in NYC.

    And it’s not that I don’t think these enemies of the United States should not be permitted to build a mosque and spread their ideology of hatred; I just think that in the context of arbitrary NYC land use laws, we need not make a special exception for *their* property rights and not for anyone else.

  39. Ariel A.

    An Islamist propaganda coup like the Ground Zero mosque will vastly increase the likelihood of the sort of devastating attack on the US that Paul Hsieh rightly foresees as precipitating a Christian dictatorship.

    We really are approaching the point of emergency where decisions can only be made on the basis of expediency, and the proponents of precedent and principle are relying overmuch on that approach.

    It’s far more likely that the mosque can be stopped, using all means necessary, than it is to reasonably hope that dictatorship whether religious or secular can be avoided by clinging to principle in this instance. That’s the way I weigh it at this point in time at least, and pace the Hsiehs, I have to reluctantly support Leonard Peikoff’s position.

  40. Pingback: The Reichstag Mosque? — The New Clarion

  41. “We really are approaching the point of emergency where decisions can only be made on the basis of expediency, and the proponents of precedent and principle are relying overmuch on that approach”

    That should have read “on their approach.”

  42. Pingback: NYC mosque and symbolism « Applying philosophy to life

  43. Pingback: Trey Peden » Blog Archive » Regarding rights, so, would you support a ban on me being able to wear a swastika laden T-shirt while in public? If so, how is this not an infringement on my individual sovereignty?

  44. WG

    I used to be proud of NYC. It used to represent everything GOOD about America. You people play on fear and selectively FORGET that the tragedy that took place at the Twin Towers was the act of a few deranged people. Maybe we should move the Statue of Liberty somewhere else. I am ashamed for you.
    Perpetuating hate only soils the memory of those who died.

  45. Pingback: Happy Blogversary to Me! | Don't Let It Go

  46. “The difference is that the Jihadists work to achieve this both via immediate violence, and via cultural infiltration/persuasion.”

    Isn’t there a difference between refuting and exposing the cultural infiltration/persuasion and depriving people with whom we disagree of their rights as if we also had proof that the purpose of the mosque (or “inter”-faith center) is to fund terrorism? Why is our own capacity for refutation and exposure regarded as so weak that we would feel obliged to deprive the Ground-Zero-mosque builders of their rights when they have not violated anyone’s rights, whether or not they are privately cheering those who wish to slaughter and subjugate Americans? If the would-be builder of the ground-zero mosque is regarded as a combatant on the side of the jihadists, and this is proven rather than suspected, isn’t the government entitled to deprive him of more than his property rights?

    But plotting to build a building that many Americans find offensive, and rightly–contrary to those who declare that Americans are “stupid” for not understanding that the mosque is not a mosque and in any case will be erected three inches to the left of Ground Zero, not smack-dab in the middle of it–is not the kind of plotting that makes one a combatant in the context of a shooting war. Nor is giving ideological as opposed to material aid and comfort to the enemy, notwithstanding any actions presidents may have taken in wartime to muzzle those who disagreed with their policies. And I’d like to ask: If an offensive enemy-invigorating symbol may be outlawed, what about offensive enemy-invigorating speech? Can a case on such grounds be made to shut down the editorial room of The New York Times? How would the boundary line be determined?

    I suggest as an exercise making a list of fifty peaceful things one can do or could have done in the way of propaganda and protest to oppose the building of the mosque and its functioning. (It seems as I write that part of it has been built and there are plans to proceed with further work.) Then explain to me that the only means of effective opposition to such an obnoxious gesture is depriving anyone of property rights. If the Jihadists can work by cultural infiltration/persusasion, why can’t anti-jihadists?

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