Two Bad Ideas—Building a Mosque & Burning the Qur’an


Two big items in the news today: first, Imam Feisal Abdul’s article congratulating America on its religious tolerance of Islam; second, an American pastor’s plans to burn copies of the Qur’an on the anniversary of 9/11.

Building a mosque at Ground Zero is a bad idea. So is burning the Qur’an.

The media and politicians on the Left are obsessed with the differences between the two intentions. Putting it mildly, they condone the erection of the controversial mosque. But let’s be honest. Those who haven’t been silent—including President Obama and NYC mayor Bloomberg—have expressed unequivocal support for building the mosque (even though they have equivocated following their unequivocal expressions of support).

What about the pastor, with plans of his own? He is angrily denounced.

Ahem. What about the striking similarity between the two men and their “projects”?

Whatever else can be said about their true intentions, their plans appear to be deliberately provocative. That’s the point that ought to be stressed in the great conversation we’re having about “tolerance” and “rights.”

Within the framework of this likeness—that is, both are deliberately provocative—we can make more useful distinctions between the men and their plans. We should acknowledge their similarity, then ask: as deliberately provocative acts, how do they differ?

Here’s one salient difference. A mosque will have a longer term effect, with direct bearing on more people, than the singular act of burning copies of the Qur’an on 9/11. The minister’s action, if he goes through with it in a few days, will soon be forgotten—even by Muslims, I dare say. But if the mosque is built, it will stand as a permanent monument to—well, what?

For non-muslims, the mosque would not be a monument to anything at all. But can this be said of Muslims? Hmm?

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What Made Him Do It?


Yesterday, United States Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan shot and killed 12 people and wounded 31 others at the Fort Hood Army base. He survived four shots and is now hospitalized.

Wild speculation began immediately. Fueling speculation are reports that Maj. Hasan is a Muslim Read more of this post

A Poll for Twenty-Somethings and Thirty-Somethings


If you’re in your 20s or 30s, I invite you to participate in this poll.

As you think about common characteristics of your generation, indicate which of the following statements you agree with and which you disagree with. Please use the reply box below.

  1. “My generation is driven by our individual needs and desires, and pursuing our own individual happiness is the most important thing.”
  2. “My generation thinks it’s more important for children to learn to think for themselves than to learn to respect authority.”
  3. “Members of generation would say, ‘As long as I believe in myself, I really don’t care what other people think.’”
  4. “Probably, most of my generation would agree with this statement: ‘It doesn’t really matter if you’re a Communist or not—this is America, and you can be one if you want.’”
  5. “My generation thinks that if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.”
  6. “Older generations trusted God, the church, government, and their elders. My generation questions things and people that earlier generations never would have.”
  7. “In my generation, as opposed to my parents’ or my grandparents’, we’re told to express our feelings and anger and sadness about our surroundings and not to hold them in.”

Truly Cultured


What does it mean to be “truly cultured”? Here’s what Zaid said, or wrote, in his book So Many Books: “. . . the truly cultured are capable of owning thousands of unread books without losing their composure or their desire for more.” (That’s Gabriel Zaid, by the way.)

Heartened by this keen observation, and taking the point further, Nick Hornby writes that “with each passing year, and with each whimsical purchase, our libraries become more and more able to articulate who we are, whether we read the books or not.”

So if you need to streamline your holdings because you’ve long since run out of room for new volumes, one rule may be to ask of a given book, “What does your presence in my library say about me? Is that who I am? And whether it is or not, is that how I want to be known?”

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