August 24, 2010

Where's the Terrorists' Margin?

Justin Katz

Among the many comment's to Andrew's post on the Ground Zero mosque, commenter mangeek made the following statement, and it's been rattling around in my head during the intervening days:

Terrorism is the weapon of choice for the marginalized; the cure is tolerance and civil discourse, tempered by strong secular laws that protect us from the criminally deranged.

"The weapon of the marginalized" sounds good, with a buy-the-world-a-Coke insinuation that the West can cure the problem by unmarginalizing the enemy. Mangeek suggests "tolerance and civil discourse." Part of the rationale for President Bush's approach to the War on Terror was to bring the Middle East into the democratic fold, creating the circumstances in which its inhabitants would defuse their aggression with the wet handshake of international processes.

But I'm not so sure that terrorism really is the weapon of the marginalized. Does anybody doubt that al Qaeda would attack the West using conventional weapons if it, one, had them and, two, thought it could win? Moreover, do the people backing terrorist organizations really feel marginalized? It's difficult to believe that Saudi princes walk around gnashing their teeth over their hardship, or that Iranian dictator mullahs feel powerless. I don't recall an action-drama style speech from Osama bin Laden lamenting his exclusion from a diplomatic dinner party.

To some extent, of course, a statement like mangeek's implies two groups: the backers of organized terrorism and those who carry out their commands. In that light, it's clearly in the interest of unmarginalized power brokers, like the late Yasser Arafat, to keep their human arsenal in a state of unrest and for radicals the world over to hammer the drum of disaffection until it's rattled their followers' brains to mush.

Allowing that much, however, only proves mangeek's conclusion faulty, because those with whom we wind up negotiating in civil discourse have reason to maintain the hardships and sense of marginalization of those whom they ostensibly represent. At least Bush's democracy project had the objective of replacing that system with real representation and broader civic engagement.

If we step back from the objective assessment of motivations and organizational charts — and put aside any wishful pap that eschews such analysis — a moral response emerges from the murk: The terror masters should be marginalized. One cannot discourse with an ideology with pretenses to global rule. (This cuts multiple ways, I should note.) We should not tolerate those who force women to live in walking body bags and put them to death when they're raped. We should not invite to the table those who speak casually of exterminating the Jews.

The disconcerting realization is that, as a society, we actually get this. Consider the reaction whenever an American subculture comes into public view with women dressed in the style of Little House on the Prairie. Consider that white supremacists are a universally accepted villain for any storyline.

All of our talk about tolerance of the exotic and different, of civil discourse with the marginalized, begins to look like mere cover when we take the resort to terrorism, itself, as evidence of the marginalization. It begins to appear that we are tolerating the intolerable because of the terrorism. Because we're paralyzed by politically correct bromides and lack the confidence for the only other solutions that remain.

The argument over the Ground Zero mosque lies along this very fault line. There would be no substantial public backlash against a thirteen-story Islamic center in that location were it already in the shadow of a hundred-story testament to the resilience of Western Civilization as expressed by the United States of America. We see the hole that remains in lower Manhattan, and as average as the mosque might be, it towers above inaction.

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The name "Cordoba House"is hardly a bridge builder,Daisy Khan's favorite term.
It represents a huge Muslim victory over Christians in Spain.
What the hell is moderate about that,given the location?
Okay,now that they realize Americans aren't that ignorant,they changed the name to something else,but the toothpaste is out of the tube regarding the underlying motivation.
The Muslims worldwide demand respect and special allowances(i.e. utilizing Sharia law)while displaying disrespect for any other belief.
For those in doubt,I already know who here is among them,please speak to a Zoroastrian,or B'hai person from Iran.
The former religion predates Islam in Iran and yet they were driven out as were the B'hais under the threat of a mass death sentence at worst and inability to practice their beliefs at best.
Or try this-the destruction of the magnificent Buddhist statuary by the Taliban.
Shiite,Sunni,makes no difference-they may quarrel,but they share a common quality of intolerance.
BTW I learned of the ordeals of the groups in Iran first hand interviewing many of them while an INS agent.
No one can stop the mosque being built,but if NY construction workers refuse to work on it,who's going to?
the staff of MSNBC or the WaPo?

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 24, 2010 8:47 AM

Alright, this is a lot to respond to, but I'll try.

First, Al Qaeda would definitely qualify as 'criminally deranged' in my books, they are the bad guys, and they're only a few thousand people. Nobody is saying we should bring Bin Laden to the table, but plenty of folks are saying that we should leverage positive relationships with whatever handholds we have in the Muslim world in order to build good business relationships, like we have with China. Like China or not, there's little doubt in my mind that our economic codependency is what keeps us from the next World War.

Now for more directed responses:

"the rationale for President Bush's approach to the War on Terror was to bring the Middle East into the democratic fold, creating the circumstances in which its inhabitants would defuse their aggression with the wet handshake of international processes."

That's like saying that the rationale for the 9/11 attacks was to let America know that Al Qaeda was looking forward to a smooth start to the Back to School season in the West. Anyone who thought that engaging a third, unrelated, and already pacified party (Iraq) in a ground war would 'foster democracy' hasn't hit their history books. Democracy doesn't come from bombs, boots, and CIA operatives; it comes from the people of that nation. We were totally hoodwinked into that war, and it's only created a situation where even more Muslims are 'marginalized' to the point of joining the aforementioned 'criminally deranged' and acting out their aggression.

As for Afghanistan, I think we had a clearer and more just reason to go in there. The Taliban were harboring Al Qaeda, and not handing them over. Does that mean we topple their government, occupy their nation for ten years, and establish a puppet democracy to appease ourselves? I would have rather put troops outside their cities and sent teams after the actual Bad Guys, or put them under siege.

"Does anybody doubt that al Qaeda would attack the West using conventional weapons if it, one, had them and, two, thought it could win?"

I don't think Al Qaeda is in it to 'win', at least not 'winning' the way we know it. The goal wasn't to start a conventional war they thought they could win, it was to agitate us into military action that bolstered their own causes. Al Qaeda -did- win in that respect, our untamed aggression, botched attempts at forcing democracy, and support of corrupt and incompetent puppet leadership in conquered lands only made the case for a pan-continental caliphate stronger. The relatives of dead wives, children, and siblings left behind our somewhat-less-than-strategic strikes make for more extremists willing to take up arms against us.

"Moreover, do the people backing terrorist organizations really feel marginalized? It's difficult to believe that Saudi princes walk around gnashing their teeth over their hardship, or that Iranian dictator mullahs feel powerless."

I think the ones supporting the terrorist groups are probably the ones who do feel 'left out'. Decades of oil-driven foreign policy that stuffs the pockets of corrupt leaders and leaves the populace out in the desert have changed the game in the Middle East. Maybe I saw 'Syriana' too many times. I suspect that the folks funneling money into Al Qaeda are the angry siblings and cousins of multibillionaire rulers, rich off of oil, but unhappy with western influence in their sovereign affairs; Kind of like Bin Laden.

"I don't recall an action-drama style speech from Osama bin Laden lamenting his exclusion from a diplomatic dinner party."

From WIkipedia: "[Afghan/Soviet war hero] Bin Laden's offer [to repel Iraq from Kuwait in '91 with Arab instead of US troops] was rebuffed, and after the American offer to help repel Iraq from Kuwait was accepted, involving deploying U.S. troops in Saudi territory, he publicly denounced Saudi Arabia's dependence on the U.S. military, as he believed the presence of foreign troops in the "land of the two mosques" (Mecca and Medina) profaned sacred soil. Bin Laden's criticism of the Saudi monarchy led that government to attempt to silence him. Shortly after Saudi Arabia permitted U.S. troops on Saudi soil, bin Laden turned his attention to attacks on the west."

Whoa. So this guy was a local war hero who wanted foreign influence off of sovereign sacred ground. He spoke out against his own government [the aforementioned corrupt oil multibillionaires] and was silenced and ostracized by them. Sounds like he -was- left out. All we had to do to prevent Bin Laden from taking up arms was to -not get involved with local turf wars in other countries-, a lesson we refuse to learn over and over again.

"At least Bush's democracy project had the objective of replacing that system with real representation and broader civic engagement."

Wow. I'm glad the French didn't start Democracy in America that way:
"Hello, Americans! We see that some of you would like self-rule. We're going to occupy your entire country for a decade or two and install leaders who work for us. In the meantime, your mildly violent British oppressors will be replaced with insanely violent French puppets. Enjoy your Democracy!"

Somehow I don't think that would have worked out. Neither has the 'Democracy Project', We've replaced 'oppression and violence' with 'chaos and death'. The standard of living in Iraq is far lower than it ever was under Saddam Hussein. Afghanistan is a political nightmare, sometimes it seems there are more political parties than -people- there.

"We should not tolerate those who force women to live in walking body bags and put them to death when they're raped. We should not invite to the table those who speak casually of exterminating the Jews."

I can agree that a condition of 'coming to the table' has to be the willingness to drop talk of genocide, and an acceptance of some level of human rights. If we left it at that (courting moderates), we might actually help the people in these places build strength and resist their oppressors, because they know that they'll have a friend in America when they emerge (and possibly gentle, quiet assistance from us where appropriate). Instead, we've jumped-in guns-first and pushed the moderates farther off towards extremism.

I've said it before: The expression is "Speak softly and carry a big stick", not "Scream and shout while firing into the crowd". Our military is formidable and to be used for defensive purposes, it's the wrong tool to affect social and political change in other countries.

Posted by: mangeek at August 24, 2010 11:25 AM

And this is why our forays in the Middle East are now a Crusade. It started as an attack against Al Qaeda and now it's on Muslims HERE in the USA..... Newt is leading the way.

A Religion did not fell the two towers. A 19 really pissed off Arabs who "happen to be Muslim" did.

While a high-profile battle rages over a mosque near ground zero in Manhattan, heated confrontations led by the tea-baggers.. have also broken out in communities ACROSS THE COUNTRY where mosques are proposed for FAR LESS hallowed locations

Posted by: Sammy at August 24, 2010 12:33 PM

I can't take on all of this. But, I will allow this, Americans tend to think tworld of people who are actualy nascent Americans. It seems to me that if the people of the mid-east were truly upset with their principalities, we would here more from them. I suggest there is no strong desire for a democracy. Afghanistan may be an exception, it has no history of a central government. I suppose that if the time has come, they might prefer a democracy.

As to the Mosque and freedom of religion. Our freedom is not absolute, it is only thought of that way. While there are probably laws in place that would not allow a refusal to build a Mosque, I don't think "freedom of religion" would permit them to live under Sharia law where it violates other rights and freedoms which we enjoy. I cannot be sure of this, it appears that European courts are bowing ot Sharia law.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at August 24, 2010 12:56 PM

Sammy-when big financial ripoff schemes occur,and the perps"happen to be Jews" I,who am VERY far from wealthy has to be hit with that crap.I'm sure you'll rationalize that-I must be a "zionist" or something-I got your number,pal.
BTW even if you were born Jewish,the leftist ones suck up to those who spew that crap.
I don't give a tinker's damn for the religion,it's just a label you carry unless your a friggin' coward who changes their name.(Unless it's Lipschitz,which I understand).

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 24, 2010 1:34 PM

“What’s in a name?” I guess it depends on how far you look and what your preconceptions are in the first place. Ever been to Cordoba? I have, several times. I love the place, the peaceful setting of the statue honoring Moses Maimonides is quiet and appropriately reverent. If you continue on through the old Jewish Quarter you end up at the Great Mosque, La Mezquita, as the Spanish call it. In its heyday it was open aired, light and impressively beautiful. For 300 years after conquering Cordoba and the mosque’s dedication as a Christian chapel, very little was changed. In the early 16th century the Bishop and Canons of the cathedral proposed the construction of a new cathedral, and proposed to demolish the mosque in order to build it. The opposition of the townspeople to the proposed destruction of the building led to the decision, endorsed by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, to insert an entire Gothic "chapel" into the very heart of the former Great Mosque. The result is an uneasy and controversial juxtaposition. Charles later publically lamented his decision, saying that the irreplaceable was destroyed to make way for the mundane.
Historical and Cultural Background:
Al-Andaluz with Cordoba as its seat represented perhaps the only time in European culture

“when Jews, Christians and Muslims lived side by side and despite their intractable differences and enduring hostilities, nourished a complex culture of tolerance...”

It was in Cordoba
“that the profoundly Arabized Jews rediscovered and reinvented Hebrew; there that Christians embraced nearly every aspect of Arabic style - from the intellectual style of philosophy to the architectoral style of mosques - not only while living in Islamic dominions but especially after wresting political control from them; there men of unshakable faith, like Abelard and Maimonides and Averroes, saw no contradiction in pursuing the truth, whether philosophical or scientific or religious, across confessional lines. This vision of a culture of tolerance recognized that incongruity in the shaping of individuals as well as their cultures was enriching and productive...Whether it is because of our cliched notions about the relative backwardness of the Middle Ages, or our own expectations that culture, religion, and political ideology will be roughly consistent, we are likely to be taken aback by many of the lasting testimonies of this Andalusian culture, monuments like the tomb of Saint Ferdinand in Seville. Ferdinand III is the king remembered as the Castilian conqueror of the last of all the Islamic territories save Granada, and yet his tomb is rather matter-of-factly inscribed in Arabic and Hebrew as well in Latin and Castilian.
In the end, much of Europe far beyond the Andalusian world, and far beyond modern Spain's geographical borders, was shaped by the deep-seated vision of complex and contradictory identities that was first elevated to an art form by the Andalusians. "The ornament of the world" is the famous description of Cordoba given to her readers by the tenth-century Saxon writer Hroswitha, who from her far-off convent at Gandersheim perceived the exceptional qualities and the centrality of the Cordoban caliphate. Tellingly, Hroswitha coined the expression even as she wrote an account of a Mozarab Christian martyr of the tenth century. For her, and eventually for most others who came to know Andalusian culture throughout the Middle Ages, whether at first hand or from afar—from reading a translation produced there or from hearing a poem sung by one of its renowned singers— the bright lights of that world, and their illumination of the rest of the universe, transcended differences of religion. And I too use the expression generously as this books title, it means to describe the culture that long survived and transcended the destruction of the Caliphate of Hroswitha’s time, the culture that centuries later did produce the tomb of Saint Ferdinand, and did give a “Moorish” style to some of New York City’s nineteenth-century synagogues.”

The quoted text is from “The Ornament of the World, How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain”, Maria Rosa Menocal.

Posted by: oldtimelefty at August 24, 2010 1:57 PM

OTL-I have to check this out-gimme a few days because right now we have family stuff going on,but considering your long,involved reply,I'm not looking to give you an off the cuff answer.

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 24, 2010 3:09 PM


I can see it's all very clear in your mind, and there's much that I could say, on a point-by-point basis. But first, I want to make sure I'm understanding your position in a particular instance.

In your view: When a murderous, terrorist-supporting dictator who had used biological weapons against a relatively moderate subgroup in his nation invaded a relatively moderate nation next door, we should not have assisted that nation or our (admittedly somewhat dubious) allies in the next nation over because it upset a radical guerrilla fighter (albeit a wealthy and well educated one) that Americans were even on his peninsula. (Kuwait's in the northeast corner of Saudi Arabia, while Mecca and Medina are in the southwest and west of the country, respectively.) Rather, we should have let the terrorist dictator and the radical revolutionary battle it out to see whether the former could usurp the relatively moderate Kuwait or the latter could increase his public power and threaten our allies in Saudi Arabia?

In this way, according to you, we would have helped "moderates" to "build strength and resist their oppressors, because they know that they'll have a friend in America when they emerge."

Posted by: Justin Katz at August 24, 2010 5:27 PM

Since we are discussing the "religion of peace", you might look at these pictures from London.

RE: Cordoba. There have been instances of peaceful co-existence by Muslims and Christians. I suppose notable is Jerusalem during the Crusader era, betwent he blood baths, there was peaceful co-existence. In more recent times, before its relative decline, a good example would be Alexandria, Egypt.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at August 24, 2010 6:36 PM

Sorry, these are pictures I meant to post above:

Posted by: Warrington Faust at August 24, 2010 6:37 PM


Thank you very much for that comment about Cordoba. Facts are much needed at present.

Posted by: Phil at August 24, 2010 9:06 PM

Just asking?

The Murfreesboro mosque is hundreds of miles from New York City and the national furor about whether an Islamic community center should be built near Ground Zero. But the intense feelings driving that debate have surfaced in communities from California to Florida in recent months, raising questions about whether public attitudes toward Muslims have shifted. In Tennessee, three plans for new Islamic centers in the Nashville area -- one of which was ultimately withdrawn -- have provoked controversy and outbursts of ugliness.

Posted by: Sammy at August 24, 2010 10:05 PM

Justin, this little Chautauqua by Muhammad is for your benefit. I hope you will take it to heart. I notice that you often pick contentious bones, but pass on the more nourishing meat of the arguments.

Muhammad once referred to strife, and said, "It will appear at the time of knowledge leaving the world." Ziad said, "O Messenger of God, how will knowledge go from the world, since we read the Kuran, and teach it to our children, and our children to theirs; and so on till the last day?" Then Muhammad said, "O Ziad, I supposed you the most learned man of Medinah. Do the Jews and Christians who read the Bible and the Evangel act on them?"

Do not exceed bounds in praising me, as the Christians do in praising Jesus, the son of Mary, by calling Him God, and the Son of God; I am only the Lord's servant; then call me the servant of God and His messenger.

When the bier of anyone passeth by thee, whether Jew, Christian or Muslim, rise to thy feet.

Thus spoke Muhammad, Peace be upon him.

We certainly have strife as knowledge leaves our argument and hatred replaces charity.

If your heart is driven by hatred, your words will only divide and cause sorrow and trouble. Some people are attempting to grab secular power by sewing fear and hatred. Who they are is obvious to anyone who cares to look.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at August 24, 2010 10:40 PM

Justin, Saddam Hussein was 'our guy' through the Iran/Iraq war. We were training his troops and providing him with the very weapons he used to kill those 100,000 people with.

From the Riegle Report to Congress:

"U.N. inspectors had identified many United States manufactured items that had been exported from the United States to Iraq under licenses issued by the Department of Commerce, and [established] that these items were used to further Iraq's chemical and nuclear weapons development and its missile delivery system development programs. ... The executive branch of our government approved 771 different export licenses for sale of dual-use technology to Iraq. I think that is a devastating record."

and from Charles Duelfer, US inspector:

"During the Iran-Iraq war, Saddam used 101,000 chemical munitions, which was no secret. The U.S. once in a while would peep and say chemical weapons were bad, but at the same time we were giving Saddam intelligence that laid out where Iranian troops were massing. Then he would gas the living daylights out of them. If you're Saddam, you wonder: How is it that between August 1990 and April 1991 the U.S. became so interested in weapons of mass destruction?"

On top of that, the Kuwaiti thing really should have been a 'local issue', and we even said as much to Saddam, because back then, he used to -ask us- before he did anything with his American-made weapons:

From Wikipedia:

"The American ambassador declared to her Iraqi interlocutor that Washington, “inspired by the friendship and not by confrontation, does not have an opinion” on the disagreement between Kuwait and Iraq, stating "we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts."
She also let Saddam Hussein know that the U.S. did not intend "to start an economic war against Iraq". These statements may have caused Saddam to believe he had received a diplomatic green light from the United States to invade Kuwait."

So we bolstered Saddam's regime, then gave him the go-ahead on expanding it a bit (probably in our best interests WRT Iran), and then realized after tanks were in Kuwait City that the even larger Saudi interests were at risk, so we about-faced and turned on Saddam. Sounds like a complicated way to clean up a mess that we shouldn't have been involved with in the first place.

This is the sort of mucking-around in other people's business that inspired folks like Bin Laden (coincidentally, another guy we helped train to proxy-fight for us).

As a fiscal conservative, I'm going to use the expression that 'when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail', and we have an overabundance of idle CIA agents and military brass with a deep rooted desire to go do what they're trained to do.

On top of -that-, when we did break Saddam down and had him by the gonads, with local Shi'a ready to jump up and take the reins of that country, we got all indecisive and left him in a strange 'no-fly zone' limbo-power. Why? Because the idea of an Iraq that works for its majority (Shi'a), and therefore aligns politically with Iran is so deeply frightening to us that we're willing to leave a 'turncoat murderous dictator' in power than live up to our own ideals.

I think we all know what could happen if Iraq was truly democratic... They would build a pipeline through Iran to China, the world's fastest growing petroleum market. Why deal with the meddlesome middleman and his rapidly inflating money (that's us), four year personality disorders, and rampant fiscal irresponsibility when you can sell right to the customer? After a few years of peace and the acquisition of a nuclear deterrent from the only non-allied nuclear force around (Israel), the 'price at the pump' here in the States would probably have more to do with the USD/Iranian Rial exchange rate than it does with anything else.

If that situation frightens you, just say so. Don't go on about how we're spreading freedom in 2000 pound laser-guided increments. The history of our foreign policy shows quite clearly that if you pump oil 'human rights' aren't even an issue, let alone 'democracy'. This is about world energy being traded with the US dollar and the availability of oil. 9/11 just gave the last administration the political cover they needed to do what they were already planning, and -THAT- should bother anyone who really cares about what happened that day more than a YMCA with a minaret in Manhattan.

Posted by: mangeek at August 25, 2010 2:18 AM

mangeek makes a good point about human rights being marginalized by U.S. interests in countries like Saudi Arabia. I would add that in that region most countries who have sought to impose some sanctions on the behavior
of Israel have been marginalized by the always reliable U.S. veto in the security council of the U.N.. Although I do not agree with mangeek's comment that terrorism is the choice of the marginalized, I do think that the marginalized will react to the isolation, frustration , and desperation with ideologies that embrace extremism and radicalism.
Terrorism has been the choice of many because it has been shown to work. We in RI have just celebrated VJ day. That day would not be if not for the bombing of population centers in Japan with the first weapons of mass destruction. THat decision to try to end the war can be debated on many levels but what remains is that there was a calculated assessment of the effect on the Japanese decision makers by the awesome destruction of cities with their inhabitants. It worked.
When very few were concerned with the plight of the Palestinians the political and military tactic used by the PLO was terrorism. Again it worked. The Palestinian cause is now known internationally.

Posted by: Phil at August 25, 2010 6:43 AM

Amazing how this "mosque"has faalen so predictably along fault lines here at AR.
In spite of mangeek,Phil,and OTL,not to mention the newly arrived sammy,and their efforts at justifying what is being done in lower Manhattan,I think it comes down to the mosque promoters getting to understand what's right.Their "bridge"is not likely to heal any wounds or lessen mutual suspicion.
I've got to wonder if our more left wing commentors here would be so passionate about a Christian monument being built there.Let's say financed by Pat Robertson or someone similar.
OTL-yes,the Caliphate of the Ummayads tolerated Jews and Christains in Spain,but at the price of "dhimmi" status.That's the Muslim way.It's never changed.

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 25, 2010 9:26 AM

"I've got to wonder if our more left wing commentors here would be so passionate about a Christian monument being built there.Let's say financed by Pat Robertson or someone similar."

I'd be all for it! I'm not some sort of anti-American 'Muslim sympathizer', I just believe in religious freedom. I don't have to get all whipped-up to support Christians here, because they're not under this sort of pressure. There are some pretty hardcore Pentecostal churches in my neighborhood, 'fire-and-brimstone' types, but they don't bother me a bit, nor would I infringe on their right to practice and (politely) spread their message outside their walls.

Posted by: mangeek at August 25, 2010 10:22 AM

Keep working on it and you'll come around. I don't understand why you are amazed at the "issue" (It shouldn't be an issue, but it is - ergo the quote marks) falling along fault lines at AR. What did you expect, Tea Partiers laying roses at the door of the mosque. Consider past reactions to abortion clinics and stem cell research.
The following is taken directly from The Encyclopedia Britannica

Islamic law made a distinction between two categories of non-Muslim subjects—pagans and dhimmis (“protected peoples,” or “peoples of the book”; i.e., those peoples who based their religious beliefs on sacred texts, such as Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians). The Muslim rulers tolerated the dhimmis and allowed them to practice their religion. In return for protection and as a mark of their submission, the dhimmis were required to pay a special poll tax known as the jizya. The rate of taxation and methods of collection varied greatly from province to province and were greatly influenced by local pre-Islamic customs. In theory the tax money was to be used for charitable purposes and the payment of salaries and pensions. In practice, however, the revenues derived from the jizya were deposited in the private treasuries of the rulers. The Ottomans usually used the proceeds of the jizya to pay their military expenses.
A convert to Islam was, in theory, no longer required to pay the jizya. The Umayyad caliphs (661–750), however, faced with increasing financial difficulties, demanded the jizya from recent converts to Islam as well as from the dhimmis. This discrimination against converts was a cause of the Abū Muslim rebellion (747) in Khorāsān and helped to precipitate the downfall of the Umayyads.
Consider the times - People who professed Christianity were burning heretics at the stake and subjecting Jews to pogroms. Dhimmi was a small price to pay and preferable to alternatives available at the time. Closer to today, Dhimmi would have been preferable to lynchings or Jim Crow laws in the ostensively Christian American South.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at August 25, 2010 11:25 AM

According to Ivan Eland, director of the Center on Peace & Liberty:

"Not allowing this mosque to be built, whether because of government zoning restrictions or mere public pressure, could help radicalize moderate Muslims..."

If "moderates" are so easily radicalized then it speaks volumes. But I can't help but wonder if the incitement is deliberate.

Atleast the politically correct have failed in trying to re-frame this as a rights argument when in fact it is simply a matter of prudence.

The unknown financers of this $100 million dollar project have the Constitutional right to build this mosque just as I have the right to voice my suspicion of there intent.

Posted by: jp at August 25, 2010 11:27 AM

OTL-are Christians still burning people at the stake?
Guess what-as a Jew(non-believing,but defined by others)I say f*ck being "tolerated"-I don't need anyone's largesse.As an Amerrican,I don't need a hyphen.My great grandfather paid the price of being born Jewish by getting drafted for 25 years' service in the Czarist Army-it was a good way to avoid pogroms-all you had to do was spend most of your useful life fighting wars for royalty.He was allowed to live wherever he wanted upon his discharge.How nice-my gramps said the hell with it and came here at 16 on his own,with a stop at Ellis Island,where my last name came from-I guess the immigration officers found it easier than the original version.
The point of this story is that here there is,at long last, nothing equivalent to "dhimmi"status.
The Muslims have never abandoned the past practices-they still condemn pagans.I don't care an iota about pagans-they should be free to practice their beliefs openly like Muslims are,and Jews,Buddhists,Christians,et al,or to have no religion at all.
I don't avoid Muslims as individuals nor want to keep them from practicing their religion at all.I cannot imagine allowing Sharia in our courts any more than Talmudic law-thhose policies would most definitely violate the 1st amendment.
OTOH I cannot condone the special dispensations for Muslims like providing ritual bath facilities at publicly funded colleges(Michigan)or bending over backwards to avoid offending them.We all need thicker skin.No one has a right not to be offended in an open society.
Countries under Muslim rule generally don't respect the beliefs of others.
I'm not "coming around" to your point of view at all.
I say if they want to build it-go ahead and live with the results.It may be a Pyrrhic victory.

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 25, 2010 11:46 AM

Old Time Lemming,

"If your heart is driven by hatred, your words will only divide and cause sorrow and trouble..."

So, the decision by Muslims to erect a mosque where over 2500 innocent people (some muslims) were brutally murdered... is driven by love? [Memo to self "Next year, find OTL's grave, knock over stone, erect statue of George W. Bush"]

Muslims' decision to decapitate Richard Pearle and video tape it for all his family, colleagues and people trying to rescue him to see...was driven by love?

I could go on, and on, and on...

This isn't about words, this is about actions and deeds filled with hatred.

You are either dreadfully evil, or pathetically stupid.

Posted by: George at August 25, 2010 2:45 PM

"In the long run, evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil. For that they rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule." (Qur'an, 30:10)

This was quoted by George W. Bush on Sept. 19th, 2001 in a speech at a Washington DC mosque.

Posted by: Phil at August 25, 2010 7:25 PM

Phil-why do you quote George W.Bush when it's convenient?You seem to really despise him.I wouldn't quote him for anything.I guess whatever works,hey?

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 25, 2010 8:15 PM


As somebody who hadn't achieved a double-digit age by the dawn of the Clintonian "Vacation from History," you leverage your Wikipedia blurbs to write with the confidence of somebody who was not only there but has spent the intervening decades researching the subject. Your peers may find that overwhelming, and elders who share your assumptions may find it endearing, but I offer you the advice that others are apt to find it presumptuous.

I'd suggest that you exaggerate the duration and extent of the U.S.-Ba'athist relationship (at least a half-dozen other Western nations "bolstered" Hussein much more enthusiastically than we did, for example), but it's really beside the point. Your response is entirely a smokescreen that you fan up so as to run as far as possible from the actual question. So much is this the case, that you've wound up quoting a statement that only emphasizes the point that I made.

"we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts."

This you claim as a signal to Saddam Hussein that the United States approved of his aggression, yet it is the message that you intend to send to all dictators and radicals. So, again, how does this encourage moderates to think that they've "got a friend in the United States when they emerge"? Would it have been better for the U.S.S.R. to edge its way more deeply into the Middle East? Would it have been preferable for Iran to exceed Iraq and empower its radical theocracy? Would it have helped the cause of expanding Muslim moderation to allow Kuwait to fall to the Ba'athists and/or Saudi Arabia to be threatened by hostile forces next door or within? It's a very real possibility that the answer should be "yes," but only if we had planned to be the more subversive the more powerful and tyrannical Middle Eastern totalitarians became.

Nobody is arguing that our nation hasn't erred. I certainly am not doing what you accuse me of, here:

Don't go on about how we're spreading freedom in 2000 pound laser-guided increments.

Show me where I said anything close to that, let alone "going on." Only through your aversion to the argument at hand is it possible for you to believe that to be a reasonable rejoinder. I suggested that President Bush's approach constituted an attempt to address the difficulty that you all but ignore: That it is necessary to somehow move moderates out from under rulers with an interest in keeping their people immoderate. My point wasn't that there aren't other or better strategies, but that cultural confidence is a prerequisite for any of them.

Part of the reason that we've erred in foreign policy is that the last few decades have failed to produce a coherent principle to which enough Americans were willing to hew for a long enough time to span multiple administrations and political parties. That is why our approach to aggressors is schizophrenic. It is why we've been so timid in seeking energy independence. And it is why terrorism is able to have such a profound effect that aggressive city planning from the terrorists' coreligionists sets off a national controversy.

Posted by: Justin Katz at August 25, 2010 8:30 PM


The quote is factual and was used to conterpoint what George wrote in the comment before mine.
The speechs by Bush after Sept. 11, 2001 urging tolerance and respect for Muslims were correct and spoke for me. Perhaps you should examine your hatred instead of supposing mine.

Posted by: Phil at August 26, 2010 7:29 AM

Phil, I consider President Bush's Sept 19, 2001 statement a point of agreement, not a counterpoint.

It was spoken to a group of Muslims, so I have no doubt that the message was intended for them - by Bush and by its original author.

Posted by: George at August 26, 2010 7:48 AM

Phil-hatred of who?Come on,spit it out-I'm not going to take this crap from you
without calling you out on it.
I hate specific people,and even organizations(i.e.ACLU),but if you can't come up with any hateful remark I've made toward an ethnic group,then maybe you should just STFU.
Guys like you think the best tactic is to put people on the defensive by calling them racist,haters,homophobes,etc.
I don't go on the defensive,because who are you that I need to explain myself?
You used Bush's quote,which may well be true.Normally you can't say enough bad things about him.Hypocrisy anyone?

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 26, 2010 8:14 AM


I never called you any of those things. But I want to retract the comment directed at you. I have been critical of Bush on many things without being hateful. I give him credit in this instance and in others.
Listening to the wild accusations directed at a President I support has led me to regard some of the criticism directed at Bush differently. Live and learn. Sorry Joe, but I have never called you a racist or accused you of bigotry towards any ethnic group although I do believe that much of the argument against the proposed Islamic Center in lower Manhatten is rooted in mistrust and intolerance for Muslims.


Shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, The President urged all Americans to reject hostility towards Muslims calling their religion the religion of peace. Those comments by George W. Bush were directed at you and me.

Posted by: Phil at August 26, 2010 10:26 AM

OK Phil-no hard feelings,but I just have never lived my life as a bigot-angry,yes,but not pre-programmed at anyone-it's reactive to what someone does.
My point,probably not articulated very well,is that Muslims supporting this edifice,and those opposing it,are providing tinder for something we don't need here.I will bet if the promoters of the project show a little understanding,this can be resolved for the better.
I never want the USA to become like Canada,Belgium,Rwanda,or the former Yugoslavia.
Maybe the former Czechoslovakia is an example to look to,where Havel and Meciar decided on a peaceful solution to a deteriorating ethnic/religious relationship between the Czechs and Slovaks.
Not one death.No mass graves.A fair settlement,and lasting peace to this day.
Ethnic clashes lead to real horrors.
The news media needs to be responsible also.Freedom of speech isn't license to incite,from EITHER extreme.

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 26, 2010 2:28 PM


"Shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, The President urged all Americans to reject hostility towards Muslims..."

So, when he spoke in the mosque on the 19th, he was talking to the people outside the mosque... OK, I see where you're coming from. Really.

Posted by: George at August 26, 2010 5:25 PM
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