There's always a first for everything. Having not covered the GZ Mosque controversy before in this blog I will do so here. The first in this case, is that over this Mosque controversy, was the first time that I have ever agreed with something (in a meaningful sense) that Bill O'Reilly has said, someone I consider to be the very definition of a demagogue, and as having watched the above clip now reveals, I strongly disagreed with something that Matt Dillahunty of the Atheist Experience said, also a first.
So where do I disagree with Matt above? Well first of all the caller (who I think got a bit flustered and did not articulate his points very well), made it very clear in his Phelps analogy that he was objecting in the hypothetical not to the legality of his actions but to the fact that he was being a jerk, unfortunately at every turn when he tried to make this point Matt responded on the legality issue, and not the jerk issue. Now, should we find the GZ Mosque distasteful, in other words are there reasons for objecting/ disliking its proposals even if no law is broken? I think yes. Here's why.
First of all Matt's co-host kept inferring that in order to be offended by this one had to assume that the people building it were literally the Taliban. That is an asinine statement I feel. Imagine in my hypothetical that outside of Aushwitz a monument to Germany is created which emphasised the greatness of the German nation and included her recent history as a part of it, even including the Nazi regime in a seemingly if not supportive light, certainly an uncritical one. Would that come across as slightly inappropriate? Again not necessary illegal, just like insulting your friend for no reason and making fun of the fact his mother is dead is not illegal, but simply inappropriate. I would suggest that it certainly would be a bad thing to do irrespective of the legality of it. Now, does that mean by extension of finding that idea distasteful, that one would have to believe that every single modern German was a Nazi? Clearly not, there are enough connotations between the two topics, that a connection is naturally made. I would expect most Germans to understand that this would be sensitive to others, and most Muslims in this case. If this example is not enough, then imagine if an actual monument to Nazism was made, which stayed within the free speech laws, would that be acceptable? I doubt it.
|Perhaps Burning the Tache would be a better idea.|
I will go one step further nonetheless and say that there is a connection between the imam and the extreme anti-Western interpretation of Islam. The man had the option to move the site free of charge and refused because he did not care about who he upset. Had he expressly condemned all Islamic terrorism, and explained that he was opening the centre to promote a form of Jihad that rejected extremism and encouraged integration and co-operation between Muslims and the West he would be supported, which was the point that Bill O'Reilly made. However, contrary to Matt's claims he has very dubious ties to terrorist groups in Palestine and most certainly does not subscribe to a form of Islam that encourages integration and has responded in a manner that is not at all worthy of sympathy.
There is no question that broadly atheists applied a different set of standards on this issue, focusing far more on the perceived ignorance of the 'Christian' response (which was still legal) over the insensitivity of the 'Muslim' action (also legal). For example, was there anything illegal about what the pastor who planned to burn the Qu'ran was doing? No, but it was rightly criticised as a stupid thing to do nonetheless. Ah, but what he did may have caused a lot of rioting and upset. And the Ground Zero Mosque didn't/ currently is?! Why not accept therefore that, while there are plenty of idiotic Christians protesting the building and making all sorts of stupid statements- that they are equally doing legally, that what these Muslims are doing, while legal is also still pretty pretty insensitive and jerk-ish.