Cordoba House: In Support of American Religious Values

In the last week a conversations has popped up in the blogosphere, presenting us with a unique conversation. To begin with was the ramblings and non-sense of former Republican speaker Newt Gingrich as it relates to the proposed Cordoba House mosque near Ground Zero, New York. Mr. Gingrich is not alone in his ramblings – the Koran burning pastor of Florida comes to mind – but they alone indicate the gross disregard for American values that are required for a movement of thought as seen in Mr. Gingrich.

EYE OF NEWT!

The statements of Newt Gingrich are especially offensive. While he of course has responsibilities to the conservative political spectrum – and of course the Republican party and FOX news – his failure as a politician is that he allowed those allegiances to overshadow his allegiances to the United States Constitution. In theological terms Newt chose ideology over truth telling, justice and mercy.

For those who are unaware the controversy centers on Park51, sometimes called Cordoba House – the proposed New York City site for a mosque, just blocks from Ground Zero. Many voices have entered the fray, several of which are convinced that a 13 story community center dedicated to interfaith engagement somehow is disrespectful to the victims of Ground Zero or represents an covert operation to convert America to Islam.

Park51/Cordoba house, though, is more than a Mosque. It will be a 13-story community center in the spirit of the Jewish Community Center and the YMCA, as well as any number of other community centers. While Park51/Cordoba will have a space for Islamic prayer it will also be a gift of resources to the wider community as well as to interfaith dialogue.

The most absurd protest has been that since the 9/11 terrorists were Muslim then it would be offensive to have a Mosque so close to Ground Zero. This would be akin to saying that Germany should have no churches, as it was people who called themselves Christians perpetrated the holocaust.

But Gingrich takes his protest even further. For the rest of this section on Newt and his words I will draw out quotes from his actual statement – available on his website – and provide commentary.

There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia

Newt performs here what I call the ‘Dawkins Fallacy’. Like Richard Dawkins Newt has set-up an argument where the minority represents the majority, thus making the test case of one group of people represent the entire faith. In this way the most extreme becomes not the example of the worst of what you are protesting but the whole of what you are protesting. While Newt does raise an important question about religious freedom in Saudi Arabia he does so in a way that misses larger context. By linking it to Cordoba House he makes it basically a form of parental punishment: if Suzy can’t play with her new toy, then neither can Billy.

By doing this Newt paints the Islamic world as intolerant while positioning his own intolerance as being protective and freedom loving. In order to maintain this position Newt must ignore the historic Jewish communities in the Islamic world in places like Iran and Egypt. Additionally he must overlook the historic Arab Christian communities in Palestine, Iraq, Egypt and throughout the Arabic world.

A final point I would ask is how Mr. Ginrich plans on arguing for a moral position of religious freedom if he is advocating for intolerance? It is now impossible for him as a politician to turn toward Saudi Arabia and say that democracy in even religious affiliation is something as Americans we pride ourselves on. There is no ‘light on the hill’ in this scenario – no forming ourselves as an alternative community to systems of oppression and injustice – if we have removed that role of alternative community from how we operate and view ourselves. We cannot protect our freedoms and values by violating the rights and freedoms of another group.

For example, most of them don’t understand that “Cordoba House” is a deliberately insulting term.  It refers to Cordoba, Spain – the capital of Muslim conquerors who symbolized their victory over the Christian Spaniards by transforming a church there into the world’s third-largest mosque complex.

Ginrick chooses to see Cordoba – the name chosen for Park51, possible future home of an Islamic cultural center – as a symbol of Islamic conquest of Chrisitans. He misses another opportunity for interpretation – of a time where a nation under Islamic rule emphasized interfaith collaboration and rights and freedoms for people of all faiths. In light of this we can see the reason the founders of Cordoba House/Park51 chose this name for a community center that will be for all – an Islamic institution with gifts and resources and inclusion for a wider community.

Gingrich also shows his historical ignorance. The Islamic rulers of Cordoba did not take over a church and turn it into a mosque to symbolize their victory. The original Chrisitan church of that location was bought from the local Christian community and then transformed into a Mosque over a two hundred year period. The location is now a Roman Catholic Cathedral.

By rejecting the possibility of a spirit of Cordoba in the heart of New York City –and blocks from Ground Zero – Gingrich rejects the possibility of interfaith engagement as a path forward. If the present world is facing interfaith conflicts then interfaith solutions must be a part of the way forward, and part of that takes means turning to the gifts of the past where such things have happened before and learning from them.

Despite what Mr. Ginrich feels Cordoba is recognized as a symbol of a time when Islam and other faiths were able to flourish side by side, learn from each other and coexist.

If the people behind the Cordoba House were serious about religious toleration, they would be imploring the Saudis, as fellow Muslims, to immediately open up Mecca to all and immediately announce their intention to allow non-Muslim houses of worship in the Kingdom.

Gingrich again returns to the one valid part of his argument – namely the issue of Human and Religious Rights. But he invalidates such a concern by his insistence that American Muslims do not have the same right as American Christians and Jews to gather and worship. He also makes the mistake – again – of conflating the few as the many. If he is to stand by a position of religious freedom as a universal right then  – and a constitutional right – to argue against the constitutional freedom of religion is to argue against the importance and validity of an American value. What gift does this value have to the rest of the world if we view it as less than ‘inalienable’?

He also assumes that the people of Cordoba House somehow have influence or connection to the way in which Saudi Arabia is run. It seems that Cordoba House is doing a much better job of protesting injustices to religious freedom by forming a community mired in an alternative way of doing things – by being a place of justice, community service and interfaith engagement – than through public statements. More than anything this way of being is a protest against religious intolerance.

His other point is a right field positioning of Mecca as a bargaining chip to allow Cordoba House to go foreword. Mecca is the most holy city in Islam. Pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the 5 pillars of Islam and as such has huge cultural and metaphorical currency in Islam. Whether Mecca should be open to non-Muslims is an internal conversation of the Islamic faith and should have no standing on whether or not Cordoba House should be allowed to exist.

America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization.

Here Gingrich steps up his rhetoric to a whole other level. After having argued that New Yorkers should participate in the violation of the constitutional rights of Muslims he then accuses them of participating in an ‘cultural-political offensive’ designed to destroy America. Again he engages in a failure of imagination in his choice of interpretation – as a politician who sees the so-called cultural wars causing stress and anxiety in American culture he chooses the path of fear instead of the path of the Constitution.

The other choice he could have made – as a conservative who has vowed to protect and uphold the US Constitution – was to become a partner in the project itself and uphold and protect the American value of freedom of religion. By choosing a path rooted in fear and mistrust he has instead chosen to see a YMCA like cultural center dedicated to a) Islamic prayer and b) Interfaith engagement as a place dedicated to the destruction of the American way of life.

Instead Gingrich sees upholding the constitutional value of religious freedom and honoring American values as allowing the faith of the ‘other’ to undermine and destroy our civilization. As America has always been proud of its diverse and multicultural population Newt has named the very tradition of America as being one that allows corruption and undermining. To be clear – Newt Gingrich feels that American values undermine American values!

The future of Islam in America will be forged in places where young American Muslims can wrestle with the question of faith, identity and postmodern culture in an open and accessible way. This means centers of vitality, welcome and innovation must emerge that can allow these questions to happen. Cordoba House could be that place.

The saddest part of this is that Gingrich by accusing a community center of seeking destroy America is able to deflect attention from his disregard for American values and culture. Newt Ginrich in his blatant disregard for American values and the inalienable rights promised by the US constitution is seeking to participate in the erosion of value that has made our country special. If we cannot begin to recognize American Muslims as fellow Americans who participate in our culture as equal partners then we have lost the country already.

About Jason Derr
  • Pingback: ProgCA

  • Pingback: MS

  • http://4510270.com 4510270

    4510270 beers on the wall. sck was here

  • http://1798581.com 1798581

    1798581 beers on the wall. sck was here

  • http://www.brentlmiller.com/pandora.asp pandora beads

    This really answered the downside, thanks!

  • http://marvintaylor615.livejournal.com/3682.html Dee Mcculler

    One thing I want to say is before acquiring more computer system memory, take a look at the machine in which it would be installed. If your machine is running Windows XP, for instance, the actual memory limit is 3.25GB. Installing above this would purely constitute some sort of waste. Be sure that one’s mother board can handle this upgrade volume, as well. Interesting blog post.

  • http://www.eaglebuildingsolutions.com/home-improvement.asp home improvement lebanon

    Wow, I enjoyed your neat post.

  • http://www.cnaconstruction.com/gallery.asp?id=10 roofing lancaster

    I want to make use of some of the content on my weblog. Naturally I’ll offer you a link on my web blog. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.bombergers.com/Content/cabinetry.asp bath remodeling lancaster

    After examining a couple of of the weblog posts in your web site now, and I truly like your approach of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark website record and can be checking back soon. Pls try my web site as nicely and let me know what you think.

  • http://www.kcgreenroofing.com roofers lancaster

    Can I simply say what a relief to find someone who truly knows what they’re talking about on the internet.

  • http://www.curacaoplazahotelcasino.com/wed.php curacao weddings

    I am often blogging and i really appreciate your content. The article has really peaked my interest. I am going to bookmark your site and keep checking for new information.

  • http://www.meadowviewgazebos.com/options-window.asp screen gazebo

    Thanks for the great info.

  • http://www.bodyinmotiondc.com denver chiropractors

    You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

  • http://www.cherrycrestfarm.com things to do lancaster

    I was very pleased to find this website. I wanted to thank you for your time for this excellent post!!

  • http://www.spipharma.com antacid tablets

    Thanks for spending the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love reading more on this topic.

  • http://www.theuptimegroup.com computer support denver

    Whats up! I just would like to give an enormous thumbs up for the good data you’ve right here on this post. I might be coming again to your blog soon.

  • http://www.meridianmortgagesolutions.net mortgage rates indiana

    When I initially commented I clicked the -Notify me when new feedback are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I get four emails with the identical comment. Is there any manner you may take away me from that service? Thanks!

  • http://www.sagari.co.uk/services/hosting hosted cloud computing

    Hardly ever do I encounter a blog that’s both educated and entertaining, and let me tell you, you could have hit the nail on the head. Your thought is outstanding; the problem is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I’m very glad that I stumbled throughout this in my search for something referring to this.

  • http://www.horizonstructures.com/run-in-sheds.asp sheds

    very good post, i certainly love this website, keep on it

  • http://www.georgeswood.com/shaker-furniture.htm shaker furniture

    You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

  • http://www.kcrestaurantrenovations.com/exteriors.asp concrete contractors pennsylvania

    This was a really nice post.

  • http://www.zookcabins.com/startingalodgeormotel.php rent cabin

    That was clever. I’ll be stopping back.

  • http://www.pet-costumes.us Tiffani Howerter

    Well I definitely liked studying it. This article offered by you is very useful for correct planning.

  • http://www.motelshershey.com hotels near hershey park

    Hey! I just want to give an enormous thumbs up for the nice info you’ve got here on this post. I will be coming back to your weblog soon.

  • http://www.rustichomeimpressions.com/candles.aspx battery candle lights

    Can I simply say what a relief to find someone who truly knows what they’re talking about on the internet.

  • http://www.ltdmgmt.com/makeyoursupply.asp supply chain strategy

    you have a great blog here! would you like to make some invite posts on my blog?

  • http://www.marilynhartman.com real estate lancaster pa

    Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.nameplatesforindustry.com/Pages/ul.htm ul labels

    Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything like this before. So nice to find somebody with some original thoughts on this subject.

  • http://www.nerdssupport.com/it-services-solutions-miami/business-continuity-planning-it-consulting-miami/ data recovery miami

    Oh my goodness! an amazing article. Thank you!

  • http://www.amishbuggyrides.com/pricing.html amish attractions lancaster pa

    I am often blogging and i really appreciate your content. The article has really peaked my interest. I am going to bookmark your site and keep checking for new information.

  • http://comerciostock.es/28-sobres-de-papel-sobres http://comerciostock.es/28-sobres-de-papel-sobres

    Unusual this put up is totaly unrelated to what I used to be looking google for, nevertheless it used to be listed at the first page. I guess your doing something proper if Google likes you enough to place you on the first page of a non similar search.

  • http://www.naturalheartplus.com reverse heart disease

    I don’t suppose I’ve never learned anything like this before. So good to see someone with some authentic thoughts on this subject. I really thank you for beginning it. This web site is one thing that is wanted on the web, somebody with a little originality.

  • http://www.schafco.com custom packaging

    Hiya! I simply want to give a huge thumbs up for the good information you’ve here on this post. I will likely be coming back to your blog soon.

  • http://www.geartylawoffices.com lancaster pa attorneys

    Thanks for the great info.

  • http://www.thinktechonline.com boston computer repair

    You should take part in a contest for one of the best blogs on the web. I will recommend this web site!

  • http://www.sechan.com contract electronics manufacturing

    you have a great blog here! would you like to make some invite posts on my blog?

  • http://www.smuckersenergy.com solar panels maryland

    That was clever. I’ll be stopping back.

  • http://www.royalcrownecupolas.com/ProductLines/Cupolas/Default.aspx roof cupolas

    This is the best web blog I have read.

  • http://www.antisyn.com computer repair jacksonville

    It is highly helpful for me. Large thumbs up for this weblog post!

  • http://www.wisslermotorsinc.com/used-vehicles used cars lancaster pa

    This was a great post, thanks for the info.

  • http://www.corporatetrainingexpert.com/team-building team building training

    Thanks for spending the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love reading more on this topic.

  • http://www.landistransmission.com/repair-and-inspections.asp auto repair lancaster pa

    Once I initially commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I get four emails with the identical comment. Is there any approach you can remove me from that service? Thanks!

  • http://www.veteranlawyers.net/what-we-do.asp attorneys for veterans

    There may be a bundle to know about this. You made good points also.

  • http://www.cellphoneaccessoriesv.com Cell Phone Accessories

    I saw this really good post today.

  • http://www.lyonshohl.com/paving/paving.asp paving contractors lancaster

    Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything like this before. So nice to find somebody with some original thoughts on this subject.

  • http://www.it-on-demand.com/services/it-network-consulting-outsourcing-services/ computer consultant nyc

    Your place is valueble for me. Thanks!…

  • http://www.mpamusement.com/product.asp?List=34 video arcade machines

    It is extremely helpful for me. Huge thumbs up for this weblog post!

  • http://www.fivestarpropertyservice.com/lawn-maintenance.asp lawn care lancaster

    It is extremely helpful for me. Big thumbs up for this blog post!

  • http://www.capablecomm.com/ss_telecom.html new jersey telecom

    It’s hard to find knowledgeable people on this topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  • http://katalogiv.cba.pl/?p=1030 szkolenie asp.net

    Thanks a lot for this advice I have been looking for ways almost all Yahoo to find the idea!

  • http://www.cellphoneaccessoriesv.com Cell Phone Accessories

    I saw this really great post today.

  • http://comerciostock.es/papel-regalo-bicolor/132-papel-regalo-bicolor-refprb-0855-y.html http://comerciostock.es/papel-regalo-bicolor/132-papel-regalo-bicolor-refprb-0855-y.html

    Between me and my husband we’ve owned more MP3 players over the years than I can count, including Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few years I’ve settled down to one line of players. Why? Because I was happy to discover how well-designed and fun to use the underappreciated (and widely mocked) Zunes are.

  • http://www.tourdelaramie.com/ moncler jacket

    Just thought i’d comment and say neat design, do you code it yourself? Looks great.

  • http://kombas.de/shop/Software/ArticleSpinningWizard-2-Professional::8.html Unqiue Content

    My spouse and i ended up being absolutely glad that Edward could finish off his basic research while using the ideas he received while using the web site. It is now and again perplexing to simply choose to be giving away tips men and women may have been selling. We really do know we now have the writer to be grateful to for that. Those illustrations you made, the simple website menu, the friendships you will give support to create – it’s all wonderful, and it’s really helping our son in addition to us do think that concept is entertaining, and that is incredibly fundamental. Many thanks for everything!

  • http://comerciostock.es/8-portarollos-papel-regalo portarollos papel regalo

    One must protect herself from sun by using sunscreen. It prevents from sunburn & tanning.

  • http://www.cellphoneaccessoriesv.com Cell Phone Accessories

    This is my Excerpt

  • http://yoyoman11.soup.io/ Claretha Bittle

    Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your blog and in accession capital to assert that I acquire in fact enjoyed account your blog posts. Any way I will be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access consistently rapidly.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDMC2aI-Gw0 home sale

    A fascinating discussion is worth comment. There’s no doubt that that you ought to write more on this subject matter, it may not be a taboo matter but generally folks don’t discuss such topics. To the next! Cheers!!

  • Pingback: investing hedge funds

  • Pingback: 9 mobile games


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X