Minarets in the Sand, the “Ground Zero” mosque and religious freedom

I’ve stayed out of the ugly debate over the “ground zero mosque” that’s not really at Ground Zero and not exactly a mosque, in part because I don’t understand all the vast complexity of issue, in part because it’s summer and I’m at the beach and not in the mood for all this indignation.

But one of the comments I keep hearing from opponents is driving me crazy.

There are actually several variants, but they all come down to the same thing:

Islam can "build the mosque when Saudi Arabia allows a shul in Mecca," they say.

Wow; I get it. Saudi Arabia is a place where religious freedom is nonexistent. The answer to our current, enormously complex dilemma: let’s become just like them. Nice thinking, guys.

It seems to me this issue is being deftly manipulated by two groups with intersecting agendas.

Many politicians are abandoning former President Bush’s wariness about portraying Islam as an evil, warlike religion in the interests of scoring demagogic points just before critical congressional elections. (And President Obama stumbled right into their obvious trap with his vacillating statements on the mosque. What is this guy thinking?)

And many conservative Jews and Christians are using the issue as fodder for their longstanding effort to convince us this isn’t a fight against a radical Islamic minority, but a clash of civilizations – Islamic, which is evil, versus Judeo-Christian civilization, which is under siege. Religious war on a planetary scale, that’s what it’s about.

Back to the beach. I’ll report back if I see any sand castles with minarets.


About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.