Cordoba House, and the Perils of Poor Reasoning
The issue of Cordoba House, what idiots are referring to as “The Ground-Zero Mosque”, is the kind of issue that bothers me the most when it comes to argument. It’s not just that the people who oppose it are wrong (and idiots), it’s that they are SO WRONG that it becomes a problem to refute any one part without inadvertently seeming to support another part.
It’s not a mosque, and it’s not at Ground Zero, but even if it WERE, “Islam” isn’t the same fucking thing as terrorism, but even if Islam WERE the same thing is terrorism, the foundation of American religious liberty is built on the idea that we shouldn’t stop them from building it, anyway.
You see the problem? If my argument rests on, “it’s not even a mosque,” or “it’s two blocks away; you wouldn’t even be able to see it in New York,” it subtly suggests that I don’t ALSO oppose the issue on the grounds that Islam isn’t synonymous with terrorism. Like by saying, “it’s not even a mosque,” the implication is that things would be different if it WERE a mosque.
The fundamental issue here is not whether or not it’s a mosque, it’s not how close to Ground Zero it is, it’s not even whether or not Islam as a whole should be responsible for all terrorist suicide bombers who are Muslim. It’s that the rule in America is: religious liberty. Period, end of discussion. The second we even consider some bullshit like this — some bullshit like, “oh, they can LEGALLY, but should they do it, morally?”
THAT is the second when the terrorists win, because that is the second that we, as Americans, say to ourselves, “Yeah, you know, maybe Iran’s got the right idea with this theocracy thing.” “Religious liberty” is a universal, absolute freedom. It is not something we permit only as long as it doesn’t hurt our feelings, it isn’t something that we’re okay with just so long as you want one of the “good” religions. Religious liberty is religious liberty; if my house were blown up by terrorists, and Al-Qaeda wanted to open a terrorist death-mosque across the street from the crater with a big sign on it that said, “Woo, terrorism!” I’d STILL let them do it.
Because I’ve thrown my lot in on the side of religious liberty. I believe it’s better for humanity, I believe it’s better for America, I believe it’s better for anyone, and I am absolutely committed to the belief that it will win out in the end. That commitment is what’s virtuous; not this super-PC, “think of the children” bullshit demogogery that Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich are trying to foist on us.
And. While I’m on the subject: Ross Douchehat has a piece in the New York Times about the “Two Americas.” On the surface, he’s trying to bridge the gap between different ideologies, I suppose, but even a half-hearted read reveals it to be the worst kind of sophistry imaginable.
He’s first trying to undermine the principles of liberty and tolerance that are the foundation of the fucking country, by claiming that these principles, rather than being a culture of freedom, are just high-minded ideals that are the fodder of liberal speeches; the topics of those who can talk a good game, but not really the beliefs of the people. No, the real American people are bigots, he says. Make no mistake, the “second America” he talks about, the one that hates and fears foreigners, the one that encourages immigrants to assimilate (the one that condemned thousands of immigrants to die building the railroads that made the native aristocracy rich) — those are bigots. This is the very definition of bigotry.
The very idea of “assimilation” as something that benefits the society, for instance, is something that is only a positive outcome to the “second America” he talks about. “Assimilation” isn’t a presumed positive; for most people who understand that culture is a living, changing, adaptive system, the idea of “assimilation” doesn’t even make any sense. The only way you could force immigrants to “assimilate” is if you were trying to preserve some particular kind of culture against dilution or disruption, and the fact of the matter is that the second a culture needs to be preserved is the second that culture has died.
If you replace “second America” with “bigots”, Douchehat’s attempt to find a compromise between the two reveals itself as the false-parity-mongering crap that it is. There is no parity between “bigotry” and “not bigotry” — one of these is manifestly better. There is nothing to be learned from America’s history of being bigoted motherfuckers, except if it’s to learn just HOW BIGOTED the country has been, despite the fact that every single bigot was the victim of some other bigotry.
That Douchehat would write a defense of the anti-Cordoba bigots, promoting a false parity between tolerance and intolerance, is itself indefensible. It is, moreoever, plainly not an attempt to add to the intellectual landscape of discussion on the issue (because, frankly, there is not really a varied intellectual landscape regarding the discussion of the issue, except insofar as one might wander off the unassailable cliffs of reason and into some dank swampy pit of stupid fucking idiocy). It is instead a completely transparent attempt to serve a narrative that tries to divide America into the camps of high-minded Liberal Elites who think they’re better than you, and pragmatic, Real American bigots who will turn America back into what they thought it was like in 1956, or die trying.
Man, I hate that guy.