Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dennis Byrne's Common Sense on the Mosque at Ground Zero

One of the best lines of dialogue in James T. Farrell's Chicago masterpiece -Studs Lonigan occurred in the first book of the trilogy Young Lonigan.

In one of the pool hall scenes Lonigan and the Hoods hanging out at Bathseller's Pool Hall are razzing one of the younger guys. The kid has had enough and he pathetically commands, "Keep Your Old Pool Hall."

Barney Keefe wags back, " No. Take it with you!"

Similarly, Dennis Byrne offers a very nuanced suggestion with regard to President Obama's favorite Mosque - The Cordoba House at Ground Zero.

The Constitution, law and tradition prohibit government from dictating where a denomination can build its house of worship. It's so enshrined in the law that the Supreme Court has decreed that government can't prohibit American Indians from smoking hallucinogenic peyote as part of a religious rite. Thankfully. We've already had enough of government prohibitions on expressions of faith, from the presence of a cross on isolated, public property, to public schools erasing references to religious holidays.

Yes, houses of worship located even on private property are not exempt from zoning laws. And government can take property owned by religious dominations if it serves a clear and compelling public interest and a no "less burdensome" alternative to achieve this public good is available.

But the Cordoba House has passed those tests. It doesn't violate local zoning or landmark ordinances. And being insensitive — as the imam surely is — is hardly sufficient legal grounds for blocking the construction of a house of worship. Let's be honest: the opposition to the mosque is fueled by discrimination against this religion. It's so obvious that any attempt by any government to stop the mosque surely is a loser. If Catholics, Protestants or Jews wanted to build there, we wouldn't be having this debate.

So, conservatives, let's leave the wailing about the imam's insensitivity to liberals, for whom it is the highest of offenses. Let's not waste our breath hoping that a government you believe should be limited would step in and do something about it. Such an expansion of government powers would eventually and surely turn against you in unforeseen ways.

Give Rauf his victory, if he must have it. It'll be hollow because the mosque's presence will stand as a concrete reminder of our devotion to liberty and acceptance of its costs. Erect a plaque outside proclaiming, "This mosque brought to you courtesy of America's dedication to freedom." The mosque will stand for all to see as testimony to Rauf's rigid and Procrustean version of Islam. Certainly, he and Islam will be the losers.

Absolutely! All of the Obama Cheerleaders, like Jonathon Alter and Mark Halperin, have been churning out Harper Lee Heart-tugging appeals to the Founding Fathers' Writ since President Gaffe-o-Matic Obama uttered his warm embrace of New York Mayor Bloomberg's Hagia Sophia West . . .and began the long walk back.

Have a Mosque, Rauf, by all means.

Great thoughts, Mr. Byrne!

1 comment:

Dennis Byrne... said...

Thanks. Refreshing to have a rose tossed this way among the thorns.