John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Mosque Mess

Posted on August 16, 2010

President Obama speaks at an Iftar meal, the breaking of the Ramadan fast, at the White House, 13 August 2010.

I support religious freedom.  I support the idea that any legitimate religion should have the right to build any house of worship in any private property site, as long as it complies with local ordinances and laws, just as the President said.

But I don’t support the idea of a mosque going up anywhere near the 9/11 site.

Contradiction?  Maybe.  But so be it.

America has its laws, its Constitution, and its traditions.  And part of those laws, Constitution, and traditions is the idea of religious freedom and diversity.  But the implicit bargain that comes with the idea of religious freedom is that you have to accept my worship of my religion if I accept your worship of your religion.

That doesn’t really work for the Islamic world.  They don’t accept religious plurality.  If you proselytize in Saudi Arabia, for example, you will get executed.   There are no Christian churches in Saudi Arabia.

I once went to a Catholic mass in Morocco (a moderate Islamic state), but it was kind of spooky, like I was breaking the law or something.  We were told to keep quiet about over visit and not make a big deal of it.

The Jihadists who attacked us on 9/11 didn’t really buy into the idea of religious diversity.  They killed 3000 people in New York and at the Pentagon because they thought they were doing Allah’s work.  And part of that work was to martyr themselves so that they could bring Islam to America.

You really don’t hear much from the different Mullahs and Imams and Sheiks about how these jihadists were fundamentally wrong in their interpretation of their Holy book.  You don’t hear from them about how important it is for Islam to live alongside other religious faiths.  You won’t hear them condemn the violence and work to stop the terrorism.

You will hear, on occasion, how America is to blame for 9/11.  In fact, the guy who wants to build the 9/11 mosque said exactly that.  And maybe in his mind, America is to blame for the attacks.  Maybe our multi-culturalism, our openness, our embrace of women is so offensive that the Arab extremists had no choice.  Maybe in his mind, we had it coming.

I don’t want that guy building a mosque anywhere the 9/11 site.  I don’t want this mosque to become a symbol of American weakness in the face of Islamic extremism.  I don’t want this mosque to become a place where Muslims from around the world can come and honor the memory of the martyrs who crashed the planes into the World Trade Towers and killed three thousand people.

If Muslims are going to come and pray to the memory of the martyrs, I want to make it inconvenient for them.  Make them take the subway for a couple of stops.  Make them walk more than a couple of blocks.  Make them take a taxi if they must.  But don’t build a mosque in eyesight of the 9/11 site.  It’s just too close.

The President stepped in it and then tried to step back out of it over the weekend.  First, he endorsed the whole idea, and then he took back his endorsement the next day, right after his political advisors advised him that his initial endorsement wasn’t so smart politically.  That flip-flop makes the President look weak, indecisive and confused about what America really stands for.

Yes, America stands for religious diversity.  But to those Islamists who are still targeting the American people in a worldwide war, that message doesn’t compute.  They see diversity as a weakness or worse, as blasphemy.

I agree that the best way to combat the extremists is to continue to show diversity is our strength.  But not at the 9/11 site.  Not now.

Had the President had any unifying leadership capabilities, he would have quietly called in the leading players on both sides of the issue, and hammered out an agreement to build the mosque in place that would not have been offensive to the families of the September 11th families.

But the President didn’t show unifying leadership skills.  He chose to take a side, the wrong side, in my estimation.

This mosque mess has only gotten messier since the President weighed in.  Nice job, Mr. Obama.