I just got back to my office after a little impromptu flyering at the various demonstrations near Ground Zero. There were lots of cops on horseback which usually means someone will need to clear up a certain amount of biological waste product. But there was as least as much verbal horse shit being shoveled as there was the biological kind. One problem with a political system dominated by two parties is that regardless of which way you vote you are forced to vote for a certain amount of shit.
First of all I am neither for, nor against the so-called mosque at Ground Zero. I’m for religious freedom. I think I’m in pretty good company because the guys that wrote the Constitution seem to agree with me. The developers of the mosque at Ground Zero have as much right to build as anyone trying to build a church, a synagogue, a Burger King or a Duane Reade. Personally, of the bunch, I find the Burger King most offensive but I don’t think the management of Burger King , or their customers really care what I think. This is supposed to be a nation of laws and those laws have to be applied equally.
The landmark commission could probably have prevented the mosque but much to their credit they didn’t. The state can find excuses to prevent anything they want. They could probably prevent the mosque by finding problems with where they decide to put their electric sockets. But coming up with those kinds of excuses when it’s really about religion is bigotry pure and simple.
So in a nation of laws the argument has to be shifted away from religion and who’s offended to one of public safety. Islam does not have a monopoly on violence and oppression. All Muslims are not violent and oppressive and all violent, oppressive people are not Muslims. You could make arguments about trends and percentages but it appears to me that the Western form of violence and oppression is just a little slicker and has a better PR firm. It’s at least as effective. Besides, there’s nothing illegal about being in a religion where some other people in that religion happen to be violent and oppressive. That’s a problem the collectivists have. They deal with people as if they all fit neatly into groups – and then they play them off against each other. They see issues in black and white without regard for individual human beings.
So far I see no legitimate legal course of action that can prevent the building of the Ground Zero mosque or any other mosque or church or synagogue etc. For those engaged in holy war, opposition to the mosque is also a tactical mistake. Bin Laden and his buddies are loving this. Here’s proof that hypocritical America was really just anti-Islam all along. Alternatively, we could have a high profile Islamic center of tolerance right next to ground zero. That would be a real victory against radical Islam. From what I’ve heard the supporters of the mosque are selling religious tolerance, peace and harmony pretty hard these days. And that’s good.
The problem is, and this big brings me back to the need for third parties, a lot of the other messages I heard at the pro-mosque rally. I stood behind a young guy holding a sign with a quote by Mao on one side and Engels on the other. Both quotes said essentially the same thing – that revolution is violent class warfare. I handed a flyer to young guy from the Socialist Workers Party and started talking to him about how we should work together to offer the voters alternatives to a corrupt two-party system. Dan Fein, who is running for Governor on the Socialist Workers line was standing close by. Turns out I ran against Dan for New York City Comptroller in 2005. Dan wasn’t having it. Seems Dan is no friend of any friend of private property and libertarians are just tools of an oppressive capitalist system. I came in third out of four in that race by the way. I think that’s pretty good since most of the papers said Bill Thompson was running unopposed.
Fast-forward to the anti-mosque rally. The shit started on the walk over. One person asked me what my flyer was about and I replied – religious freedom. She adamantly handed the flyer back saying they have no religious freedom in Islamic countries. Excellent point-see my comment above about tactical error. Another gentleman told me in no uncertain terms to “stick it-how about that”. I told him I would stick it right into the hands of the next guy. Another young lady argued that Islamic countries have no religious freedom and then told me if I didn’t accept Jesus Christ as savior I was doomed to hell.
In conclusion I’m wondering why the voters should have to choose between the collectivist nut cases who are pro-freedom of religion and against economic freedom on one hand, and the neo-con nut cases who are for religious freedom as long as you’re not Islamic but who are probably not quite as socialist on the other. The answers are just not that black-and-white. The American electorate is fully capable of distinguishing among a larger number of choices. And I think a lot of them would make a choice that included both economic freedom and personal freedom. And religious freedom is a big part of personal freedom.