muslims in america

Here is an exceptionally insightful column on the Ground Zero/Muslim mosque/cultural center controversy in today’s New York Times.  The last two paragraphs are worth reading very slowly.

Update:  I am hearing different voices about the mosque in Manhattan–the builder is a moderate, no he’s a radical; there are already mosques in lower Manhattan, so what’s the big deal?; if we don’t let them build it then the terrorists win, for they will have changed us; if we let them build it then the terrorists win, for they will be using our liberality to destroy us from the inside.  That last point was made by a couple of Canadian Muslims, in their interesting article on what is really going on here.

Update 2:  The editorials keep coming.  Here’s another one from the Wall Street Journal that is worth reading.

Update 3:  I guess I am now officially collecting provocative articles on Islam, secularism, and Ground Zero.  This one might be the best so far.






5 responses to “muslims in america”

  1. Ooh…very good article that nicely articulates how Obama (once again) misses an important opportunity to unite rather than divide. Similarly, see

  2. I read those last paragraphs very slowly. And I still find myself in disagreement. The author’s stand that the evil means of the “second America” (“During the great waves of 19th-century immigration, the insistence that new arrivals adapt to Anglo-Saxon culture — and the threat of discrimination if they didn’t…”) justified the good end (“…was crucial to their swift assimilation.”) simply does not hold water ethically. He actually applauds what the post-1920s immigration restrictions that “were draconian in many ways” because “they created time for persistent ethnic divisions to melt into a general unhyphenated Americanism.” By what standard is “general unhyphenated Americanism” worth draconianism?

    As for those final two paragraphs, they are in direct opposition to what Fareed Zakaria wrote in Newsweek.

    Build the Ground Zero Mosque.

  3. mikewittmer


    What you cite does not come from the final two paragraphs. What I was referring to was his helpful (to me at least) distinction between the two Americas, and why one emphasizes the right to do what you want and the other the responsibility to fit in. I think that is a helpful distinction here. As even Obama now tacitly acknowledges, while these American Muslims have every right to build a mosque wherever they wish, it may not necessarily be the wisest or most appropriate course of action. I’m still looking into the situation, and the more I hear the more I think that I don’t have enough facts to say for sure one way or the other.

  4. @Dr. Wittmer, I’m not sure we need to say one way or another. Evangelically, I would prefer the mosque not be built. But I think it’s no concern of ours.

    Where I think the tension in the public debate originates is the near breaking point of politically correct “tolerance”. I think Slavoj Zizek has a great definition of tolerance as, “I am intolerant of your over-proximity to me.” In other words, don’t get too close, and we’ll be fine. We want to be hospitable to the presence of differing faiths, but this might be too close to the heart of post-9/11 America; thus the controversy.

    I don’t generally think it exegetically responsible to discuss what the Bible might have said about something, but it appears to me that Paul was quite silent about where to let the pagans built their temples. I think we’re better off focusing our attention on where Christ is building his church.

    P.S. That second article frightens me.

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