If there was any truth to the assertions in the question, that would be something to discuss. But there is no truth. These are wild claims that have absolutely no factual basis. Obviously any group of any religion or any secular group that wants to set up a site that is a center of violent action is against the law. That is not the point here. The point here is that people who want to have a community center of which there are many and who do not represent a radical center have been tarred with the radical brush. And that is unconstitutional. But yes, if the Catholic Church wanted to set up and be a center of violence then that would be prohibited under American law and action would be taken.
Thu, 19 Aug 2010 19:33:08 GMT
Next question from Lisa: Isn’t the issue of the mosque to be built at ground zero more about the right to[...] build what you want on private property rather than one of religious freedom? It’s just like the flag-burning issue. People want to turn it into a question of whether or not you should be able to burn the flag, and one sides says yes because saying no would infringe on your free speech rights, and the other side says no because saying yes would be disrespecting America. And the two sides have been going back and forth for years, never thinking to ask the question, “WHOSE FLAG IS IT?” So it’s an issue of private property, not free speech. I never used to really get the full meaning of the premise, “Private property is the bulwark of freedom.” Now I do!
Thu, 19 Aug 2010 19:35:06 GMT
I apologize for all the technical issues we are facing on today’s session. We will be sure it won’t happen in future Q & A sessions.
11:37 Comment From Guest
Thu, 19 Aug 2010 19:37:23 GMT
Comment:Is there any verifiable evidence that the proposed Community Center is being funded by “terrorist organizations”? For that matter, would we as carefully scrutinize the building of every Catholic church to be sure that some militant wing of the CYO is not ponying up inordinate amounts of seed fund?
11:38 Robert Scheer
Thu, 19 Aug 2010 19:38:37 GMT
I think that’s an interesting point. And I do think there is a private property right to do what you want on land that you own, and these people have obtained the necessary zoning permits, so they’re complying with the same obligation that any owner of property has. The fact that they qualify as property owners, fulfilled the zoning requirements strengthens the argument that this is a matter of first amendment religious freedom. These people are not claiming they have the right to arbitrarily use their property in ways that would violate community zoning laws. That would be a separate issue. They are only asking for the same rigt that any property owner has and that was granted to them. But I return to the key argument: The only way this becomes a center of controversy is by attacking not the terrorists but anyone who has a different view of a deity and falls under the rubric of Muslim. In this case, the Muslims are people who have centuries of practice in inclusiveness and in rejecting religious violence. So I repeat, the argument made by Newt Gingrich and other demagogues is absurd on its face.
11:38 alostreflection via twitter
Thu, 19 Aug 2010 19:38:51 GMT
In related news to the Mosque being built next to ground zero, new outrage over plans to build library next to Sarah Palin.
11:39 Comment From rowast
Thu, 19 Aug 2010 19:39:39 GMT
Comment:Would those opposed to the NYC mosque also support banning the tea party from say the OKC memorial area surround the Murrah Fed. Building?
11:39 Robert Scheer
Thu, 19 Aug 2010 19:39:57 GMT
This project has been scrutinized more carefully probably than any community center project in recent memory, and the evidence seems quite clear that the people behind it—Sufi Muslims behind it—have nothing but peaceful intentions. If there were any other agenda involving a plan to commit violence, the use of illegal funds—we have quite a body of law now that the FBI can use to act on and investigate. I assume that has happened and they have not come up with any such information. So from the facts that we have, this is simply a case—an extreme case—of religious bias, and guilt by association. Which is exactly what the terrorists wanted. They wanted to seize the ground that they were speaking for all Muslims, when they are actually speaking for a lunatic fringe.
Thu, 19 Aug 2010 19:42:39 GMT
We have time for just one more!
Thu, 19 Aug 2010 19:43:41 GMT
Thu, 19 Aug 2010 19:43:44 GMT
I think that is a good polemical point to make. And again it would be invalid, because clearly it would be wrong to tarnish the Tea Party, even though many of its people oppose federal spending, unless it’s in Alaska. On the other hand, you can criticize the federal government but that doesn’t mean you believe in violence. So obviously, that would be a false argument.
11:44 Comment From Guest
Thu, 19 Aug 2010 19:44:01 GMT
Comment:That’s actually quite interesting. While I did not realize that the Sufi community were the prominent proponents of the Center now that I do, I’m more in favor of it coming into being than I was previously…and I was previously in complete agreement with its construction. The Sufi community have no greater designs on undermining the American way of life than the aforementioned Catholic Youth group which I alluded to in my previous comment.
11:50 Robert Scheer
Thu, 19 Aug 2010 19:50:15 GMT
I’ll make a couple concluding remarks. One, we seem to have a lot of questions from people who are challenging the basic narrative on how 9/11 occurred. I think that the best way to respond to those questions is to demand access in a public trial to the key witnesses who have been held at Guantanamo for almost a decade and who formed the basis of the 9/11 Commission narrative. In the 9/11 Commission Report, it is stated clearly that the commission members, although they had the highest security and were chosen by the president, did not have access to the key witnesses. No were they able to questino people who questioned the key witnesses. And I think there’s a lot of suspicion out there because we have been denied a public trial of the alleged culprits, and the value of a public trial is that we would get to see the cross-examination of witnesses and we would get to examine the available evidence. And so I understand why suspicion abounds, which will always be the case with issues of government secrecy. Second, I don’t want to lose the key point involved with this Muslim community center controversy, which is the very dangerous principle of collective guilt, which has always been the basis of hatred and genocide. You find one or two practitioners of a religion or any other belief system who have engaged in despicable acts. You then extend that guilt by irrational association with the entire group of followers. We are dealing with an incredibly varied and complex phenomenon that exhibits different tendencies throughout the world whether it’s Indonesia as opposed to Saudi Arabia, whether it’s Afghanistan as opposed to the United States, the Muslim religion exhibits—as does the Catholic, as do all belief systems—enormous variations. And there are always subgroups who will claim the mantle of authority. And I would remind people that there is no shortage of examples of zealots in the Christian Jewish and every other belief system killing their own leaders, as happened with Yitzhak Rabin, prime minister of Israel. So it is important that this guilt by association be challenged and it is shameful that evidently a unified Republican Party and some leading Democrats joined in the witch hunting. But imagine if Barack Obama, president of the United States, had not made clear to the world that we do not hold all Muslims responsible for what happened on 9/11, that the president of the United States is not involved in a religious war against all Muslims. Imagine if he had joined this crowd of Gingrich and the others. What would be the message that we would be sending the people of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq? It would be a message that the United States is involved as its detractors have claimed in a religious crusade. And that would have endangered our national security more than anything else a president could do. He did the right thing. Period.
Thu, 19 Aug 2010 19:50:22 GMT
11:50 Robert Scheer
Thu, 19 Aug 2010 19:50:46 GMT
Thu, 19 Aug 2010 19:50:52 GMT
We’re out of time but still have questions lined up.
Thu, 19 Aug 2010 19:51:02 GMT
Maybe our other readers can partake—
11:51 Comment From Guest
Thu, 19 Aug 2010 19:51:05 GMT
Comment:How would you recommended Muslims stand firm?
11:51 Comment From Guest
Thu, 19 Aug 2010 19:51:41 GMT
Comment:Any Muslim charity that collects funds for poor Muslims is labeled with a funding terrorism! This has made it easy for the neo crazies and right wingers to use the law against any organization that they deem fit. Is the attack on this center part of a huge anti Muslim wave in America?