Helen Weir
Because liberty is not its own opposite
By Helen Weir
August 31, 2010

    "Well, really, you know, I am not aware of a thirst for some ready-made truth which puts an end to intellectual activity in the way you seem to be describing. Will it leave me the free play of Mind, Dick? I must insist on that, you know.'

    "Free, as a man is free to drink while he is drinking. He is not free still to be dry."

    The Ghost seemed to think for a moment. "I can make nothing of that idea," it said.

    — from Chapter 5 of The Great Divorce

It is an amazing circumstance that C. S. Lewis, who departed from this earth a number of decades ago, seems consistently to have said the last word about issues which hadn't even materialized before he left us. Take the proposed construction of the Ground Zero mosque, for example. There are many good reasons why it should not be built, but Lewis explains the most cogent of them all in the fictional exchange between Dick and the Episcopal Ghost. Let's take a look at each of the major reason groups in turn, to find out why Jack had the whole thing nailed a long time ago.

The first clue that there should be no such structure in that particular location is the fact that the entire project is absolutely shrouded in political correctness. The AP's verbal police don't pull out their big guns for nothing, you know. For years, the style guide considered the gold standard of the American mainstream media establishment has insisted on referring to the merciless killing of unborn children by the millions as mere "choice." So, if the same group demands that the Ground Zero mosque be spoken of as something other than "the Ground Zero mosque," I for one am ready to credit them with knowing when ideological whitewashing is indicated. If they want something hidden, there is definitely something there to hide.

The same kind of soft-soap salesmanship surrounds descriptions of what the building itself will be like, such as the charming mental image of a swimming pool on one of its many floors. The heck with how many other mosques there are in the Big Apple; who knew that poor old NYC was so short on places to take a dip?

"Hey, Joe, what do you say we head on down to the Ground Zero mosque and do a few laps?"

"That's the 'Islamic Bridge-Building Cultural Center a Good Two Blocks From Where the Infidels Got Greased' to you, Ted."

"Right. Whatever."

While we're at it, why don't we paint a net-high white line across the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and invite the general public to hit tennis balls against it?

There is, secondly, the deeply disturbing anti-American radicalism of Imam Rauf and his known terrorist connections to be taken into consideration. Sean Hannity, as usual, has been warning everybody about this, but not enough people listened to him about candidate Obama, either. One supporter of the mosque mentioned to me recently that there is a Buddhist shrine at Pearl Harbor, so what's the big effing deal? The big effing deal is that that shrine was constructed a full forty-seven years after the December 7 attack, when imperial Japan was no longer an active threat to the United States. Bridge-building is a wonderful endeavor, once a war has been decisively won. In the meanwhile, it is generally considered a much sounder strategy to go around blowing bridges up.

The symbolism of the proposed "cultural center" is also, as many have pointed out, profoundly problematic. As Shariah law and its insidious proponents make ideological, judicial, and in this case architectural inroads into our country and culture, who will speak against the domestic abuse, rape, mutilation, and social control (among other issues) to which Islamic male chauvinism lays "moral" claim? If the duped and deceptive advocates of unborn child killing who refer to themselves by the Orwellian title of "feminist" were going to step up to the plate on this one, they would have done so by now. Evidently, there are just about as many real champions of women's rights out there are there are "moderate" Muslims.

The Jay Sekulow angle is also, thank God, there to be considered. He and his ACLJ are aggressively investigating whether or not the property in question is legally owned by the parties purporting to sell it. To those of us with the image of the Twin Towers collapsing in flames still engraved in our hearts and minds, halting the Cordoba initiative on such grounds would be kind of like getting Al Capone for tax evasion. In the end, though, that was better than not getting him at all.

What are we to say of the farcical "freedom of religion" argument being advanced by American liberals who have literally never used those three words in succession before? And where is the freedom-from-religion contingent these days, anyway? They seem to have gone as suddenly churchmouse-quiet as the feminists themselves.

President Obama, who after two decades in the pews still couldn't tell us exactly what his own pastor was talking about, said (he supported the building of the mosque, after all, before he more or less opposed it) that Muslims have exactly the same rights to practice their faith as the rest of us. Well, if that were actually the case, there would be no question of a mosque being built anywhere at all.

What about Ken Howell, the professor of Catholicism at U of I, who was recently fired for — wait for it — teaching Catholic doctrine, and personally adhering to it? What about the conscience clause (or lack thereof) in Obamacare, which could well bring the force of law to the claim that healthcare workers of all faiths have to participate in the commission of abortions, no matter what they believe about the "procedure's" morality? What about the countless Christian valedictorians who have had their graduation speeches censored, and the pro-life kids kicked out of school for the day for wearing life-affirming tee shirts?

Even leaving religion out of it, nobody has a right to do anything they want to with property in this country, even when their rights of ownership are uncontested. There are zoning laws, restrictive covenants, the blatantly unconstitutional Kelo decision, and a host of other regulatory practicalities to be taken into consideration. Here in Wisconsin, a guy is wrangling with the courts for keeping animals recently designated as belonging to a "livestock species" without having properly registered his "premises." The Badger State is apparently shocked, shocked to find that people are raising cows in Cheesehead Country. What is the world coming to? The contention that Muslims qua Muslims are free to plunk down a fifteen-story structure absolutely anywhere they feel like it, then, makes them quite a bit more equal than the rest of us.

But the real problem with the argument for the Ground Zero mosque is found in the notion that allowing it would somehow* "showcase our Constitutional liberties." Here is a truly problematic assertion, far outstripping the idea that the United States of America has more blood on its hands than does Al Qaida. Implicit in this mind bending platitude is the contention that liberty constitutes its own opposite. To be free, it is alleged, necessitates embracing unfreedom. If we stand for good and not evil, if we hold that not abusing women is morally superior to abusing them, if we draw a distinction between drinking and being dry, then we stand accused — not by militant Muslims, but by libertarians in our own society whose understanding of the American experiment is essentially corrupt — of hypocrisy. Is it not, rather, hypocrisy for those who say they want to "showcase our Constitutional liberties" to dance, in one and the same act, upon hallowed American graves?

Like the Episcopal Ghost in C. S. Lewis's fictional dialogue, mainstream libertarians can "make nothing of the idea" that Islamic law and American liberty are irreconcilable. Pluralism has limits, and those limits were set out succinctly and correctly in the Declaration of Independence. Within the realm of recognizing that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, liberty flourishes; beyond this recognition, it does not and cannot exist. It would not be an exercise of "freedom" to allow those who have violated the right to life, deliberately, flagrantly, unrepentantly, and who deny it ideologically, to erect a monument to their violation and denial in our very midst. It would be an act of suicidal insanity.

* "Notion" and "somehow" are linked terms which Barack Obama typically works into a sentence when he wishes to discredit something, but lacks the logic or data to do so.

© Helen Weir


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