Monday, August 16, 2010
Tolerant To A Fault
By Harris Sherline

Just how tolerant should we be? Are we, that is, we Americans, tolerant enough toward others? When do or should we draw the line between tolerance and allowing ourselves to be manipulated?
The issue of the mosque at Ground Zero has evolved into a national discussion about our tolerance toward the Islamic faith, and as people line up on both sides, the schism between many of our political leaders and the general population has become increasingly pronounced.
The latest shot from the bow of our government’s ship of state has been leveled by none other than the president himself, who declared that Muslims “have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country.”  It’s especially interesting that he made this statement last Friday at an Iftar meal at the White House, which observed the end of the Muslims’ Ramadan fast. Obama further stated that they have “the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan.”
Those who favor construction of a mosque just a stone’s throw from the World Trade Center (WTC) have based their argument on property rights, which presumably allows the Muslims to do anything they want on their own land.   
But they are wrong.
If their property rights are unlimited, why do we have zoning laws, and why are some properties designated as Historical Sites, in addition to being required to conform to a plethora of building codes and labor laws that exist in abundance in every jurisdiction in the nation. Not just in New York City, but in every city, county, borough and state in America. Every community has limitations on what an owner can do with their real property, as well as when and how.  
The assertion that because the site of the proposed mosque is “private property” as the rationale for allowing the Muslims to build the mosque they are proposing at Ground Zero is absolute nonsense. It’s a sophistry, “a deliberately invalid argument displaying ingenuity in reasoning in the hope of deceiving someone.”
Think about the community where you live. Can you build anything you want on your own land? Of course you can’t. So, I believe it’s time we stop those who favor the mosque at Ground Zero from using a false argument in an effort to buttress their case.
But, there’s more. How about religious tolerance? If we are supposed to be tolerant of the concerns of Islamic believers in America by respecting their desire for a mosque at a particular location, how about also expecting the Muslims to reciprocate, perhaps by allowing a Jewish Temple to be built next door or across the street from their own place of worship? 
Unfortunately, considering that one of the basic tenets of Islam is the total destruction and/or domination of the Jews, it’s highly unlikely that the Muslims would tolerate a Synagogue next door to their site at the WTC. Case in point: Try building a Christian church of any denomination or a Jewish temple anywhere in Saudi Arabia and see how far you get.
Furthermore, has anyone thought about the daily calls to prayer that are sometimes broadcast from the towers of mosques, calling the Muslim faithful to prayer five times a day? How about laws that limit noise levels in many communities? Should they be waived on the grounds that this mosque is exempt because it’s an integral part of the Islamic faith? 
So, where does tolerance start and end? Is it just one-way? Should those Americans who disagree with building a mosque at Ground Zero cool it and stop raising objections, or should their concerns also be “tolerated” by others, including the Muslims? 
And how about the families and friends of the thousands of people who were killed by Muslims on 9/11? They, along with many other Americans, see a mosque at Ground Zero as an insensitive, in-your-face act by those Muslims who support the construction of the mosque and Muslim cultural center at that location.
So, which side should be challenged to be “tolerant” and respect the rights and concerns of others? Just those who believe tolerance should be limited to the people who oppose the mosque at Ground Zero or both sides?  A recent CNN/Opinion Research poll found that 68% of Americans oppose the plans for construction of the mosque at Ground Zero, while only 29% favored it. So, who should be admonished to be “tolerant”?
The resolution of this problem is really quite easy. Why not just move the mosque to another location that everyone can find acceptable? Or is that too much to ask of the Muslims?
© 2010 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
Read more of Harris Sherline’s commentaries on his blog at
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