Monday, August 23, 2010

Only tangentially related to that whole mosque thing

I’m not going to get into the Ground Zero Mosque/Park51 controversy directly. Everyone else has pretty much said everything that can be said. But I did like the second point in this Daniel Drezner post (via JustOneMinute):

2) I'm getting really sick of "the terrorists will win" line of criticism being levied against those wishing to prevent construction of the mosque. Over the past few days, I've seen bipartisan criticism of the mosque criticism along the lines of, "this line of argumentation is the best way to help Al Qaeda." [snip]

You know, I remember oh so many years ago the constant use of "if you say X, or criticize policy Y, or challenge official Z, then the terrorists win" kind of discourse. It was horses**t then, and it's horses**t now. I'll be damned if I'm going to see debate in the United States circumscribed because of fears of how Al Qaeda will react.

Cassandra at Villainous Company makes a similar argument but does it better:

I have read more frankly idiotic arguments on this subject than I can shake a stick at (and some good ones). But nowhere, yet, have I seen this point made: we do not teach tolerance by stifling debate.


In the end, no matter how angry we may feel in the mean time, we will express ourselves with words rather than pitchforks or suicide bombs. We are a big enough nation to do that.

Cassandra ends with:

Would that a few more of us remembered the very real difference between mere speech - even speech we dislike - and lawlessness and violence. This may well be the defining difference between the largely secular West and most of the Muslim world.

If we can't even understand that, how on earth can we teach it to others?

When I combine the two writings, I’m led to conclude that many of those worrying about how the debate will impact Al-Qaeda or the Muslim World do not understand why such debate is a sign of an open, healthy democracy. Perhaps it is that lack of understanding that makes some of them seek to stifle such debate in hopes of currying favor with others who do not understand it.

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