Ground Zero Temecula? Beware Copycat Mosque Controversies

 

Via Matt Yglesias, there’s trouble in Temecula, CA:

An e-mail alert sent to area newspapers last week announced that a one-hour “singing – praying – patriotic rally” will begin at 12:30 p.m. July 30 at the Islamic Center’s existing facility. The advisory – sent by a leader of a conservative coalition that has been active with Republican and Tea Party functions – recommended participants “bring your Bibles, flags, signs, dogs and singing voices.”

“We will not be submissive,” the notice proclaimed. “Our voices are going to be heard!” The alert went on to question what its authors described as Islamic beliefs. It suggested that participants sing during the rally because Muslim “women are forbidden to sing.” It suggested that rally participants bring dogs because Muslims “hate dogs.”

The advisory asked rally participants to “please bring a pooper scooper” if they are accompanied by a canine companion. The advisory said residents of an unspecified Tennessee community were able to halt the construction of a mosque in that state.

Two things in this Valley News report bear mention. First, in addition to this seemingly completely crackpot protest-in-the-making, there appears to be a second line of attack that may be familiar to Ricochet members and readers: legalism.

Patrick Richardson, the city’s director of planning and redevelopment […] did not work for Temecula when a similar controversy surfaced over another proposed house of worship. He said he has since learned about the twists and turns that occurred when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints submitted a proposal nearly a decade ago to build a facility along Pauba Road.

The Mormon controversy contains parallels to the mosque proposal. […] The number of parking spaces proposed for the mosque exceeds the city’s requirements, Richardson said.

Because of traffic, noise and related concerns raised by a nearby pastor and others, the city has examined a range of issues as it has reviewed the development plan, he said.

Second, and more important, the proposed mosque is a new house of worship for local Muslims who have gathered at the local industrial park for over a decade. Only now does that community require an ‘anti-submissive’ protest? Only now does their development plan, “submitted to city planners about 1½ years ago,” trigger “widespread media coverage that has included stories by the Associated Press and newspapers based in Los Angeles and Riverside”?

The timing here relative to the Ground Zero Mosque controversy may be coincidental, and without placing a few phone calls to Temecula I suppose I can’t be sure, but I’m suspicious. The strength of the particular critique of Cordoba House is badly diluted by these kinds of abstract — and, yes, simply anti-Muslim — shenanigans, isn’t it? And this kind of publicity is exactly what the Tea Party doesn’t need, isn’t it? (It’s notable that the protest organizers state that one of their group’s missions is to “return the local Tea Party Movement to the people.”)

One more point must be raised. The latest LA Times report on the story contains this sentence:

The website calls the Islamic faith “a radically intolerant belief system that is incompatible with the freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.’’

Well, if you believe that, suddenly this protest makes a bit more sense. I don’t believe that — as a result of direct and indirect experience — but at least a few very smart people I know are convinced that Islamic theology really is inimical to constitutional democracy and American-style free society. I’d like to see them proven wrong, but I’m not an Islamic scholar by any stretch. And since this seems to be the issue at the heart of this and other would-be copycat mosque controversies, let’s get it out in the open and deal with it.

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  1. Profile Photo Member
    @

    James,

    You’re right that this is exactly the conversation we need to be having – what DOES Islam say? You said you don’t believe – based on direct and indirect experience – that Islam is an intolerant belief system incompatible with the freedoms of the U.S. Constitution. I am coming to a different conclusion the more I learn; and I wish it wasn’t so. I know that sharia is incompatible with U.S. laws. How could one conclude otherwise? I know several Muslims who have no desire to live under sharia law, who like America’s values very much, and for them Islam is a personal religious path. But Muslims like Imam Rauf DO believe that Islam is a complete system: philosophical, political and religious, which requires prosletyzing until the whole world submits to Islam. And they have plenty of evidence in Islamic scripture to back up their claims.

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Inactive
    @heathermc

    Wherever in the world Islam dominates society/law/culture, there is poverty and ignorance. That is an empirical fact. I myself compare Hong Kong and the Gaza Strip: 1948 and today. Quite a difference, eh?

    On another thread, it was mentioned that islamic societies are ‘low trust’, that is, outside of the immediate family, dishonesty is just fine. Personally, I think this has a lot to do with the position of women in Islamic societies. Women dominate the household, and raise the children. And their lives are completely dependent upon the whim of the men around them. They are not citizens. So they cannot raise citizens.

    The ‘low trust’ aspect provides a solid explanation as to why Islamic armies cannot win battles against the Israelis, even given the same materiel.

    Anyway, Go Temecula!!

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Member
    @
    There are a million ways to interpret Islam. I’ve met plenty of men and women who interpret it in a fashion perfectly compatible with American life. Unless there is evidence that the Moslems of Temecula do not, this harassment is grotesque and un-American. · Jul 28 at 12:37pm

    That’s exactly right.

    James writes, “at least a few very smart people I know are convinced that Islamic theology really is inimical to constitutional democracy and American-style free society. I’d like to see them proven wrong, but I’m not an Islamic scholar by any stretch.”

    I’d say that an extended debate over Islamic theology isn’t where we ought to focus if the question is, “Can Muslims be loyal Americans,” any more than we should delve into the rules proscribed in Leviticus to figure out whether Judaism and literalistic Christianity are compatible with American life.

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Contributor
    @JamesPoulos
    Conor Friedersdorf: I’d say that an extended debate over Islamic theology isn’t where we ought to focus if the question is, “Can Muslims be loyal Americans,” any more than we should delve into the rules proscribed in Leviticus to figure out whether Judaism and literalistic Christianity are compatible with American life.

    The question as I’ve heard it posed is to what extent Muslims who take their faith to be consonant with constitutional democracy are likely to be considered heretics. This from NR is intriguing; I agree hugely that the right point of departure is not the loyalty test.

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Editor
    @Claire

    James, that link doesn’t work for me, does it work for you?

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Editor
    @Claire

    I agree with you, James, this reeks. Heathermc, whereever in the world black people dominate society, law and culture, there also happens to be poverty and ignorance. This is also an empirical fact. Fortunately, America is not a country where black men and women are prevented from enjoying the protections of the Constitution because Sierra Leone and Haiti are hellholes. We judge people by what they do in our country. And our country has a curious way of bringing out the best in people, whatever hellhole they come from.

    There are a million ways to interpret Islam. I’ve met plenty of men and women who interpret it in a fashion perfectly compatible with American life. Unless there is evidence that the Moslems of Temecula do not, this harassment is grotesque and un-American.

    • #6

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