August 19th, 2010
Republican Kathleen Parker understands what Howard Dean doesn’t. She says the mosque must be built:
It is hard to imagine that anything has gone unsaid about the so-called Ground Zero mosque, but an important point seems to be missing.
The mosque should be built precisely because we don’t like the idea very much. We don’t need constitutional protections to be agreeable, after all.
This point surpasses even all the obvious reasons for allowing the mosque, principally that there’s no law against it. Precluding any such law, we let people worship when and where they please. That it hurts some people’s feelings is, well, irrelevant in a nation of laws. And, really, don’t we want to keep it that way?…
But the more compelling point is that mosque opponents may lose by winning. Radical Muslims have set cities afire because their feelings were hurt. When a Muslim murdered filmmaker Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam, it was because his feelings were hurt. Ditto the Muslims who rioted about cartoons depicting the image of Muhammad and sent frightened doodlers into hiding.
The idea that one should never have one’s feelings hurt — and the violent means to which some will resort in the protection of their own self-regard — has done harm rivaling evil. It isn’t a stretch to say that the greatest threat to free speech is, in fact, “sensitivity.”
This is why plans for the mosque near Ground Zero should be allowed to proceed, if that’s what these Muslims want. We teach tolerance by being tolerant. We can’t insist that our freedom of speech allows us to draw cartoons or produce plays that Muslims find offensive and then demand that they be more sensitive to our feelings.
More to the point, the tolerance we urge the Muslim world to embrace as we exercise our right to free expression, and revel in the glory and the gift of irreverence, is the same we must embrace when Muslims seek to express themselves peacefully.
Nobody ever said freedom would be easy. We are challenged every day to reconcile what is allowable and what is acceptable. Compromise, though sometimes maddening, is part of the bargain. We let the Ku Klux Klan march, not because we agree with them but because they have a right to display their hideous ignorance.
Ultimately, when sensitivity becomes a cudgel against lawful expressions of speech or religious belief — or disbelief — we all lose.
Entry Filed under: Religion