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The Daily Need

Wieseltier on the mosque

The site of the Cordoba controversy. Photo: Flickr/beelaineo

Rising above the depressing din that has characterized much of the debate surrounding the Ground Zero mosque is Leon Wieseltier’s deftly written, clearly reasoned defense of the Cordoba House in Lower Manhattan.

Wieseltier challenges thinkers on both the left and right who would argue that aberrant individual behavior stands outside the “currents of culture,” as well as those who fall back on reductive, ahistorical characterizations of Islam.

I have no quarrel with the construction of Cordoba House, but not because Islam is a religion of peace. It is not. Like Christianity and like Judaism, Islam is a religion of peace and a religion of war. All the religions have all the tendencies within them, and in varying historical circumstances varying beliefs and practices have come to the fore.

As for Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, Wieseltier asks:

Turn away, from him? But he may be replaced at his center by less moderate clerics, it is said. To which I would reply with a list of synagogues whose establishment should be regretted because of the fanatical views of their current leaders. I also hear that there should be no mosque on Park Place until there are churches and synagogues in Saudi Arabia. I get it. Until they are like us, we will be like them.

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