Cordoba House Mosque and American Jews: some historical perspective
Here’s one final thought on the Cordoba House mosque by Ground Zero and the American Jews of the Anti-Defamation League who oppose it.
Let’s think back to 1977. The American Nazi Party wants to hold a rally in Skokie, Illinois, home to a significant number of Jewish Holocaust survivors. People protest. The case goes to the supreme court. Guess what? The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Nazis were allowed to march. Because in America, even more so than Canada, when it comes to freedom, anything goes. Even racism.
Obviously the legal details are different int the two cases. But a similar principle must be invoked.
The Cordoba House mosque is going to represent mainstream Islam and interfaith dialogue. It is the furthest thing from a neo-Nazi group. If American law protects the rights of neo-Nazis, it should also protect the rights of innocent Muslims to peaceful religious expression wherever they so choose.
From a legal perspective, there can be no debate here. From an ethical perspective, even less. The editorial board of the New York Times got it right, calling the proposed mosque a “monument to tolerance,” and I’m glad they called out the ADL in their editorial. Jews should realize that the same principle of freedom–of speech, of religion, of expression, of assembly–that allows that mosque to go up is the same one that allowed the Nazis to march in Skokie is also the same one that has allowed Jews to live in prosper–as Jews–in the United States since the country’s founding.