Pat Condell is wrong about the mosque

Here's a recent video of Pat Condell ranting about the so-called ground zero mosque:

I'm a fan of Pat Condell and his no-nonsense, incisive wit. I've seen him make a lot of great points about god, atheism, Sharia Law in Britain, and a litany of other issues. But I part with Pat when it comes to his stance on Islam. Not because he doesn't make a lot of valid points about Islam, including the problems with "moderate" Islam – of which there are many. But Pat has a tendency to paint all Muslims with the same brush, and that's simply a view that is detached from reality. In Pat's mind, most if not all Muslims tacitly approve of jihad, the oppression of women, and the subversion of human rights.

It's for this reason that Pat disapproves of the "ground zero mosque". Notice the language he uses in this video – he claims that the mosque will be "a few yards" from ground zero, which is patently false – it's a few city blocks, not even in view of ground zero. He claims that allowing Muslims to build the mosque is a victory tactic meant to rub the atrocity of 9/11 in the faces of peaceful Americans, and explicitly states that Islam is the "religion that murdered" the victims. This inane view of his is derived from his belief that there is no such thing as a peaceful Muslim, and that all Muslims – including the ten million or so in the U.S. that haven't blown up anything or hurt anyone – not only approve of but actively support and cheer the destruction of American citizens, apparently including the 30 or so Muslims who were killed in the 9/11 attacks. This is exactly the kind of bigotry that those of us who support the mosque, or at least the freedom of those who wish the build it, are trying to combat.

In a new video released yesterday, Pat is at it again, suggesting that it's ludicrous to frame the mosque as a "freedom of religion" issue:

He again paints all Muslims under the brush of extremism, suggesting that the site is an attempt by Muslims to "rub [their] religion in people's faces as a triumphal political statement." Let me tell you, if all ten million Muslims in the U.S. want to blow people up, bathe in their blood and crush everyone else under the rule of Sharia Law, they're doing a really crappy job of it. In fact, they're not really doing much of a job of it at all.

Pat clearly doesn't understand how the first amendment works, suggesting that if something is insulting enough, it shouldn't be protected. I think the Klu Klux Klan is incredibly stupid, and insulting to all of us who want to live peacefully without regard to each others' race – but I'd still fight to defend their right to hold public demonstrations and build places of worship, just as I support the right of those idiots from Westborough Baptist Church to stand on street corners holding their "Thank God for dead soldiers" signs – because the whole point of the first amendment is precisely that we don't get to pick and choose whose rights are protected and whose aren't. "Good taste" is not a prerequisite to free speech or freedom of religion. Even the nutjobs get equal say, and if your feelings are hurt by that, tough shit – but you have every right to hold your own protest or build your own place of worship (or secular community center, or whatever).

Pat even goes so far as to suggest that Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Imam behind the mosque, is a radical who supports Iran and blames America for 9/11. I've not seen these allegedly contentious statements myself, but even if they are true, it doesn't matter. Once again, the first amendment is to protect our civil rights from government intrusion, not to protect your feelings from other citizens who may hold controversial opinions.

If any American Muslims actually try to institute Sharia Law as they have in Britain, I'll staunchly oppose it. If they try to commit acts of violence toward other citizens or alter the curricula of public schools to favor an Islam-centered viewpoint (as fundamentalist Christians try to do to suit their own viewpoint). But as it stands, peaceful, law-abiding Muslims have every right to build their place of worship. If that bothers you, well, there are plenty of other countries where freedom of speech and religion are oppressed. Perhaps you'd be better suited to living in, I dunno, Iran.


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