Topics I haven’t blogged so far

by on August 15, 2010 at 12:48 pm in Current Affairs | Permalink

I fully support letting the NYC mosque proceed for reasons well articulated by Sullivan, Krugman, Yglesias, Josh Barro and others; if nothing else, this episode shows "politics isn't about policy" but rather about the relative status of different societal groups.  We should think more seriously about how we might give Islam, and Muslims, higher status in the United States and elsewhere.

Should we favor a Korean reunification tax?

The flood in Pakistan is worse than many people realize, possibly affecting over twenty million people. 

Here are some stunning photos; I thank Farhan for the pointer.

E. Barandiaran August 15, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Tyler, please give a reason to give Islam and Muslims higher status in the United States and elsewhere. Do you want them to play a greater role in U.S. politics? Why? What do you mean by elsewhere? Saudi Arabia? Argentina? Israel? What about the status of other groups in the U.S. and those three countries? Sorry but I don’t understand what you mean; it seems that, like Obama, you’re playing with words.

Farhan August 15, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Reply to E. Barandiaran:

I think what Tyler means is that higher than the abysmally low status “we” tend to give them to start with. A movement from the lower bottom of the distribution more towards to mean/median.

And if “other groups ” are not as lower down in the hierarchy, then talking about one of the lowest makes complete sense. Not to say that any other group below the mean in status should not be pushed up. Its like when we talk about poverty alleviation we want to focus on people below the poverty line and in particular the worst effected.

Hope that clarifies.

Jean Parmesan August 15, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Yes, but you are assuming that status is something bestowed by the political elites and not something more spontaneous. I think of status as similar to reputation, in that it reflects society’s collective view of whether some group in good or bad, progressive or regressive.

What precisely has Islam done to earn my respect? I see most of the movement as a concerted effort to reject modernity and liberalism broadly defined. As such, it comes off to most of the West as a backwards and antediluvian.

Jamie August 15, 2010 at 1:43 pm

I see most of the movement as a concerted effort to reject modernity and liberalism broadly defined. As such, it comes off to most of the West as a backwards and antediluvian.

Amusing choice of word. But in any case…

Assume, arguendo, that your view is an expression of ignorance on your part. Would you see an effort to spread education on the matter of some importance, given the rather serious state of tension related to relations?

TylerInChicago August 15, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Many of the voices Tyler quotes about building the mosque were telling us a few months ago that asking question about the President’s health care program was a form of racism. Now they are saying more or less the same thing about people asking questions about the mosque.

Maybe what we really need is a comentariat willing to engage in dialogue, rather than use group think and the tools of social control to shut discussion down.

Jean Parmesan August 15, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Jamie: I’m open to the possibility that I may be ignorant. Please demonstrate where I am off track. Does god exist? And if so, why should I be obliged to follow his/her edicts, particularly when they are filtered through semi-literate prophets?

BTW, I am all for a mosque in NYC or anywhere provided that it reflects the mutual consent of the parties involved in the transaction. At the same time, I am also in favor of my right to call a spade a spade (until proven otherwise).

D August 15, 2010 at 2:23 pm

“Letting it proceed” is a legal question, really. Trivial.

How about the tougher questions, like whether or not you think they ought to put it there, and whether U.S. citizens are correct to question the both the motives and consequences, and whether if putting it there is a profoundly insensitive and rather, pardon my language, dickish move?

dave August 15, 2010 at 2:35 pm

As the President’s Preacher used to say “These chickens will be coming home to roost.” For Barack and his party on this and numerous following election days. For Islam and Muslims the desired higher status will never be forthcoming. The voices of the “religion of peace” are not heard objecting to this victory dance on America’s dead. This will never be forgotten. Once again the reckless and hateful actions of a few will stain many. Here the deliberate and prolonged silence of the peaceful mass in the face of this grievous insult speaks volumes.

prior_approval August 15, 2010 at 2:50 pm

‘these are your readers.’

My thought is more along these lines – ‘If you want a picture of the future, imagine them in front of a screen — forever.’

It has been a fascinating few days here for commenters – I almost miss the old fashioned racists attempting to argue they are just misunderstood. Many of the current comments are impossible to misunderstand. Pretty indicting, actually.

Laserlight August 15, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Before we think about “how”, perhaps we should think about “why”–both “why Group A deserves higher status” and “why it’s a good idea to manipulate things for that to come about, instead of letting it happen naturally”.

Kantor August 15, 2010 at 3:16 pm

“I almost miss the old fashioned racists”

The Idiot Prize winner!! Being anti-Islamist is as racist as being anti-communist, anti-nazi or anti-Christian: NOT AT ALL.

Moreover: being against the Jewish religion is also not racism: if you hate the Israel chief rabbi you are not necessary a racist (while if you hate Ehud Barak & Trotsky & Einstein & the chief rabbi, probably you are).

RELIGIONS ARE BELIEF SYSTEMS and do not deserve more protection than any other beliefs systems, including for example Nazism.

Nazis have the same rigth to have an office`s party side by side with the NY Jewish center or the Congrsss Black Caucus as Muslims have the rigth to have a Mosque side by side with the Zero Zone.

vanderleun August 15, 2010 at 3:51 pm

“this episode shows “politics isn’t about policy” but rather about the relative status of different societal groups. We should think more seriously about how we might give Islam, and Muslims, higher status in the United States and elsewhere.”

Exactly what are those two sentences doing next to each other? They implode upon themselves.

Other than by policy, determined by politics, would “we” go about conferring “higher status” to Islam?

Do you imagine a human race that wakes up one morning and thinks, en masse, “Hey, those Islamites, they’re much more terrific than what we previously knew. Let’s let em know. Today! ”

Or would you prefer governments issued orders to their citizens in that regard?

One notes, in passing, that Islam has a number of internal mechanisms for conferring on itself the highest status.

FrankR August 15, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Jean P. “I see most of the movement as a concerted effort to reject modernity and liberalism broadly defined. As such, it comes off to most of the West as a backwards and antediluvian.” Heh. First thing that came to my mind with the words “backwards and antedilubian” was the fundamentalist religious right in this country. . .

Are you referring to Islam the movement or Islam the religion?

Randall Parker August 15, 2010 at 4:18 pm


Status hierarchies are zero sum games. Who are you nominating to have their status lowered so that others can be raised?

Respect is earned.

To confer higher status on Islam requires we confer higher status on beliefs that are inimical to a free society.

It is important to look at the base text of Islam and ask ourselves whether respect for it is in our rational self interests:

Sura 8 declares “Believers! Wage war against such of the infidels as are your neighbors, and let them find you rigorous; and know that God is with those who fear him.†

Sura 8 further tells Muslims “No prophet hath been able to take captives until he had made a great slaughter in the earth†¦Eat therefore of the spoils you have taken what is lawful and good.†

Sura 8 also makes it clear that Muslims are to be in a state of war with the rest of the world until they succeed in forcing all the nations to accept Islam:  “Fight then against them till strife be at an end, and the religion be all of it God’s.†

In Sura 3 the Prophet warns of dire consequences for any Muslim who makes friends with an infidel: “Let not believers take infidels for their friends rather than believers; whoso shall do this hath nothing to hope from God.†  Suras 4 and 5 repeat this warning.

Jamie, I’m a big proponent of education. Jihad Watch points to an excerpt from the Koran that shows what Mohammed said should be done to polytheist non-believers who refuse to submit to Muslim rule and pay a special tax:

When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them. . . . If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them. (Sahih Muslim, book 019, Number 4294)

You think people should be educated about verses in the Koran like the above?

Mike August 15, 2010 at 4:59 pm

What good reason is there for giving any religion (incl. islam) higher status?

Walt French August 15, 2010 at 5:16 pm

The issue with the mosque in NYC is whether the administration honors Americans’ rights to worship as they see fit. Nothing to do with the status of Muslims; everything to do with the First Amendment right of Americans.

My forbears came to this country (oops, the Massachusetts colonies, before we were a country) after suffering religious persecution (imprisonment, fines) in England, and Bloomberg mentioned NYC attacks on this same minority sect — one that subsequently counted two presidents among its adherents. We really ought to practice what we preach.

Or claim that we are a nation of bigots, persecuting those who are not in the majority.

Ben August 15, 2010 at 5:38 pm

I’m surprised by the comments. I have taken his comments here to mean something much different than most of the commenters, specifically his comment “We should think more seriously about how we might give Islam, and Muslims, higher status in the United States and elsewhere.”

The commenters above seem to interpret this comment to mean that Tyler is advocating some sort of government intervention to increase the social status of muslims at the expense of other groups. Rather, I think Tyler is advocating that the government avoid actively lowering the social status of muslims by prohibiting them from using their own funds to build this mosque. I believe the point he is making is that by not inhibiting an ethnic/religious group from using their own funds to build a community center which will be a source of pride for that community, we are sowing the seeds of empowerment and reconciliation which goes hand in hand with liberalism and moderation.

Put another way, the rise of extremism has historically coincided with marginalization by some oppressing power. For the zoning board of lower Manhattan or any other political figure to put a stop to the building of this mosque would corroborate the rhetoric of anti-western muslim clerics who wish to frame the US as anti-muslim.

bbartlog August 15, 2010 at 5:46 pm

‘We should think more seriously about how we might give Islam, and Muslims, higher status in the United States and elsewhere.’

Yes, because all these belief systems are really just like randomly chosen colored badges or something. The internal content is pure window dressing. Oh, except for the belief system of the globalist elite (those are the ones who are arrogant enough be able to talk about giving others status). That one is special.

1837tiffany August 15, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Sizes of champagne silver tiffany sets into butterfly wings, pearl series luxury taste. Vivid interpretation
Yellow diamonds with white flowers, silver tiffany charms graceful outline stretch into a romantic showily ornament.

PJ August 15, 2010 at 9:22 pm

“dear tyler.

these are your readers.

Posted by: joseph at Aug 15, 2010 2:42:28 PM”

The comments section confirms Tyler’s statement that “if nothing else, this episode shows “politics isn’t about policy” but rather about the relative status of different societal groups.” Every comment is hung up on Tyler’s suggestion of “higher status” for Muslims (which I did not equate to mean greater legal rights, btw), and no discussion about the proposed taxation of S. Korean citizens… this from a blog of libertarian readers.

Alan Gunn August 15, 2010 at 9:25 pm

So far as I can tell, few if any people are denying that these people have a right to build this mosque wherever they can buy property. Nor are they asking the government to stop them. So complaints about how awful it would be to try to have the government stop the project are beside the point.

We have free speech as well as freedom of religion and property rights, however. So suggesting that it is somehow out of bounds to criticize Islam on the merits, or to argue that decent people would not build an Islamic structure so close to the place where thousands were murdered by people who thought they were advancing Islam, is just as foolish as arguing for government intervention would be. The appeal, as I understand it, is to the sense of decency of those who propose to build this mosque. Similar appeals some years ago swayed the nuns who were planning a Catholic establishment near Auschwitz; they changed their minds after many appeals, although they surely had a “legal right” to build there, and although no government made them stop.

Bill August 15, 2010 at 9:38 pm

It is also extremely ironic that those who espouse libertarian beliefs, and would object to the state taking property without due process, have no objections to Fox News and Rush inciting the masses to do the same thing.

Bill August 15, 2010 at 10:30 pm

@Vanderleun, They couldn’t build a synagogue in Berlin without offending the Nazis either.

Some Guy August 15, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Talk about projection! Absolutely the issue is not about whether they have a right to build, but rather about whether they are being offensive in exercizing that right. But what reason do any of the commenters here have for assuming that there is some sort of triumphalist intent behind the plans for the ‘mosque’? What evidence is there that the location didn’t simply happen to be one where the people involved got a good deal on a building? I mean, I have no evidence that they aren’t terrorist-loving freedom-hating nutjobs bent on making a point, but you guys have none that they are, either. Oh, right, but they’re muslims, aren’t they, and everyone knows that every muslim group is just a front for Al Qaeda and that their very presence is hateful in the sight of Real Americans. They should have realised that.

E. Barandiaran August 16, 2010 at 12:14 am

Tyler, you have preferred to ignore my request for a reason for your position. I want to believe that if you have provided it we could have had a useful discussion of the relevant issue –whether to locate the Mosque so close to Ground Zero is reasonable or to build it elsewherte in NY state as the NY governor offered in order not to offend many Americans. As I see it, you preferred to rely on others’ authority rather than to give a clear explanation of your position. Your choice, your mistake.

Chaitanya August 16, 2010 at 12:21 am

These comments are terrible.

Worshippers of the faith of Islam are not a homogenous people. Therefore, the peoples who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks, ostensibly in the name of Islam, are in no way reflective of Muslims or Islam – and in no way reflective of the particular Muslims who wish to build a mosque some two blocks from the erstwhile WTC site.

The Muslims who wish for that mosque have made their arrangements and as American citizens deserve not only the legal “right” to build the mosque but also the ability to execute the project without undue pressure – without which, I may add, the “right” means little in itself.

So, dear commenters, may I just say, STFU and let em build the damn f*(King mosque!

WillJ August 16, 2010 at 12:45 am

Wow, I never would have expected so many Marginal Revolution comments to be full of such backward thinking.

D says:
“Letting it proceed” is a legal question, really. Trivial.
How about the tougher questions, like whether or not you think they ought to put it there, and whether U.S. citizens are correct to question the both the motives and consequences, and whether if putting it there is a profoundly insensitive and rather, pardon my language, dickish move?

Please explain how this is a dickish move. People who have diddly shit to do with the 9/11 attacks, and who condemn the worldview responsible for them, are proposing to construct a building in which people can worship a god in whose name a handful of completely unrelated people killed civilians at a site that’s kind of nearby, but not visible from this new building or even palpably close. How in the world is that dickish?

Benny Lava says:
“Don’t you find it interesting that people who don’t live in New York City, and for many have never been to New York City, think they can tell New Yorkers where they can and can’t build a mosque? I do.†

That’s not what’s going on. Rather, people who have never been to New York City are thinking they can tell New Yorkers that New Yorkers can or can’t tell Muslims where they can or can’t build a mosque. And indeed, we non-New-Yorkers are very much entitled to do so, as New Yorkers telling Muslims where they can and can’t build mosques kind of, you know, goes against the U.S. Constitution.

Alan Gunn says:

“So far as I can tell, few if any people are denying that these people have a right to build this mosque wherever they can buy property. Nor are they asking the government to stop them. So complaints about how awful it would be to try to have the government stop the project are beside the point.†

What in the world are you (and a few others who said the same thing) talking about? Large numbers of people are doing exactly that. And that’s what’s so horribly disturbing about this ordeal. As a 21-year-old, I can’t think of a time when I was more surprised and disgusted toward my countrymen before.

StPaulite August 16, 2010 at 1:19 am

Victor Davis Hanson is amazing. One of those guys who can manage to get an error into every single sentence, matched with a very impressive sageness of tone. “The Enigma of Our Age”, jeez, that sounds important!

There’s hardly a true thing in anything quoted up there, or in anything he ever writes for that matter.

Andrew August 16, 2010 at 4:31 am

Oh snap. Somebody just threw down the Nazi card.

You heard it here first. I’m calling it. Obama just officially jumped the shark with his little religious freedom lecture.

Andrew August 16, 2010 at 4:51 am

We are all shocked…SHOCKED!!! So very shocked!

Maybe they should forego the ostentation and spend the money helping the poor.

I say the same thing about Christian churches, including my own.

Incidentally, the people suddenly defending religious freedom and property rights say the same thing about Christian churches too.

Did I ever tell you about the time that the head of the local ACLU, an atheist, (but I repeat myself) complained that the local church leaders weren’t showing enough respect at the death of The Pope?

Like Tyler says, status games.

George August 16, 2010 at 8:15 am

My GOD, this blog is terrible now. Tyler, get over yourself.

T. Shaw August 16, 2010 at 8:56 am

President Obama revising history:

“Islam has always been part of America and that American Muslims have made extraordinary contributions to our country. And today, I want to extend my best wishes to the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world – and your families and friends – as you welcome the beginning of Ramadan.”

President John Quincy Adams providing the truth:

: “In the seventh century of the Christian era, a wandering Arab of the lineage of Hagar [i.e., Muhammad], the Egyptian, combining the powers of transcendent genius, with the preternatural energy of a fanatic, and the fraudulent spirit of an impostor, proclaimed himself as a messenger from Heaven, and spread desolation and delusion over an extensive portion of the earth. Adopting from the sublime conception of the Mosaic law, the doctrine of one omnipotent God; he connected indissolubly with it, the audacious falsehood, that he was himself his prophet and apostle. Adopting from the new Revelation of Jesus, the faith and hope of immortal life, and of future retribution, he humbled it to the dust by adapting all the rewards and sanctions of his religion to the gratification of the sexual passion. He poisoned the sources of human felicity at the fountain, by degrading the condition of the female sex, and the allowance of polygamy; and he declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind. THE ESSENCE OF HIS DOCTRINE WAS VIOLENCE AND LUST: TO EXALT THE BRUTAL OVER THE SPIRITUAL PART OF HUMAN NATURE (Adams’s capital letters)†¦.Between these two religions, thus contrasted in their characters, a war of twelve hundred years has already raged. The war is yet flagrant†¦While the merciless and dissolute dogmas of the false prophet shall furnish motives to human action, there can never be peace upon earth, and good will towards men.†

We are learning what it’s like to be ruled by a black man.

A Conservative Teacher August 16, 2010 at 10:49 am

I agree with you- no religious groups should be allowed to build any sort of victory symbols anywhere near Ground Zero.

I also agree with you that the US government, state governments, and local governments should stop denying building permits for Christian churches, Jewish churches, Hindu Temples, and any other religious group excepting Muslims (who, according to Hamas and Obama, should be allowed to build wherever they want).

But, since quite frequently other religious groups are denied in thier building requests, I find it quite reasonable to deny this particular building request, and so am against the building of the Ground Zero Victory Mosque.

prior_approval August 16, 2010 at 2:32 pm

‘Submission the word they use I believe.’
And to think I just thought that it was the President of the United States fulfilling his oath – ‘I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’

That preservation, protection, and defense most certainly including ensuring that the First Amendment to the Constitution is given its due respect, regardless of how many bigots feel that it shouldn’t apply to their fellow citizens.

No elected official of the United States capitulates by defending the Constitution against those who feel it restricts their bigotry and anti-American hatred of the freedoms that makes America the nation it is.

This remains one of the most disgusting exchanges I have ever read, since I never knew just how many of my fellow citizens have decided that the only way to save America is to destroy it, and then to celebrate that destruction. In America’s history, such people have never succeeded, because real Americans have always opposed them. Always.

Alan Gunn August 16, 2010 at 6:37 pm

“And let us compare and contrast to how tasteful Christianity can be
‘Several days ago, or to be more precise just two months before the planned commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the July 1995 Srebrenica Genocide, local Serbs erected a large wooden cross in the Bosniak Muslim settlement of Budak, on a ridge overlooking the village of Potocari where the memorial to the genocide victims is located. The Serbs are planning to build a Serb Orthodox church at the site, which is located in a Muslim area, in the vicinity of the Budak mass grave.”

Yes, this is just the sort of thing I object to, whether it’s Christians or Muslims who are doing it. So I guess we agree?

Anonymous coward August 16, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Some Guy: the “people behind” might have excercised their judgment to understand what sort of reaction their action, and even the very proposal, would cause, and refrained from it on these grounds. All the more so if they were “trying to say that they’re with us on this one”. You don’t “say you’re with” a wounded person by sprinkling the wound with holy salt and rubbing it in. Since they didn’t refrain, there are three possible reasons: 1. they wished to provoke an acrimonious debate (in this regard the proposal was a resounding success); 2. they show a deplorable lack of judgment; or 3. they’re trying to stick it to us.

PS: I doubt that any Christian church, however ecumenical, would be welcomed at comparable Islamic sites.

Russell Nelson August 17, 2010 at 2:20 am

JohnF: it would be perfectly Constitutional to say “No new houses of religion in Ground Zero”. Congress can certainly pass laws respecting religion; it simply cannot establish a favored religion by treating them differently.

Some Guy August 17, 2010 at 9:50 am

You don’t “say you’re with” a wounded person by sprinkling the wound with holy salt and rubbing it in.

The only reason building a ‘mosque’ near the WTC site is being perceived as rubbing salt in the wound is that it’s being assumed to begin with that all muslims are somehow in sympathy with the crazies who attacked the WTC. You wouldn’t object to a catholic church being built near a building that had been bombed by the IRA, because you’re aware that the church woudn’t support the bombers. Quite possibly it didn’t seem likely to the people behind the ‘mosque’ that it would be seen any differently. They’re probably thinking: “Didn’t George W. Bush make it clear that he understood that not all muslims are nutters?” If you’re a muslim who isn’t a nutter, and none of your friends are nutters, it wouldn’t occur to you that Bush probably didn’t really believe what he was saying.

Anonymous coward August 17, 2010 at 10:20 am

Some Guy: you are being disingenuous. I wasn’t talking about how Bush would see the issue or what he said, but about how most Americans see the issue. It makes no practical difference right now *why* it is being commonly “assumed that all muslims are somehow in sympathy with the crazies who attacked the WTC” (btw it’s ‘most’ not ‘all’, Americans are not that barbaric). For better or worse, it *is* being assumed; therefore, supposing the proposal is benevolent, it exhibits poor judgment. Whether there are reasons for the assumption, and whether it is right or wrong to assume this kind of thing, is a valid but separate question.

Besides, if muslims as a body politic wished to commiserate, there are methods with much less potential for misunderstanding and provocation of Americans — e.g., just off the top of my head, public (and widely publicized) commemorative services in head mosques in predominantly Muslim countries, say Pakistan. Though I imagine it wouldn’t go down well with the local majorities!

Some Guy August 17, 2010 at 7:53 pm

It makes no practical difference right now *why* it is being commonly “assumed that all muslims are somehow in sympathy with the crazies who attacked the WTC”

So if lots of people just assumed incorrectly that most catholics support IRA bombings, it would somehow be the fault of the catholic church for wanting to build a church near an IRA bombing site? And don’t you think that if catholics saw media coverage leading people to that incorrect view of their religion, they might be forgiven for assuming that most people would see through it?

Unfortunately, the loony Muslims constitute about 25% of the faith.

How do you know this about American muslims, who are the ones at issue? You done a poll?

Some Guy August 19, 2010 at 10:11 am

yes it would be. The Church would be better advised to resolve the misunderstanding first.

A better principle: one has no responsibility to be sensitive towards misconceptions about oneself based on prejudice and stereotypes. (I’m not saying that I know that the people behind cordoba house aren’t islamojihadoiberiofascists, but it’s prejudiced to assume that they are.)

Also, trying to talk bigots out of their misconceptions can be, er… unproductive -

Jewish guy to a bunch of peasants with torches and pitchforks: “No, no you got it all wrong. It’s just a synagogue. No, we’ve never been in favor of collaborating with the authorities to kill Christ. C’mon, let’s sit down and resolve this misconception…”

Do you suggest muslims to entertain the idea that Americans somehow “see through it” and are benevolent privately, but voice unfavourable opinions in public?

Yes, that is what I’m suggesting. I’m suggesting that if you’re the average American muslim, who isn’t obsessed with anti-western ideology and whose friends aren’t either, you probably think of yourself as quite unthreatening, and will tend to discount reports of anti-islamist feeling as not applying to you (because you’re not an islamist) and to discount reports of anti-muslim feeling more generally as a minority viewpoint (because people tend not to go out of their way to marinade themselves in the views of people who hate them). That was my point with the George W. Bush thing. The point is not that most Americans actually think of islam as distinct from radical islamism, but that if you are a non-islamist muslim you will think of islam in that way and will take the sort of views expressed by Bush as more widely held than they actually are. That said, if they’ve read these comment threads they’ve probably got the message now…

This is just precious. Why are you suddenly asking about American muslims?

Because Americans are the ones trying to set up the cordoba ‘mosque’.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: