The Cordoba Initiative Revisited

As an update to my previous item on the Cordoba Initiative, the building of a large Mosque and Community Centre a few blocks away from the 9/11 site in New York, the Project appears to be continuing with legal efforts failing to stop it.

I have stated in my blog and in some forums that I am against the Project, but for none of the reasons pushed by the ugly agenda driven groups leading the opposition.   I have not seen evidence enough from the Project that demographics demand the location and that radicalization and other political agendas will not take over the Project.   From what I have seen, there is enough radical, ultra-conservative and outside influences that seep into America’s Muslims, regardless of the best intentions to stop it.  The combination of these two points for me is enough to say, do not build it, or at least do not build it there.  Demographics is important, as it is still a Mosque, they say they want the Project to be a national symbol and a monument to inter-faith dialogue, I support that – so why not in Washington DC as a site?

Today I read in the “Upshot” section of Yahoo News an item by John Cook called “Mosque’s opponents have taken opposite position in court” showing the hypocrisy of some of the forces trying to stop the Project.  It is very telling.

It tells us that many of the players trying to block the project have in fact used the laws that are supporting the Project to support the building of Churches and other houses of worship and yet are now opposing these very same laws.  Cook says “Oddly, many of the groups leading and supporting the campaign against the so-called mosque have a history of arguing in favor of religious freedom on similar cases.”

Family of 9/11 Victims are pushed emotionally by those with agenda hate to assume Islam itself is the cause of their suffering.

The American Center for Law and Justice, the legal advocacy group leading the charge, has argued repeatedly and forcefully in federal court on at least three occasions that local land-use laws such as historical landmark designations don’t trump the religious and property rights of religious groups to build houses of worship. So has the Anti-Defamation League, which controversially came out in opposition to the mosque last week. The group has filed no less than five amicus briefs in federal court arguing that local governments can’t use zoning laws to prevent the building of churches and synagogues.

Indeed, these groups all compose part of a large ecosystem of religious-rights organizations; members of such groups have made frequent use of a federal law that erects significant barriers for local governments seeking to interfere with religious buildings. With few exceptions, in the case of Cordoba House, these groups have either been silent or directly contradicted their own history of statements and action.

The American Center for Law and Justice, the legal advocacy group leading the charge, has argued repeatedly and forcefully in federal court on at least three occasions that local land-use laws such as historical landmark designations don’t trump the religious and property rights of religious groups to build houses of worship. So has the Anti-Defamation League, which controversially came out in opposition to the mosque last week. The group has filed no less than five amicus briefs in federal court arguing that local governments can’t use zoning laws to prevent the building of churches and synagogues.

Indeed, these groups all compose part of a large ecosystem of religious-rights organizations; members of such groups have made frequent use of a federal law that erects significant barriers for local governments seeking to interfere with religious buildings. With few exceptions, in the case of Cordoba House, these groups have either been silent or directly contradicted their own history of statements and action.

More condemning:

The group’s website says it “remains committed to the principle that the use of zoning laws to curtail the religious freedoms of churches is unconstitutional.”

The group’s shift on Cordoba House indicates it may not believe the same rights should be afforded to mosques as “churches.” ACLJ wrote a letter to the New York City Planning Commission [pdf] urging it to confer landmark status on the building and Wednesday, after the Planning Commission unanimously voted not to interfere with the construction of the mosque, ACLJ vowed to pursue the matter in state court, and today filed suit seeking to stop construction of Cordoba House.

I find it interesting that with all the blogosphere hype and a few very short appearances on cable, Pamela Geller who claims to be the leader of the anti-Mosque movement, is not mentioned at all.  Her greatness is obviously in her own mind and she will make her racist, bigoted and self-congratulatory remarks as if she will stop the Project by her own super-powers.

I hope the Project does not go ahead, as I have mentioned, not for bigoted and agenda-for-profiteering reasons.  They simply have to work harder to justify it.

Quoting David Kilcullen’s calling the decision to invade Iraq “stupid”

David Kilcullen is a modern professional military strategist recognized by many.  A former Australian Army officer, he was later as a civilian one of the Senior Counterinsurgency Adviser’s of General Patraeus that resulted formed actual results in Iraq.  He has worked for the US State Department, is a major contributor to programs in counter-terrorism and is an advisor to a number of western governments and NATO.

What I like is he speaks his mind regardless of the politics and is in a position to do so.  He battles radicalism in the form of terrorism and stupid political input in the most serious of situations – war.  

My partial quote from Kilcullen early last year (6 March 2009) is about his view about deciding to invade Iraq.  He has all but admitted that in a private conversation (that had gone public) was that he called it “f*cking stupid”.   He chose, to clarify the reasons for his opinion in a better format.  I suggest this in the Small Wars Journal and I suggest for context purposes that you read the entire item by him called “Accidental Guerrilla: Read Before Burning”.  Full acknowledgement to the author and Small Wars Journal. 

Spencer Ackerman, in yesterday’s Washington Independent, claims I told him the Iraq war was “f*cking stupid”. He did not seek to clear that quote with me, and I would not have approved it if he had. If he HAD sought a formal comment, I would have told him what I have said publicly before: in my view, the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 was an extremely serious strategic error. But the task of the moment is not to cry over spilt milk, rather to help clean it up: a task in which the surge, the comprehensive counterinsurgency approach, and our troops on the ground are admirably succeeding.

Anyone who knows me has been well aware of my position on Iraq for years. When I went to Iraq in 2007 (and on both previous occasions) it was to end the war, by suppressing the violence and defeating the insurgency. (Note: I said END the war, not abandon it half-way through, leaving the Iraqis to be slaughtered. When we invaded Iraq, we took on a moral and legal responsibility for its people’s wellbeing. Regardless of anyone’s position on the decision to invade, those obligations still stand and cannot be wished away merely because they have proven inconvenient)…The question of whether we were right to invade Iraq is a fascinating debate for historians and politicians, and a valid issue for the American people to consider in an election year. As it happens, I think it was a mistake. But that is not my key concern. The issue for practitioners in the field is not to second-guess a decision from six years ago, but to get on with the job at hand which, I believe, is what both Americans and Iraqis expect of us. In that respect, the new strategy and tactics implemented in 2007, and which relied for their effectiveness on the extra troop numbers of the Surge, ARE succeeding and need to be supported.