Placing the Mosque on the Other Foot

Anthony W. Hager
The left's sudden willingness to defend religious liberty at the ground zero mosque, a freedom for which they have great disdain under most circumstances, is startling. What if the controversy surrounded a different house of worship, at a different site? Would the left and their media allies be so supportive of religious freedom then? Doubtful.

Enter Matthew Shepard, the homosexual man who was robbed, beaten and tied to a fence outside Laramie, Wyoming in October, 1998. He died a few days later, becoming a symbol of homophobia and a rallying cry for gay activists. The fact that money and drugs, not homosexuality, motivated Shepard's murderers didn't matter. He remained a focal point for gay activists . . . and a target for Fred Phelps.

Phelps leads the Westboro Church in Topeka, Kansas. He and his group are infamous for protesting funerals and carrying "God hates fags" signs. Now suppose Phelps and his congregation decided to construct a church--under the guise of building a bridge to the gay community--across the road from where Matthew Shepard's body was found?

The same leftists who decry intolerance among Ground Zero Mosque opponents would condemn Phelps' plans. In fact, I'll wager that leftists would spare no expense in halting construction. Why? For the same reasons Americans oppose the Ground Zero Mosque.

The left would claim that a Phelps church near where Shepard died would exploit his memory and offend homosexuals. A Phelps congregation at that spot, the left would argue, would be insensitive and inappropriate. So why can't mosque defenders see the reasons mosque opponents hold the opinions they hold?

Granted, Phelps is an authentic nutcase. But Feisal Abdul Rauf, who will lead the controversial mosque, has skeletons in his closet, too. He blames the United States, at least in part, for Islamic terrorism and for Muslim hostility toward the West. He refuses to recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization. Plus, there is a much closer tie between violence and mainstream Islam than between Fred Phelps and mainstream Christianity.

And the debate doesn't end with Phelps. If any Christian church that considers homosexuality immoral were to build near where Shepard was found there's little doubt the left would protest, claiming the church's opposition to homosexuality renders their presence inappropriate. But Christians didn't plan, participate in, or celebrate Shepard's death. Muslims around the world celebrated the collapse of the World Trade Center. The difference is distinct.

The left's use of religious freedom to defend the Ground Zero Mosque is decidedly empty. In fact, it is reprehensible. They have no interest in defending Muslims' religious liberties. Leftists are merely using Muslims and religious freedom to further their agenda, which is pro-anything that is anti-Western Civilization.

Anthony W. Hager has authored more than 250 articles for various newspapers, periodicals and websites. Contact him via his website, www.therightslant.com. 
The left's sudden willingness to defend religious liberty at the ground zero mosque, a freedom for which they have great disdain under most circumstances, is startling. What if the controversy surrounded a different house of worship, at a different site? Would the left and their media allies be so supportive of religious freedom then? Doubtful.

Enter Matthew Shepard, the homosexual man who was robbed, beaten and tied to a fence outside Laramie, Wyoming in October, 1998. He died a few days later, becoming a symbol of homophobia and a rallying cry for gay activists. The fact that money and drugs, not homosexuality, motivated Shepard's murderers didn't matter. He remained a focal point for gay activists . . . and a target for Fred Phelps.

Phelps leads the Westboro Church in Topeka, Kansas. He and his group are infamous for protesting funerals and carrying "God hates fags" signs. Now suppose Phelps and his congregation decided to construct a church--under the guise of building a bridge to the gay community--across the road from where Matthew Shepard's body was found?

The same leftists who decry intolerance among Ground Zero Mosque opponents would condemn Phelps' plans. In fact, I'll wager that leftists would spare no expense in halting construction. Why? For the same reasons Americans oppose the Ground Zero Mosque.

The left would claim that a Phelps church near where Shepard died would exploit his memory and offend homosexuals. A Phelps congregation at that spot, the left would argue, would be insensitive and inappropriate. So why can't mosque defenders see the reasons mosque opponents hold the opinions they hold?

Granted, Phelps is an authentic nutcase. But Feisal Abdul Rauf, who will lead the controversial mosque, has skeletons in his closet, too. He blames the United States, at least in part, for Islamic terrorism and for Muslim hostility toward the West. He refuses to recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization. Plus, there is a much closer tie between violence and mainstream Islam than between Fred Phelps and mainstream Christianity.

And the debate doesn't end with Phelps. If any Christian church that considers homosexuality immoral were to build near where Shepard was found there's little doubt the left would protest, claiming the church's opposition to homosexuality renders their presence inappropriate. But Christians didn't plan, participate in, or celebrate Shepard's death. Muslims around the world celebrated the collapse of the World Trade Center. The difference is distinct.

The left's use of religious freedom to defend the Ground Zero Mosque is decidedly empty. In fact, it is reprehensible. They have no interest in defending Muslims' religious liberties. Leftists are merely using Muslims and religious freedom to further their agenda, which is pro-anything that is anti-Western Civilization.

Anthony W. Hager has authored more than 250 articles for various newspapers, periodicals and websites. Contact him via his website, www.therightslant.com.