Aesop (and some others) on Ground Zero Mosque

Many good points have been made at this Sunday's rally against the Ground Zero Mosque, yet one vital point was completely overlooked and still needs to be made.

It is best illustrated by a fable. Aesop tells us of a rooster, scared by the sight of a fox sneaking towards him, who runs to the safety of a nearby tree's branch. "Why are you running from me?" asks the fox in surprise. "Haven't you heard that a universal peace has been proclaimed? I will not hurt you; please get down." "O, that's wonderful news!" replies the rooster. "I just want to ask the pack of hounds chasing a deer that I see from my perch if that is true. They'll be here in a moment." "Hounds running this way?" says the fox. "I better get out of here -- looks like they haven't yet heard the good news of the universal peace!"

Which is precisely the point that needs to be made. The news that Islam is a peaceful religion -- discovered by our press and our politicians on 9/11 and repeated day in and day out since that terrible day -- has been well absorbed by many Americans who are perfectly willing to believe it. The Ground Zero mosque, as we hear from its promoters as well as the New York officials and other opinion makers, is to continue hammering that message into Americans.

Huh? The mosque will be preaching to the converted? If so, who needs it? This mosque, then, is quite simply useless. It is a waste of $100 million that it is projected to cost. Its "return on investment" is nil.

And yet, a mosque that explains that Islam is a peaceful religion would not be without benefit -- if built in a place that have not yet heard the good news. And such places, unfortunately, are plentiful -- how about a recent "coordinated attack on two mosques that killed more than 80 members of a minority Muslim sect in Lahore" described in the NY Times a week ago? The perpetrators (who, according to the article, hailed from North Waziristan) were clearly not yet aware that Islam was a religion of peace -- at least of that kind of peace that does not kill people. It looks to me like a $100 million spent on a "Islam is a religion of peace" mosque in North Waziristan would produce quite a bang for a buck if it indeed manages to educate the North Waziristanis -- who are clearly ignorant about Islam -- into pleasant, peaceful folks. 

As much can be said for building it in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iran or Iraq. Those countries' populations need to learn the good news that Islam is a religion of peace far more badly and far more urgently than the New Yorkers do, for whom it is very old news -- an almost nine-year-old news, to be precise.

The backers of the Ground Zero mosque should invest where the return on investment is at its max -- and that place is, quite simply, not New York, and not the US, and not the West for that matter -- but the vast areas of the Moslem Middle East.

A medical perspective on the mosque tells us the exact same thing. A pill that makes a sick person well may very well make a well person sick. One will be right to argue that it is the Moslem Middle East that is sick of murderous religiosity and is in need of pills, not the United States. Hence, the right place for a nice, Islam-is-peace mosque is over there, not at Ground Zero.

Bottom line -- the advice to the backers of the Ground Zero mosque is this: a nice mosque is a wonderful idea. But what matters is "location, location, location." Ground zero is simply not the right location for it. Build it in Mecca, or North Waziristan, or Teheran, or Kabul -- and you will put the free world in your debt.

But building it on Ground Zero is an utter waste of money.

Vel Nirtist writes about the role of religion in violence and terrorism. He is author of The Pitfall of Truth: Holy War, its Rationale and Folly.