Brighten their holiday. Enrich their everyday.Give The Atlantic

'Ground Zero Mosque' Divides Washington Post Writers

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Nothing like a good spat between two members of the same publication. In this case, the publication is The Washington Post, the subject is the so-called 'Ground Zero Mosque' and the participants are Charles Krauthammer and Greg Sargent.

The Wire previously covered Krauthammer's feelings on the proposed Islamic community center, which is that it's incendiary and disrespectful of hallowed ground, much in the fashion of the Carmelite convent at Auschwitz that Pope John Paul, realizing this, ordered closed. Post blogger Sargent immediately suggested some of the other elements of Krauthammer's case were "a bit confused," like the statement that "America is a free country where you can build whatever you want -- but not anywhere. That's why we have zoning laws."

The difference, says Sargent, is this:

The United States Constitution does not expressly forbid government zoning against liquor stores or strip malls. However, it does expressly forbid government interference with "the free exercise" of religion. Nor does the comparison to ... a ... convent "at" Auschwitz make any sense. The Islamic center would not be built ... "at" Ground Zero. Rather, it would be built more than two blocks away in a crowded urban neighborhood.

Now Krauthammer's column this Friday attacks liberals, including The Atlantic's own Michael Kinsley, for calling opponents bigots and demagogues. This, writes Krauthammer, is "moral myopia":

Just as the people of Japan today would not think of planting their flag at Pearl Harbor, despite the fact that no Japanese under the age of 85 has any possible responsibility for that infamy, representatives of contemporary Islam -- the overwhelming majority of whose adherents are equally innocent of the infamy committed on 9/11 in their name -- should exercise comparable respect for what even Obama calls hallowed ground and take up the governor's offer.

While Kinsley has not responded (yet), Sargent has. "It must be tough being Charles Krauthammer these days" writes Sargent. "Here's his difficulty, in a nutshell: How do you insinuate that all of Islam should be viewed through the lens of 9/11 while disguising the fact that you're insinuating that all of Islam should be viewed through the lens of 9/11?" Here's the meat of his response response:

The arguments in favor of the project have all been ably hashed out elsewhere by people who know far more about national security than I do. .. .The question for Krauthammer and other foes is why lingering sensitivitives about 9/11 should take precedence over all the reasons proponents have given. ... This is discomfort and pain we must work through for our own good. Simply put, the cost of doing the alternative is unacceptably high. Opposing the center on the grounds that 9/11 was carried out "in the name of Islam," and is sacrilege towards hallowed ground, signals that our commitment to American values is not unshakable when maintaining it is emotionally wrenching. It legitimizes, unwittingly or not, the notion that it's valid to vaguely and irrationally conflate all of Islam with the attacks. In the long run, doing these things is worse for America.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.