Although Charles Krauthammer and I disagree about nearly everything, I still respect his thinking and, in fact, fear his powers of logic. I hope we are still friends, although we disagree sharply about the Ground Zero mosque, which is turning into something of a defining issue. Charles wrote a column about it two weeks ago, then I wrote about it (partly taking issue with him) and he responded last week. Now it's my turn again. I start with a clarification. When I wrote that the two most obvious explanations for opposition to the mosque were bigotry and political opportunism. I should have made clear that I don't think Charles is a bigot.
One of Charles's analogies, intended to challenge people who support the mosque on principle, is the nuns who opened a convent to pray for the innocent dead at Auschwitz. After widespread protest, Pope John Paul II shut it down. Charles says that in discussing this analogy, Kinsley "doesn’t even feign anlysis," and that's true. I said, and repeat, that "I never did understand" the objection or the Pope's decision. Charles's response is: how dare I challenge "one of the towering moral figures of the 20th century"? He does not feign analysis either. Apparently any decision by Pope John Paul II is, shall we say, infallible. Two Jews probably shouldn't argue in public about Catholic doctrine, but what about birth control? Women priests? Celibacy? Few Catholics would agree with Charles that any decision by the previous Pope is beyond dissent.
And just to be clear: when I said that I "never did understand what was wrong with nuns...praying at Auschwitz," I was not saying that the issues involved were beyond my comprehension. I was saying, nicely, that I thought the Pope got it wrong. If there was a Nazi death camp in the United States, and some nuns wanted to build a convent nearby, they would have a First Amendment right to do so.