For the benefit of those not living in the United States, I will explain that there is a proposal to build a Muslim cultural center two blocks from the "Ground Zero" site of the 11 September attacks. Those opposed to the center say that it is insensitive to build anything related to Islam near Ground Zero. Others argue that opposition to the construction of the center demonstrates an abandonment of our constitutional values.
It's worth writing about on this blog, since many of the analogies used by opponents to the plan focus on events that transpired in recent European history.
In making their arguments, opponents of the so-called "mosque" (actually, it sounds more like a mall) often talk about the "misappropriating" of a tragic historical event, but then misappropriate other historic tragedies to draw analogies to support their position.
I have noticed that all the analogies brought up by opponents to the plan fail on exactly the same point. Here are some the comparisons that have been made and why they all fail in the same way.
1) "Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington." -- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich
Analogy: Muslims = Nazis, NYC = Holocaust Museum.
Fail: Nazis as a political entity planned and orchestrated the slaughter of Jews, whereas Muslims as a whole did not plan and orchestrate the 9/11 attacks.
2) "We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor." -- Newt Gingrich, again
Analogy: Muslims = Japan, NYC = Pearl Harbor.
Fail: Japan as a political entity planned and orchestrated the attack on Pearl Harbor, whereas Muslims as a whole did not plan and orchestrate the 9/11 attacks.
3) "The Atlantic's Michael Kinsley was typical in arguing that the only possible grounds for opposing the Ground Zero mosque are bigotry or demagoguery. Well then, what about Pope John Paul II's ordering the closing of the Carmelite convent just outside Auschwitz? (Surely there can be no one more innocent of that crime than those devout nuns.)" -- Charles Krauthammer, conservative columnist
Analogy: Muslims = The Catholic Church, NYC = Auschwitz.
Fail: The Catholic Church (a religious and, effectively, a political entity [both in method of operation and in the Vatican's sovereignty]), was complicit in the destruction of the Jews during World War II, whereas Muslims as a whole did not plan and orchestrate the 9/11 attacks.
4) “9/11 mosque=act of fitna, “equivalent to bldg Serbian Orthodox church@Srebrenica killing fields where Muslims were slaughtered” -- Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and former Republican vice presidential candidate
Analogy: Muslims = Serbian Orthodox Church, NYC = Srebrenica.
Fail: The Serbian Orthodox church as a religious entity prominently and directly supported the Serbian government's actions during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, whereas Muslims as a whole did not plan and orchestrate the 9/11 attacks.
To me, reasonable hatred (e.g., our feelings toward the 9/11 plotters and executors) evolves into unforgivable racism when one impresses one's negative impressions about a few individuals upon a much larger number of people (I suppose this is a wordy way of describing negative stereotyping). The analogies above all attempt to pull off this trick, attempting in each instance to equate 1.5 billion Muslim people to various political and religious entities who, either generally or, in the cases of the specific injustices cited, are worthy of censure. This is why the Atlantic writer Mr. Krauthammer attempts to refute was right all along: "the only possible grounds for opposing the Ground Zero mosque are bigotry or demagoguery."