Sarah Palin tweeted, “Ground Zero mosque supporters, doesn’t it stab you in the heart as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls. refudiate.”
The tweet was later taken down and replaced with English, though to the same effect. Here is the original, courtesy twitpic.
There are many things wrong with the original tweet. “Refudiate” is, of course, not a word, and a case could be made for making Ms. Palin pay her parents back for all the money they spent on her education.
The phrase ‘stab you in the heart as it does ours’ should be ‘stab you in the heart as it does us’– she has incorrectly switched from a direct object of the transitive verb ‘to stab’ to a possessive modifying heart; in the first parallel phrase, ‘heart’ was the the object of a preposition.
The further errors in the tweet have to do with substance. A tiny fringe cult destroyed the Twin Towers in New York, not Islam in general (a religion of 1.5 billion human beings which could well be the religion of 3 billion human beings by mid-century). A monument to Usama Bin Laden or al-Qaeda would be in poor taste. A mosque, built anywhere in the United States, is not.
The classical Islamic law of war forbids sneak attacks. It forbids the killing of non-combatants. It forbids the killing of women and children. War is a collective duty declared by the duly constituted authorities, not an individual duty, and so not just any Ahmed or Moustafa can wake up in the morning and declare war on, say, Europe. See Khaled Abou El Fadl.
Al-Qaeda cultists reject these principles of Islamic law and they have been roundly condemned for doing so by all the major Muslim authorities– the rector of Al-Azhar Seminary in Egypt, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Iraq, television preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi in Qatar, Tahir al-Qadri in Pakistan, etc., etc., etc.
Finally, forbidding the building of a mosque in New York is inconsistent with the ideals of the Founding Generation of the United States of America, who explicitly mentioned Islam among the cases when they spoke of religious freedom:
‘George Washington asked in a March 24, 1784, letter to his aide Tench Tilghman that some craftsmen be hired for him: “If they are good workmen, they may be of Assia, [sic] Africa, or Europe. They may be Mahometans, [Muslims] Jews, or Christian of any Sect – or they may be Atheists …”
Ben Franklin, the founding father of many important institutions in Philadelphia, a key diplomat and a framer of the US Constitution, wrote in his Autobiography concerning a non-denominational place of public preaching he helped found “so that even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.” Here is the whole quote:
‘And it being found inconvenient to assemble in the open air, subject to its inclemencies, the building of a house to meet in was no sooner propos’d, and persons appointed to receive contributions, but sufficient sums were soon receiv’d to procure the ground and erect the building, which was one hundred feet long and seventy broad, about the size of Westminster Hall; and the work was carried on with such spirit as to be finished in a much shorter time than could have been expected. Both house and ground were vested in trustees, expressly for the use of any preacher of any religious persuasion who might desire to say something to the people at Philadelphia; the design in building not being to accommodate any particular sect, but the inhabitants in general; so that even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service. ‘
Thomas Jefferson wrote in his 1777 Draft of a Bill for Religious Freedom:
‘ that our civil rights have no dependance on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right . . . ‘
As I observed on another occasion, it was Jefferson’s more bigotted opponents in the Virginia legislature who brought up the specter of Muslims and atheists being elected to it in the world Jefferson was trying to create. He was undeterred by such considerations, which should tell us something.
I also once pointed out that John Locke had already advocated civil rights for non-Christians in his Letter on Toleration:
‘ Thus if solemn assemblies, observations of festivals, public worship be permitted to any one sort of professors [believers], all these things ought to be permitted to the Presbyterians, Independents, Anabaptists, Arminians, Quakers, and others, with the same liberty. Nay, if we may openly speak the truth, and as becomes one man to another, neither Pagan nor Mahometan, nor Jew, ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the commonwealth because of his religion. The Gospel commands no such thing. ‘
Here is Jefferson again: “The most sacred of the duties of a government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens.”
– Thomas Jefferson, note in Destutt de Tracy, “Political Economy,” 1816.
Or: “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
– Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82
The US Senate, full of founding fathers, and the Adams government, approved the Treaty with Tripoli (now Libya) of 1797, which included this language:
“As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”
The treaty is important for showing the mindset of the fashioners of the American system. ‘
And here is a final point for Ms. Palin and her ilk to consider. The United States was born of a war against the British crown, the state religion of which was the Anglican Church. Those Anglicans who insisted on swearing allegiance to King George III were viewed as the enemy. And, the British custom of ‘establishing’ the Anglican church in many of the colonies, i.e. making it the state religion, was renounced by the revolutionaries. But there was no question that apolitical Anglicans could practice their religion freely, found Anglican (“Episcopalian”) churches anywhere they liked (even in places where the Americans and British had waged fierce battles, like New York), and even go to Britain to arrange for the training of Episcopalian/Anglican priests.
There is more. In 1787, Samuel Provoost was made the Episcopalian bishop of New York. He had been a Whig and a supporter of the Revolution even though an Anglican. In 1789, the US Senate made him its chaplain!
So not only did the Founding Generation not harbor a grudge against the religion of the British Crown (which had tried to crush them), they were perfectly willing to give non-Tory Anglicans high official positions in the new Republic. It would be as though the the current chaplain of the Senate were a former al-Qaeda member who had broken with Bin Laden and declared allegiance to the United States.
That is, the September 11 attacks were not the work of a foreign head of state supported by his state religion. No Muslim government supports al-Qaeda. But even if the attacks had been of that sort, the Founding Generation had already made a key distinction between religious practice and political loyalty, and had granted freedom of religion to non-Tory Anglicans.
Refudiate, Sarah. Refudiate.