Dick Cavett on the Ground Zero Mosque

"What other churches might be objectionable because of the horrific acts of some of its members? Maybe we shouldn't have Christian churches in the South wherever the Ku Klux Klan operated because years ago proclaimed white Christians lynched blacks. How close to Hickam Field, at Pearl Harbor, should a Shinto shrine be allowed? I wonder how many of our young people -- notorious, we are told, for their ignorance of American history -- would be surprised that Japanese-Americans had lives and livelihoods destroyed when they were rounded up during World War II? Should all World War II service memorials, therefore, be moved away from the sites of these internment camps? Where does one draw the line?"—American television icon Dick Cavett, in the New York Times.


  1. I’m going to repeat my earlier comment on the same topic.

    Can we please think ahead and work to financially punish the people inciting violence?
    I refer to AM radio hosts and any Fox News hosts who suggest violence toward Muslims.

    I focused on this with the rw hosts on KSFO and they lost advertisers and money. This tactic finally resulted in them firing the hosts because they we not generation enough money They were still free to spew violent rhetoric on the air, but not to profit from it. And their new parent company wanted the profit since they were in debt.
    So they told the hosts to stop with the suggestions of violence or we will stop giving paying you your salary.

    If you want to work against inciting violence in corporate America you need to look to see who is profiting from it and challenge that concept.

    Another concept is to link the suggestions of a host inciting violence is to contact the company that provides the insurance for the broadcasters. Make sure they know that their host is inciting violence and organizing a rally. Suggest that they up the Premiums because of a future potential payout.
    This doesn’t stop the hosts from inciting but it does make the link to financial consequences more clear to the owners.
    Again, this is not about the Government censuring the hosts. The 1st amendment is about what the Government can or can’t do. This is about using market forces to make the case that financially it is bad business to incite riots on the broadcast airwaves.

  2. I have a theory on this whole mosque non-issue. Like many of my other theories, it’s either a bit crackpot or perhaps I’m giving the ignorant too much credit, but it goes something like this:

    It’s been 9 years since 9/11 and it’s a sad fucking testament to American un-awesomeness that there’s no substantial monument at Ground Zero. Instead, bureaucratic red tape and general political idiocy have prevented anything meaningful from being built there. Whether it would be a tastefully-done memorial or a 200-story tall middle finger isn’t really the question. It’s that nine really long years later, there’s still nothing. I think that pisses a lot of people off, and rightfully so.

    In the meantime, nine long years later, these poor fellas buy an empty shell that hasn’t been a Burlington Coat Factory since 9/11, decide to build an Islamic Center there, and people get angry because they see more progress on an Islamic Center than anything at all at the former WTC site. Granted, the anger is misdirected and the whole thing has been ginned up for political asshattery, but I think this is at least part of it.

    If there was already something there, would anyone even care? I personally think it’s a travesty that next year will be the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and there will still not be an appropriate monument there.

    That, and Dick Cavett fucking rules. His interview with Sly Stone never fails to put a smile on my mug.

    1. Well, it’s a little more complicated than bureaucratic red tape and general policy idiocy. A lot of the time has been spent actually designing buildings and infrastructure. Even with that done, it’s difficult to build with two subway lines and PATH trains literally running 24-7 through the construction site. The permanent memorial has broken ground is is progressing very quickly with plans to be substantially complete for 2011.

      Now, to hear anyone say that the planning commission for the city has stated the existing building on the site of Islamic Center does not achieve landmark status is therefore making faster progress than the Memorial strikes me as clear bunk.

      1. I agree with you, but we’re talking about the facts and the hot heads are dealing mostly with perception.

        However, even with all the tricksyness involved with planning commissions, infrastructure, etc., one would think that something of this magnitude could have some energy behind it to move it along swiftly. I mean, 10 years? I may be way off base here, but I think a lot of the angst centers around “Is that the best we can do?”

        1. If that’s their beef, I expect them all to come directly to me and say “I can’t believe we did all that in one year!” in 365 days.

          Seriously, it’s totally getting there in a hurry now that the infrastructure is mostly complete. Each building has at least four stories beneath it that will be fully interconnected when this is done. It’s basically a basement mall as well as all the HVAC and steel support for four towers.

  3. Dick Cavett is expecting consistency and logic and fair play from angry assholes. They don’t care. The want Truthiness, not truth; don’t confuse them with history or reason.

    @mwenge: Yes, that sums it up nicely.

  4. “Dick Cavett on the Ground Zero Mosque”

    Xeni – The Islamic Center is neither a “mosque” nor is it at “Ground Zero”. (While Islamic services may take place in the building, that does not make the building “a mosque” anymore than the Interfaith Airport Chapel of Chicago makes O’Hare “a church.”)

    When we use their deliberately misleading language we give aid and comfort to the assholes.

  5. You know, I often think it’s adults that have the poor knowledge of history. Young people seem to have a much easier time drawing accurate parallels between what’s happening now and what happened then. Older persons, all too often, seem physically incapable of drawing parallels with any accuracy at all.

  6. Between this and the sex offender hysteria and all the other boundary demands people seem to have now maybe it would be easier for the offended people to live in plastic domes under the ocean.

    But then they’d probably complain about crabs being too close to them.

  7. The Burlington Coat Factory is not ground zero, don’t use the right wing focus group wording – they use it for a reason.

    1. In the interest of accuracy, it be nice to offer the protestors some signs protesting the horrible New York Burlington Coat Factory Lot Islamic Community Centre. From a distance, though.

  8. All new churches are objectionable in my opinion.
    Until tax laws are amended they’re practically ATMs.

  9. The difference of course is that Shinto had nothing whatsoever to do with Pearl Harbor. The Christianity point is more valid, but the church opposes that sort of thing now.

    I’m as disgusted as everyone else at the protest videos, but people are mad for somewhat legitimate reasons. There is no Islam in a vacuum, the Islamic world is a political entity as much as a religious one, and it is a violent enemy of everything the Western world stands for. If the protest videos piss you off, try watching videos of stonings in the middle east, uneducated women wrapped up in black cloth, and readings of the Koran specifically advocating violence against unbelievers and subjugation of women. Read up about critics of Islam who are murdered. This is Scientology-class shit here people, I’m surprised the internet has sprung to their defense.

    Those dumb americans bleating AM radio slogans are a sad sight, but so are the millions of muslims who do the same on their side.

    1. As far as I know the community centre is being built by Sufi, while 9/11 was destroyed by extremist Wahhabi. They have as much to do with each other as Shinto do with Pearl Harbor.

    2. The difference of course is that Shinto had nothing whatsoever to do with Pearl Harbor.

      Shinto WAS the state religion of imperial Japan, and soldiers were fighting for an emperor they believed divine, so in that sense Shinto DID have something to do with Pearl Harbor. But whether Shinto was to blame for Pearl Harbor is as suspect as to whether Islam is to blame for 9/11. When humans commit atrocities in the name of their god, it is the humans to blame and not the god. God is just a moral construct, an idea; the Theory of Relativity didn’t destroy Hiroshima, a bunch of humans did.

    3. The thing is, treating all Muslims badly or doing bold generalizations about all of them having the same political agenda, or all of them condoning stoning and such is not accurate, because for the most part these things respond to a limited group of radicals, confined, for the most part, to a geographical context, Which is not the “western world”. What people are doing here is upholding human rights, enforcing them, and supporting them, so, why is siding with people who want to start a Community Center four blocks away from “Ground Zero” a bad thing?

      Honestly, I don’t get your opinion. It’s one step away from the “protestors'”

    4. the Islamic world is a political entity as much as a religious one

      That is simply not true. Islam as a political entity died with Ali ibn Abi Talib long before Lepanto. Islam is not now a political entity (although you can argue that Christianity is, since the Pope still has a recognized nation) and has not been for over a thousand years.

      Where did you get such a crazy idea?

    5. The difference of course is that Shinto had nothing whatsoever to do with Pearl Harbor.

      The Emperor of Japan at the time was the direct descendent of Jinmu Tenno (神武天皇), the first legendary Emperor, who was in turn directly descended from the Shinto sun goddess, Amaterasu.

      During and before the war Shinto was in many ways an Imperial Cult, promoting the divinity of the Emperor and assigning divine impetus to the work of the state.

    6. The Japanese fighter pilots who crashed planes on suicide missions — were convinced to do so by Shinto priests, and/or by Buddhist priests, who persuaded them that by doing the act, they would elevate themselves into a noble rebirth or become buddhas themselves. Survivors / deserters / the priests themselves confirm this.

      The analogy is entirely apropos.

      1. I think an even better analogy to the current flap is suggesting that we not build Confucian shrines near Pearl Harbor. Because, you know, there are a lot of people who can’t be bothered to tell the difference between someone who is Chinese and Japanese, and might get offended. . .

  10. Since when do people who hate everything about New York City get to decide what is built there?

    Honestly, this whole Ground Zero crowd hates NYC so much that they must envy the jihadis for blowing it up first.

  11. This is interesting:

    “I just can’t believe that so many are willing to ignore the simple fact that nearly all Muslims were adamantly opposed to the actions and events that took place on 9/11, and denounced them strongly, saying that the Islamic religion in no way condones it.”

    It is hard for me to know that the majority of Muslims were opposed to the events of 9/11, the media showed the most sensationalist images: kids wearing bin Laden t-shirts, sand castles made to look like the twin towers burning, American flags burning, etc. They did not give much air time to Muslim leaders who are opposed to terrorism (nor do they now), and anyway, if you watch Fox News all the time you’d think NO Muslim leaders were opposed to terrorism, ever.

    I do know there were in fact many Muslims opposed to those terrible events, including an overwhelming majority of American Muslims, and that is all we should really be concerned with. Muslims in the middle east who hate America do so because of our foreign policy more than anything else; it’s less about religion and more about politics. This cultural center will be for American Muslims, who love America, and should be free to use a building they bought legally. To say otherwise is to imply that they are guilty of the events of 9/11.

    But the anti-Muslim mobs will never acknowledge that Muslims are not monolithic, that the Wahabis of Saudi Arabia look upon Shiites as apostates worthy of beheading along with any other infidel, in the same way that many protestant sects still see the Pope as the Antichrist.

    It is difficult to reason with people whose blood is boiling, be they anti-Mosque, or anti-American.

  12. They should very publicly say, “Sorry, you’re right, we won’t build a mosque at Ground Zero any more. I guess we’ll have to go back to that stinky old coat factory idea, with the airport prayer room.”

    Anything but that Briar Bush, B’rer Fox…

  13. As a Fireman from the area who actually responded that day, I dont Care who builds a church or Mosque or shrine or anything around the area. To the people who keep saying it’s an insult to the hero’s who served and died that day, screw you. I find it way more insulting that there is a planned strip mall going into the actual ground where my brother firefighter gave their lives. If the Ground is so Hallowed lets actually make it so, and not denigrate it with Capitalist profiteering. I also find it insulting that people around the country/world think they have some say, or any valid opinion about what is done there. States rights and sovereignty are so important, until you can capitalize on an upcoming election, then they are out the window. The community using that building has been there for a while now and all the sudden its an issue? This a clear shot at bringing up 9/11 again, right before an election. Anyone who serves this country, serves all of the country. They Serve to protect its citizens and uphold its laws, All OF THEM, including the freedoms of Religious practice.

    @PARLIAMENT, are you a NY’er? even a US citizen? I dont care what they do in other countries, here in the states we have laws, and people abide by them, if not they get punished. The Islamic community here is not stoning people, they choose to wear what ever clothing they want, and if they want to stop being Muslim or talk bad about them, they can. There is no legitimate reason to be mad at people abiding by our laws. Just as there is no Legitamte reason to stop a Mosque (i know its not a mosque, but even if it was) from being built anywhere in Manhattan!

  14. @18

    “if you watch Fox News all the time you’d think NO Muslim leaders were opposed to terrorism, ever.”

    ….Just like the rest of the world thinks so many Americans are indifferent to the suffering of others around the world. How regularly do US politicians speak out against the atrocities in Gaza and Kashmir? Or anywhere else? Pretty much never, and the US invades wherever it likes, whenever it likes. I don’t think people in other countries really see why Americans are so insistent on people condemning the 9/11 attacks when America’s reaction was so disproportionate (and misdirected). 9/11 was a tragedy, but in the rest of the world, just 3000 dead is a good day.

    Also, you hit the nail on the head when you said: “the media showed the most sensationalist images”. There’s a clue!

  15. Personally living in Sweden and watching this mess unfold at a safe distance. I assumed that Oceania was always at war with Eastasia.

    Lets be blunt, you are in a state of war, started by a born again Christian. Its not been sold in as a religious war, more as a war against terrorism. But it is a war non the less, a war between Christians and Muslims. So i am not a least bit surprised why there exists so heated feelings towards Muslims in your country.

    1. Its not been sold in as a religious war, more as a war against terrorism.

      Generally, no, but there was some ‘targeted marketing’ going on. To some in the US, this most definitely was a religious war, wrapped up in fantasies about the Rapture and a new Crusade. To some this has always been a conflict of religions.

  16. The all-important passage of time seperates the examples from the current issue. Also, the conflicts in the examples are essentially resolved.

  17. Grrr. I can’t believe that his has become such a big deal, all thanks to cynical political opportunists and ignorant, aggrieved nativists. All I can do is repeat my same few talking points.

    1) The “Muslim world,” as it were, is vast and diverse. Muslims come in all different colors, live on every continent, practice their faith in varying ways and to varying degrees and live under all sorts of different governments. I, personally, do not want to make enemies out of 1.5 billion people world wide because a handful of crazy assholes flew those planes into buildings.

    2) This Cordoba mosque/community center is not a new thing. It’s been there for years; all they want to do is move to a new building nearby. Right there in the same neighborhood.

    3) Can anybody try to make the case to me, with a straight face, that if Branch Davidians had flown planes into the WTC, that there’d now be a shitstorm about some Unitarians wanting to open a church nearby? Branch Davidians and Unitarians, both segments of the “Christian World,” no? Who have about as much to do with each other as Wahhabis and Sufis.

    4) Before the likes of Geller, Palin, and Gingrich came along, this was a local land-use issue that nobody here in NY gave a shit about. Why, again, are local, NYC muslims supposed to be “sensitive” and move their mosque somewhere else? Was 9/11 not their tragedy too?

    God, this makes me cranky. We cannot just make civic decisions in this country on sheer, chest-beating ignorance. It won’t work.

  18. If we followed the logic then downtown Atlanta would have no churches b/c the 1996 Olympic bombings were carried out by Christian extremists upset over abortion. And the Daily Show’s John Oliver asked last week should Catholic churches be allowed near playgrounds.
    Anyway just an agnostic who’s glad that my church, since there is none, will never be banned.

  19. What other churches might be objectionable because of the horrific acts of some of its members?

    All of them. Ban the whole evil bunch. Execute the leaders. Barbeque the followers.

  20. The depth of the stupidity, hypocrisy, and pandering of both the politicians and “good working class people,” all of whom should know better, completely amazes me.

    Oh, but it is a matter of sensitivity, not religious freedom. Well I sure hope no airline ticket annex or travel agency sets up an office near “ground-zero” either!

  21. In regards to the KKK comments, the KKK is also very anti-Catholic so they are definitely NOT to be described as simply Christian.

    In fact, the example should become even more poignant by asking if all Catholics should hate and protest against all Protestants simply because of the actions of a fringe group of radicals like the KKK. That is EXACTLY the situation here. (yes, yes, currently a smaller extreme.)

    1. I think both apply. The KKK is very anti-catholic, and the extreme Wahhabi are very anti-Muslim for nearly every other type.

  22. One draws the line at ground zero, but thank you for asking, Dick. Imperialism always fades, but religious fundamentalism abides. And abides. And abides. It never forgets and always gains momentum until it is wiped out. Men, women and children plus salting the ground. Haven’t paid too much attention to history, have you, Dick?

    1. Good thing there’s nothing at Ground Zero and no religious fundamentalism involved in the proposed building, then.

  23. I find it hilarious that the same people who crap on Catholics and evangelicals, and who get bent out of shape over church-state separation, are now all of a sudden coming to Islam’s defence.

    Cavett’s analogies are stupid. Name one southern Christian leader who advocated lynching blacks. It’s been almost 70 years since Pearl Harbor. The internment camps were not comparable to Auschwitz.

    I’ve had Muslim friends, and found them to be good people with good values. But Islam has, to put it mildly, a serious image problem. It’s too soon to build this. They need to do some outreach, some charity. They need to be humble.

    Build a clinic, a school, a homeless shelter. If the 30 existing mosques are insufficient, expand on them.

    Just don’t build one there, at this time.

    1. I find it hilarious that the same people who crap on Catholics and evangelicals, and who get bent out of shape over church-state separation, are now all of a sudden coming to Islam’s defence.

      Funny. I thought that they were defending the principles on which the US was founded. I was unaware that equality under the law is a specifically Islam-associated value.

    2. Church-state separation doesn’t mean you hate churches any more than it means you hate the state. It definitely doesn’t mean you think it’s ok for mobs to disciminate against Muslims.

  24. Here is what’s happening, boys and girls: In case it slipped your mind, there is an election coming up in November. In the last few months the Republican party has been in the process of imploding (and it’s been so much fun to watch, too!) As was I predicted over a year ago, the so-called “Tea Party” would end up being an albatross around their collective neck. Sure enough, the mindless extremism of these nitwits is starting to scare the hell out of that mysterious segment of the electorate who describe themselves as “moderate”. What to do? Find an issue – any issue – that will distract the people. After a desperate search that must have taken them weeks, they finally found that issue last week in – of all places – lower Manhattan.


    They grabbed this non-issue and ran with it. Then the corporate media (you shouldn’t be surprised) decided to play this story to death like Hotel California and Stairway To Heaven. And it worked like a charm. Very few of us are at present thinking about the utter mess that six years of Republican control of the executive and legislative branches of our government made of this country. Instead we’re wasting precious time thinking about a non-issue. Just for a moment let’s put our minds on the things that really matter:

    The economy
    War in Afghanistan
    Massive unemployment
    A multi-trillion dollar debt
    The plunder of our national treasure by Wall Street
    An environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico….

    ….and what the hell are we talking about? A non-existent “mosque”.

    Tom Degan

  25. Name one southern Christian leader who advocated lynching blacks.

    I wrote a five paragraph response to this but it got eaten by the comment rewrite bug. I’m not going to rewrite it, so:

    Reverend Leon C. Myers, First Christian Church of Anaheim, 1922.

  26. I find it hard to comment on the past atrocities (Pearl Harbor, lynching) because I don’t know enough about what surrounded those incidents and what religious ties there were. For this situation, based on the increased availability of news (not perfect, but enough checks/balances exist these days), I think I can register an opinion.

    Making an Islamic center there is wrong. While many muslims and muslim leaders have condemned the 9/11 acts, too many (including some directly related to this project) have not. Comparing Christian-related incidents (Atlanta bomber) to Islam-related incidents (9/11) and saying that they are one and the same is stretching things a bit. There is no place in the New Testament that advocates individuals causing harm to those who they disagree with. There is definitely a place in the Koran that encourages this.

    Like the judge who said about pornography that it was difficult to define but he knew it when he saw it, I can’t define a ‘proper distance’ of time or space. To me, this is too close in both measures.

    1. There is no place in the New Testament that advocates individuals causing harm to those who they disagree with.

      Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

      Mattew 10.34, KJV Bible

      1. Jesus promoted peace and earlier in that chapter even promotes individuals to pacifism (v. 23). Jesus is not encouraging any individual to take up a sword to strike another, as far as I can tell. In v. 35 He details the strife that different beliefs will cause, but nowhere does He advocate doing away with those that don’t believe the same as Christians.

        (borrowed from another commentary: http://www.thrlgnfpc.cm/Pgs/Bbl-Qrn-Vlnc.htm)

        The “sword” is a metaphor for the persecution against believers, not an admonition for them to take up arms. In fact, elsewhere Jesus prevented one of his disciples from fighting on his behalf and rebuked him for doing so. In confirmation of this, none of his immediate followers formed an armed militia of any sort. There were no armies claiming to be “Christian” for many centuries.

        1. Excuse me, are you saying US property laws and civil rights laws should be ignored because your interpretation of the magic book of your religion strongly contrasts with your interpretation of the magic book of someone else’s religion?

          Christianity has sponsored more violence than Mao, Hitler, or Stalin – millions of people have been murdered in the name of Christ. It is a historically violent and intolerant faith.

          Your interpretation of Jesus’s “sword” (which I disagree with) does not change these facts. Especially when your entire argument hinges on what you, as an outsider, think about Islam and violence – I can assure you that a great many outsiders perceive Christianity as an extremely violent and intolerant sect, and for good reasons.

  27. Norman @45 “But Islam has, to put it mildly, a serious image problem. It’s too soon to build this. They need to do some outreach, some charity. They need to be humble. Build a clinic, a school, a homeless shelter. If the 30 existing mosques are insufficient, expand on them. “
    Agreed. Maybe they can start off by building some kind of community center. And, to help with urban renewal, perhaps they can build it on the site of an abandoned building.

    bcmintx @49 “Like the judge who said about pornography that it was difficult to define but he knew it when he saw it, I can’t define a ‘proper distance’ of time or space. To me, this is too close in both measures.”
    How about you take some time out and figure out just how much time has to pass and just how far away it has to be. “Not here and not now” makes it terribly difficult to start construction.
    How far away does it have to be and far in the future to they have to build it before their property rights and their rights under the 1st Amendment trump your new-found right to not have your feelings hurt?
    Which Amendment does the Right to Clutch Pearls fall under, anyway?

  28. From the article: “Perhaps spatial reality functions differently on the other side of the Atlantic, but here in London, something that is “two minutes’ walk and round a corner” from something else isn’t actually “in” the same place at all. I once had a poo in a pub about two minutes’ walk from Buckingham Palace. I was not subsequently arrested and charged with crapping directly onto the Queen’s pillow. That’s how “distance” works in Britain. It’s also how distance works in America, of course, but some people are currently pretending it doesn’t, for daft political ends.”

    Actually, he misses a fact about much of the US population, and probably a huge percentage of those protesting the “mosque.” They live in suburban sprawl, or rural lands. The distance between the community center and ground zero probably does seem very very small to those with no concept of a walking city. People in most parts of the US would giggle and say, “he sure *did* crap on the queen’s pillow!”

  29. Throughout all this I have been wondering where’s the nearest church to site of the Szrebenica massacre?

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