Afternoon Links

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

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97 Responses to “Afternoon Links”

  1. #1 |  PW | 

    I’d even be okay with some sort of reciprocity law. If the Saudis or any other a muslim country wants to fund islamic “charities” etc. in the U.S., it should be a precondition that their laws must allow any non-muslim U.S.-based religious group unimpeded rights to fund similar activities within their borders.

    Right now most muslim countries do not. Unless they change those laws, I see no reason why we should treat them any differently.

  2. #2 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #45 damocles

    …it’s not about religious freedom, at least not as the children of the Enlightenment think about such things.

    No, I think Radley hit the nail on the head and I don’t think the article you refer to has anything to do with religious freedom in the U.S. It’s far more about foreign policy.

    The dominance of the west over the rest of the planet is not going to last forever. Nothing does. But the notion that the U.S. can’t afford a First Amendment because someone is going to use it to destroy us has repeatedly proven to be bullshit. If there is anything that the attacks on 9/11 have shown, it’s how willing we are to trade freedom for the illusion of security. Currently that very same zeal is illustrated by how quickly we are prepared to sacrifice the First Amendment to marginalize those we fear and hate.

    Building a mosque is not an attack on freedom. Prohibiting it is.

  3. #3 |  Ace_of_Spades | 

    Mattocracy said “The whole reason why religious people came over here in the first place was to get away from the extremists in Europe. I have a feeling most muslims come to America because the zealots running their own country made life unbearable. If they were really zealots themselves, they would have stayed home.”

    Ever been to Salem, MA? Nothing against Mulims, just pointing out the error in the argument.

  4. #4 |  Peter Ramins | 

    @51 – Because we should set and live the standard. It’s as simple as that.

  5. #5 |  Ace_of_Spades | 

    You can’t put that Mosque there. It’s shadow might touch the shadow of the Ten Commandmenths monument we’re going to put on the courthouse lawn.

  6. #6 |  Ace_of_Spades | 

    Its and commandments. Tired. Sorry.

  7. #7 |  Pinandpuller | 

    One point for having a mosque next to your house is that you will never have trouble hailing a cab.

  8. #8 |  Windy | 

    # 26 “I think it’s about time moral crusaders are recognized for being among the most morally challenged people on the planet. When it comes to feeding on people’s natural emotions with regard to children, these people are worse than a flesh eating virus.”

    “It is indeed probable that more harm and misery have been caused by men determined to use coercion to stamp out a moral evil than by men intent on doing evil.” — Fredrich von Hayek, Nobel Laureate in Economics, from “The Constitution of Liberty”

    As for believing in God/religion, all one has to do is look at the human body’s design flaws (there are a great many of those flaws) to know without a doubt that there is no such thing as an all-knowing God which created human beings “in his own image”.

  9. #9 |  BSK | 

    “I’d even be okay with some sort of reciprocity law. If the Saudis or any other a muslim country wants to fund islamic “charities” etc. in the U.S., it should be a precondition that their laws must allow any non-muslim U.S.-based religious group unimpeded rights to fund similar activities within their borders.

    Right now most muslim countries do not. Unless they change those laws, I see no reason why we should treat them any differently.”

    So we should violate OUR Constitution because the leaders of a sovereign nation have chosen to enact very different laws from our own? Does that mean we should grant Italian immigrants extended unemployment benefits because they would grant Americans who become citizens there extended unemployment benefits? Should we go tit-for-tat with any foreign power, essentially saying we will treat your people as you would treat our people? I guess going LITERALLY morally bankrupt is okay in your eyes. Huzzah for America!

    (Note: This is not a defense of Saudi law. Acknowledging that our laws are different from theirs and that we should avoid going tit-for-tat with a repressive regime is not defending their regime. I am defending our rule of law. You seem content to ignore it when it suits your agenda. Wonderful.)

  10. #10 |  PW | 

    “So we should violate OUR Constitution because the leaders of a sovereign nation have chosen to enact very different laws from our own? ”

    Exactly how would it be a violation of our Constitution to embargo external funds from countries that do not respect the freedom of worship? If anything, the regulation of international commerce is one of the few areas of policy where Congress has a clear and explicitly recognized constitutional power!

    You’re so drunk on the multiculturalist kool-aid, BSK, that you cannot even recognize the difference between the restriction of a single religion under the 1st amendment and the penalization of OTHER COUNTRIES that restrict religious freedom under Article I, Section 8’s international commerce clause.

  11. #11 |  BSK | 

    Because your proposal is only targeted toward Muslim countries, ergo, it singles out a specific religion. Was that so hard?

  12. #12 |  qwints | 

    PW’s proposed ban on Saudi funding is intriguing. I don’t think it’s a horrible idea given the fact that the Wahhabi version of Islam has a strong history of being anti-Western and is much more closely linked to Islamic terrorists than Islam in general. That said, it’s probably unconstitutional.

    The obvious parallel is found in the history of anti-Catholic sentiment. Many Americans feared immigrants who first loyalty they thought ran to a foreign head of state. Consequently they attempted to ban Catholic schools. The Supreme Court found such bans unconstitutional in Pierce v. Society of Sisters. (Although the case was decided on due process grounds, there have been many – including Justice Kennedy – who have argued for the holding on First Amendment Grounds.)

    Even though Congress has the power to regulate commerce, it still may make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

  13. #13 |  Waste93 | 


    Agree for the most part. We do have freedom of religion in this country and there is nothing wrong with them wanting to build a mosque. However it is not a violation of the Constitution to prohibit foreign government for contributing the money.

    Part of the issue with these mosques is that they are being funded by foreign governments that also sponsor terrorism. The imam in NY said he wouldn’t exclude money from Saudi or Iran. He also blamed 9/11 on US policy and would not call Hamas a terrorist organization. A member of the board in the Murfresboro mosque was removed after posting support for Hamas. There is history of the groups that are supporting these mosques of also supporting terrorist groups. It isn’t unreasonable to not rush things through and take a look at where their money is coming from and who is hiding behind the curtains.

    I saw a good analogy on another site. What would the reaction be in Japan if an American wanted to build a museum in Hiroshima dedicated to US Aviation and placed it two blocks from the Industrial Promotion Hall?

  14. #14 |  Waste93 | 

    BSK and qwints,

    The proposal probably would be Constitutional. The Constitution prohibits an establishment of religion. A law could be drafted that would prohibit countries that don’t allow religious freedom from spending money in the US. As no specific religion is named it is content neutral. Also the US already keeps a list of these countries and updates it yearly. This law would also be a foreign policy decision by the government and wouldn’t run afoul of the Constitution. We already prohibit foreign money from elections, and foreign lobbyists have to register with the government. This wouldn’t be much different. The other option would be to limit the amount of funds that could be raised per foreign individual as is done in campaign contributions domestically.

    This doesn’t prohibit the free exercise of religion. It would prohibit foreign funding of religion. Funds could still be raised domestically or from countries that have religious freedom.

  15. #15 |  qwints | 

    Waste, you may be right given the Court’s recent decision on the ban on “material support” in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project. I don’t think, however, that the correct analogy is to political contributions as there is an obvious compelling government interest preventing foreign influence on the government.

  16. #16 |  Tom Barkwell | 

    I’m no fan of any organized religion. Too much focus on rules and control. Too many do’s and dont’s. Not enough soul. But one must admit, the amount and severity of pushback against Muslims in our Christian majority nation pales in comparison to the fates of non-Muslims attempting to openly practice their religions (much less build churches/synagogues/temples) in many Muslim majority countries. That says something about America.

    Yes, we have our bigots and hassle mongers. But on the whole, people will leave you be to live as you choose. If only our government would follow suit.

  17. #17 |  Waste93 | 


    Is there also not a compelling government interest in promoting human rights in foreign countries? Frame it as a foreign policy issue and the courts will also give great deference to that. We already do a similar policy with our import taxes I believe. Are they not often tied to the taxes those countries charge on American goods? Same concept.

  18. #18 |  BSK | 


    I was referring to PW’s proposal that this only be done with Muslim countries. I could be behind attempts to use our economic power to support the promotion and protection of rights around the world, so long as it was done regardless of politics. If we only held folks we didn’t like to this standard, I would be bothered, even if it was legal. And if we only hold folks of a given religion to this standard, I struggle to see how it would be constitutional.

  19. #19 |  BSK | 


    Just saw your second post… that is much more in line with something I could get on board with. I couldn’t get on board with PW’s assertion that this be uniquely applied to Muslim countries.

  20. #20 |  PW | 

    No BSK. It need only to target countries that prohibit American religious groups from engaging in similar activities in their borders. Regardless, the first amendment does NOT establish any “rights” belonging to foreign governments, only the rights of individuals in the U.S.

    According to your interpretation, foreign governments should also be able to make campaign contributions in our elections under the 1st amendment’s protection of free speech. Yet they are not. Why do you think that is?

    It’s called the commerce clause and permits Congress to do more or less whatever it wants to regulate international commerce.

  21. #21 |  PW | 

    qwints – I’m not advocating any law that would ban islamic schools in the U.S. though. That would indeed be unconstitutional.

    I am simply saying we should regulate the flow of international FUNDING of religious schools etc. by foreign governments that have laws discriminating against American religious groups within their own borders. There is nothing about the 1st amendment that establishes or extends its “rights” to foreign governments. And there is ample precedent demonstrating that we can indeed impede those rights through the commerce clause, to wit: bans on foreign governments from making campaign contributions in our elections, bans on trade with governments that are designated state sponsors of terror and so forth.

  22. #22 |  BSK | 

    PW… you’re cheating again…

    You said:
    “I’d even be okay with some sort of reciprocity law. If the Saudis or any other a muslim country wants to fund islamic “charities” etc. in the U.S., it should be a precondition that their laws must allow any non-muslim U.S.-based religious group unimpeded rights to fund similar activities within their borders.

    Right now most muslim countries do not. Unless they change those laws, I see no reason why we should treat them any differently.”

    Now, maybe you meant that this would apply to ANY country that acted this way, but you specifically spoke of Muslim countries donating to Islamic charities.

    I would likely not have a problem if the prohibitions were applied universally. Or, if I did have a problem, it at least would not be on constitutional grounds.

    So, which is it… does this apply to ALL countries or just to Muslim countries? If it applies to all countries, it would likely put a lot of Catholic churches and charities at stake, since I don’t know how welcoming they are to non-Catholic religious groups setting up shop. I realize that there is not necessarily moral equivalency between Islam and Catholicism, but you’d have to pick where you draw the line. And if the line is based upon religion, well, that there, sir, is a problem.

  23. #23 |  BSK | 

    When I refer to “they” in the last paragraph, I am referring to Vatican City and the Holy See.

  24. #24 |  PW | 

    “If it applies to all countries, it would likely put a lot of Catholic churches and charities at stake, since I don’t know how welcoming they are to non-Catholic religious groups setting up shop.”

    Considering that the Vatican is about the size of a city block, its property is 100% built upon, and 100% of its tiny resident population are Catholic clergy, I seriously doubt there are any other religious groups who would ever attempt to “set up shop” there for the simple reason that there isn’t really anything for sale to build a new church or anyone worth trying to convert. That said, the Vatican is very much open to non-Catholic visitors and receives millions of them every year.

    Compare that to, say, Mecca where non-muslims are prevented by law from even entering the city, and it becomes quickly apparent that your comparison is inaccurate and, in typical fashion for you, largely contrived.

  25. #25 |  Waste93 | 


    I don’t think the prohibition would effect the Catholic Church much. I doubt they receive much of their funding directly from Vatican City. They would still be allowed to raise money domestically and even from catholics in other countries. So it may prohibit funds from the Vatican, they could still collect from catholics in Ireland for example. Or even the Irish government.

    I’d prefer it to be content neutral. However even if it specified specific countries it would probably hold up Constitutionally. We restrict immigration based on nation of origin and various groups have different numbers that are allowed in based on their nationality. This is Constitutional. But a content neutral law would be better for the obvious reasons.

  26. #26 |  PW | 

    “PW… you’re cheating again”

    Translation: BSK is frustrated at the failure of his attempts to construct straw men.

    Now I did specifically refer to the example of muslim countries that persecute other religions by their laws. That in itself, however, in no way precludes similar penalties being levied against countries that persecute based on other religions besides islam. It is an incontrovertible reality though that almost all of the countries in the world today that actively persecute other religions happen to be muslim. So yes, they would obviously have the most to lose from such a policy.

  27. #27 |  PW | 

    Waste – also note that the policy would NOT apply to a government simply because it decides to affiliate with a single religion. In other words, it is NOT an attempt to force all countries to become secular and religiously neutral, which is the strawman that BSK has been attempting to construct.

    The restriction would apply to countries that actively persecute other religions by their laws – e.g. those that prosecute converts away from the state religion, that legally prohibit the construction of non-approved places of worship, that confiscate or destroy the property of non-approved religions, and that criminalize proselytizing by non-approved religions. It happens that almost all countries in the world today that do that sort of thing are muslim. But theoretically, it could apply to any other religion without precluding a government from officially adopting that religion as its own.

  28. #28 |  Deoxy | 

    “But it has nothing to do with bigotry! These protesters are just protecting sacred sites.”

    It’s also LOCAL. There are local protests, etc, about ALL KINDS OF THINGS, including Christian churches upon occasion. The one in NY is the only one getting any national attention, and, as has been repeatedly pointed out, there are some very good reasons (the easiest one being that Islam has a long history of building a mosque on battlefield sites to proclaim victory and “own” the site forever, but there are several other reasons I’ve seen listed in the comments on this very site).

    You may certainly disagree with those reasons, but to simply call people who in good faith hold those as their reasons “bigots” (as you have done a great deal) is simply dishonest.

  29. #29 |  Mattocracy | 

    The difference between Waste93 and PW is that Waste isn’ snarky in his comments. So thanks Waste.

    If you believe in personal freedom, then you should believe that individuals should be free to intereact with whoever they want, exhange goods and services with whoever they want, and recieve and give charity with whoever they want.

    Just because someone receives money from questionable characters doesn’t mean that money will be used in that manner. You hold people accountable for the crimes that actually cause harm to others, not for the actions that might or could or that you don’t agree with.

    If countries started creating these reciprocity laws as suggested above, half the countries on this planet would refuse charitable donations from Americans because of our government aid to Isreal. I don’t think people of need should be denied charity from individuals becuase of what their governments do. This seems like a dangerous and slippery slope.

  30. #30 |  BSK | 


    I constructed no straw man. You specifically referred only to Muslim nations and I said your proposal is one I find objectionable and would likely also prove unconstituional. Others offered more content-neutral suggestions which I said I could likely get behind. How is that a straw man?

    I also noted that I don’t know the specifics of how the Vatican views other religions in their country. I do know they welcome visitors of all faiths. I said it would likely put some Catholic institutions at stake, not that it definitely would. So, there, I was a bit off-base as I wondered aloud.

    In general, I find it interesting how non-libertarian this conversation has gotten. While such laws may be constitutional, I am troubled at the notion that we should have our government limit the actions of others (individuals, groups, and countries alike) because we don’t like how they do things. Obviously, private groups ought to be entitled to choose who they accept money from, but do we want the government to say, “Sorry guys, you can’t get money from those folks because we find them deplorable?” Kind of a scary premise. Even if the group is immensely deplorable.

  31. #31 |  BSK | 


    The NYC situation isn’t really all that local… the neighborhood residents really don’t care. A lot of the protestors are out-of-towners.

  32. #32 |  PW | 

    “Just because someone receives money from questionable characters doesn’t mean that money will be used in that manner.”

    Fair enough, though it is also generally true that questionable characters tend to fund questionable causes more often than not. And while it is equally fair to hold that people should be able to give as they please to whatever they please, when enforced to its logical end this position would also see no wrong in the use of a slush fund to finance criminal activity until after it inflicts physical harm. Surely you wouldn’t suggest that it’s okay to use an offshore bank account to purchase large quantities of plutonium, only subject to scrutiny after the bomb it is used for actually goes off.

    Is this a slippery slope to the extreme case? Certainly, but no more so than your suggestion that American pressure against Islamic state-sanctioned religious persecution would cause half of the world to cut off American charities in protest over Israel (in fact, that scenario would likely not happen simply because it is in the self-interest of those other nations to receive American charity aid, considering that it is so abundant relative to the rest of the world).

    My point is that there can and should be a line on what we accept for the use of foreign government money for ideological and religious purposes in another country. There is a reason why we don’t allow foreign governments to donate to our internal election campaigns. There’s also a reason why most of us here (and I suspect this includes you, matt) find it objectionable when our government spends money to bombard other parts of the world with pro-America propaganda, even when we admit that its target regime is pretty awful.

    We are under no obligation as a country to permit a foreign government to heavily subsidize the promotion of a religion in our borders, and certainly not when that same government has a horrendous track record of state-sanctioned religious persecution.

  33. #33 |  PW | 

    “You specifically referred only to Muslim nations ”

    Show me a list of nations across the world, BSK, that persecute other religions as state policy. Next tell me how many of them are muslim.

  34. #34 |  PW | 

    “The NYC situation isn’t really all that local… the neighborhood residents really don’t care. A lot of the protestors are out-of-towners.”

    And your evidence for this is???

  35. #35 |  Waste93 | 


    The problem with that Libertarian arguement is that what you are implying is that money from any source should not be a concern of the government. If that were the case we’d have have toss all our money laundering laws. If someone knowingly receives money from the Mafia shold that be ok? I know there is a case going on with Naomi Campbell receiving ‘blood diamonds’. Should we have no concern about where those diamonds came from?

    A year or two ago we had the Holy Land case where some Islamic Charities were funneling money to terrorist groups. If the libertarian arguement is that we shouldn’t be concerned where groups receive their money from, should we also not be concerned where they send it?

    Personally I see far to many problems with that view. People and groups tend to fund like minded groups for the obvious reasons. So when terrorist groups support something they probably should be looked at with a critical eye. I tend to doubt that Hamas funds groups just to win Hearts and Minds.

  36. #36 |  BSK | 


    I’m speaking more towards the argument about restricting the rights of governments that don’t allow religious freedoms and other types of actions. You are right that terrorism and other criminal activities should be viewed differently. But if we are going to say, “Hey, Saudi Arabia, we don’t like your treatment of women so no one there can send any money here,” I think that is dangerous ground. Obviously, this already happens with many countries, including Cuba, Iran, and previously Iraq. That doesn’t make it right.

  37. #37 |  Waste93 | 


    Not exactly. People are free to do as you say but with some narrow limitations. You can’t go and give aid to criminal organizations. Nor should you be allowed to. This, as I see it, is just a continuation of the accesory laws we’ve had for along time. If I give a gun to someone I know is gonig to commit a murder I can, and should be, charged as an accessory to the crime of murder. Just because I give it to an organization this doesn’t change. No different if I give money to that group knowing they will use the money to build a bomb to kill someone.

    There is an old adage, ‘the right of my fist stops at the tip of your nose’. I think that applies in this case.

    I see your concern about denying aid to countries and the people suffering. However that is something that almost always happens. The ruling class rarely suffers from an embargo, look at Iraq during Sadam or North Korea, while the people do. However you also can’t just ignore the actions of the government and do nothing. It’s a lose-lose situation regardless.

    Even when we do provide aid many times it goes into the pocket of the ruling class anyways and the goodwill towards the US is brief and not long lasting. After the tsunami in Indonesia the US contributed a great deal while the wealthy Mid East countries barely contributed anything even though Muslim countries were hard hit. Samething in Pakistan with the floods now. Any goodwill we generate will last until the next drone attack. We’ve been funneling large sums of funds to Pakistan for awhile now with little to show for it. If countries want to deny our aid because of our support for Israel that is their choice. Just means we save that money and can pay off our debt so much sooner or lower taxes ( yes that’s a joke ).

    I’ve found that when you have to resort to snark or name calling you’ve probably already lost the debate.

  38. #38 |  Waste93 | 


    What solution do you propose to have countries live up to their obligations? Saudi Arabia has signed a number of treaties about human rights that they ignore along with ones about the treatment of women. You may have missed this story from the other day.

    I’m sure that violates some of their treaty obligations too.

    Something to remember about most third world countries, the government controls a lot of the buisnesses, especially on the international level. So you can use access to our markets as leverage on those governments.

    This isn’t an ideal solution of course. I don’t think there is one. But bringing pressure to bear on foreign governments for basic human rights is something governments should do IMO.

  39. #39 |  Waste93 | 

    For those still interested. There may be some new developments in regards the GZ Mosque imam. Guess we’ll know more next week.

  40. #40 |  PW | 

    ““Sorry guys, you can’t get money from those folks because we find them deplorable?” Kind of a scary premise”

    No, BSK. It’s something more along the lines of “sorry guys, you can’t be subsidized by that backwards tyrannical terrorist-funding government to import their radical ideology into the United States.”

    And I’m still waiting for you to show me exactly where the first amendment says anything about its protections applying to the “right” of a foreign government to promote its state religion and associated political ideology within our borders.

  41. #41 |  PW | 

    #89 – Gee, you mean there was an imam being duplicitous about his stated intentions with this mosque and his claimed version of islam? Sounds like he has a lot in common with certain persons around here.

  42. #42 |  PW | 

    Also keep in mind we’re not talking about embargoing all trade coming into the United States from Saudi Arabia. We’re talking about specifically embargoing the FUNDS their government provides to subsidize Wahhab-based radical islam.

    Those funds are already being stolen from the people by their corrupt governments in the first place. Nobody in Saudi Arabia is going to suffer if that government can’t spend them on mosque construction here.

  43. #43 |  BSK | 


    A treaty is an entirely different issue. If a country agrees to do something in exchange for something else and fails to hold up their end of the bargain, then they miss out on what they get in return, or whatever other penalties are written into the treaty. Going forward, it’s unlikely countries will continue to sign treaties with the violating country.

    I’m not saying there is no way for such efforts to be accomplished legally, morally, and ethically. I just think we should be careful and make sure we aren’t abandoning one set of principals to achieve another.

  44. #44 |  PW | 

    Also regardless of whether you are for or against it, let’s put the “2 1/2 blocks away” thing to rest. Whether it is to provoke or make peace, the mosque was indeed chosen for its proximity to ground zero. “City blocks” in that part of Manhattan are NOT your typical square formed by evenly spaced streets. They are about twice as long as they are wide, and the mosque site is two width lengths from ground zero and only one width length from WTC 7, the third building that collapsed. To put it another way, it is sufficiently close to ground zero that the front facade of the building on the street corner diagonally opposite of it was obliterated by the falling towers.

    Here’s a satellite photo of the whole damn thing.

  45. #45 |  Pinandpuller | 


    Also didn’t they want to dedicate the new building on 9 11 11? I’m sure that was for healing purposes right?

  46. #46 |  BSK | 


    There is no evidence to support that claim. There was never a dedication date planned. That was drummed up by opponents looking to further demonize the group.

    As more evidence surfaces, there is enough real things to question/criticize the imam about. Making stuff up (not saying you did but the folks who put that out there) only dilutes any real opposition that might exist.

  47. #47 |  BSK | 

    “When will Park51 open?

    Daily Muslim prayer services have been held at 51 Park Place since late 2009. We hope to expand services and facilities in the coming months, although a firm date has not yet been set for the opening of Park51. For more information about worship services, see our Ramadan page.”


    So, somehow the prayer services have been offered for over 6 months now and no one was bothered. And the notion that the building is set to be dedicated on 9/11/11 is clearly made-up. Now, it’s possible that their may be major services AROUND September 11th, 2010, as Ramadan ends on September 9th/10th. But the dates for Ramadan are based on the lunar calendar, so we’d have to blame the moon for that coincidence.