Opinion

Constitutional controversy obscures issues

A proposal for the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero seems to have struck a raw nerve in American society. Supporters and opponents march in the streets ready to battle not just for control of greater Ground Zero, but also for the preservation of a consecrated U.S. Constitution.

If we are to take the most vocal at their word, the mosque is not a mosque but, variously, an affront to 9/11 survivors, a flashpoint for religious tolerance, an example of Obama’s totalitarian tendencies or just an offensive un-American gesture. Debate rages not over the simple wisdom of building the mosque but over the extent to which constitutional precedent will be affected by its potential construction.

As happens whenever the Constitution is used as support when it is at best tangentially related to the debate at hand, its incorporation into the mosque argument only masks the real issues. Some mosque advocates use, as the basis for their support, the religious freedom clause of the Constitution, arguing that to prevent the construction of the mosque would be to restrict the religious freedom of its builders. Impinging upon their religious freedom would set a dangerous precedent of majority interests restricting minority rights. Their position is quite true, but it gives their support of the mosque an undeserved veneer of constitutional legitimacy.

Opponents of the mosque deserve criticism for arguments that conflate Al-Qaeda with all Islam and oppose the mosque’s construction on grounds that 9/11 was done in Islam’s name, and its placement would therefore be unspeakably offensive. That position carries with it some xenophobia and is odious to the American multicultural tradition. Unpleasant as it may be, however, such appears to be the opinion of many.

Constitutional trappings aside, it becomes clear that construction would be unwise. No one would prevent the mosque’s construction, but plenty would use it as a reason for hardening their anti-Islam sentiment. The mosque would consequently only harm the status of Islam in this country. Provocation is not the way to increase tolerance.

Andrew Hamner is a senior majoring in political science. He may be contacted at ahamner@themiamihurricane.com.


August 29, 2010

Reporters

Andrew Hamner

Opinion Columnist


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

It’s the play Miami Hurricanes fans will never forget — and Florida State fans are trying to forget. ...

Miami Hurricanes fans might recall their favorite college football players in past years dreaming of ...

The new quarterback is usually the ones fans gush over. For the University of Miami, last season it ...

Debate all you want, but University of Miami football coach Mark Richt made it clearer than ever Wed ...

Last year, when University of Miami tailback Mark Walton attended the Atlantic Coast Conference Foot ...

UM dining services team earns national recognition for special event catering. ...

From hammerheads to great whites, University of Miami researcher Neil Hammerschlag is a dedicated sp ...

An ACLU report authored by UM sociologists documents racial and ethnic disparities in Miami-Dade Cou ...

Following the summit between Trump and Putin, reaction from politicians, pundits and former intellig ...

A School of Communication associate professor played an important hand—an artistic one!—in World Cup ...

Miami senior Tyler Gauthier was named to the 2018 Fall Watch List for the Rimington Trophy presented ...

Miami junior wide receiver Ahmmon Richards was among those named to the watch list for the 2018 Bile ...

University of Miami junior running back Travis Homer was named a preseason candidate for the Doak Wa ...

Six former Canes competed on NBA Summer League teams, with three averaging at least 10 points per ga ...

Quick Hits gives University of Miami volleyball fans an opportunity to get to know the new student-a ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.