The Lower Manhattan mosque and other divisive issues

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Charles Krauthammer can't seriously believe that the United States has ever been governed by or was created on the proposition that the majority is always right, as he suggested repeatedly in his Aug. 27 op-ed column, "The last refuge of a liberal."

Take California's Proposition 8, for example. Mr. Krauthammer said that "a single judge overturning the will of 7 million voters is an affront to democracy," and he expressed indignation at the thought that the majority who oppose the placement in Lower Manhattan of an Islamic center (which he persisted in calling a mosque) could be wrong.

It is precisely this kind of mobocratic pandering that the Founders took pains to counter by enshrining in the Constitution the notion that all citizens of the United States have certain unalienable rights and that no matter how large the majority might be and how much it may wish to do so, it cannot abridge any citizen's exercise of those rights.

Mr. Krauthammer knows this, so it was doubly disappointing to see him appeal to the worst in human nature instead of the best.

Bruce Carnes, Springfield

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I am tired of the rhetorical stink bombs being hurled across The Post's opinion page by pundits on both ends of the political spectrum. Cases in point are columns addressing the Great Mosque Debate by Eugene Robinson ["Whining on the right," Aug. 24], Richard Cohen ["The mosque cop-out," Aug. 24] and Charles Krauthammer [op-ed, Aug. 27].

By launching an ad hominem attack on the entire "American right," Mr. Robinson undercut his otherwise plausible argument that some conservatives are demonizing the Muslim religion to gain political advantage. It's hard to get your opponents to take you seriously when you start out by calling them "loudmouths," "fraidy-cats" and "professional victims."

Serious discussion was banished entirely by Mr. Krauthammer in favor of an across-the-board condemnation of "liberalism." Support for the Lower Manhattan mosque is summarily dismissed as yet another example of the "undisguised contempt for the great unwashed" harbored by an "arrogant elite." This sort of emotional, knee-jerk rejection of an opposing point of view makes it awfully hard to get a serious attempt at compromise going.

Mr. Cohen's "my way or the highway" attitude didn't even allow the possibility of settling the mosque issue through good-faith give and take. He rigidly asserted that "the difference between compromise and defeat is nonexistent" in this matter.


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