Rights and Right– The Anti-Defamation League Statement on the Cordoba Mosque

The Anti-Defamation League made its statement in opposition to the Cordoba Mosque nearly a week ago. Some of its reasoning is being echoed by others in opposition, including Dan Senor in today’s Wall Street Journal. Here is the final paragraph of the ADL’s statement:

Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong. But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right.

via Statement On Islamic Community Center Near Ground Zero.

The distinction between “rights”– as in what is legally or constitutionally permissible– and “right”– as in what is morally correct– is a helpful distinction. The next question is: what are the other elements in this situation, in addition to the conceivable pain that some victims will feel, that would help us assess what is the right thing to do? There is more to a moral judgment than calculating potential pain. More on this later. (See “Rights and Right– Part Two” for further moral reasoning on the location of the Islamic Center)

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2 thoughts on “Rights and Right– The Anti-Defamation League Statement on the Cordoba Mosque

  1. This is a complicated topic. Healing may take many forms, and may come from unexpected opportunities. The vast majority of Muslims condemn the 911 attacks, and may themselves be in need of healing (admittedly in a very different way than the families of the victims). In the absence of reaching out between parties (in this case, faiths), can true and complete healing take place?

  2. I agree, Linda, on two counts: 1. this is complicated, with many angles: legal and Constitutional; psychological (healing, fear); theological and religious (how do we understand Islam?); political (how does rhetoric shape the public conversation?); and 2. more specifically, in speaking of healing in this situation, there are at least 3, if not more, layers: a. healing of people who were close to those who died that day; b. healing between faiths; c. healing of a nation that experienced a very scary traumatic event on 9-11-01.

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