Dr. Peikoff on the Ground Zero Mega-Mosque: Bomb It Out of Existence!
Over the past few days there’s a heated debate among Objectivists on Facebook in regard to the ongoing construction of a
13th-storey mega-mosque near Ground Zero in New York City where more than 3,000 innocent people were murdered by Islamic terrorists.
The impassioned discussion started with American writer and novelist Edward Cline’s defense of Pamela Geller, book author and director of Stop Islamization of America, concerning her case against PayPal and his strong opposition to the Ground Zero mega-mosque. I’m supporting Ms Geller’s online battle against PayPal, which ordered her to cancel her account because of the so non-objective reason that her blogsite, Atlas Shrugs, promotes “hate speech”, “intolerance,” and “racism” against Islam. Cline, author of Sparrowhawk series of novels and regular columnist of Capitalism Magazine, wrote the following statement on his Facebook wall:
“Islam is at war with the West, and in particular with America (Europe is practically lost to Islam). Islam is a political/religious ideology, whose central premise and goal are conquest of non-Islamic nations and cultures. That war is being funded by Islamic states (especially by Saudi… See More Arabia). Now, when we were at war with Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany, and either of those regimes proposed building a “cultural” center near Wall Street that would extol the “ideals” of those regimes, and act as a refuge for their adherents in this country, would you condone such an action? No? And if the movers behind such a proposal complained, “What about our rights, what about your laws?” What would your answer be? Just because our own government has refused for decades to recognize the war declared against us, doesn’t mean the war isn’t being waged. It’s very real. And don’t answer that Islam is just a religion. I’ve argued for years that if the Koran and Hadith were purged of their murderous and enslaving imperatives (that is, “reformed“), Islam would cease to exist. It would become just another hodgepodge of pious dicta resembling those of the Quakers or the Amish. From a mullah’s or imam’s perspective, that would be a horrible prospect, because it would leave no power left in the creed.
“Further, NYC is a very mixed economy, and in a private one, that mosque wouldn’t get built. The Islamists are using our own corrupt law against us. Geller, Robert Spencer, Steve Emerson and others have described how Islamists insinuate themselves into the culture with such mosques and game the system. And, I don’t recall ever reading anything “Christian” in Geller’s pieces on the matter. And, just because the Statue of Liberty is government property, doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be sold if a Saudi or Dubai or Qatar billionaire exerted the right amount of pressure on our politicians. Qua symbol, it’s already been sold to our enemies.”
A number of Objectivists and students of Objectivism like me joined the discussion. One of them is Ms Diana Hsieh, owner of NoodleFood blogsite that promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Ms Hsieh wrote in response to Cline:
Private property must be respected, even when we find the views and actions of its owners odious, provided that they’re not acting to violate rights. Totalitarian Islam is a major threat, but that threat needs to be fought by the military — by destroying the states that sponsor terrorism — not by violating private property rights in order to prevent a mosque from being built.
It’s standard conservative strategy to use the rights-violating machinery of the state to achieve some (supposedly) noble purpose, rather than working for the kind of fundamental change necessary to eliminate the problem at its root. That fundamental change isn’t “practical” or “realistic,” conservatives say. It’s “pie in the sky” fantasy.
Hence, for example, conservatives advocate “right to work” laws, rather than advocating for repeal of the unjust legislation (like the Wagner Act) that gives unions so much power. Fundamentally, that’s because conservatives don’t care about liberty, despite their occasional pro-rights rhetoric. They’re just in a political struggle with the left: they want power, nothing more.
Ayn Rand, in contrast, always took a principled approach. That’s why she opposed “right to work” laws — and that’s why she upheld the rights of communists to speak, provided that they weren’t attempting to overthrow the US government. In her “Screen Guide for Americans,” Ayn Rand wrote:
“Now a word of warning about the question of free speech. The principle of free speech requires that we do not use police force to forbid the Communists the expression of their ideas—which means that we do not pass laws forbidding them to speak. But the principle of free speech does not require that we furnish the Communists with the means to preach their ideas, and does not imply that we owe them jobs and support to advocate our own destruction at our own expense. The Constitutional guarantee of free speech reads: “Congress shall pass no law…” It does not require employers to be suckers.
“Let the Communists preach what they wish (so long as it remains mere talking) at the expense of those and in the employ of those who share their ideas. Let them create their own motion picture studios, if they can. But let us put an end to their use of our pictures, our studios and our money for the purpose of preaching our exploitation, enslavement and destruction. Freedom of speech does not imply that it is our duty to provide a knife for the murderer who wants to cut our throat.”
Based on that, do you really think that Ayn Rand would have advocated violating the private property rights of Muslims? If so, then you’re thinking like a conservative, not an Objectivist. You’re being pragmatic, not principled. As the trajectory of modern conservatism into more and more statism has shown, that’s a losing strategy.
She further wrote on her blog entitled ‘NYC Mosque: Respect Property Rights‘ the following:
On Facebook, I’ve been involved in some heated debates on the proposed building of a mosque near the World Trade Center lately. They were spawned by Ed Cline’s note in support of conservative Pamela Geller’s since-resolved dispute with PayPal. (For the record, I find Geller’s use of Playboy’ed Atlas Shrugged images for her conservative politics offensive in more ways than I can count.)
Here’s the problem: Geller wants to use the power of the state to prevent the mosque from being built, even though it’s private property. That’s wrong.
For people to protest the building of the mosque at that site would be entirely proper. (They could write letters to the editor or picket the site, for example.) For the government to investigate the builders of the mosque for any ties to terrorism is likely warranted. (Mere foreign funding is not evidence of terrorist ties though.) However, to forcibly block the construction of the mosque by using unjust laws that violate private property rights is morally wrong, not to mention politically dangerous.
People should not be judged guilty by the law and stripped of their rights just because they accept or advocate certain ideas. A person has the right to hold whatever beliefs he pleases — however wrong — provided that he does not attempt to force them on others. He has the right to practice the religion of his choosing, so long as he does so without violating the rights of others.
Even in times of war, a government cannot justly treat all immigrants from the enemy’s country or all adherents of the enemy’s religion as enemies. To strip a person of his rights to life, liberty, or property without some concrete evidence of his sympathy for or assistance to the enemy is to punish the innocent for the sins of the guilty. It’s pure collectivism.
I agree with Ms Hsieh’s statement that the American government should be waging “proper war against the states that sponsor terrorism.” However, I’m leaning towards the opinion of Mr. Cline. There is a need to understand that America and the West are at war with Islam. This is not just a cold war. This is not a religious war as the Islamists claimed; it is a war of conflicting ideologies.
I joined the discussion after being informed by a fellow student of Objectivism. I posted the following in response to the entire thread:
There’s only one solution to this. Private citizens who think this mosque on ground zero is an integral part of the enemy and is being used for indoctrination purposes against America have the moral duty to oppose it and that the United States government should bomb or destroy it once it’s finished. One has to make a moral judgment.
In a private online discussion with a friend I also made the following statement:
I’m for annihilating that mosque on Ground Zero! It’s an insult to America and the money they’re using to finance it comes from terrorist nations and organizations. It’s been a long-cherished practice by Islamists to erect mosques on their places of conquest. It’s a symbolic triumph for the Islamists, as they evil god urge them to insult their enemy at their holy places on their holy hour. The Ground Zero is a sacred place for America. It’s a symbol of the victory of capitalism and western civilization.
The Islamists are in bad faith and Islam is the enemy of America. Can you allow your enemy to insult you in your own territory using your laws against you? The islamists are using private property law against America. It is true that the government must not infringe one’s right to private property, but such a right is only extended to citizens who pledged allegiance to the state and not to the enemies of the people and of freedom.
In dealing with this issue, we only have to determine whether Islam is America’s number one enemy today. Ayn Rand was totally against the infiltration of the Soviet Union into America’s corporate world, particularly corporations in New York. But Islam and the defunct Soviet Union are different in certain aspects. Islam is hiding behind the swathe of religion and humanitarianism. Who financed this mosque in ground zero and why are they trying to hide the source of funding?
Finally, Dr. Leonard Peikoff, the intellectual and literary heir of Ayn Rand, produced a podcast answering questions concerning the controversial Ground Zero Islamic house of worship. In responding the question Dr. Peikoff first addressed the issue of property rights. He states:
Property rights are limited and they are contextual. You cannot do anything you want with property even though it is yours. Not if its ramifications objectively entail a threat to the rights of rights. You cannot build a bomb in your home. You cannot even build a big barn fire in our backyard legitimately because the principle of property rights is that property rights are a derivative of life as the standard and there can be no right to threaten anyone’s life nor indeed to threaten anyone’s property.
Second, rights are contextual. In any situation where metaphysical survival is at stake all property rights are out. You have no obligation to respect property rights. The obvious example of this, which I have been asked a hundreds of times, is you swim to a desert island where you have ship wreck and you get to this shore and the guy comes to you and said ‘I got a fence around this island, I found it and it’s legitimately mine. You can’t step on to the beach.’ now in that situation you are in a literal position of a metaphysically helpless. Since life is the standard of life, if you no longer can survive this way rights are out ‘dog-eat-dog’ or force against force.
Dr. Peikoff reiterated that America is at war. “We are facing widespread terrorism sponsored by a number of governments with tremendous popular backing in virtually every Mid-East Islamic country,” Peikoff states. He says that the “United States’ response to this is a continuation of the appeasement that was started back in the 1950s under [former US President Dwight David] Eisenhower when Iran seized Western Oil company.” He also says that the continuation of appeasement unleashed the Islamic terrorists to continue carrying out their terror attacks against the Western world.
Indeed, one of the worst forms of appeasement is the pretense of a war that put the lives of the America soldiers at risk. The appeasers have been also claiming that Muslims are not involved in this ongoing war and that the terrorists are just lunatic creatures who are driven by their hatred of America and the West. This crude, fatal form of appeasement means that there is no enemy at all and that America and the West are fighting an unidentified enemy.
Dr. Peikoff says that the proper reply to the whole evil of terrorism or Islamic fundamentalism are the following:
- Restate the morality of America’s Founding Fathers;
- Declare war with states that sponsor terrorism, which include Iran;
- Do not permit or oppose the construction of the NYC mega-mosque.
In conclusion, Dr. Peikoff provides the following statement:
“In regard to this issue, I would say, any way possible, permission should be refused, and if they go ahead and build it, the government should bomb it out of existence. Evacuating it first with no compensation to any of the property owners involved in this monstrosity.”
This is what I have been posting on my Facebook wall, that if the Islamists go ahead and build mega-mosque, any self-respecting free society should bomb it out of existence. It is true that every member of society has the right to his life, liberty, property, and his pursuit of happiness, but it is important not to forget that the very source of all rights is life as the standard of value. One’s right to property cannot be used to disregard and violate the rights of others. Moreso it cannot be used as a tool or an implement in denying other people’s right to existence.
A property can be used to disregard and violate the rights of others. The mosque is there to aid Islamic terrorism and to serve as a propaganda machine for the Islamic radicals. The survival of Americans is of higher value than Islamists’ right to property.
In our society, it is true that the communists have the right to spread their evil ideology and acquire property and build their own schools and buildings to promote their ideology, but the Islamic fundamentalists, who have been carrying out terror attacks on the West, cannot be included in this category. There is a real war between Islam and the West. The Islamists made no secret of their religious plot to Islamize America and the world through whatever means possible. To them, the end justifies the means. The difference between the Soviet communists and the Islamic fundamentalists is that the latter are equipped with a very powerful ideological weapon, which is religion. A religion, if transformed into a political ideology, is more powerful than any genocidal, anti-reason political ideologies of the past-century like Nazism, fascism and communism. This is the very reason why suicide bombers are ready to offer their lives for the sake of their religion. This is the reason why Islamic children are being indoctrinate and brainwashed since birth to hate America and the West. This is the reason why Europe is losing her battle against Islamic fundamentalism.
Before it’s too late, there is a need to understand that Islamic mosques play a very crucial, indispensable role in the Islamists’ ongoing terror and ideological campaign to Islamize the world and impose Shariah and Islamic law.
Listen to Dr. Peikoff’s podcast HERE.
P.S.: This personal opinion of mine doesn’t mean I don’t respect property rights. Before anyone proclaims his/her strong defense of property rights, he/she must not forget that the source of all rights is life as the standard of value.
Addendum: Since I don’t want to be a victim of misrepresentation and context-dropping, I’d like to restate here what I said in private conversation and Facebook discussion: Before Dr. Peikoff posted his podcast, I maintained a position against the ongoing construction of the Ground Zero mosque and that any self-respecting private individual have the moral duty to bomb the structure once it’s finished. But after listening to Dr. Peikoff, I realized that only the government can do such an action, and this is the reason why I revised my blog. In fact, I have relayed this reevaluation to an Objectivist friend.