Ground Zero Mosque: should CBS have rejected this ad?

July 7, 2010

CBS has refused to air the following ad from the National Republican Trust, which I assume is a  Republican Party-affiliated group, opposing the construction of a large mosque just yards from Ground Zero, the site of the most devastating of the September 11th attacks. Before commenting further, I’ll let you watch it. Tito, roll tape!

It’s powerful and intense, no doubt. And anyone who’s followed this blog knows my feelings about Islam and the jihad against the West. And I do oppose building that mosque. But two questions remain.

Does this ad cross the line into religious prejudice and smear Muslims in general? No, I think it stays just this side of that. The message it conveys is true: there is a religiously-inspired war against us, that war is being fought in the name of Islam’s god and for the supremacy of Islam, and the massacre of 3,000 of us was launched by a Muslim group and carried out by Muslims for Allah’s sake:

Lo! Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth because the Garden will be theirs: they shall fight in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain. It is a promise which is binding on Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur’an. Who fulfilleth His covenant better than Allah? Rejoice then in your bargain that ye have made, for that is the supreme triumph.

(Qur’an sura 9, verse 111)

It’s also true that a mosque is a symbol of conquest and the supremacy of Islam. To place one at Ground Zero would be interpreted inevitably in the Islamic world as a victory marker. So the ad is right to object for this reason, too.

The other question revolves around CBS’s right to refuse to carry it. Recalling what’s happened in the last few years when someone has “offended Islam” (riots against cartoons, the murder of a filmmaker, a professor getting his hands cut off for asking the wrong question), one can understand if the managers there are afraid of the reaction to this ad. And they are a publicly-traded private company and can freely choose which commercials to accept and which to reject. So I think Big Peace is wrong to characterize this as a “ban,” which implies censorship. The ad is free to run elsewhere, such as YouTube.

But I still wish they had accepted it, because this ad raises important issues for both New York City and the nation that should be freely discussed. I suspect its rejection was born largely of fear, and it is the resulting surrender of the right of free speech and the tacit acceptance of dhimmitude that makes CBS’ rejection wrong. The corporation has both a moral duty and a self-interest in the defense of that right, and it should change its mind and run the ad.