Wednesday, August 4, 2010

D. H. Lawrence and the Mosque near Ground Zero

The mayor okayed the Mosque. In a strange bit of reasoning he used when he said that a denial of the building of the mosque would be a victory for the Islamists. How the denial of one of their goals would be a victory for them he doesn't explain. But there is plenty of opposition to this mosque. Here is a recent article describing some of the opposition:

"Nearly 26,000 people have signed an online petition on the ACLJ website, declaring 'no mosque at Ground Zero.'

"'The petition claims that the mosque is financially backed by an investor with reported ties to terrorism.

"'[R]eports indicate that Imam Rauf was one of the key financiers of the Gaza-bound flotilla that recently carried terrorists determined to attack Israel!" the petition states.

"'As radical Islam continues its bold and deadly march to erase freedom from the face of the earth, we must determine who we will honor: America’s fallen 9/11 victims or the terrorists who attacked them?'"

Despite such objections as these, there are plenty of "idealistic Americans," including "idealistic Christians" who think the mosque should be built. D. H. Lawrence had something to say about that sort of thing:

"It is the same old thing as in all Americans. They keep their old-fashioned ideal frock-coat on, and an old-fashioned silk hat, while they do the most impossible things. There you are: you see Melville hugged in bed by a huge tattooed South Sea Islander, and solemnly offering burnt offering to this savage's little idol, and his ideal frock-coat just hides his shirt-tails and prevents us from seeing his bare posterior as he salaams, while his ethical silk hat sits correctly over his brow the while. That is so typically American: doing the most impossible things without taking off their spiritual get-up. Their ideals are like armour which has rusted in, and will never more come off."

Let's look at what is D.H. Lawrence referring to specifically. It is a passage in which Ishmael decides to worship Queequeg's little wooden god:

"I was a good Christian, born and bred in the bosom of the infallible Presbyterian Church. How then could I unite with the idolater in worshipping his piece of wood? But what is worship? -- to do the will of God -- that is worship. And what is the will of God? -- to do to my fellow man what I would have my fellow man do to me -- that is the will of God."

D. H. Lawrence interrupts this quotation to observe, "-- Which sounds like Benjamin Franklin, and is hopelessly bad theology. But it is real American logic." He then goes on quoting from Moby Dick, describing what he calls typical American reasoning. It is the reasoning that allowed Ishmael to worship Queegueg's little wooden God. It is also the reasoning used by Americans who want to let the Islamists erect their 13-story Mosque near "ground zero."

"Now Queequeg is my fellow man. And what do I wish that this Queequeg would do to me? Why, unite with me in my particular Presbyterian form of worship. Consequently, I must unite with him; ergo I must turn idolater. So I kindled the shavings; helped prop up the innocent little idol; offered him burnt biscuit with Queequeg; salaamed before him twice or thrice; kissed his nose; and that done, we undressed and went to bed, at peace with our own consciences and all the world. But we did not go to sleep without some little chat. How it is I know not; but there is no place like bed for confidential disclosures between friends. Man and wife, they say, open the very bottom of their souls to each other; and some old couples often lie and chat over old times till nearly morning. Thus, then, lay I and Queequeg -- a cosy, loving pair --"

A huge host of Americans are reasoning much as Ishmael did, much as the Mayor of New York did. Surely we must worship at the 13-story Mosque if we want the Islamists to worship at the shrine of American Democracy. Surely!

Did Ishmael really believe this nonsense? No, of course not. "You would think this relation with Queequeg meant something to Ishmael. But no. Queequeg is forgotten like yesterday's newspaper. Human things are only momentary excitements or amusements to the American Ishmael."

And so it must be in New York. This mosque, once it is erected, will cause all the idealistic Americans, all those dressed in their old-fashioned ideal frock-coats and Old-fashioned silk hats to puff out their chests and feel good about themselves. Do any off them think about the consequences of allowing an ideology, whose goal is the destruction of the American way of life, to set up a shrine next to the world-wide symbol of the Islamist desire for that destruction? No, of course not. All that matters is the frock coat and the silk hat. Let the Islamists worship at the shrine of our toleration.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Do you really believe those who'd like to build this mosque are Islamists? How did you find that out, unless you think all Moslems are Islamists?


[I've forgotten my Google password]