Zoning Out Muslims

USA Today has an article out about attempts nationwide to block the construction of mosques. Excerpt:

In the last five years, there has been "anti-mosque activity" in more than half the states, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Some mosques were vandalized — a $5,000 reward is being offered in a 2011 Wichita mosque arson case — and others were targets of efforts to deny zoning permits .

Mosque opponents often raise concerns about traffic and parking, but Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU's freedom of religion program, says they can be "sham arguments" that mask anti-Muslim sentiment.

Contributing Editor Cathy Young in August 2011 wrote the definitive piece on the constitutional and moral questions about mosque-blocking, "Fear of a Muslim America: In the fight against radical Islam, conservatives are trying to limit the property and speech rights of peaceful American Muslims." But I'd just like to point out how inoffensive to many ACLU fans the above passage would be if you replaced the words "mosque" and "Muslim" with, say, "Wal-Mart." The language and argumentation of many mosque-blockers is indistinguishable from that of many anti-Home Depot activists out there:

Some people who object to mosque projects say religion is not a factor. The DuPage County home where Jacqueline Sitkiewicz has lived since 1978 is adjacent to a house the Islamic Center of Western Suburbs (ICWS) hoped to use as a mosque. The county board voted against the plan this month.

Sitkiewicz says her concerns were traffic, drainage and the effect on property values. "I don't care what their religion is," she says. [...]

Lawyer Marc Grenier represents condo associations that object to plans for a Norwalk, Conn. mosque. The size of the project, parking and the impact on neighboring properties are their chief concerns, he says. "Our opposition ... has nothing to do with anyone's right to worship."

Sure. Just as anti-Home Depot activism has nothing to do with anyone's right to shop. Zoning, as ever, is an attractive option for people to pool together their less-than-attractive biases.

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  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Local governments don't limit their restrictive behavior to mosques. They will sometimes try to block even Christian churches based on traffic, and (always an undercurrent, I think) the fact they can't tax that property as much as they'd like.

  • plu1959||

    Maybe it's easier to zone them out altogether than to let them in and then have to address the issue of amplified-5-times-a-day calls to prayer?

  • Timon 19||

    You're assuming that every mosque everywhere issues amplified calls.

    I think you'll find most in the US do not (except most probably in Dearborn, MI or surrounding areas).

  • niobiumstudio||

    Most towns have a sound ordinance that can't be broken for even religious purposes. Where I lived in NJ only one church was allowed to ring their bells on Sunday, because they were built and were doing it long before the sound ordinances existed. Every church built after the ordinances, wasn't allowed to ring their bells on Sunday unless they conformed with the ordinance. I doubt the call to prayer coming through a loudspeaker would fit in most towns ordinances.

  • albo||

    Oh, c'mon. From the article:

    There were 2,106 mosques in the U.S. in 2010, up from 1,209 in 2000

    A 75 percent increase in new mosques over 10 years. Plus:

    a 2000 federal law meant to prevent zoning laws from discriminating against religious institutions is a potent tool.

    Help, I'm being oppressed. Come and see the violence inherent in the system!

  • Randian||

    How is X percent increase proof that policies are not oppressive? What if that number should have been 175%?

    Oh yeah, and one federal law does not prove that Muslims are not unfairly discriminated against.

  • niobiumstudio||

    I think the 13th, 14th, and 15h amendments go to show that nothing gets in the way of good ol' fashioned discrimination.

  • albo||

    And one article in McNews attempting to whomp up some discrimination neither makes a trend nor endows the precious mantle of "victim" upon the alleged oppressed. Be skeptical.

  • Randian||

    Yes, you are right there, but your evidence for against the point is still terrible.

  • Espantapajaros||

    I disagree on the last point; when local governments are cockblocking commerce a la zoning out Wal Mart or Whole Foods, their rhetoric is a touch more honest. Here in Massachusetts, as Whole Foods eyed a site in Jamaica Plain the hipsters and idiotic "neighborhood council" weren't mincing words: they don't like Whole Foods, and they don't want local business to have to compete with it.

  • sarcasmic||

    Round here the city council decided not to update zoning rules to allow golf courses and other recreational facilities to put up hotels and restaurants.

    I was very tempted to write a sarcastic letter to the editor thanking the city council for not allowing demeaning service jobs from coming to the city.

    "I mean, who really wants to work at a hotel or restaurant anyway? Service jobs are like icky and stuff. They're beneath the people of our fair city. We need real jobs, like manufacturing."

  • NoVAHockey||

    "they don't like Whole Foods, and they don't want local business to have to compete with it."

    that's okay. A woman on local advisory committee in DC opposed a Wal-Mart (or Target) b/c she thought it would just tempt people to steal.

  • nicole||

    Hey, I was going to mention the Norwalk case, since it's around the corner from my fam. Full disclosure: the proposed site of the mosque is the current site of my childhood gingerbread-house dream home. But seriously, it would be an insane traffic nightmare at an already-blind intersection and they admit that even the new planned lot would not be sufficient for parking. So yeah, that's awesome for the neighborhood.

    Of course, if I had simply bought my gingerbread-house dream home this wouldn't be an issue, but sadly that was not to be. It's all my fault.

  • Mo' $parky||

    Sooooo, why is it evil to not want a particular building put in right next to your house?

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Because the property right next to your property is NOT YOUR FUCKING PROPERTY.

  • Mo' $parky||

    But why am I not allowed to dislike what is being put there?

  • Randian||

    You can dislike it, but when you express your subjective, bullshit preferences through the use of force, that's where it gets evil.

  • Randian||

    Oh, and bigotry is evil. If you object to the building because you don't want dirty dirty Ay-rabs living next to you, you're an evil bigot.

  • Mo' $parky||

    What I'm getting from this article is that Welch thinks that if someone you don't like does something you don't like with the property right next to your you should just shut up and deal with it. I'd like to think that I would be able to ignore whatever my neighbors see fit to do in their own yard as long as it doesn't bother me. But I'd also like to think that if someone put in a Church of the High Holy Fuckwad right next to me I'd be able to voice a complaint about it.

  • Mo' $parky||

    Oh, and bigotry may be evil but what gives you the right to tell people to not be bigots? Freedom of association and all that.

  • Randian||

    Oh, and bigotry may be evil but what gives you the right to tell people to not be bigots? Freedom of association and all that.

    ha ha, that's a good one.
    ....
    I hope you're not serious.

  • Mo' $parky||

    I hope you're not serious.

    Why? I see people here argue constantly about throwing out anti-discrimination laws and letting people choose whoever they want to be with even if it means excluding one group of people. Are you saying that if I didn't like gay people I should be forced to associate with them anyway? Why shouldn't people be able to make up their own damn minds about who they want to associate with? And if you don't like bigots you have the right to shun them. Why is that so hard?

  • Randian||

    No one said "forced". You asked where I got the right to TELL PEOPLE not to be bigots. Not force them not to be. If you are going to be so self-righteous in your own arguments, remember what you wrote next time.

  • Mo' $parky||

    If you are going to be so self-righteous in your own arguments, remember what you wrote next time.

    Apparently you're the perfect person to be labeling people as evil bigots when you don't like their beliefs. My point, since you can't be bothered to figure it out, is that just because you think someone is an evil bigot doesn't mean they're not entitled to their opinion. Also, I notice you didn't actually answer my initial question, you just turned into a bitch about it.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Fuck off, slaver

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Racism is [one of] the most egregious form[s] of collectivism.

    I won't tell you you can't be a racist, but I will call you a collectivist asshole for being one.

  • Mo' $parky||

    as long as it doesn't bother me

    That should probably better read "as long as it's not affecting what I'm doing in my yard."

  • plu1959||

    There's also the issue of nuisance. Just because I don't own the property adjoining mine doesn't mean the owner of that property can use it for whatever he wants, including, say, a sewage treatment plant that makes my pre-existing use of my property as a residence practically impossible.

  • Randian||

    People practicing Islam is not ipso facto a nuisance.

  • plu1959||

    People practicing Islam is not ipso facto a nuisance.

    It isn't?

    j/k

  • robc||

    How does a sewage treatment plant next door make the pre-existing use of your property impossible?

  • plu1959||

    The stench.

  • robc||

    That isnt a necessary result of a sewage plant. Or are you talking about the mosque? :)

    They could dome the plant or put up smell barriers or just enough buffer room between borders to handle that.

  • plu1959||

    They could dome the plant or put up smell barriers or just enough buffer room between borders to handle that.

    Indeed. I was just trying to come up with a relatively intuitive example of a common-law nuisance.

  • robc||

    Indeed. I was just trying to come up with a relatively intuitive example of a common-law nuisance.

    The point is, it isnt the sewage plant next door that is the problem, it is the smell (or noise) pollution.

  • Mo' $parky||

    If a sewage treatment plant had a way to minimize the smell and the noise to a level no more than a standard home I would have no issue with living next to one.

  • Loki||

    Sitkiewicz says her concerns were traffic, drainage and the effect on property values.

    Right, I'm sure she'd have the same concerns if the property was going to be used as Church as opposed to a Mosque.

    Maybe they should pull a George Lucas and put up low income housing instead.

  • Seamus||

    You must not be very familiar with how residential neighborhood associations deal with churches that want to build in their neighborhoods. (In case you're slow on the uptake, let me draw you a map: They don't like churches any more than they like mosques. When they say they're concerned about traffic and parking issues, they actually mean it, and they don't care whether the traffic is caused by a mosque, a church, or (in the case of my own neighborhood association), a freaking Montessori school. (At least my neighborhood association doesn't have any power of its own, but has to persuade the county zoning authorities in order for their preferences to have force of law. When I was house-shopping, I made a point of refusing to look at neighborhoods that had homeowners' associations with any actual power.)

  • mad libertarian guy||

    You should of just found a neighborhood with no HOA. They are about the most vile organizations outside of government.

  • Rasilio||

    This is actually a fairly difficult thing to do in many parts of the country because having a HOA in a subdivision does a whole lot to benefit the builders up to the point the last unit is sold

  • robc||

    Buy in an older neighborhood that predates HOAs. That is what I did.

    My house was built in ~1998, but many of the houses on my street date back 80+ years.

  • Randian||

    There's nothing wrong with HOAs. People like to live in neighborhoods that don't have purple painted houses or garish decorations.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Of course those are the same organizations which deem that one can't park their RV in their own fucking driveway in order to pack/prepare for a trip without issuing a fine. Or decide that since your grass is 1/2" taller than they allow you're to get a "penalty."

    HOAs are little more than busy body fucks who want to use your money to create their own little "community." They are no less vile than politicians with the sole exception that they only seek to lord over small communities rather than larger groups of people.

    Fuck HOAs.

  • Randian||

    Oh the horror - you cannot park your RV in your yard or have your lawn too long. Which you signed up for when you moved in.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    So you're in favor of others telling you how you can use your property? Or to buy a particular house one must hand them over to the HOA?

    I don't live in an HOA neighborhood because they demand I sign over my private property rights. I'm not bitching about them after the fact. Fuck HOAs. They're fucking evil.

  • np||

    There's no rational justification for HOAs as they exist today since they don't share in any ownership of your property to have the legal force they do. If people want them, they can deal with them voluntarily. As in an exchange of services, like lawn maintenance, etc in exchange for agreeing to certain rules for your property. If you don't agree then you can leave or not join. If that were the case, I doubt there would be many HOAs left at all

  • Randian||

    They are voluntary.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Try finding a new neighborhood that doesn't have one. I dare you.

  • Seamus||

    Didn't you read my post. I *did* find a neighborhood without an HOA. (Our neighborhood association is not an HOA (with power to make binding rules), but simply a voluntary association that sponsors lobbies the county in hopes of getting its way.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Holy. Shit. Occutardism or Capitalism Derangement Syndrome is a real disease, and it has infected the masses.

    A HuffPo comment from a story on the Zombie face eater in Miami:

    Welcome to the USA.
    This is what happens when disparity between the "haves" and the "have nots" becomes overwhelming.
    "Have nots" with mental problems take drugs to mask their misery .. .. which only exacerbates the problems lurking on many streetcorners.
    Especially in Miami.

    Yeah. Capitalism made a guy declothe and proceed to eat the face off of another man.

  • Randian||

    I saw someone on Facebook already blame it on a "new form of LSD".

    Like The Man said, "there you go again".

  • mad libertarian guy||

    It wasn't someone on Facebook, but an "emergency room doctor" who was asked his opinion. Another doctor claimed it has to be bath salts.

    And all with zero fucking evidence. And if it turns out that this guy is just crazy? We'll never hear a retraction or apology for the rush to judgment. Because the media is mostly comprised of statist fucks who don't give a shit that they help spread disinformation.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Another one:

    Plenty of others to come. Some make it others do not. Cause of death Captalism, life spiraled out of control.
  • Ken Shultz||

    Mosque opponents often raise concerns about traffic and parking, but Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU's freedom of religion program, says they can be "sham arguments" that mask anti-Muslim sentiment.

    Incidentally, the mosques I've been to tended to be in areas that attracted a lot of immigrants, and immigrants, who often come here with very little, tend to cluster in areas that aren't often considered highly desirable, initially.

    If you're looking for a mosque in the South Bay, i.e., it probably isn't gonna be in Manhattan Beach or PV. It'll probably be in Hawthorne, Wilmington or Lomita.

    Which is to say, I suspect a lot of these mosques coming in may actually raise the economic profile of a neighborhood. Having a mosque in the neighborhood can be a big draw to Muslims--which can bring a lot of money into a blighted neighborhood.

  • Matt Welch||

    Excellent points, Ken.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Yes, look at all the great things that have happened through encouraging Muslim immigration in Europe.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Europe's a big continent.

    Wanna be specific?

    It seems to me that if various countries in Europe have had problems with Muslim immigrants, a large part of their failure has been a function of using the government to marginalize them.

    Riots among young Muslim kids in Paris seemed to be about how much the young depend on the government for a job there--and how hard it is to get a government job if you're a Muslim.

    I'd be more impressed with German complaints about Muslims not integrating in Germany if Germany didn't refuse any path to citizenship for legal residents--for so long--even if the kid in question, his parents and his grandparents were all legal residents and all born in Germany? He still can't ever be a citizen?

    I've been to a number of mosques. I've argued for hours with these people. I've been in their homes. I've worked side by side with them at work for years. There isn't anything about Muslims that makes them undesirable neighbors.

    And, like I said, when you add in the fact that Muslim immigrants are often moving into truly blighted communities--communities that were dangerous before Muslims predominated--they seem to be highly preferable to what a lot of people are suffering now.

    I'm trying to imagine how the best parts of Wilmington could be made any worse for having Muslims move in, and I'm drawin' a blank. These are places that were starving for some economic activity back when times were boomin'.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I'm not saying that's what you're doing here, but it's certainly true that anyone who's concerned that Muslims have had problems integrating in Europe should probably stay away from arguing that we here in the United States should marginalize them.

    Marginalizing people doesn't promote integration. Marginalizing people is the opposite of integration.

    If you're really worried about Muslim immigrants being a problem, then you should probably convert to Islam and join a mosque somewhere. What better way to fight extremism?

    Actually, if you go to one, you'll find it full of mothers and fathers trying to teach their kids right from wrong. They're about as extreme as your neighborhood Presbyterian church.

  • fried wylie||

    and others were targets of efforts to deny zoning permits

    If Muslims can't accept this core-aspect of American life, then they should just move to Somalia.

  • Wholly Holy Cow||

    Anyway, I'll wait for the sequel. You know, when Libertarians come to the defense of Christians. I hope I don't have to wait long.....

    Has the number of mosques nearly doubled in 12 years? Why, as one commenter put it: they're still being oppressed. That growth could have been 175%!

    Nobody's discriminating against Muslims who want to be Americanized. It's the Muslims that want to carry forth such Middle Eastern delicacies as Sharia Law and the like.

    Why can't people be biased against whoever they damn wanna be biased against? Sometimes the bias is based on rationality. Sometimes it ain't. So what? I mean, when the ACLU lobbied to have LA remove a Christian cross from its official city seal, that was purely rational. I mean, that tiny cross on a govt. seal that no one paid attention to in the first place-- fucking oppression, man! True Libertarians probably didn't sleep a wink during that episode, I bet!

    I'm sure all Good and True Libertarians would have no trouble, none at all, if Military Recruiting and Police Academy recruiting centers propped up all over the country right next to high schools. Can't we all just get along?

    As for local zoning laws, shouldn't actual libertarians applaud them? Since that's what American governance is all about-- localized government. But this is different!

    We need the feds involved here! One of the cool groups in being oppressed and we're hipster doofuses!

  • robc||

    Anyway, I'll wait for the sequel. You know, when Libertarians come to the defense of Christians. I hope I don't have to wait long.....

    Im both libertarian and christian and have defended myself plenty of times. So done and done.

  • robc||

    As for local zoning laws, shouldn't actual libertarians applaud them? Since that's what American governance is all about-- localized government.

    You seem to be confusing libertarianism with federalism.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    As for local zoning laws, shouldn't actual libertarians applaud them? Since that's what American governance is all about-- localized government.

    No.

    Libertarians are for individual governance. My property is my fucking property, and I'll paint my house whatever fucking color I goddamn well please.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Do you ever not respond to a post with a long-winded Culture War! rant?

    Your schtik gets tiresome, Cow.

  • Aresen||

    Easy way to test Jacqueline Sitkiewicz's (and the zoning board's) contention that they and there supporters are not against Muslims:

    Sell the property to a Christian congregation and see if they encounter as much opposition getting a church built.

  • MisterDamage||

    Christian groups have identical problems getting council approval to build houses of worship. The difference is, no one thinks it's about bigotry when they do. Welcome to civilization western style Muslims, no, you're not getting special treatment.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Actually, in the development business, it's pretty well known that churches get whatever they want.

    I'm sure you can find some counter examples somewhere. I remember Inglewood tried to pass an ordinance once prohibiting any more churches from getting occupancy permits--because churches don't generate sales tax, and the city needed the money.

    Not a whole lot of people generally participate in municipal elections, so seven or eight hundred votes one way or the other can often decide a city council race. And the city council people know that a church that size can break them at the ballot box.

    Developers often charge a premium to work with any church--because it's such a pain in the ass to deal with what amounts to 800 different church members clients on one design consideration. ...but generally speaking, the city isn't about to ruffle the church's feathers. Dealing with the church members is a pain in the ass, but dealing with the city on a church job is a breeze.

    They pretty much get whatever they want. These mosques havin' problems certainly seems to stick out to me.

  • دردشه عراقية||

    Thanks

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