Two recent columns rely on the concept of moral equivalence. In his Press Herald column (“Mosque opponents following long tradition of distrust of difference,” Sept. 1) , Steve Wessler of the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence uses it to denigrate those opposing the building of the mosque near Ground Zero.

A syndicated column by Dennis Prager (available online), on the other hand, makes moral equivalence his topic, explaining how the left uses it to avoid identifying and confronting evil.

Wessler employs examples of vandals desecrating synagogues and non-Jewish and Jewish neighbors banding together in solidarity after the incidents. These criminal acts presumably are analogous for him to the opposition of most Americans to the location of the mosque and he calls for solidarity with Muslims on its construction.

In response to Americans’ concern with Islamic terrorism, Wessler selects the stock example of the nearly defunct KKK and what he describes as its “deep Christian roots.” He asks if Americans would “rise up” to oppose the building of a church “near the site of a Klan killing.”

Prager’s column cites instances of media figures who (in the same manner as Wessler) offer well-worn, far-reaching examples of supposed Christian terrorism to prove the two religions morally equivalent. He explains how one — Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh — doesn’t work since McVeigh specifically said he was an agnostic, not a Christian.

Not surprisingly, another is the Crusades. Prager notes the oddity of using Christians’ behavior from a thousand years ago to defend Muslim terrorism today.

He quotes premier scholar of Islam Bernard Lewis, who views the Crusades as “ a limited, belated and, in the last analysis ineffectual response to the jihad” that had conquered many Christian countries in previous centuries.

Gross generalizations motivated by bias indeed do great damage, but abdicating our responsibility to make moral and intellectual distinctions based on reality is dishonest, intellectually lazy and equally dangerous.

It would appear today we are far more susceptible to this latter evil.

Dan Scribner



With a son in college in Maine these days, I’ve spent a great deal of time in your beautiful state and enjoy reading The Portland Press Herald. I must say, however, that I had a throbbing headache after reading Steve Wessler’s column.

I’m sure he’s a decent sort, but naivete appears to be Steve’s strong suit.

No one that I know of disputes the right to build the mosque, as there are many in New York City. The issues revolve around the location and the propriety of constructing it in a building that was damaged on Sept. 11, 2001. Mr. Wessler apparently believes that the only reason one would oppose the building is if he were a bigot. I beg to differ.

The good news is that radical Islam does not represent a majority of Islam. The bad news is that this could be up to 100 million people of the estimated 1 billion Muslims throughout the world. I have seen estimates of between 7 percent and 10 percent of that number who make up the faith’s extreme elements, but that minority has changed the course of history and nations. It is a powerful force within the Muslim world and is the main reason why our airports in the United States are armed fortresses.

I was on the 69th floor of 2 World Trade Center that fateful morning nine years ago. The attack was carried out by thoughtful, well-financed, cunning individuals who are part of a worldwide jihad carried out by Muslims in the name of Islam. One may have issues with admitting this, but the facts are what they are.

I find it deeply offensive that the Muslim community insists upon constructing this mosque in the shadow of Ground Zero.

Muslims in the United States need to develop a sense of understanding with their fellow citizens and not look for confrontation and provocation on such a sensitive subject

Edward M. Sullivan

Darien, Conn.


Although I didn’t happen to read M.D. Harmon’s editorial viewpoint regarding the building of a mosque in New York, from what I read in Jeff Steinbrink’s Aug. 28 response, I think I can safely assume Mr. Harmon did not agree with the building of a mosque at that particular site.

Evidently I was very lucky to have missed reading Mr. Harmon’s view, since he is a bigot, a fool, illogical, has no soul, is tiny-minded, has no original thought, and has joined the torch-and-pitchfork set — according to Mr. Steinbrink, who thinks we should grab hard hats because “we’ve got a mosque to build.”

Since I am not a Muslim, I will grab a hard hat, not to build a mosque, but to protect myself from feeling like I’ve been hit in the head by an article full of invectives directed at Mr. Harmon This kind of commentary doesn’t convince anyone that this mosque should be built.

Yes, we all know they have the right to do it. Everyone also has a right to present an opinion, but a commentary filled with insults does little to persuade anyone to even consider both sides of this question.

In fact it does nothing but stifle discourse and cause those who might not agree with Mr. Steinbrink’s views to say nothing, lest they be attacked, as he has attacked Mr. Harmon for daring to write his views about the mosque.

Alice Leighton



Jeff Steinbrink’s diatribe castigating “Brother” M.D. Harmon and his commentary smacks of the kind of rhetoric that comes from a person who has no legitimate argument against an idea, but whose ego won’t let him accept an idea that is not aligned with his own ideology.

Thus, such people resort to personal attacks and ridicule of the messenger. What they don’t realize is that they sound like hollow fools and render anything they have to say as not credible.

Perhaps Brother Steinbrink wouldn’t be so fast to put on the hard hat if he had lost a loved one at the World Trade Center or could get beyond his ego and feel a little empathy for the families of those murdered on 9/11.

Terry O’Rourke

York Beach