Joining the greatest intellectuals of our time–including constitutional law expert Sarah Palin and Camus scholar Newt Gingrich–Sam Harris courageously opposes the construction of the infamous Ground Zero Mosque.

See, Harris isn’t like those pansy moderate Muslims who fail to “condemn extremists and try to seriously reform Islam.” He calls it like it is. Say thank you Muslims, he just saved Islam. Done and done.

Harris’ argument in opposition to the mosque is a simple one: Islam, as it currently exists, is objectionable. And “freedom-loving” Muslims haven’t done enough to change it. We can’t be sure what this Islamic cultural centre represents, because, well, we can’t trust what kind of Muslims these people are. Do they like freedom or do they hate it? Who knows? How can one trust the insidious claim that this mosque “seeks to actively promote engagement through a myriad of programs, by reinforcing similarities and addressing differences?” Like, do they mean reinforcing similarities by imposing Sharia law on Americans??

So, since Muslims haven’t done enough to change their religion and to encourage peaceful co-existence, we should deny them a tolerance-promoting mosque in Manhattan. Yeah, that’s really airtight logic: stop Muslims from building institutions that encourage reform because they haven’t encouraged reform!

Next, Harris proceeds to argue that true Islam is the vision advocated by al-Qaida and their ilk, not the mushy stuff moderates espouse.

The first thing that all honest students of Islam must admit is that it is not absolutely clear where members of al Qaeda, the Taliban, al-Shabab, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hamas, and other Muslim terrorist groups have misconstrued their religious obligations. If they are “extremists” who have deformed an ancient faith into a death cult, they haven’t deformed it by much. When one reads the Koran and the hadith, and consults the opinions of Muslim jurists over the centuries, one discovers that killing apostates, treating women like livestock, and waging jihad—not merely as an inner, spiritual struggle but as holy war against infidels—are practices that are central to the faith.

This line of argument I call the Bible Test, famously discredited by Martin Sheen as President Jed Bartlet on The West Wing.

Bartlet asks a Bible-thumping radio “doctor” if it’s okay to sell his daughter into slavery or to kill his Chief of Staff for working on the Sabbath, as the Bible prescribes, exposing the absurdity of taking religious texts literally. Harris is like the doctor in this case. He employs the same kind of literalism that al-Qaida does, which begs the question: is Harris a member of al-Qaida?

Harris then pulls out the big rhetorical guns and makes a last-ditch attempt to convince us to stop the mosque. He argues that “the erection of a mosque upon the ashes of this atrocity will also be viewed by many millions of Muslims as a victory—and as a sign that the liberal values of the West are synonymous with decadence and cowardice.” In other words, the terrorists win if we build the mosque!

Yes, it’s undoubtedly a sign of cowardice to allow the free exercise of a faith with which you may not agree, but allow the free practice of. And it speaks to the decadence of a society if it does not judge people on the basis of their origins or their religious faith, but on their moral character and their adherence to law and liberty.

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