Ed Stein Flies Allegory Into Wrong Building

Ed Stein, political cartoonist, published this gem today:

I commented on his page (some typos fixed here):

The churches, one on either side of the OKC Memorial, one Catholic, and one Methodist, have been there since well before the bombing. Before, even, the Murrah Building was constructed. First Methodist was built in 1889, and St. Joseph’s I know less about, but it’s from at least the 1930’s.

The analogy here, isn’t to the proposed mosque. Rather it is to the Greek Orthodox church that is currently being denied permission to rebuild. It predated the events of 2001 and had been there since 1922, predating the construction of the WTC. In which case this cartoon would be genius, but you missed the mark, Mr. Stein.

Since then I’ve learned that St Joseph’s Old Cathedral was built in the same year as First Methodist.
I was gratified that Mr. Stein felt the need to reply to me:

Let me explain something about cartoons–they aren’t meant to be taken literally; if they were they’d be photographs. Their purpose is often to present hypothetical situations, like building a NEW church in OKC after the bombing, or to be read metaphorically, is in building a church being a metaphor for building a mosque. As such, they take some small amount of imagination to decipher, which, unfortunately, some readers simply do not possess.

Rather than a lack of imagination on my part, I think the problem here is that Mr. Stein wasn’t aware of the two, real, churches that flank the OKC Memorial to the East and West.  Perhaps he can be forgiven for that ignorance of the geography of flyover country.
Nevertheless, there are further problems with the metaphor.  Tim McVeigh bombed the Murrah Building in the name of politics, not religion.  While raised Catholic, he claimed to be agnostic and no connection to either the 1898 erection of the Cathedral, or to the post-bombing renovation can be drawn between McVeigh and the Roman Catholic Church.
Mr. Stein wants you to believe that those who oppose the construction of Cordoba House are doing so on the basis of religion, or put more succinctly, that we are intolerant and bigoted.  The truth is that the only sensibility at play here is one of good taste.
While I may wonder, I have no reason to believe that the motives of the Cordoba House developers are anything but pure, but the point is that that doesn’t matter.  The elements within Islam with which we are at war don’t share those views with them any more than they do that of the proper role of resistance and violence in social discourse,a nd they will view and use that facility, if built, as a monument to their blow against the Great Satan.
Building a fertilizer plant near the OKC Memorial would be a good analogy.  Nothing wrong with fertilizer plants, but the location makes a poor choice.  Thought, admittedly, it’s hard to visualize gloating neo-milita members viewing it as a monument, so perhaps, Mr. Stein has a point regarding my imagination, but, like the message conveyed by his cartoon, not the one he intended.


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