An influential Jewish organization [ADL] on Friday announced its opposition to a proposed Islamic center and mosque two blocks north of ground zero in Lower Manhattan, intensifying a fierce national debate about the limits of religious freedom and the meaning of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
It is not about “the limits of religious freedom”. Nobody wants to limit the freedom of Muslims or anyone else to practice their religion, always assuming that the practice thereof violates no laws.
It is not about the meaning of 9/11. Even Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf agrees that that was a terrorist attack perpetrated by radical Islamists.
No, it’s not about those things. It is about whether we should allow a monument for the first step in the Islamic conquest of America — because that is how it will be seen in the Islamic world — in a place where 2,750 people were burned or crushed to death in the name of Islam.
And here’s another thing it’s not about: domestic politics. The Times writer, Michael Barbaro, wants us to think that it’s just another partisan issue:
…around the country opposition is mounting, fueled in part by Republican leaders and conservative pundits. Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee, has urged “peace-seeking Muslims” to reject the center, branding it an “unnecessary provocation.” A Republican political action committee has produced a television commercial assailing the proposal. And former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has decried it in speeches.
Yeah, that’s it. The whole thing is ‘fueled’ by nasty Republicans and worse. Sarah Palin is radioactive to most Democrats and centrist Republicans, so Mr. Barbaro makes sure to mention her, although her statement is comparatively mild.
Newt Gingrich, on the other hand — who, I will remind you, holds a Ph.D in History — nailed it when he said.
“The World Trade Center is the largest loss of American life on our soil since the Civil War,” Mr. Gingrich said. “And we have not rebuilt it, which drives people crazy. And in that setting, we are told, why don’t we have a 13-story mosque and community center?”
He added: “The average American just thinks this is a political statement. It’s not about religion, and is clearly an aggressive act that is offensive.”
Indeed. Anyone who can’t see the strands of politics and ideology — a particularly nasty form of expansionist politics and an anti-democratic, medieval ideology — woven throughout Islam, is blind.
The ADL didn’t go there. The ADL’s statement that the Times said “touched off angry reactions from a range of religious groups,” merely suggested that in deference to the expressed feelings of many of the 9/11 families, the mosque should be built somewhere else.
This argument — an appeal to decency — ought to be enough. But it’s not, for reasons which I am just beginning to analyze.
Some suggest that opposition to the mosque stems from ‘bigotry’, which in their circles is the worst imaginable personality defect. But interestingly, many of the same people wax furious about the Christian Right. Somehow, it is bigoted to attack some forms of religious ideology, but not others.
Here are some of the reasons for not seeing the danger posed to the US by radical Islam:
1. You are a Muslim who thinks it would be better if the US were governed in accordance with Shaaria
2. You benefit in some way from Saudi petrodollars (this group includes several ex-presidents)
3. You are an anti-Zionist or antisemite who wants to stick it to the Jews
4. You are Jewish and want to show your goyische friends that you’re a regular guy
5. You are afraid that Islam will be victorious and you want your future rulers to like you
6. You are afraid but want to hide it, so you pretend that there’s no danger
7. You want to back the ‘strong horse’
8. You are a progressive and you see other progressives (including the President) pretending that there’s no danger, so you imitate them
9. You want to be on the other side of Newt Gingrich and especially Sarah Palin
10. You are white and think opposing Islamic expansionism is racist and you feel guilty for slavery and racism
11. You are black and think Islam is on the side of oppressed people of color (never mind Sudan, the history of slavery, etc.)
12. You listen to KPFA [a Berkeley radio station] and have become convinced that the US really is the great Satan and anything bad that happens to it is good