The Coalition to Honor Ground Zero held a big rally yesterday. What now?....
First, keep in mind that the site on which the Cordoba Initiative's mosque is to be built is but 400 feet from where the Twin Towers stood; the building then standing there, the Burlington Coat Factory, was hit by landing gear from one plane that struck one WTC Tower.
Two rallies were held Sunday near Ground Zero: about 1,000 people demonstrated against building it, while some 200 people demonstrated in favor.
A major TIME series of articles detect rising domestic "Islamophobia":
Although the American strain of Islamophobia lacks some of the traditional elements of religious persecution — there's no sign that violence against Muslims is on the rise, for instance — there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that hate speech against Muslims and Islam is growing both more widespread and more heated. Meanwhile, a new TIME-Abt SRBI poll found that 46% of Americans believe Islam is more likely than other faiths to encourage violence against nonbelievers. Only 37% know a Muslim American. Overall, 61% oppose the Park51 project, while just 26% are in favor of it. Just 23% say it would be a symbol of religious tolerance, while 44% say it would be an insult to those who died on 9/11.
Islamophobia in the U.S. doesn't approach levels seen in other countries where Muslims are in a minority. But to be a Muslim in America now is to endure slings and arrows against your faith — not just in the schoolyard and the office but also outside your place of worship and in the public square, where some of the country's most powerful mainstream religious and political leaders unthinkingly (or worse, deliberately) conflate Islam with terrorism and savagery. In France and Britain, politicians from fringe parties say appalling things about Muslims, but there's no one in Europe of the stature of a former House Speaker who would, as Newt Gingrich did, equate Islam with Nazism.
This purportedly exists in an America that has not seen a single riot against Muslims, few protests of any mosque being built around the country, nor any paucity of public catering to Muslim sensibilities. Of Gingrich's reference he was, of course, having many times stressed that we are not at war with all Muslims, referring to the aggressive act of placing a mosque at Ground Zero (one plane's landing gear hit the very spot where the mosque is to be built), the site of the worst terror attack ever on American soil, carried out by radical Islamists and named for a symbol (Cordoba) of Muslim conquest.
But the clincher in the astonishing claim TIME's article makes as to alleged American Islamophobia is this beaut: "Meanwhile, a new TIME-Abt SRBI poll found that 46% of Americans believe Islam is more likely than other faiths to encourage violence against nonbelievers." Imagine that! With all the terror attacks carried out against American at home and our soldiers abroad by Buddhists, Taoists, Zen masters, Hindus, Roman & Greek Orthodox & Protestant Christian denominations, and Jews, Americans point to the Muslim communities as more likely to produce terrorists aiming at America & Americans.
Oh, members of those other sectors did NOT conduct major terror attacks on America? Radical Muslims did. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, sponsor of the Cordoba Initiative, blames America in part for 9/11. Imam Feisal also has refused to call Hamas a terror organization, spoken positively of the late Ayatollah Khomeini's atavistic terror-sponsoring regime and also has ties to Perduh, the radical Turkish group behind the Gaza flotilla trap sprung on Israel. Think of the Taiba Mosque recently closed by the Germans in Frankfurt, a hotbed for radicals including 9/11 leader Muhammad Atta, and this is what Cordoba will be. Here is the full June 19, 2009 online Huffington Post entry for Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, which shows the imam's Islamist worldview; the post went up one week after the fraudulent election in Iran, with major protests already underway.
Question: Do the folks at TIME know that currently there are 31 mosques in New York City, none of whom were the object of protests against their opening nor have their been protests against their continuing operation? Would an Islamophobic America have stood mute as mosques were raised all across America over the past few decades, in every state of the Union? And the current MIss USA--a Muslim--opposes this mosque. Is she Islamophobic?
And when President Obama celebrates Ramadan at a first-ever White House dinner, praises Islam to the skies while he leans heavily on Israel, that may explain why 24 percent of respondents in one poll think President Obama is a Muslim. Other findings, as reported by TIME:
Yet the survey also revealed that many Americans harbor lingering animosity toward Muslims. Twenty-eight percent of voters do not believe Muslims should be eligible to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Nearly one-third of the country thinks adherents of Islam should be barred from running for President....
While the poll revealed that prejudice toward Muslims is widespread, respect for other religious traditions remains sturdy. Respondents held the Jewish faith in the highest regard, with 75% professing to hold a favorable impression — just slightly higher than attitudes toward Protestants and Catholics. Fifty-seven percent say they have a favorable view of the Mormon faith, compared with 44% for Muslims. Despite (or perhaps because of) this widespread antipathy, 62% of respondents say they don't personally know a Muslim American.
TIME'S ARTICLE DOES NOT OFFER AS A POSSIBLE EXPLANATION FOR NEGATIVE AMERICAN PERCEPTIONS OF MUSLIMS & MUSLIM-AMERICANS THE NOTABLE ABSENCE OF PROMINENT MUSLIMS CONDEMNING ISLAMIST TERROR UNCONDITIONALLY--THAT IS, WITHOUT HEDGING BY PARTLY BLAMING US POLICY FOR THE 9/11 ATTACKS, WITHOUT WHINING ABOUT THE PALESTINIANS & ISRAEL'S POLICY, WITHOUT LABELING THEIR CRITICS BIGOTS.
Most Americans know that most Muslims are not terrorists. The Washington Post reports that there is new opposition to mosque projects elsewhere in the USA, fueled by the NYC debate & recent events such as the Fort Hood massacre. The WP story offers this about the leader of opponents of a mosque project in Murfreesboro, Tennessee:
The man leading the fight against the mosque is a stocky 44-year-old correctional officer named Kevin Fisher. After he heard about the proposal, he voiced his opposition with an op-ed in the town's alternative weekly.
Fisher spent his formative years in Buffalo, where a homegrown terrorist cell of Yemeni Americans was uncovered in 2002. Its presence in a place so familiar haunts Fisher to this day, he said. He is well aware that clerics at U.S. mosques have been accused of espousing radical views in the years before and after Sept. 11.
And he pointed out that one of the Murfreesboro mosque's board members was suspended after the discovery of a MySpace page where he had posted Arabic poetry and a photo of the founder of the Islamic militant group Hamas. Leaders of the mosque said their internal investigation showed no wrongdoing, and they are cooperating with federal authorities looking into the matter.
"So many things about Islam are disconcerting," Fisher said. "As they get bigger, there will be concerns about the ideology, what they preach and what they believe."
Fisher, who is African American, chafes when the mosque's supporters "dial up the rhetoric from the '60s" to attack opponents by accusing them of bigotry against Muslims.
"It's offensive to me," he said. His stepmother "was dragged off restaurant stools in the 1960s and has cigarette burns in her arm. That's discrimination."
Attitudes would improve if more prominent spokesmen for the Muslim communities spoke out loudly & forcefully against terror without hedging. They would do well to embrace what Binyamin Netanyahu, now Israel's Prime Minster, said shortly after 9/11, in testimony before Congress; "Nothing justifies terror."
One nugget: At the rally in favor of the mosque, two of the three children of a Muslim-American father told a reporter that they had been mocked because of their faith. Wrong, to be sure. But so have Jews, Christians and those of other faiths been mocked as well. All of these are wrong, and one hopes that their father tells his kids that, rather than imply that Muslims are somehow uniquely singled out for scorn by society's jerks.
In TAS, George Nuemayr detects not phobia, but "Islamo-PHILIA" in the attitudes of politically correct Americans:
The White House's ideologically willful self-delusion about radical Islam is staggering. Here, for example, is its self-reporting at whitehouse.gov about the Ramadan dinner: "Last night, President Obama continued the White House tradition of hosting an Iftar -- the meal that breaks the day of fasting --celebrating Ramadan in the State Dining Room." Continued a tradition? Exactly which White House tradition is that?
The answer: Obama was referring not to a White House "tradition" but to one distant event that he carefully left vague: Thomas Jefferson's war negotiations with Tunisian envoy Sidi Soliman Mellimelli.
Jefferson, desperate to end the Barbary war with Islamic pirates, invited Mellimelli to Washington for negotiations. According to Gaye Wilson, the visit put Jefferson and his staff on the spot: James Madison, then the Secretary of State, had to field Mellimelli's request for "concubines." Jefferson told shocked colleagues to calm down; after all, peace with the Barbary pirates required passing "unnoticed the irregular conduct of their ministers." Mellimelli, in his own way, was grateful. After hearing some gossip about the wan mood of the childless Madisons, he "flung his 'magical' cloak around Dolley Madison and murmured an incantation that promised she would bear a male child. His conjuring, however, did not work."
The war negotiations happened to coincide with Ramadan. Consequently, a scheduled dinner at the White House had to be moved back from "half after three" to "precisely at sunset" in order for Mellimelli to show up.
While it is true that the basically agnostic Jefferson was an arrogant secularist in embryo (the type on display now who dislikes all religions save Islam), he was under no illusions about jihadists. The Obama White House makes references to the "Koran" Jefferson owned, as if he had purchased it for religious edification. The truth is that he purchased it for self-protection: he wanted to understand the attitudes and war tactics of the Barbary pirates.
In another incredible example of Islamophilic multicultural P.C. at work, the Port Authority has rejected a proposed deal to rebuild a Greek Orthodox Church that was destroyed by debris from one of the toppled WTC Towers. Incidentally, where is the outcry from those defending the Cordoba project that denial of a rebuild permit to the Greek Orthodox abridges their Constitutional rights?
Surely these people are not anti-Greek Orthodox. Why then the silence? Some may not have heard of the denial, which has received little media attention. But others have, yet are silent. The explanation is simple: political correctness. P.C. designates certain groups as victims, entitling them to superior moral & legal standing. At least since 9/11 Muslims have been given that status. And mainstream media supporters thus ignore the denial of the Greek Orthodox Church rebuild because it is not a faith which is under the special protection P.C. status confers, and thus gets no special consideration.
A 2008 op-ed by strategist Edward Luttwak puts paid to P.C. by noting that then-Senator Obama was (and as President still is) an apostate in the eyes of Muslims, whose faith permits no conversions whatsoever:
But it is a mistake to conflate his African identity with his Muslim heritage. Senator Obama is half African by birth and Africans can understandably identify with him. In Islam, however, there is no such thing as a half-Muslim. Like all monotheistic religions, Islam is an exclusive faith.
As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood. It makes no difference that, as Senator Obama has written, his father said he renounced his religion. Likewise, under Muslim law based on the Koran his mother’s Christian background is irrelevant.
Of course, as most Americans understand it, Senator Obama is not a Muslim. He chose to become a Christian, and indeed has written convincingly to explain how he arrived at his choice and how important his Christian faith is to him.
His conversion, however, was a crime in Muslim eyes; it is “irtidad” or “ridda,” usually translated from the Arabic as “apostasy,” but with connotations of rebellion and treason. Indeed, it is the worst of all crimes that a Muslim can commit, worse than murder (which the victim’s family may choose to forgive).
With few exceptions, the jurists of all Sunni and Shiite schools prescribe execution for all adults who leave the faith not under duress; the recommended punishment is beheading at the hands of a cleric, although in recent years there have been both stonings and hangings. (Some may point to cases in which lesser punishments were ordered — as with some Egyptian intellectuals who have been punished for writings that were construed as apostasy — but those were really instances of supposed heresy, not explicitly declared apostasy as in Senator Obama’s case.)
Charles Krauthammer again nails the issue, comparing a mosque by Ground Zero to a Japanese memorial at Pearl Harbor:
Radical Islam is not, by any means, a majority of Islam. But with its financiers, clerics, propagandists, trainers, leaders, operatives and sympathizers -- according to a conservative estimate, it commands the allegiance of 7 percent of Muslims, i.e., more than 80 million souls -- it is a very powerful strain within Islam. It has changed the course of nations and affected the lives of millions. It is the reason every airport in the West is an armed camp and every land is on constant alert.
Ground Zero is the site of the most lethal attack of that worldwide movement, which consists entirely of Muslims, acts in the name of Islam and is deeply embedded within the Islamic world. These are regrettable facts, but facts they are. And that is why putting up a monument to Islam in this place is not just insensitive but provocative.
Just as the people of Japan today would not think of planting their flag at Pearl Harbor, despite the fact that no Japanese under the age of 85 has any possible responsibility for that infamy, representatives of contemporary Islam -- the overwhelming majority of whose adherents are equally innocent of the infamy committed on 9/11 in their name -- should exercise comparable respect for what even Obama calls hallowed ground and take up the governor's offer.
The Daily News reports that many construction workers say they will refuse to work on the mosque project. One hardhat told the News that an grassroots "no work" movement is underway via the Internet:
The grass-roots movement is gaining momentum on the Internet. One construction worker created the "Hard Hat Pledge" on his blog and asked others to vow not to work on the project if it stays on Park Place.
"Thousands of people are signing up from all over the country," said creator Andy Sullivan, a construction worker from Brooklyn. "People who sell glass, steel, lumber, insurance. They are all refusing to do work if they build there."
NY GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio has made the mosque a centerpiece of his campaign in the GOP primary, with the winner to face against heavy favorite Democrat Andrew Cuomo; Lazio called Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf "a terrorist sympathizer."
The latest convert is former Bush WH adviser Karen Hughes, long an avatar of P.C. re Islam, who writes in the Washington Post that the mosque should be moved to promote unity. These two paragraphs encapsulate Hughes's continuing confusion & P.C. mindset:
I recognize that I am asking the imam and his congregation to show a respect that has not always been accorded to them. But what a powerful example that decision would be. Many people worry that this debate threatens to deepen resentments and divisions in America; by choosing a different course, Rauf could provide a path toward the peaceful relationships that he and his fellow Muslims strive to achieve. And this gesture of goodwill could lead us to a more thoughtful conversation to address some of the ugliness this controversy has engendered.
In 2005, when I was at the State Department, a Danish newspaper published cartoons mocking the prophet Muhammad. The debate around the world was heated and strikingly similar to this one. It pitted those supporting the right of a free press to publish anything, no matter how offensive, against those who took to the streets and threatened death to the cartoonists. Many of those citing freedom as they advocate locating the mosque near Ground Zero were on the other side of the argument when it came to the cartoons. At that time, I joined with many Muslim friends in saying that while newspapers were free to publish the offensive materials, I hoped they would show respect and restraint and decide against it. That is an instructive model now.
A mosque at the edge of Ground Zero would be much more than a house of worship; it would be a symbol, interpreted differently by different audiences. For some it would be the ultimate expression of the freedom of religion we enjoy in America; for others, a searing reminder of terrible deaths at the hands of murderers calling themselves Muslims. I suspect that the terrorists might celebrate its presence as a twisted victory over our society's freedoms. Rauf and his congregation are certainly free to locate their mosque near Ground Zero. But I hope and pray that they will show uncommon courtesy and decide not to.
Hughes cannot differentiate, it seems, between death threats against a Danish cartoonist & newspapers that published the cartoons, and non-violent protest against the Cordoba project. Hughes could profit by reading (she won't) author Claire Berlinski's account of how in formerly cosmopolitan Istanbul militant Islamists intimidate women who refuse to wear the veil--even non-Muslim women are no longer safe. This is what Imam Rauf & his friends have in mind for America. NRO's Andy McCarthy, ace terror prosecutor in the 1990s, explains how P.C. types are pushing moderate Islam out of the public square by backing closet Islamists:
When it comes to liberty, no one in this society has been given a wider berth than the Islamists, the purveyors of this authoritarian Islam, which is the mainstream Islam of the Middle East. Their vise grip on the American Muslim community has been cinched for two decades by the government, the media, and the academy. For our post-American ruling class, “Islamic outreach” means prostituting themselves for Saudi largesse; it means putting the “moderate” label on the Muslim Brotherhood — the Saudi-backed saboteurs whose American operatives boldly promise to “eliminate and destroy Western Civilization from within.”
The victims of this lethal charade include American Muslims. They, too, crave religious liberty and Western enlightenment. Our elites abandon them to the sharia-mongers. That freedom destroyers have been allowed to pose as freedom defenders ought to tell mosque opponents something: We have done a poor job of explaining the stakes.
In 1993, I headed up a prosecution team that was preparing to try the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman and eleven other jihadists for conducting a terrorist war against the United States. The case revealed this country’s Muslim divide.
On one side were patriotic American Muslims, without whom successful prosecution would have been impossible. Not only did they infiltrate the terror cells, they helped us shape the resulting evidence into a compelling narrative. On the other side were the Muslim Brotherhood’s satellites. These included outfits like CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations), which was formed in 1994 by the Brotherhood’s Hamas-support wing, with seed money from an Islamic “charity” — the Holy Land Foundation — later shut down for financing foreign terrorist organizations. These Brotherhood satellites purport to speak for American Muslims. In fact, they speak for anti-American Muslims, most of whom are outside the United States. They demagogued the case as a phobic criminalization of Islam itself, just as they have libeled America since 9/11 as being “at war with Islam.”
McCarthy's piece should be read in its entirety. He documents how during his trial militant Islamist groups so intimidated moderate American Muslims that many were afraid to cooperate for fear of being exposed to reprisals. McCarthy also describes the unholy cooperate of radical Islamist groups funded by the Saudis. He also posted a "thought experiment" re a post-terror attack Christian mosque project for Mecca, and how P.C. groups (let alone the Saudis) would react.
A final note re Ground Zero, as to how the Ground Zero mosque mess could have been avoided: John Podhoretz writes that the real scandal is the failure of NY Governor George Pataki to get the Ground Zero rebuild underway. Had he done so, there would have been no land for the backers of the Cordoba Project to purchase, on which to erect a mosque. JP's article crisply details how this mess came about.
The Solution: An Offer the Mosque Sponsors Cannot Refuse. No, not Don Vito Corleone. Governor David Patterson should inform the Cordoba sponsors that they will either settle the matter the easy way or the hard way. The easy way is to voluntarily sell the property to the city, which will then put the place up for private sale or retain for public use; the price paid would be more than the $5M paid by the current owner. Or there is the hard way: New York State condemns the property and litigates the value of compensation due, likely in such circumstances to be less than the $5M paid, and with the property owner stuck with legal fees. Either way, no mosque goes up on the site.
On Geraldo Saturday night on Fox Cable News, Donald Trump questioned the claim made by the property owner that he was offered $20M only a few months after he bought the property (51 Park Place) for $5M. Trump said that the real estate market has been flat, and that it is highly unlikely that he could quadruple his investment so rapidly. Buying the owner out for a small profit, said "The Donald," would be fair. A second real estate agent, Dani Babb, told Gerald that real estate in that area is worth $30 to $40 per square foot; the 51 Park Place owner paid about $50 per square foot. And, added Babb, rents there will decline as the new buildings go up at Ground Zero, adding millions of square feet of new rental space to the market. The developer, in other words, is seeking to make a huge excess profit out of the controversy.
And if Trump & the real estate agent are right--likely given their knowledge of realty prices--then the developer, far from getting a bargain, paid a premium price for the project. Why pay above market value? Because the site has added value beyond its economic market value, to a militant Islamist, being right at Ground Zero.
Bottom Line. Americans, far from being anti-Muslim, have treated Muslims in this country remarkably well since the attacks of 9/11. Nor has this been, on the fair evidence of it, due to hectoring from their leaders. It is because Americans are, in the main, nice decent people who go about their daily business and wish other people well in their lives. Their opposition to the Ground Zero project is based upon its intrusion on hallowed ground--just as they would oppose the siting of a mosque on the Mall between the Lincoln Memorial & the Washington Monument, also hallowed ground. They have been extremely tolerant of Muslims, but expect tolerance in return--which they do get from moderate Muslims, but not from those like the contemptible Islamist who sponsors the Ground Zero mosque. Americans respect freedom of worship, but resist--rightly--using places of worship to conduct jihad--precisely what may reasonably be anticipated from a mosque run by an admirer of the Ayatollah Khomeini's clerical fascist regime, a man who refuses to condemn Jew- and America-hating terror group Hamas.
The Ground Zero mosque will not and should not go forward. It will have been stopped by a coalition of 9/11 families and ordinary Americans who speak for the overwhelming majority of Americans, whose views will prevail of those of the arrogant, politically correct political and media elites whose response to those opposing the Cordoba Initiative has been appalling calumny & intimidation.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, 9/11, National Security, Terrorism, Homeland Security, Foreign Policy, Conservative Politics