Why in the world would Muslims want to build a mosque just two football fields from Ground Zero on the ruins of a building destroyed by Muslims ? And why in the world would such enlightened souls as Mike Bloomberg, the City Planning commission and others be so eager to grant their wish ?
Both questions are relatively easy to answer, not that the answers are necessarily persuasive. It is the epitome of “tolerance,” in circles where tolerance is a virtue prized over all others, to embrace your enemy. Christians even deem it noble to forgive one’s enemy even if forgiveness is not sought, even offering as many cheeks to be struck as one person can muster. America values freedom of religion, and, notwithstanding that there are 100 other mosques is New York City, no Muslim population to speak of in that precinct, and no historical Muslim presence there (except the remains of the Muslim-Arab terrorists of September 11, 2001), once the flag of “encroaching on freedom of religion” is raised, there is no lowering it. It’s a liberal feel-good moment, allowing practitioners to bask in the glow of their own self-righteousness, and condescend to those who possess such disreputable traits such as national pride, historical memory, courage and fortitude.
One wonders why no one ever thought of building a Shinto shrine at Pearl Harbor, as part of the healing process that following World War II. Surely Japanese militarism was a corruption of the Shinto faith, but having visited Pearl Harbor and stood on the still-listing battleship Arizona – with its 1800 dead sailors buried underneath at sea – I surmise that a Japanese presence at the scene would be the height of inappropriateness. And one wonders further – and other have noted as well – about the hullabaloo that accompanied the brief presence of a Catholic convent on the grounds of Auschwitz, built so a group of nuns could pray for the souls of the victims there. Having also seen that building myself, I can testify that it was all but unnoticeable, constructed in a far corner of Auschwitz and outside the grounds of the camp itself, closer to the town and miles from the well-known entrance to that hideous place. No visitor would see it unless he went looking for it – but its mere presence, and the symbolism, and obvious insensitivity, were enough to convince Pope John Paul II to induce the nuns to move elsewhere. And they did, reluctantly.
It is hard to escape the conclusion that the desire to build this building in that place is part of the effective (to date) Muslim propaganda effort that is demoralizing and emasculating the Western world. An obvious part of that effort has been their expressed fear of “revenge attacks” against Muslim-Americans after every Muslim terrorist attack on Americans, which changes the topic and pre-empts any real, substantive discussion as to the nature of the Muslim personality that is so prone to violence and does not mind dying in the process of killing others – and even though no such revenge attack has ever taken place after any of the Muslim outrages of the last two decades. Another part of that drive is the mandated reiteration of the essential “peaceful nature of Islam,” which is not exactly born out by history – ancient or modern – followed by the ritualistic proclamation that the “overwhelming majority of Muslims are peaceful,” which, even if true (and I have no empirical evidence one way or the other), is small comfort as it still leaves an awful lot of Muslims capable of mischief in a world that contains more than a billion Muslims. Those assertions also chill any real analysis as to how this threat can be combated. There is currently a formal legislative process underway in world organizations to make “statements offensive to Islam” – and only against Islam – the equivalent of hate crimes. They, of course, reserve the right – under the Western concept of freedom of speech – to ridicule, mock and demean Judaism, Christianity and other religions, but deny the same “freedom of speech” to Danish cartoonists and other Dutch writers. Where have you gone, Salman Rushdie ?
Add to this genre the cleverness in fostering terror by wrapping themselves in the mantle of Western values and arguing against “racial profiling,” “interference in their freedom of worship,” and for the embrace of “live and let live” (not at all a Muslim value), the pleas for “humanitarian assistance” for terror enablers (such as in Gaza), and, of course, the sanctification of “civilian life” (even though Muslims kill Jewish and Western civilian with abandon, and even though a suicide bomber is technically a civilian up to the moment he ignites himself.) Those are shrewd tactics, and they really work. They work so well that there are people – among them here, the supporters of the downtown mosque – who would have us believe that Muslims are the first and primary victims of Muslim terror, and so it is their community that requires outreach, sensitivity and compassion.
Supporters point as well to the fact that this mosque is allegedly under the sponsorship of Sufi Muslims (aka “good Muslims”), the mystical branch of Islam. But check the money trail, and perhaps another story emerges. Undoubtedly, Muslims worldwide will perceive this mosque as a sign of conquest, and be emboldened further in declaring that the presence of a mosque on such a hallowed and tragic site is “proof” that – as is widely believed across the Islamic world – that Jews, not Muslims, committed the heinous crimes of 9/11. And once consecrated as a Muslim holy place, they will certainly set about revising the history of that site, in the same way that Muslims have attempted in the last decade to deny and erase the Jewish historical presence on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
There is a cloying naïveté to the claims of the supporters of the mosque that is the hallmark of what the late Italian writer Oriana Fallacci used to call “Goodists.” Goodists (a term made famous by the Wall Street Journal’s unparalleled columnist Bret Stephens http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704429304574467080047317314.html) are people who like to be seen as good, who think all conflict arises from simple misunderstandings that can be settled by reasonable people through dialogue and acts of penance. But Goodists are notoriously incapable of defending freedom and liberty. Perched in their ivory tower, they look down their noses at the unenlightened masses, but cannot see the danger in front of them, how they are being used as pawns – and how the bell tolls for them, as well, and perhaps first of all. Sometimes I fear they would rather be killed without having betrayed their conception of the world than to be perceived as wrong, or to fight for their right to be foolish indefinitely. The Goodists see the world not as it is, but as they wish it to be, always a hazardous enterprise. When wishes are father to thoughts, true thinking is stillborn.
Just projecting ahead a few years: what do you think the reaction will be of these same Goodists when the mosque hosts a “retrospective on 9/11,” and invites speakers representing the “Bush-did-it-theory,” the “US-government-did it-theory,” the “Mossad-did-it theory,” and the “anyone-but-the-Muslims-did-it theory” ? If you answered that the Goodists will defend it on free speech grounds and feel even more morally superior as a result, you have properly immunized yourself against this malodorous doctrine.
The Goodists are more dominant than one otherwise might think. That Israel is the defendant in the flotilla episode investigation speaks volumes about the pervasiveness of this attitude, and how inimical it is to Jewish interests. Jews, whose morality is based on the real world, especially suffer when morality becomes detached from life itself. The continued obsession with the deaths of ten Turkish thugs – when the world community studiously ignores massacres and pillages elsewhere – is typical. More typically was the recent published revelations by an Israeli leftist that she brazenly violates Israeli law by smuggling in Arab women from the PA for party days in Tel Aviv. Should she be prosecuted ? Certainly. Will she be prosecuted ? Likely not.
The 1960’s Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol used to refer to his Foreign Minister Abba Eban as a “Gelernter na’ar,” a “learned fool,” who “always knew how to give the right speech but never had the right solution.” Eban was urbane, sophisticated, erudite and articulate – but his strategic thinking, his ability to see the big picture was questioned. Eban wasn’t necessarily a Goodist – they almost never achieve positions of real power – but the concept is the same: what the Goodists say always sounds nice, but it is usually inappropriate and often unseemly in the real world.
Muslims with grace and sensitivity should strive to keep a low profile at Ground Zero. They should do penance, not build a mosque. The Muslim world – with all their petrodollars – should be compensating the families of the 9/11 victims, the murdered and the survivors, and not just the US government (i.e., the US taxpayer). The firefighters and gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio are right in their fierce and principled opposition, and should be assisted. Build another mosque – if necessary – elsewhere in NYC, but not where it will be a thumb in the eye to the bereaved and a victory for Islam. “Freedom of religion” is ultimately irrelevant here; no one has the right to build a house of worship in the middle of Times Square. Those who cloak themselves in their flawed perception of American values should be reminded of the thinker who said that it is better to be kind than to be right. It is certainly better to be kind and right than to be cruel, insensitive and wrong – which this mosque is, at this time and at that place.