I was a little hard on myself over my attempt to explain how exactly I felt about the so-called Ground Zero mosque. I tried to make the point that while any religion has the right to practice its faith anywhere it chooses (subject to local regulations), that wasn’t the point. The point was that Imam Rauf and his financial backers don’t represent any kind of Islam that I recognize.
But I needn’t have been so self-deprecating.
Daniel Pipes feels the same way:
While Muslims have every legal right to build a mosque near Ground Zero, this initiative carries the unmistakable odor of Islamic triumphalism. More importantly, Abdul Rauf’s dubious background and associations give reason to worry that his center will spread Islamist ideology. Therefore, it should be barred from opening.
Very shortly after 9/11, Pipes made the statement that radical Islam was the problem, and moderate Islam would be the solution. I don’t how he still feels about that, but presumably Imam Rauf does not represent moderate Islam.
Here’s another person with an interesting perspective, Judea Pearl. His son, Daniel, was slaughtered on camera by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (at least he boasts of it). As Maureen Dowd said of Cindy Sheehan, he has “absolute moral authority” on the subject:
I have been trying hard to find an explanation for the intense controversy surrounding the Cordoba Initiative, whereby 71 percent of Americans object to the proposed project of building a mosque next to Ground Zero.
I cannot agree with the theory that such broad resistance represents Islamophobic sentiments, nor that it is a product of a “rightwing” smear campaign against one imam or another.
Americans are neither bigots nor gullible.
Deep sensitivity to the families of 9/11 victims was cited as yet another explanation, but this too does not answer the core question.
If one accepts that the 19 fanatics who flew planes into the Twin Towers were merely self-proclaimed Muslims who, by their very act, proved themselves incapable of acting in the name of “true Islam,” then building a mosque at Ground Zero should evoke no emotion whatsoever; it should not be viewed differently than, say, building a church, a community center or a druid shrine.
A more realistic explanation is that most Americans do not buy the 19 fanatics story, but view the the 9/11 assault as a product of an anti- American ideology that, for good and bad reasons, has found a fertile breeding ground in the hearts and minds of many Muslim youngsters who see their Muslim identity inextricably tied with this anti-American ideology.
THE GROUND Zero mosque is being equated with that ideology. Public objection to the mosque thus represents a vote of no confidence in mainstream American Muslim leadership which, on the one hand, refuses to acknowledge the alarming dimension that anti-Americanism has taken in their community and, paradoxically, blames America for its creation.
The American Muslim leadership has had nine years to build up trust by taking proactive steps against the spread of anti-American terror-breeding ideologies, here and abroad.
Evidently, however, a sizable segment of the American public is not convinced that this leadership is doing an effective job of confidence building.
Pearl is a gem! Go, Judea!!
In public, Muslim spokespersons praise America as the best country for Muslims to live and practice their faith. But in sermons, speeches, rallies, classrooms, conferences and books sold at those conferences, the narrative is often different. There, Noam Chomsky’s conspiracy theory is the dominant paradigm, and America’s foreign policy is one long chain of “crimes” against humanity, especially against Muslims.
Overall, the message that emerges from this discourse is implicit, but can hardly be missed: When Muslim grievance is at question, America is the culprit and violence is justified, if not obligatory.
True, we have not helped Muslims in the confidence-building process. Treating homegrown terror acts as isolated incidents of psychological disturbances while denying their ideological roots has given American Muslim leaders the illusion that they can achieve public acceptance without engaging in serious introspection and responsibility sharing for allowing victimhood, anger and entitlement to spawn such acts.
The construction of the Ground Zero mosque would further prolong this illusion.
So, he’s agin’ it, right? Not on the graves of innocent Americans (of all faiths)? No way, no how? Alas, his moral authority falls just short of absolute:
If I were New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, I would reassert Muslims’ right to build the Islamic center and the mosque, but I would expend the same energy, not one iota less, in trying to convince them to put it somewhere else, or replace it with a community-managed all-faiths center in honor of the 9/11 victims.
See Pipes above for my last comment.
Except for this. Why Cordoba in the name Cordoba Initiative? Their answer:
The name Cordoba was chosen carefully to reflect a period of time during which Islam played a monumental role in the enrichment of human civilization and knowledge. A thousand years ago Muslims, Jews, and Christians coexisted and created a prosperous center of intellectual, spiritual, cultural and commercial life in Cordoba, Spain.
Yes, briefly, there was a Caliphate of Córdoba, for just over a century. And it wasn’t a half bad place to live, given the Dark Ages.
But it wasn’t exactly Eden, either.
From the Wikipedia article:
The Caliphate enjoyed immense prosperity throughout the 10th century. Abd-ar-Rahman III not only united al-Andalus, but brought the Christian kingdoms of the north, through force and diplomacy, under control.
The death of al-Hakam II in 976 marked the beginning of the end of the Caliphate of Córdoba. Before his death, al-Hakam named his 10 year old son Hisham II (976–1008) as successor. Seeing that the child was in no way competent to be Caliph, yet having sworn an oath of obedience to him, Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir (the top adviser to Hisham’s father, also known as Almanzor) pronounced him Caliph. Ibn Abi Aamir played guardian for the young Hisham, taking the Caliph’s powers until he was of age. Instead, he isolated Hisham in Córdoba while systematically eradicating his opposition. He steadily allowed Berbers from Africa to immigrate to al-Andalus in order to build up his base of support. Ibn Abi Aamir led a cruel regime compared to Abd-ar-Rahman III. He did not shy away from using force to keep the Christians in check. He, and eventually his son Abd al-Malik (al-Muzaffar), would continue to keep power from Hisham until 1008 when al-Muzaffar died and his brother (Abd al-Rahman) pushed to become the successor of Caliph Hisham; Hisham complied. On a raid in the Christian north, a revolt tore through Córdoba. Abd al-Rahman never made it back.
I’ve been to Córdoba, and seen the Mezquita. It’s breathtaking.
But it’s a curious name for a supposed monument to peace, tolerance, and understanding.