Monthly Archives: August 2010

Glib, Cynical, And Neurotic

Wise words from Camille Paglia:

…The idea that college is a contemplative realm of humanistic inquiry, removed from vulgar material needs, is nonsense. The humanities have been gutted by four decades of pretentious postmodernist theory and insular identity politics. . . .

Having taught in art schools for most of my four decades in the classroom, I am used to having students who work with their hands—ceramicists, weavers, woodworkers, metal smiths, jazz drummers. There is a calm, centered, Zen-like engagement with the physical world in their lives. In contrast, I see glib, cynical, neurotic elite-school graduates roiling everywhere in journalism and the media. They have been ill-served by their trendy, word-centered educations…

The pressuring of middle-class young people into officebound, paper-pushing jobs is cruelly shortsighted… Our present educational system defers credentialing and maturity for too long. When middle-class graduates in their mid-20s are just stepping on the bottom rung of the professional career ladder, many of their working-class peers are already self-supporting and married with young children.

The elite schools, predicated on molding students into mirror images of their professors, seem divorced from any rational consideration of human happiness.

Mike Lester

And Judea Pearl, father of murdered reporter Daniel Pearl:

…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.

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.

Affirmation of these conspiratorial theories sends mixed messages to young Muslims, engendering anger and helplessness: America and Israel are the first to be blamed for Muslim failings, sufferings and violence.

Terrorist acts, whenever condemned, are immediately “contextually explicated” (to quote Tariq Ramadan); spiritual legitimizers of suicide bombings (e.g. Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi of Qatar) are revered beyond criticism; Hamas and Hizbullah are permanently shielded from the label of “terrorist.”

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.

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.

Fellow Muslim Americans will benefit more from co-ownership of consensual projects than sole ownership of confrontational ones.

Building Bridges To Theocracy

Mike Lester

While unconvincingly critical (to me) of the “Cordoba Initiative’s” opponents, Christopher Hitchens is, nonetheless, skeptical of the Ground Zero “bridge builder”:

…From the beginning…I pointed out that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf was no great bargain and that his Cordoba Initiative was full of euphemisms about Islamic jihad and Islamic theocracy. I mentioned his sinister belief that the United States was partially responsible for the assault on the World Trade Center and his refusal to take a position on the racist Hamas dictatorship in Gaza. The more one reads through his statements, the more alarming it gets. For example, here is Rauf’s editorial on the upheaval that followed the brutal hijacking of the Iranian elections in 2009. Regarding President Obama, he advised that:

“He should say his administration respects many of the guiding principles of the 1979 revolution—to establish a government that expresses the will of the people; a just government, based on the idea of Vilayet-i-faquih, that establishes the rule of law.”

Coyly untranslated here (perhaps for “outreach” purposes), Vilayet-i-faquih is the special term promulgated by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to describe the idea that all of Iranian society is under the permanent stewardship (sometimes rendered as guardianship) of the mullahs. Under this dispensation, “the will of the people” is a meaningless expression, because “the people” are the wards and children of the clergy. It is the justification for a clerical supreme leader, whose rule is impervious to elections and who can pick and choose the candidates and, if it comes to that, the results. It is extremely controversial within Shiite Islam. (Grand Ayatollah Sistani in Iraq, for example, does not endorse it.) As for those numerous Iranians who are not Shiites, it reminds them yet again that they are not considered to be real citizens of the Islamic Republic.

I do not find myself reassured by the fact that Imam Rauf publicly endorses the most extreme and repressive version of Muslim theocracy. The letterhead of the statement, incidentally, describes him as the Cordoba Initiative’s “Founder and Visionary.” Why does that not delight me, either?

Emboldened by the crass nature of the opposition to the center, its defenders have started to talk as if it represented no problem at all and as if the question were solely one of religious tolerance. It would be nice if this were true. But tolerance is one of the first and most awkward questions raised by any examination of Islamism. We are wrong to talk as if the only subject was that of terrorism. As Western Europe has already found to its cost, local Muslim leaders have a habit, once they feel strong enough, of making demands of the most intolerant kind. Sometimes it will be calls for censorship of anything “offensive” to Islam. Sometimes it will be demands for sexual segregation in schools and swimming pools. The script is becoming a very familiar one. And those who make such demands are of course usually quite careful to avoid any association with violence. They merely hint that, if their demands are not taken seriously, there just might be a teeny smidgeon of violence from some other unnamed quarter …

As for the gorgeous mosaic of religious pluralism, it’s easy enough to find mosque Web sites and DVDs that peddle the most disgusting attacks on Jews, Hindus, Christians, unbelievers, and other Muslims—to say nothing of insane diatribes about women and homosexuals. This is why the fake term Islamophobia is so dangerous: It insinuates that any reservations about Islam must ipso facto be “phobic.” A phobia is an irrational fear or dislike. Islamic preaching very often manifests precisely this feature, which is why suspicion of it is by no means irrational.

From my window, I can see the beautiful minaret of the Washington, D.C., mosque on Massachusetts Avenue. It is situated at the heart of the capital city’s diplomatic quarter, and it is where President Bush went immediately after 9/11 to make his gesture toward the “religion of peace.” A short while ago, the wife of a new ambassador told me that she had been taking her dog for a walk when a bearded man accosted her and brusquely warned her not to take the animal so close to the sacred precincts. Muslim cabdrivers in other American cities have already refused to take passengers with “unclean” canines.

Another feature of my local mosque that I don’t entirely like is the display of flags outside, purportedly showing all those nations that are already Muslim. Some of these flags are of countries like Malaysia, where Islam barely has a majority, or of Turkey, which still has a secular constitution. At the United Nations, the voting bloc of the Organization of the Islamic Conference nations is already proposing a resolution that would circumscribe any criticism of religion in general and of Islam in particular. So, before he is used by our State Department on any more goodwill missions overseas, I would like to see Imam Rauf asked a few searching questions about his support for clerical dictatorship in, just for now, Iran. Let us by all means make the “Ground Zero” debate a test of tolerance. But this will be a one-way street unless it is to be a test of Muslim tolerance as well.

And in today’s Wall Street Journal, a letter by Patrick Coloney:

Through centuries of bloody wars among themselves, Christians have derived the principle of freedom of religion as the solution that allows their multiple denominations to cohere for the most part in successful, peaceful, secular societies. And by extension, the nonproselytizing faiths are able to fit in well to that kind of tolerant, secular society. These various faiths do their spiritual endeavors according to their choice, and then meet in the common, secular market places and society to do whatever else they need or desire to do, in mutual respect.

A key differentiating factor of Islam compared to the other major faiths is that Islam was not conceived as a “religion” that can be compartmentalized in the spiritual realm separate from everyday life. Instead, it was devised as a total solution to all aspects of life: spiritual, economic, legal, societal, domestic and political. Islam is an entire way of organizing society, as exemplified by Saudi Arabia in the land of its origin.

The structure of their compartmentalized faiths allows Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus to coexist in a multicultural society. The prevailing Islamic understanding of the world is that a person or nation is in the Dar al Islam (the House of Islam where the entire society is organized on Islamic principles) or in the Dar al Harb (the House of War). The Dar al Harb is that part of the world that is not Islamic—yet.

The Muslims understand this. Those who are in the House of War also had better understand it at least as well as the Muslims do.

The Daily Caller documents the U.S. government has been spending your tax dollars to renovate mosques around the world:

While much attention has been focused on questions surrounding the Ground Zero mosque and the appropriateness of the State Department funding Ground Zero mosque imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s trip to the Middle East, little attention has been given to the fact that U.S. taxpayer money is funding mosque development around the world.

Just a cursory search of the term “mosque” on the State Department’s list of “projects” reveals 26 examples of federal funds
going to fund construction, renovation, and rehabilitation of various mosques abroad. The benefiting countries include Bulgaria, Pakistan, Mali, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Benin, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Egypt, Tunisia, the Maldives, Yemen, Turkmenistan, Tanzania, Uganda, Azerbaijan, Sudan, Serbia and Montenegro…

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has also spent millions reconstructing and financing
multiple mosques in Cairo and Cyprus, as well as providing computers for imams in Tajikistan and Mali.

Interestingly, however, according to the Code of Federal Regulations, “USAID funds may not be used for the acquisition, construction, or rehabilitation of structures to the extent that those structures are used for inherently religious activities.”

Where’s are the ACLU and the other separation of chuch and state activists when you need them?

A Woman Scorned

MoDo

Jennifer Rubin on Maureen Dowd’s belief that America’s not good enough for Barry:

Maureen Dowd is a woman scorned and terribly disappointed. Like most of the left, she rails at America for being too rotten to appreciate Obama, who has the misfortune to be ”a rational man running a most irrational nation, a high-minded man in a low-minded age.” It’s not that we are merely racists; we are, Dr. Dowd declares, “having some weird mass nervous breakdown.” Perhaps we should all be institutionalized. (”The dispute over the Islamic center has tripped some deep national lunacy. The unbottled anger and suspicion concerning ground zero show that many Americans haven’t flushed the trauma of 9/11 out of their systems — making them easy prey for fearmongers.”) Yeah, she really is that bummed out…

MoDo To America: Get Over It!

Just when you think the New York Times couldn’t be more egregiously moronic…you look at today’s op-ed page devoted to trashing all those yahoos out there who object to a mosque next to Ground Zero, particularly one promoted by a guy who said that the U.S. was an “accessory” to the 9/11 attack and doesn’t know the correct answer to the question: Is Hamas a terrorist organization?

I really love this nugget by the Times’ resident harpy Maureen Dowd:

…The dispute over the Islamic center has tripped some deep national lunacy. The unbottled anger and suspicion concerning ground zero show that many Americans haven’t flushed the trauma of 9/11 out of their systems[my emphasis] — making them easy prey for fearmongers.

Gee! And other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?

I guess MoDo also would urge black folks to “flush out” that “unbottled anger and suspicion” over slavery and Jim Crow.

And as a feminist, she would certainly want to urge her sisters to bottle up their obsessive paranoia about men, an obsession we know she bottled long ago.

And while she’s at it, she might urge Muslims to bottle up their grotesque and totally fictitious claim that they, because of wholly imaginary instances of discrimination directed at them, are also victims of 9/11.

Michael Ramirez

Multifarious Means To A Tyrannical End

Steven Kelley

Roger Kimball cuts through all the politically correct pablum about Islam:

This is delicious: Supporters of the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” are so desperate that they are calling on the Great Satan himself — that’s President George W. Bush to you and me — to support the project. Yes, that’s right: all those “Bush=Hitler” signs have been temporarily retired as the large left flank of the commentariat casts about for authoritative voices to help them put through this project to besmirch the memories of the nearly 3000 people who died at Ground Zero on September 11, 2001. So we have the comedic spectacle of Maureen Dowd — Maureen Dowd! — writing in the New York Times that “it’s time for W. to weigh in,” explaining that the former president “understands” — when was the last time Maureen Dowd accused George W. Bush of understanding anything? — that “you can’t have an effective war against the terrorists if it is a war on Islam.”…

Now it’s true that President Bush muddied the waters when he proclaimed, a few days after 9/11, that Islam means “peace.” In fact, the word Islam means “submission,” as in submission to the will of Allah, given to a grateful mankind through the teachings of a Dark Ages warrior, mystic, and polygamist, and codified in the stern imperatives of Islamic law, a.k.a. Shariah. Still, while Bush said “Islam is peace” and hosted, as did Bill Clinton, iftar dinners at the White House, his actions clearly showed that he understood that the battle against terrorism was much broader than a battle against al-Qaeda.

My own view, which I’ve stated in this space before, is that Islam is fundamentally incompatible with “foundational Western values like free speech, the separation of church and state, and equality under the law. Such things are not simply missing from Islam: they are positively repudiated by Islam.”…

President Obama did an enormous amount to muddy the waters by publicly informing us that “Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”

Thanks for the civics lesson, Prez! The problem is, no one disputes that right. That is, no one in this country disputes — but don’t go trying to hold a Mass, build a church or temple, or sell a Bible in Saudi Arabia. Thinking of traveling to Mecca for your next vacation? If you’re not Muslim you can’t go there; it is against the law. It might indeed be interesting to have a discussion about rights in a country like Saudi Arabia or elsewhere in the Muslim world. For those of us fortunate enough to live in Western democracies, however, our lives are governed not only by formal rights but a tapestry of other considerations… the fact that one has an abstract right to do something does not entail that one has license to do it regardless of other considerations. Rights are embedded in larger social imperatives that direct and qualify how they may be exercised. There are plenty of things you may have a right to do but that would be wrong to attempt. The philosopher John Searle touched on one aspect of this fact when he noted:

“From the proposition that one has a right to do something it does not follow that it is a right or even a morally permissible thing to do. Any healthy human institution—family, state, university, or ski team—grants its members rights that far exceed the bounds of morally acceptable behavior. There are many reasons for this. One is that the flexibility necessary for free, successful, and creative behavior requires a big gulf between what the institution grants by way of rights and what it has to expect if it is to succeed. The gulf between the rights granted and the performance expected is bridged by the responsibility of the members.”

Muslims have a right to build houses of worship in the United States. That does not mean that it is morally permissible for them to build one at Ground Zero…

The bottom line is this: Islam is a proselytizing, intolerant religion. Its aim is to institute Sharia as the “sole reference point for . . . ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community . . . and state.” That is the end. The means are multifarious. Steering commercial aircraft into American skyscrapers is only one tactic. Using and abusing liberal democratic freedoms in order to promulgate an ideology that is neither liberal nor democratic is less ostentatious but may in the end be more effective precisely because it is less dramatic. This is the lasting significance of the case of the Ground Zero mosque. It represents another step on the march to Islamize the West…

The Professor


Andrew Cline on our “lecturer in chief”:

…Obama just can’t help himself. It’s impulse. Every time he sees the American people, in their infinite and confounding ignorance, pursuing a course they shouldn’t, he intervenes to correct them. Such is the view from the clouds on which he placidly floats above us all.

Most politicians speak of the wisdom of the American people. Some even believe it. But not Obama. Time and time again, he takes to the lectern to scold or educate us.

Last Friday, he needlessly jumped into a percolating political controversy — again — to enlighten the uneducated masses. This time the subject was the Islamic cultural center proposed to be built two blocks from Ground Zero, where Islamist terrorists murdered more than 2,700 Americans.

“The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country,” he said, beginning what was to be yet another lecture on what he sees as our failure as a people to live up to our values. “And the pain and the experience of suffering by those who lost loved ones is just unimaginable. So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. And ground zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.

“But let me be clear. As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.”

No one can pack more conceit, more condescension, into two little paragraphs than Barack Obama can. In the first paragraph, he establishes that opponents of the Islamic center are reacting purely emotionally. “I understand the emotions that this issue engenders.” In the second, he informs us that, as an enlightened being, he sees this issue properly — it’s about freedom of religion. Appealing to our reverence for the Constitution, he states that “our commitment” (all Americans are bound by creed to agree on this) “must be unshakable.”

These are not the words of a president attempting to lead and unite a nation. They are the words of an academic attempting to instruct a class that he considers particularly thick-headed. And they came unprompted. He didn’t have to address the issue at all. He wanted to. He needed to. His conscience compelled him to…

Obama has never transitioned from his former job as a college lecturer. The reason is that he really doesn’t see his new job as that different. It just has more perks, such as the ability to use force when persuasion fails. And the ability to have paid staffers step forward to clarify one’s ill-considered remarks…

The High Priestess of Tolerance

Another Michael Ramirez gem

Debra J. Saunders on high priestess of tolerance Nancy Pelosi and San Francisco’s history of religious tolerance:

Quoth House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “There is no question there is a concerted effort to make this a political issue by some.” Translation: This issue is poison for Democrats.

And: “I join those who have called for looking into how is this opposition to the mosque being funded.” That’s Bay Area tolerance for you — a well-placed Democratic politician wants an investigation into the funding of conservative dissenters.

Consider the track record of San Francisco. In 1993, the board of supervisors ousted a Christian minister from the Human Rights Commission because he said the Bible says homosexuality is a sin. In 2002, San Francisco Superior Court judges voted to ban judges from being members of the Boy Scouts because of the Scouts’ refusal to admit gays. City Hall has leaned on Catholic Charities to renounce church doctrine in order to receive city funds to care for the sick.
The above stories aren’t about private citizens trying to shame an individual or a congregation into changing course. They are about using the government as a club to muzzle certain views.

So it’s more than ironic to watch the same folks who jump all over devout Christians now rush to Muslims’ defense. This isn’t about the left being more tolerant, as much as it is about the left disdaining the right.

Imagine if the Mormon Church tried to set up shop next to San Francisco’s City Hall. But then, you can’t.

George Will tells comfortable liberals to spare Israelis the lectures on taking “risks for peace”:

In the intifada that began in 2000, Palestinian terrorism killed more than 1,000 Israelis. As a portion of U.S. population, that would be 42,000 [my emphasis]. During the onslaught Israeli parents sending two children to a school would put them on separate buses to decrease the chance that neither would return for dinner. Surely most Americans can imagine, even if their tone-deaf leaders cannot, how grating it is when those leaders lecture Israel on the need to take “risks for peace.”…

The intifada was launched by the late Yasser Arafat — terrorist and Nobel Peace Prize winner — after the July 2000 Camp David meeting, during which then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to cede control of all of Gaza and more than 90 percent of the West Bank, with small swaps of land to accommodate the growth of Jerusalem suburbs just across the 1949 armistice line…

Palestine has a seemingly limitless capacity for eliciting nonsense from afar, as it did recently when Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron referred to Gaza as a “prison camp.” His implication was that Israel is the cruel imprisoner. Gaza’s actual misfortune is to be under the iron fist of Hamas, a terrorist organization.

In May, a flotilla launched from Turkey approached Gaza in order to provoke a confrontation with Israel, which, like Egypt, administers a blockade to prevent arms from reaching Hamas. The flotilla’s pretense was humanitarian relief for Gaza — where the infant mortality rate is lower and life expectancy is higher than in Turkey [my emphasis].

The creation of Israel did not involve the destruction of a Palestinian state, there having been no such state since the Romans arrived. And if the Jewish percentage of the world’s population were today what it was when the Romans ruled Palestine, there would be 200 million Jews. After a hazardous passage through two millennia without a homeland, there are 13 million Jews.

In the 62 years since this homeland was founded on one-sixth of 1 percent of the land of what is carelessly and inaccurately called “the Arab world,” Israelis have never known an hour of real peace. Patronizing American lectures on the reality of risks and the desirableness of peace, which once were merely fatuous, are now obscene.

A Newfound Reverence For Religious Liberty

Ralph Peters smells a rat in the Ground Zero mosque imam:

…Social peace requires reciprocity. Each day, each one of us chooses not to do many things that would be legal but offensive to those around us. Even in our permissive society, restraint keeps the peace.

Imam Rauf is not being a good citizen. He is not “building bridges,” but exploiting the arrogance of our cultural elite toward their fellow citizens. He is an exuberantly divisive figure, not a healer.

The glaring failure of our media has been their unwillingness to question the Cordoba Initiative with the same rigor they apply to the mosque’s opponents: Who will fund the mosque complex? Why should so grandiose a project be built so far from the center of mass of New York’s Muslim communities? Why scorn out of hand Governor Patterson’s remarkably generous offer of free state land elsewhere in New York City?

The key to unlocking the Cordoba Initiative’s secrets may lie in the funding. Why should Imam Rauf-so vocal in other regards-play coy about who will pay the center’s bills (estimated at a minimum of a $100 million)?

The money probably will come, directly or indirectly, from Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf states. If that’s the case, it suggests divisive purposes. From Africa through Asia, I’ve seen Wahhabi “charity” at work. Invariably, the Saudi purpose in funding religious schools and mosques abroad (including in the US) has been to prevent Muslims from integrating into majority non-Muslim societies…

Even the use of the name “Cordoba” is brilliantly cynical. To Atlantis-will-rise-again! Leftists, medieval Cordoba, in Spain, is a fairy-tale example of Muslims, Christians and Jews living together amicably in a social compact called the convivencia.

What’s left out of the fable is that Christian and Jews were distinctly second-class members of society heavily taxed for their faiths and subject to the whims of Muslim rulers. After a brief cultural flowering, Cordoba’s rulers for centuries were Islamist fanatics from North Africa.

One cannot help but suspect that Imam Rauf and his backers are mocking us, gleefully turning our Constitution against us, and exploiting a media terrified of being accused of bigotry…

And David Harsanyi wonders when it became bigoted to criticize a religion:

…There are those who continue to make the facile claim that any protest over [the GZM] is a display in un-American intolerance and contempt for the Constitution. This position treats criticism of faith — religious institutions and symbols included — as tantamount to “bigotry.”

Given that there remains overwhelming opposition to the ground zero mosque, this viewpoint would mean that 70 percent of Americans are impulsively hostile to freedom of religion and irrationally narrow-minded.

Could be. Or maybe a few of these folks believe the First Amendment features more than one clause. Even a newfound reverence for religious liberty on the left does not negate our right to protest and criticize the philosophical disposition of others. And applying public pressure in an effort to shut down a project is as American as protesting the arrival of a new Walmart. Religious institutions, as far as I can tell, are not exempted from these disputes.

In 2008, thousands of gay rights activists protested the Mormon temple in Westwood, Calif., for its role in passing Proposition 8 — the ban on same-sex marriage. This grew into a national protest to undermine the influence of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — even though not every Mormon was involved.

I don’t recall anti-Mormon protesters being referred to as bigots for targeting religion; it appeared to be just the opposite, in fact. And if I am offended by aspects of Mormon theology, why not voice those concerns? Put it this way: If Mormons proposed the erection of a 13-story community center in West Hollywood or the West Village, I would be happy to join the outcry of protest.

Though only a fraction of Catholic priests are pedophiles, the entire Roman Catholic Church is routinely broad-brushed as corrupt and depraved. I’ve not heard those who make generalizations about Catholicism referred to as bigots in Time magazine. Nor have I heard those who regularly disparage evangelicals called intolerant…

…Prospectively speaking, unlike many other faiths, ideological Islam has a poor track record of compatibility with liberal ideals. Surely, that’s worth a discussion in a free society. Or is it a case of intolerance to bring it up?

I’ve read numerous columns claiming that “allowing” a mosque to be built near ground zero is proof of our tolerant goodness. To be certain. But surely our ability to conduct a peaceful debate over the meaning of institutions, including religious ones, is also a reflection of that greatness.

Wow! An apparently genuine moderate Muslim, not the jihadist-in-moderate clothing conjured up by Modo’s wishful thinking :

…By now you have to be willfully blind not to know that the imam in charge of the project, Feisal Abdul Rauf, is the moderate Muslim we have allegedly been yearning for…

Jennifer Rubin begs to differ:

…Uh, not really. We’re yearning for a Muslim who specifically condemns Hamas as a terrorist group and doesn’t suggest that the U.S. is responsible for 9/11…

Defender of the Faith

Michael Ramirez

The Jerusalem Post’s Caroline Glick nails Reverend Barry:

US President Barack Obama’s warm endorsement of the plan to build a mosque by the ruins of the World Trade Center tells Israel – and its enemies – everything we need to know about the President of the United States of America…

There are two possible explanations for Obama’s move. Either he was motivated by politics or he was motivated by ideology. The view that Obama was motivated by politics is easily dismissed. With more than two-thirds of Americans telling pollsters they oppose the Ground Zero mosque project, it makes no political sense for a politician to strike out a position in favor of the mosque. Indeed, major Democrats have either refused to state a position on the issue or, like New York Governor David Paterson, they have recommended that the mosque builders construct their mosque elsewhere.

Perhaps Obama thought he could he could get away with making his statement. However, with his polling numbers consistently eroding, it is hard to imagine Obama’s advisers would have told him that was a realistic view.

This leaves ideology. But what ideology motivates Obama to embrace such an unpopular initiative at such an explosive political juncture? Obama and his supporters would like us to believe this is a civil rights issue. In his defense of the Ground Zero mosque, Obama claimed his position was based on the American values such as, “The laws that we apply without regard to race, or religion, or wealth, or status. Our capacity to show not merely tolerance, but respect towards those who are different from us.”

But if Obama is motivated by a belief in civil rights that is so strong it propels him to take on deeply unpopular causes in an election season, then one could reasonably expect that his support for civil rights would be absolute. That is, one could expect him to use the same yardstick for all groups, in all places and at all times.

But for Obama, there are some groups who must be denied the same civil rights he upholds as absolute in his defense of the plan to build a mosque at Ground Zero. As Obama has made clear since his first days in office, he believes that Jews should be denied the right to their property in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria simply because they are Jews.

Obama is so firm in his belief that Jews should be denied civil rights in Israel’s capital and in the heartland of Jewish history that he has provoked multiple crises in his relations with Israel to advance this bigoted view. Almost from his first day in office Obama has struck out a radical position in which he has insisted that Jews must be prohibited from building anything – synagogues, homes, nurseries, schools – in Judea, Jerusalem and Samaria on land they own. Jews – Israeli and non-Israeli – should be barred from exercising their property rights even if their construction plans have already been approved “in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”

At the same time, Obama has insisted that Israel take no action to enforce its “local laws and ordinances” against illegal structures built by Arabs in Jerusalem, Judea, or Samaria.

Next month the deeply discriminatory and legally dubious 10-month moratorium on Jewish building in Judea and Samaria that Obama coerced Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu into instituting is set to end. So now Obama is putting the full weight of the White House on Israel to again coerce Netanyahu into prolonging the discriminatory ban that denies the civil rights and property rights of Jews simply because they are Jewish.

Obama claims to be embracing the nullification of Jewish civil right in the interests of peace. In his stated view, to forge peace in the Middle East it is necessary for the Palestinians to achieve statehood. But it hard to see how the establishment of a Palestinian state squares with Obama’s purported dedication to civil rights.

In a briefing with the Egyptian media last week Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas told reporters that no Jews will be allowed to live in a future Palestinian state. He also said that while he would agree to allow NATO forces to deploy in the future Palestinian state, he would not permit any Jewish soldiers to serve in the NATO units stationed on the territory of such a state. As he put it, “I will not agree that there will be Jews among NATO forces and I will not allow even one Israeli to live amongst us on the Palestinian soil.”

The notion that an inherently anti-Semitic Palestinian state, predicated on Jew hatred that strong, could possibly live at peace with Israel is simply ridiculous. But tellingly, in all the American pressure that has been placed on Abbas to begin direct negotiations with Israel, at no time has the administration been reported to have insisted that Abbas abandon his anti-Semitism. Obama has made no statement addressing the fact that the Palestinians demand that Jews be barred from living in the future Palestinian state. He has certainly not objected to this position although it squares with none of the American values of tolerance and property rights he upheld so strongly in his remarks on the Ground Zero mosque.

So the ideology Obama holds so strongly that it provokes him to take positions antithetical to the political interests of his party during an election season is not civil rights. Rather it has to do with his commitment to advancing the interests of a specific group or groups over the interests of other specific groups. In the case of the Ground Zero mosque he prefers the rights of Muslims over the values of the overwhelming majority of Americans. In the case of the Palestinians, he prefers their anti-Semitic nationalism over the civil rights of Jews…

The American President who defends the Ground Zero mosque builders even though their leader refuses to acknowledge that Hamas is a terrorist organization and has claimed that the US had the Sept. 11 attacks coming to it; and the American President who upholds the Palestinian cause even though it is virulently, and often genocidally anti-Semitic is not going to be appeased by Israeli building freezes and other confidence building gestures.

What this means is that Netanyahu and his deputies must concentrate on defending Israel and advancing its national interests. It is in Israel’s national interest to guarantee the civil rights and property rights of Jews. It is in Israel’s national interest to forthrightly set out and defend Israel’s legal rights in Judea and Samaria and its sovereignty in united Jerusalem. It is in Israel’s national interest to enforce its laws without prejudice towards all its citizens and expect all its citizens to respect its laws.

We are dealing with a self-consciously radical President who intends to remake the US relationship with the Muslim world. We will find no understanding from him.

A few observations on Reverend Barry from Power Line:

…1. Obama’s tone was not one calculated to persuade. He both hectored and belittled those who oppose the GZM. If you respectfully beg to differ with Obama, it is hard to like the persona Obama had on display Friday night.

2. Obama supported the GZM in his usual style, in which his position is juxtaposed with a straw man of his choosing. It is an unappealing rhetorical habit that is made even more unappealing when applied to an issue on which people of good faith obviously differ with him.

3. Obama’s statement begs the question posed by the GZM. No one has questioned the right of Muslims to practice their religion the same as anyone else in this country. Rather, those opposed to the GZM have asked the proponents, among other things, to recognize and give way to the feelings of ordinary Americans that a mosque does not belong at Ground Zero.

4. Obama’s remarks alluded to the right of private property involved in the construction of the proposed GZM. We haven’t previously heard much about the right of private property from Obama.

5. Obama’s remarks emphasized the First Amendment rights of Muslims in America. Gone was the living Constitution and the vaunted “empathy” that may impel right (left) thinking judges to depart from a fixed reading of constitutional rights. Whatever empathy Obama expressed for the opponents of the GZM, it was an empathy that had to give way in recognition of the First Amendment right of free exercise. Now if Obama would just take the same approach to the First Amendment right of free speech at issue in Citizens United, for example, he might want to issue an apology to the Supreme Court.

6. It’s good for Muslims to build the GZM in New York, but not for Jews to build apartments in Jerusalem. Go figure.

7. In the remarks prefacing his formal speech, Obama recognized Rep. Andre Carson in the audience, who (along with Rep. Keith Ellison, whom he also called out) is one of the two Muslims in Congress. We are still awaiting the the enterprising journalist who can ferret out the branch of Islam that comports with the tenets of the Democratic Party on the equality of women, abortion, gay rights and all the rest…

10. With great reliability Obama stands athwart the feelings of ordinary Americans. Indeed, he is a much more ardent defender of the faith of Muslims than he is of the United States, of its history or of its people. Although Obama framed his GZM remarks as a citizen and President of the United States, he seems to think of himself less as a citizen of the United States than as a citizen of the world and less as president than as philosopher king…

Whose “Moderate Muslim”?

Ross Douthat on the different standards used to judge what constitutes a “moderate Muslim”:

…Too often, American Muslim institutions have turned out to be entangled with ideas and groups that most Americans rightly consider beyond the pale. Too often, American Muslim leaders strike ambiguous notes when asked to disassociate themselves completely from illiberal causes.

By global standards,[Ground Zero mosque imam Feisal Abdul] Rauf may be the model of a “moderate Muslim.” But global standards and American standards are different. For Muslim Americans to integrate fully into our national life, they’ll need leaders who don’t describe America as “an accessory to the crime” of 9/11 (as Rauf did shortly after the 2001 attacks), or duck questions about whether groups like Hamas count as terrorist organizations (as Rauf did in a radio interview in June). And they’ll need leaders whose antennas are sensitive enough to recognize that the quest for inter-religious dialogue is ill served by throwing up a high-profile mosque two blocks from the site of a mass murder committed in the name of Islam…

Israel Won’t Be “A Perfect Victim”

George Will on Netanyahu’s warning:

…[Israel’s] Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s [believes] that stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program is integral to stopping the worldwide campaign to reverse 1948. It is, he says, a campaign to “put the Jew back to the status of a being that couldn’t defend himself — a perfect victim.”

Today’s Middle East, he says, reflects two developments. One is the rise of Iran and militant Islam since the 1979 revolution, which led to al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah. The other development is the multiplying threat of missile warfare.

Now Israel faces a third threat, the campaign to delegitimize it in order to extinguish its capacity for self-defense. After two uniquely perilous millennia for Jews, the creation of Israel meant, Netanyahu says, “the capacity for self-defense restored to the Jewish people.” But note, he says, the reflexive worldwide chorus of condemnation when Israel responded with force to rocket barrages from Gaza and from southern Lebanon. There is, he believes, a crystallizing consensus that “Israel is not allowed to exercise self-defense.”

From 1948 through 1973, he says, enemies tried to “eliminate Israel by conventional warfare.” Having failed, they tried to demoralize and paralyze Israel with suicide bombers and other terrorism. “We put up a fence,” Netanyahu says. “Now they have rockets that go over the fence.” Israel’s military, which has stressed offense as a solution to the nation’s lack of strategic depth, now stresses missile defense.

That, however, cannot cope with Hamas’s tens of thousands of rockets in Gaza and Hezbollah’s up to 60,000 in southern Lebanon. There, U.N. Resolution 1701, promulgated after the 2006 war, has been predictably farcical. This was supposed to inhibit the arming of Hezbollah and prevent its operations south of the Litani River. Since 2006, Hezbollah’s rocket arsenal has tripled and its operations mock Resolution 1701. Hezbollah, learning from Hamas, now places rockets near schools and hospitals, certain that Israel’s next response to indiscriminate aggression will turn the world media into a force multiplier for the aggressors.

Any Israeli self-defense anywhere is automatically judged “disproportionate.” Israel knows this as it watches Iran…

As for deterrence working against a nuclear-armed regime steeped in an ideology of martyrdom, remember that in 1980, Ayatollah Khomeini said:

“We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. For patriotism is another name for paganism. I say let this land burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world.”

You say, that was long ago? Israel says, this is now:

Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, says that Israel is the “enemy of God.” Tehran, proclaiming that the Holocaust never happened and vowing to complete it, sent an ambassador to Poland who in 2006 wanted to measure the ovens at Auschwitz to prove them inadequate for genocide. Iran’s former president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is considered a “moderate” by people for whom believing is seeing, calls Israel a “one-bomb country.”

If Iran were to “wipe the Zionist entity off the map,” as it vows to do, it would, Netanyahu believes, achieve a regional “dominance not seen since Alexander.” Netanyahu does not say that Israel will, if necessary, act alone to prevent this. Or does he?

He says that CIA Director Leon Panetta is “about right” in saying Iran can be a nuclear power in two years. He says that 1948 meant this: “For the first time in 2,000 years, a sovereign Jewish people could defend itself against attack.” And he says: “The tragic history of the powerlessness of our people explains why the Jewish people need a sovereign power of self-defense.” If Israel strikes Iran, the world will not be able to say it was not warned.

And Jennifer Rubin notes that President Barry would rather wallow in European-style, guilt-ridden denial (against the wishes of over 60% of the American people):

At the Iftar (end of Ramadan-day fast) shindig at the White House, Obama sided with CAIR, J Street, the ACLU, and the 29 percent of Americans who favor the Ground Zero mosque:

Recently, attention has been focused on the construction of mosques in certain communities – particularly in New York. Now, we must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of lower Manhattan. The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country. The pain and suffering experienced by those who lost loved ones is unimaginable. So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.

But let me be clear: as a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are. The writ of our Founders must endure.

…Obama has shown his true sentiments now, after weeks of concealing them, on an issue of deep significance not only to the families and loved ones of 3,000 slaughtered Americans but also to the vast majority of his fellow citizens. He has once again revealed himself to be divorced from the values and concerns of his countrymen. He is entirely – and to many Americans, horridly — a creature of the left, with little ability to make moral distinctions. His sympathies for the Muslim World take precedence over those, such as they are, for his fellow citizens. This is nothing short of an abomination.