As I looked out at the thousands of people assembled near Ground Zero on Sunday to oppose the construction of a megamosque there, I was reminded of Winston Churchill's famous line that enspirited Britain at the first sign the tide was turning in World War II: "Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
To be sure, the rally held two blocks from the World Trade Center was not a decisive defeat of the enemy like that dealt by the storied British "Desert Rats" to Hitler's Afrika Korps in November 1942. But there was something pivotal about the fact that throngs of ordinary Americans - many of them family or friends of those who died on 9/11 - had come together to stand for hours in an intermittent rain not just to contest the construction of a megamosque at a wholly inappropriate location, but in informed opposition to the impetus behind that mosque: shariah.
In fact, throughout the crowd could be seen signs with just the word "shariah" lettered in dripping, blood-red ink. The prospect that the tide is beginning now to turn in our generation's War for the Free World can be found in those signs. They bespeak a recognition of the danger posed by the brutally repressive, totalitarian and anti-constitutional program that is espoused by the authorities of Islam. Shariah, the law of Saudi Arabia and Iran, is what Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the prime-mover behind the Ground Zero mosque, says he wants to "bring to America."
The assembled union workers, firefighters, police officers, Patriot Guard bikers and other regular folks were addressed by a succession of citizen activists, community leaders and 9/11 family members. The thunderous response to patriotic speeches and songs about freedom and the threat posed to it by people l like those who toppled the once-adjacent World Trade Center rang in the canyons of Lower Manhattan and - due to the massive media presence - across the land.
When my turn came to speak, I actually thanked Imam Rauf. For, in his overreaching ambition to build what he first dubbed the "Ground Zero Mosque," Rauf unwittingly and unintentionally created a "teachable moment" about shariah, and what he and others like him are doing to insinuate it into this country.
As a result most especially of President Obama's ill-advised decision on August 13th to embroil himself in the debate over the mosque, millions of Americans are now opposing its construction in proximity to some of our most hallowed ground. Our countrymen are also becoming more knowledgeable about shariah and why simply moving this advocate and his Islamic "cultural center" complex a few blocks away will not mitigate the danger they pose.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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