A caller to my brother Rush's show suggested that we were making a mistake by opposing the ground zero mosque, because this was an opportunity to show Muslims that we are better than that and that our form of government is superior. This is more muddle-headed leftist thinking, even if it did come from a caller who thinks he's conservative.
It's an outgrowth of the liberal mindset that we need to prove our moral decency to Muslim people. Since the 9/11 attacks, it has been clear that many leftists believe that to some extent, America brought on itself the attacks. They can indignantly dispute this characterization, but we see too much evidence to dismiss it. No less a central figure than our own president's former pastor Jeremiah Wright took this position. Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam of the ground zero mosque, reportedly expressed that view, and, knowing that, Obama's State Department is making him a liaison to the Mideast.
Whether or not Obama believes we brought the attacks on ourselves, we can surely agree that he thinks, at the very least, that the United States has mistreated and antagonized the world's Muslims. His infamous Cairo speech (and countless other talks) was dripping with that message.
But on what do Obama and the left base the perverse conclusion that America has been less than gracious toward the Muslim world? We have provided bundles of foreign aid to Muslim nations and liberated millions of Muslim people. We guarantee Muslims the same First Amendment protections we do peoples of all faiths or non-faiths.
Where do they get this idea that we have given the impression that we are at war with Islam? It surely couldn't be from former President George W. Bush's frequent, adamant assertions that "we are not at war with Islam." It couldn't be from his taking great pains to describe Islam as a religion of peace. It couldn't be from Homeland Security's policy to go out of its way to profile Caucasian grandmothers in airline ticket lines before stopping Middle Eastern men for cause (excuse the slight hyperbole).
Could it be because we attacked Iraq? If so, then that reveals the left's stereotypical thinking -- not ours. It shows that liberals can't (or refuse to) differentiate between our war against terrorists and regimes that support them (that happen to be Muslim-oriented) and a war against Islam itself.
Also betraying the liberals' stereotypical thinking is their insistence on treating Muslims with paranoid-level delicacy, lest the slightest affront will provoke them into a suicide-bombing mission. We can't even gingerly appeal to them to rethink their own brazen-insensitivity-on-steroids in choosing to build a showcase, in-your-face mosque on the very site where warriors under the Islam religious banner massacred thousands of people on American soil. (By the way, the idea that the erection of this mosque is intended as a symbol of religious freedom, as opposed to a militant triumph over the West, is offensively and pitiably laughable.)
If liberals truly believe Muslims are peace-loving, reasonable, enlightened people who have contributed so much to world peace, the advancement of civilization and American achievements (Cairo speech), then why do they constantly send the signal that they are one slight away from hopping the next flight to Afghanistan for jihadist training?
Indeed, why does the left demand that we patronize and treat with kid gloves all "minority" groups instead of assuming they are adults and can be treated as individuals? Treating people as groups is much closer to racist thinking than treating them as individuals.
Rush's caller not only plays into the idea that we owe Muslims amends but also is necessarily implying that they would be receptive to such amends. (How has that worked for Obama personally, by the way?)
Is it reasonable to expect Muslims, even the moderate ones, to be motivated toward religious tolerance by our expressions of it? If America's historical and current practices haven't been sufficient motivation, then why would one more overture?
But more than that, even if you assume that only a small percentage of Muslims are jihadists or sympathetic to jihad -- or that jihad is not an outworking of Islam, but a distortion of the faith -- do you also believe that only a small percentage supports Shariah?
If a significant percentage of Muslims do support Shariah, then how could we be naive (and self-destructive) enough to believe they are impressed by our traditions of pluralism and tolerance? Have you read about their administration of Shariah in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and elsewhere? What makes you think they subscribe to the idea that our system is superior? Not according to their values.
If peace is our goal, we should do less hand-wringing about whether other people like us, and focus more on whether they respect us.