But given what he is hearing from the liberals in New York, including the city’s Mayor, the congressman in whose district Ground Zero sits, and the New York Times, it’s hard to be optimistic that he will change his mind.
Opposition to the Mosque is being portrayed, as the New York Times editorial page put it, as abandoning “the principles of freedom and tolerance.” But the Times makes its own tenuous grasp of reality clear as it goes on in its editorial embracing the Mosque and Islamic Center to say that “The attacks of September 11 were not a religious event.”
We can only wonder what those at the Times think was motivating the young Muslims who, while embracing their Korans and chanting to Allah, committed suicide, taking 3000 innocent Americans to their deaths along with them.
The website for the project, the Cordoba Initiative, advertises itself as “Improving Muslim-West Relations”, and “steering the world back to the course of mutual recognition and respect and away from heightened tensions.”
But if Feisel Abdul Rauf is primarily motivated to “reduce heightened tensions,” why would he do something as obviously provocative as building a Mosque and Islamic Center a few feet away from 9/11 Ground Zero?
It’s fine and well that he wants to improve Muslim-West relations. But why must he choose the place where thousands of Americans were murdered by Muslim terrorists to do his outreach?
Critical to grasp here is the suggestion of the need for dialogue. That the existence of Islamic terrorism is the result of problems with us Americans as well as problems that may exist in Islam. And it all would be fixed if we understood each other better.
This is simply false.
Americans don’t need any lessons about freedom and tolerance.
Several million Muslim Americans live, prosper, and practice their religion freely and without interference in our country. According to a Google search, there are about 2000 Mosques in the United States.
We have one Muslim American member of the United States Congress, who took his oath of office with his hand on the Koran.
Probably every major American university has programs where students can learn about Islam to their heart’s content. Including universities, such as Columbia, that are in the heart of New York City.
In a Gallup poll earlier this year, only 9% of Americans said they feel a “great deal” of prejudice against Muslims. Given recent history, this is an astounding statement of the beauty of the character of the American people.
As we know, President Obama brought with him to the presidency a conviction that we Americans somehow bore some responsibility for the antipathy towards us in the Islamic world and that outreach would help.
But, of course, this is false. As Johns Hopkins University Middle East Scholar Fouad Ajami pointed out in a Wall Street Journal column, President Obama’s outreach program has accomplished only diminished respect for us in the Islamic world. Antipathy continues to run high and unchanged and it’s not because there something wrong with us. It’s because, as Ajami points out, it’s a convenient “scapegoat” for nations and rulers that refuse to address their own real problems.
Of the 17 nations that Freedom House rates the “worst of the worst” regarding their state of freedom, 6 are Islamic nations.
Feisel Abdul Rauf should spend his $100 million, wherever he is getting it from, to advance the cause of freedom in Islamic countries. That is where the problem is. It’s certainly not here.
The fact the he insists on provocatively erecting a Mosque at Ground Zero raises legitimate suspicion that he is more a symptom of rather than a solution to this problem.