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August 08, 2010

Imam Rauf Meeting and Greeting Potential Foreign Muslim Investors For Ground Zero Islamist Victory Mosque, Despite Claims All Funding Would Be Domestic; PS, The State Department's Paying For His Trip

Atlas Shrugged, quoting and adding a bit to Claudia Rossett's Forbes report.

Perhaps it's coincidence that instead of haggling over financing in New York, Rauf--Imam Feisal, to his followers--will spend the rest of the summer touring some of the petro-dollar capitals of the planet, including such fonts of potential funding as Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. Rauf's wife and partner in nonprofits, Daisy Kahn, told me in a phone interview this week that he will not be fundraising during these travels. Nor, said Kahn, will she be fund-raising when she makes a similar State-sponsored outreach trip later this month to Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

What does that actually mean? Fundraising, especially in the bargaining halls of the Middle East, does not always consist of a brusque pitch and immediate handshake. A lot of business begins with drinking tea, rubbing shoulders and moseying toward the eventual deal. In May the English-language website of Asharq Al-Awsat reported that Rauf, in a London interview, had said his Islamic center will be financed by donations both from Muslims in the U.S. and from Arab and Islamic countries. Asked recently how this might work in detail, Kahn said she doesn't know; all plans are still in flux while a new entity to handle the Islamic center project "is being formed."

To some of the defenders of this project, such specifics don't matter. New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg this week said he doesn't care where the $100 million comes from; he sees it as none of the government's business. If the only criterion here is that Rauf and his partners comply with the minimum due diligence and disclosure required by law, Bloomberg has a point.

But to a great many Americans, it quite likely does matter where the money comes from. For one thing, there is always the potential for the preferences of big donors to sway the behavior of nonprofit ventures. Countries such as Saudi Arabia are not known for full-throated support of American values and freedoms.

[I]f Rauf's aim is truly, as he says, to build bridges, reach out and promote harmony in America, then punctuating his Ground Zero project with a summer swing past fonts of Islamic oil money seems an odd way to go about it. With emotions rubbed raw among some families of Sept. 11 victims, with arguments boiling over the "bridge-building" project Rauf himself set in motion, it would seem far more fitting for him to spend his time in America, answering, not least, the many questions he has repeatedly deflected about the money.

Building bridges? How about flying planes into bridges?

The argument of Ms Palin and others is instead that it is insensitive to build a mega-mosque next to the spot where 2,700 people were killed in Islam’s name. This distinction – between what is constitutional and what is appropriate – is an important one.

It is lost on Mr Bloomberg. In May, he said: “If somebody was going to try, on that piece of property, to build a church or a synagogue, nobody would be yelling and screaming.” That is right. But history matters, too. The attacks of 2001 were not a political-science abstraction. They were an expression of Islam.

And Bill Kristol on Mayor Mike Bloomberg: "Shut up, he explained."

Last Tuesday, standing in front of the Statue of Liberty, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke on the subject of the proposed mosque at Ground Zero. His remarks will be read with curiosity by future generations of Americans, who will look back in astonishment at the self-deluding pieties and self-destructive dogmas that are held onto, at once smugly and desperately, by today’s liberal elites. Our liberation from those dogmas, and from those elites, is underway across the nation. But it’s worth taking a look at Bloomberg’s speech, if only to remind us of what we need to ascend from so our descendants can look back with curiosity at the ethos to which we did not succumb.

As is the way of contemporary liberals, Bloomberg spoke at a very high level of abstraction. He appealed to the principle of religious toleration, while never mentioning the actual imam who is responsible for and would control the planned Ground Zero mosque. To name Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf might invite a consideration of his background, funding, and intentions. Do Rauf and his backers believe in the principles underlying the “inspiring symbol of liberty” that greets immigrants to the United States and before which Bloomberg stood? Bloomberg didn’t say. It apparently doesn’t matter. Toleration means asking nothing, criticizing nothing, saying nothing, about whom or what one is tolerating. This is the Sergeant Schultz standard of toleration: I know nothing.

Are Muslims required to be tolerant of our sensitivities about Islamist mass murder? Or do we not count?

A question I'd like posed to Imam Rauf and Daisy Khan. They say (dishonestly, I think) that they are building the mosque to send a "message," allegedly about peace and harmony.

How many Muslims do they imagine will get a different message -- that Muslims have knocked down one of our churches (one of capitalist decadence, in their eyes) and erected a Muslim Mosque on the site, as they have hundreds of times before? And that this message is actually "Terrorism works, and Islamism shall triumph"?

Do they deny a significant fraction of Muslims will take that message from their Victory Mosque?

And which Muslims do we have to worry about more -- the ones who would be receptive to a supposed message of peace, or the ones who would seize upon a message of triumph through terrorism?

Ask them, conservative media. Demand that they answer with no evasions.



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posted by Ace at 02:50 PM

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