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August 24, 2010

Hitchens: I Am Distressed and Disgusted at the Demagogic Attacks Against the Ground Zero Mosque
And Oh, By The Way, Imam Rauf Is a Despicable Apologist For Islamist Tyranny And Must Demonstrate Tolerance

I like this piece an awful lot. Sure, he knocks some on the right for engaging in rhetoric he finds too ugly to be creditable, but darn it if he doesn't wind up coming to -- or at least guardedly approaching -- some of the same concerns we have.

Often it is like this -- someone can agree with you in principle but be put off by your tone. Even so, it's good to have a Grade-A sophisticate like Hitchens with his authoritative baritone and plummy Oxbridge accent sounding most of the right notes, to reach those who might otherwise just give in to the easy paradigm of liberals that this is about nothing but "hate."

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.

A useful tonic to the anger I feel about this is this article by the NYT about man-in-the-street interviews with Muslims, most of whom sound pretty darn reasonable and tolerant.

Malik Nadeem Abid, an insurance agent whose storefront window on Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn framed a steady stream of men walking to pray at the mosque next door, said he was “not a big fan” of the decision by the Cordoba Initiative, a Muslim group that promotes interfaith cooperation, to build the center near ground zero.

“It was not a politically smart move, from my perspective,” said Mr. Abid, 45. “No one wants a center in downtown Manhattan that stands as a permanent fixture of this terrible tension.”

Yet the decision has been made, he said, “and we can’t let the loudest voices dictate what happens.” Still, he added, if the center were built 5 or 10 blocks away, as some people have proposed, “I don’t think it would matter very much.”

That kind of ambivalence over the downtown project, some said, was partly the point: Muslims in America embody the same diversity as everyone else.

“I see both sides,” said A. Chowdhry, 27. She lives in Jackson Heights, Queens, and teaches in a New Jersey grade school. “As Americans, ground zero is our hallowed ground, too. But it pains me to be excluded from this part of being American.”

A big problem I have is with Islamic leaders, their clerics -- especially those like Rauf who continue to jet-set around and meet with clerics in countries where the "moderate" position is to deny Muslims were involved in 9/11 at all (and the less moderate position is to confess that, and then praise them).

Men such as Rauf continue to indulge in dishonest double-speak, blessed by their religion, they say, by the doctrine of taqiyya. There is no "outreach" to troublesome Muslims being practiced by Rauf -- he does not criticize them, or reject their support for terrorism, or demand they reform. For them, he only offers justification for their murderous resentment -- the US has killed more Muslims than Al Qaeda; the US is an accessory to the crime -- i.e., a legally-chargeable guilty party -- of 9/11.

His "outreach" extends in one direction only, to the West, where he asks for tolerance and speaks pretty words about peace and the virtues of Islam. Which is nice, but we have plenty of that already with daily government-approved official pronouncements about Islam being a "religion of peace" and the constant reminder that the "great majority" of Muslims do not support terrorism. (Perhaps true, but I'd like to focus a bit more on the 30-40% who do.)

Where is the outreach in the other direction? He instructs us that we should not blame all Muslims for the terrorist murders committed by some -- but where is the pointed statement to terrorist murders that infidels are not to be blamed for the collective grievances of aggressive, insecure Islamists, and, even if were to be blamed, it would be just terrific and super-appreciated if this blame did not come in the form of ball-bearing-studded car bombs?

And this "outreach" continues apace, where we are all told that Muslims are not responsible for terrorism, even (especially?) including those Muslims who actually are responsible for terrorism. The responsibility for such murders lay, as it always does, upon the West; the victims of Muslim fury, as always, were complicit -- nay, wholly responsible -- for their own murders.

This is "outreach." This the sort of "moderate" we actually pay good money to jet to Indonesia and Malaysia to encourage Muslims to stop committing acts of terrorism -- a man who refuses to engage in the "politics" (as he terms it) of saying that murder is a moral crime.

And this, of course, is the "founder and visionary" behind the Ground Zero Mosque, and the man whose goodwill and peaceableness we are supposed to accept unquestioningly, and therefore, of course, accept unquestioningly that the motive behind the mosque is good and pure.

It's odd -- Rauf will tell us that Muslims are not terrorists, again and again, but when asked if a provably terrorist organization -- Hamas -- is terrorist, he suddenly loses all interest in discussing "politics." I would find his reassurances about most Muslims not being terrorists (which is of course true) more satisfying if, confronted with actual Muslim terrorists, he would indulge me in a bit of "politics" and condemn them as the killers they are.

Note that Rauf could considerably help his own cause by delivering an unambiguous condemnation of terrorism, unadorned by all the nasty ornaments of American culpability. He doesn't do that -- and I read quite a bit into that.

Instead, I am only told by Daisy Khan that my saying mean things about Muslims, and agitating in what, at the end of the day, is a zoning dispute, constitutes the most hateful and contemptible actions imaginable.

And yet no one ever says that Muslims should be killed simply for disagreeing with us or taking provocative actions -- well, the occasional nutter pops off, but he's roundly condemned by more American Americans. But that is precisely what is said in radical -- and, actually, I suspect, rather ordinary -- mosques every day.

If this is Rauf's and Khan's idea of the hierarchy of evils -- my insults a greater evil than their correligionists' car-bombs and terror rockets -- then they stand first and foremost in, as they say, "tainting Islam as a cult of murder."

The "outreach" I get from Rauf is that the major problem with Muslim terrorism is that I'm making too big a deal about it and ought to accept my own culpability for it, and if I'm getting that message of "outreach," I am quite certain the 30-40% of the world Muslim population we are most acutely concerned with is getting that message of "outreach" as well.


America is culpable in one manner: By our habit of apologism for third-world evil and tolerating the intolerable, making excuses for murder, we are in effect preventing the necessary argument that must be had within Islam. Terror and tribalistic hatred must be reformed out of it, and, just as with the housing market, we are propping up a bad system, delaying a necessary reckoning, by continuing to indulge in this happy-happy joy-joy apologism for Islamist evil.

Rauf continues his "outreach" to terrorists (by which we mean: tacit support for and moral encouragement of) because we haven't yet insisted that he choose, once and finally, between peace and war, forgiveness and hatred, decency and murder.

We allow him to play this vile game, and by doing so, we are showing tolerance -- tolerance for murderers. And it should be little surprise then that the murders we are tolerating are continuing apace.

We have taken the ultimate step in defining deviancy down: We now pretend that mass murder is an understandable expression of Islamist rage, something we are just as responsible for as they (or more so), and little wonder then that the Islamist murderers take us at our word.

If you give someone moral license to kill you, you shouldn't be surprised if he gets the crazy idea you've given him actual license to kill you.



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posted by Ace at 01:21 PM

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