As the Soviet Union was collapsing, National Public Radio interviewed Barry Goldwater about the dramatic rupture of the Soviet socio-political system during the winter of 1989-1990. As a statesman who spent most of his political life fighting the evils of communism abroad and “statism” at home, NPR expected Goldwater to be unrestrained in his joy over the event.
Instead, Goldwater dismayed his interviewer and no doubt large segments of the liberal NPR audience by what he had to say. He spoke of the end of the Soviet Union as leaving a society without heroes and without symbols. He saw this aspect, although certainly not the collapse itself, as a tragedy, especially for the younger generation coming of political age. Every society needs heroes and symbols, Goldwater noted; it is part of the continuity and integration of a culture.
In this observation, Goldwater was echoing the sentiments of the celebrated Renaissance historian Jacob Burckhardt, whose The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy spoke to the use of public art to create political symbols in order to advance claims to legitimacy.
If there is one politico-religious movement that understands the use of symbols to advance its claims, it is Islam. No, I am not speaking of radical Islam. I am speaking of Islam.
The Ground Zero mosque is the manipulation of symbols. The very name “Cordoba Initiative” is an insult to the people of Spain, a reminder of their conquest by Islam and the creation of a society organized through the sharia concept of dhimmitude, a society that puts non-Muslims in the role of second-class citizens. The tolerant society of Islam’s Andalusia was as tolerant as Mississippi under the doctrine of “separate but equal.”
From the time of its inception, Islam has celebrated its victories by building mosques on the holy sites of the people it conquered. The al-Aqsa mosque looks down on the Wailing Wall of Israel’s sacred Temple. The insult is underscored by the denial of the existence of the Temple. The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was converted into a mosque, and the original Cordoba mosque was built over the site of a Christian cathedral. The Koran (018.021) exhorts Muslims to build mosques on the places of worship of the people they conquer so as to symbolically affirm Islam’s victory.
If the Ground Zero mosque were indeed an attempt at creating reconciliation, the developers of the mosque would be willing to sit down with New York Governor David Paterson and discuss alternative sites. No alternative site will do because no alternative site will symbolize the destruction of the World Trade Center as a victory of Islam. No alternative site will cast a shadow over the tragedy of Ground Zero and transform it into a propaganda victory for Islam. The recent revelation that the Ground Zero mosque developers won’t rule out accepting Saudi and Iranian money underscores the true intentions of the developers.