This is delicious: Supporters of the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” are so desperate that they are calling on the Great Satan himself — that’s President George W. Bush to you and me — to support the project. Yes, that’s right: all those “Bush=Hitler” signs have been temporarily retired as the large left flank of the commentariat casts about for authoritative voices to help them put through this project to besmirch the memories of the nearly 3000 people who died at Ground Zero on September 11, 2001. So we have the comedic spectacle of Maureen Dowd — Maureen Dowd! — writing in the New York Times that “it’s time for W. to weigh in,” explaining that the former president “understands” — when was the last time Maureen Dowd accused George W. Bush of understanding anything? — that “you can’t have an effective war against the terrorists if it is a war on Islam.”
Byron York, reporting on this gratifying development in the Washington Examiner, also has some lovely quotations from Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post (“I … would love to hear from former President Bush on this issue”) and former New Republic editor Peter Beinart (“I pine for George W. Bush”).
Now it’s true that President Bush muddied the waters when he proclaimed, a few days after 9/11, that Islam means “peace.” In fact, the word Islam means “submission,” as in submission to the will of Allah, given to a grateful mankind through the teachings of a Dark Ages warrior, mystic, and polygamist, and codified in the stern imperatives of Islamic law, a.k.a. Shariah. Still, while Bush said “Islam is peace” and hosted, as did Bill Clinton, iftar dinners at the White House, his actions clearly showed that he understood that the battle against terrorism was much broader than a battle against al-Qaeda.
My own view, which I’ve stated in this space before, is that Islam is fundamentally incompatible with “foundational Western values like free speech, the separation of church and state, and equality under the law. Such things are not simply missing from Islam: they are positively repudiated by Islam.”
In the September issue of The New Criterion (out soon at www.newcriterion.com), I weigh in on the controversy over Ground Zero mosque, noting that, although it may soon recede from the headlines, it raises some very large issues concerning tolerance, the relation of rights to tolerable behavior, and the compatibility of Islam with liberal democracy. It also, as Andrew C. McCarthy noted at NRO, “powerfully demonstrates” the growing divide between the American people and the progressive ruling class.” One side endeavors to defeat the enemies of freedom and tolerance. The other seeks to accommodate them, believing, McCarthy observes, that “they are moving us toward a better, smarter policy that will reduce the threat by making our enemies like us better.”