So we have our answer. Rauf is the Obama administration’s and the State Department’s man in the Middle East, sent to assure his audiences that the US will be sensitive to their needs, and is ever ready to appease them in the interests of “peace.” We do all this, while the imam tells his audiences quite the opposite. Like them, he wants the destruction of Israel, rationalizes terrorism and accuses the United States of real terrorism against Muslims, while seeking to have his fellow Americans accept the Islamic theocracy as the regime he says is favored by the people of Iran.
How much longer can the fiction be maintained that this man behind the proposed Ground Zero mosque is a moderate and a man of peace?
AN UPDATE TO THE CONTROVERSY: Aug.24, 9pm, EST
Today, if there was any doubt that the liberal elite has decided to go all out on behalf of Imam Feisal Rauf, there is much evidence to show this is indeed the case. First, on today’s Morning Joe program, co-host Mika Brzezinski spent most of the morning fulminating about how the right-wing was opposing freedom of religion, and preventing a good moderate imam from having the chance to build the mosque he deserves.
But most upsetting was the position taken by Richard Haas, chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Bush advisor during the last administration. On the same program (I could not find the clip or transcript as yet on the web), Haas praised Imam Rauf and his wife Daisy Kahn as the epitome of “moderate” Muslims who want to “Americanize Islam” and build an Islamic faith fully integrated into the American mosaic. Haas said he knows both of them, has met them many times, and essentially finds the debate surreal and an example of the Islamophobia gripping many of our countrymen.
It is telling that this program, one of the few that purports to have different points of view represented, presented not one person who addressed the salient issue of what Imam Rauf really believes, and whether or not he says one thing to his Islamic audiences abroad and another to people like Jeffrey Goldberg and Richard Haas. Could they not have found one person who holds the analysis offered by Christopher Hitchens or Andrew McCarthy? Of course they could. That they and the other programs choose not to reveals only that to raise the kinds of issues they address is considered far out of the mainstream, and therefore impermissible to be aired on certain programs.
Second, one finds the astonishing article at The New Republic by the former radical activist and now journalism and sociology professor at Columbia University, Todd Gitlin. According to Gitlin, Rauf is a subversive, but not one who wants to harm or subvert our country. “But what he wants to subvert is not the United States of America. What he wants to subvert are dictatorships in Islamic nations.”
As Gitlin proclaims, Rauf wants to build an American Islam whose foundations are not sharia law, but “the American Declaration of Independence and the Constitution,” which he is quoted as saying “express the Islamic ideal, which is itself but an expression of the Abrahamic ethic.” Yes, “the American Constitution and system of governance uphold the core principles of Islamic law.” As Gitlin goes on to say, quoting the imam:
The overarching American religion that all Americans live under is ‘Islamic’ in the sense that it is fully compliant with and expresses the Islamic Shariah.” In Rauf’s understanding, Sharia is predicated on religious pluralism, which is “a fundamental human right under Islamic law.”
We have no need to worry, Gitlin tells us, since the imam writes that the United States “is substantively an ‘Islamic’ country.” So, he is not surprised that the State Department has sent this man to let the Muslim world know about our country, since he is one of its firmest supporters. Writes Gitlin: “He wants to Americanize the Muslim world in the way that counts—by promoting our political institutions.” So, no need to listen to the racist and insensitive Islamophobic inhabitants of the right-wing, who want to scare their fellow Americans in order to get votes in November for the Republican Party and tea-party candidates.
Gitlin sees no need to further explore anything that might point to contrary evidence, such as that offered by Michael Ledeen and Christopher Hitchens.
Of course, the good imam knows what to say. In his interview last night, he said all the right comforting words:
And so, the poignancy of this all is I’ve been called and accused, even by the radicals, of being a moderate. People have said, “Where are the voices of the moderate Muslims?” and here I am trying to do something that expands and amplifies the voice of the moderates in Islam. And how they can conclude this would be a pilgrimage for the radicals is the very opposite of the truth. The fact of the matter is that we are a threat to the radicals because we are the most articulate advocates for combating radicalism. You have to transform people by utilizing the values that they think. When I speak to Muslim audiences, I use the verses of the Koran which we, Muslims, believe to be God’s words. I use the teachings of the Prophet because these are the things that convince them. I use these languages, these methods, to calm that radicalism.
You don’t have to trust Todd Gitlin. Just see what the imam himself has to say when speaking to a Western reporter. And on the Huffington Post, Prof. David Gushee presents a new analogy: the GZ Mosque controversy is our new American “Dreyfus Affair.” I kid you not. Merely exercising one’s right to oppose a mosque built in this particular spot, and to present arguments against it, is the equivalent of the French government’s framing up of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus in 1894. Then, the French Army, with the support of nationalists and anti-Semites, framed the only Jewish officer for secrets actually passed to Germany by a Major Esterhazy.
In this man’s eyes (he actually teaches religion and Christian ethics- God help his students) Dreyfuss today is Imam Rauf, and …well, let the man present his case himself. He writes:
Those similarities include the identification of an entire religious minority as a threat to the nation, the harmlessness of both Captain Alfred Dreyfus and Imam Abdul Rauf, the role of major media voices in whipping up frenzied national fears, and the questionable capacity of the nation to honor its own legal and moral principles. The other parallel is almost too painful to name: the role of the Christian majority and some of its most vocal and visible leaders in turning the religious “Other” into an object of infamy. In France a hundred years ago, these were Catholic demagogues leading the charge. Today they are mainly Protestant evangelicals.
Those Christian evangelicals again. What can you expect? I mean these people favor Israel too. One does not have to even make a case, just mention them.
So here are some opposing points for Gitlin, Gushee, Mika Brezezinski and Richard Haas to read and hopefully profit from. First, in today’s NRO, Andrew McCarthy writes about the attempt to invent a moderate Islam that barely exists. He informs us about “Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual guide and a favorite of the Saudi royal family,” whom he notes has been endorsed and cited by our good Imam Rauf. Called the “most well known legal authority in the whole Muslim world today” by Imam Rauf, the sheik’s argument is Islam is incompatible with secular society. After all, to say you know better than Allah is “apostasy.” And if a Muslim makes a public break with the faith, as let us say Hirsi Ali and others, he has a quick solution: “Execution.” And this is the face of Muslim moderation!
Well, Andrew McCarthy asks: Why do so many say they are moderates? His answer: “Because we have abandoned reason.” McCarthy is not anti-Islam. He wants a reformed Islam to flourish. As he writes:
Instead, abandoning reason, we have deep-sixed our own frame of reference and substituted mainstream Islam’s. If that backward compass is to be our guide, then sure, Qaradawi and Rauf are moderates. But know this: When you capitulate to the authority and influence of Qaradawi and Rauf, you kill meaningful Islamic reform.
He makes an observation that relates to my blog two days ago, that gave consternation to so many. McCarthy says wisely that “there are millions of moderate Muslims who crave reform.” But we are killing the opportunity for it to develop by giving the label of moderate to the likes of Rauf and Qaradawi. McCarthy points out:
Meanwhile, individual Muslim reformers are branded apostates, meaning not only that they are discredited, but that their lives are threatened as well. The signal to other Muslims is clear: Follow the reformers and experience the same fury. As Qaradawi put it in the 2005 interview, public apostates are “the gravest danger” to Islamic society; therefore, Muslims must snuff them out, lest their reforms “spread like wildfire in a field of thorns.”