The Positive Side of the Ground Zero Mosque

Yesterday, a New York City panel paved the way for the building of the controversial “9/11 mosque” near Ground Zero. While vexing to many, there is one unintended consequence to this entire affair that deserves noting: like the 9/11 strikes a decade earlier, the controversy surrounding the 9/11 mosque has also been creating a stir, been making people think and talk — about Islam.

Consider: Before the Islamist strikes of 9/11, mainstream America was incognizant of the threat posed by radical Islam. Islamic apologetics and anti-U.S. polemics were unquestioned orthodoxy, not only in their natural habitat -- academia -- but more generally. After 9/11, however, the veil was partially lifted: a flood of books dealing with Islam, political Islam, jihad, sharia, “dhimmitude,” and any number of related topics appeared; politically incorrect books on Islam became bestsellers. The media began at least to acknowledge the existence of radical Islam; biased and politicized academics were exposed and refuted.

In other words, one unintended consequence of 9/11 was to make more Americans take note of Islam — which led to greater scrutiny of its formerly esoteric epistemology. After 9/11, it was no longer a few aging Orientalists who knew, for instance, that military jihad is obligatory in Islam, or that enmity for the infidel is standard, or that women and dhimmis are subjugated. The layman — the heart of democracy — began to be aware.

Thus, the 9/11 strikes were counterproductive to the Islamist cause. All Islamists, of course, desire what jihadist groups like al-Qaeda desire — the reestablishment of a global caliphate and enforcement of sharia law. But unlike al-Qaeda, most mature Islamists know that the time is not ripe for all-out violence, which only exposes their activities to greater scrutiny. In fact, Islamists have long found it more expedient to “destroy Western civilization from within,” necessitating projects such as the Middle East Forum’s Islamist Watch, which monitors and exposes subversive, nonviolent Islamist machinations on U.S. soil.

It is, however, ironic to note that, if an unintended consequence of 9/11 was to expose Islam to scrutiny, one decade later, the unintended consequence of the 9/11 mosque is the same. Since it became known, the mosque project has been reported by all mainstream media, including CBSCNN,, Fox News, Al Jazeera, the NY Daily News, the New York TimesReuters, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the Washington Times.