Thank you, New York Post. We have a report Saturday that “[a]ppearing in public for the first time in weeks,” the man behind the Ground Zero mosque, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, has surfaced — speaking at a mosque in Bahrain. This is part of the State Department-hosted “public diplomacy” tour in which U.S. taxpayers are footing a $16,000 tab so Rauf from Aug. 19-Sept. 2 can travel to Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. With this jaunt, Rauf is rounding out a summer in which he has already found time to disappear for weeks in Malaysia. But he has evidently had no time — zero, as in, none at all — to answer any tough questions from the American media and public about his money, and his plans for a $100 million 15-story Islamic center topped with a mosque near the site of the crater that was once the World Trade Center (destroyed, as we all know, by “extremists” who in 2001 perpetrated a particularly large “man-caused disaster”).
But let’s not be too hard on Rauf. As he has told his public, he is a peace-making outreaching “bridge-builder,” a healer, a bringer of harmony. As he told the New York Times last December, he’s a guy who (unlike most of us clods out there) realized the Burlington Coat Factory building near Ground Zero is the perfect site for an Islamic hub and mosque, because during the Sept. 11 Islamist attacks, it was “where a piece of the wreckage fell.” If you see a problem with Rauf’s plan, you are probably an anti-bridge-builder bigot, full of antiquated ideas that your rights as an American include freedom of thought, and possibly even freedom of speech. No healing for you!
A visionary like Rauf doesn’t have time to explain himself, let alone open his financial books, or give any weight to the views of all those Americans back home who have been so insensitive as to form their own opinions about what constitutes harmony. He’s too busy planning his bridge. In some ways, Rauf’s plans for his Cordoba House mosque and Islamic center have come to resemble Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s approach to the health-care bill jammed down America’s throat earlier this year: we are adjured to let him build it to find out what’s in it.
But I digress. From Bahrain, Rauf for the first time in weeks has actually spoken, in person, to the media. Along with speaking at a Bahrain mosque, he gave a brief interview to the Associated Press Television News, as reported by the New York Post — in which he “dodged questions about the uproar over his planned mosque and community center.”
According to Rauf himself, he is on a trip right now of “great importance.” (That follows the “important meeting” in Malaysia which, when I surprised him with a phone call there last month, prevented him from answering any questions). Rauf told the AP TV News that in his travels he is discussing “extremism” and working on a way to “Americanize Islam.”
Really? And what exactly is Rauf’s version of an Americanized Islam? Rauf does not speak for all American Muslims, some of whom have been voicing their disagreement with his plans. But as far as Rauf himself is an example of this “Americanized Islam” he seeks to spread, it seems to entail dismissing the views of a majority of Americans, causing great anguish to some of the families of the thousands murdered on Sept. 11, and refusing to answer any real questions — all while working on his own plans to Islamize Ground Zero.