Yet another news flash on the whereabouts of the self-described “bridge-building” couple behind the Ground Zero mosque:
Last week, Daisy Khan was poised to travel to the Middle East, planning a $12,000 taxpayer-funded jaunt to join her husband, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, in the United Arab Emirates, Aug. 29-Sept. 2, courtesy of the State Department.
But she didn’t go. According to a staffer at the Manhattan office shared by Khan and Rauf’s Cordoba Initiative and American Society for Muslim Advancement, Khan is still in New York, though when I called she was unavailable for questions because she was “in a meeting.” The U.S. Embassy in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi now has a statement posted on its web site, dated Aug. 27: “Speaker Program Postponed.” The wording suggests it was Khan herself who called off the trip: “Daisy Khan, who was scheduled to visit the UAE on a speaker program as part of the U.S. Embassy’s 2010 observation of the month of Ramadan, has postponed her visit.”
What’s going on? In the best case, one might hope that even the State Department finally woke up to the perversity of using taxpayer money to send to the Middle East, as a messenger of the American people, a Kashmiri-born emigre who — while availing herself of the many benefits of life in America (including the prerogative to denigrate Americans while cynically arranging to cash in on Ground Zero) — has been busy denouncing Americans en masse as bigots, and on national TV Aug. 22 called America a place “beyond Islamophobia.”
But crediting State for wise decisions on this front is a long shot. There are some good folks buried here and there within the Foggy Bottom bureaucracy — officials who place American national interests ahead of the worship of political correctness — but I have the strong impression that they make their views known at considerable peril to their careers.
Another possibility is that Khan has her hands so full right now with damage control that she’s run out of time for travel. News continues to emerge — thanks in big part to the reporting efforts of the NY Post (most other major newspapers seem unwilling to dirty their hands with real reporting) — about the past dealings of the public troika behind the Ground Zero mosque project: Khan, Rauf and their real-estate partner, Sharif El-Gamal. There is by now a welter of information concerning not only disturbing comments blaming America for Sept. 11 and refusing to condemn the terrorists of Hamas, but also a growing list of nitty-gritty items involving alleged unpaid back taxes, unhappy tenants of the Lexus-loving imam and his wife, misreported fund-raising and so on. Is it possible that spinning non-responses, or at least diverting the media with accusations of “Islamophobia,” has cut into the time Khan had allocated for her “bridge-building” State Department junket to the UAE?
Or is there some later trip now in the works? Khan herself told me in a brief phone interview last month that her husband’s State Department tour originally included Saudi Arabia, along with Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE. When I then asked the State Department for confirmation, State took days to answer anything on the record, and when an answer finally came, the Saudi leg had disappeared — but according to both Khan and an internal State Department memo, it had not been scrapped entirely. It was merely postponed. Now Khan’s trip to the UAE has been “postponed.” Is this a diplomatically polite way of saying it won’t happen? Or should we brace for news that State is arranging yet more taxpayer-funded “outreach” trips for this Cordoba couple, as they proceed with fund-raising for the $100 million Cordoba House, a.k.a. Park51?
Khan’s husband, the peripatetic and elusive Rauf, appears to be in the UAE right now, on the final leg of his $16,000 taxpayer-funded swing through Bahrain, Qatar and the Emirates. From Abu Dhabi (a place awash in so much oil wealth that it is home to gold-tipped minarets, and artificially cooled sand at the better beaches), he’s been giving interviews to local reporters, duly repackaged by the New York Times — thus filtering his remarks back to the U.S. without the inconvenience of facing any tough questions about his equivocations over the terrorists of Hamas, or his offshore sources of funding, or the emerging news, reported in the NY Post, about his record as an “alleged slumlord.” (More links and details on the Human Events site, under the headline “Taxpayer-Subsidized Slumlord.”)
Here’s Rauf in the English-language online edition of the Middle Eastern National, effectively re-defining as “moderate” anyone who agrees with him, and as “radicals” all those — this would be the majority of Americans — who believe it would be indecent for him to go ahead with his plans for a $100 million high-rise mosque and Islamic center on a site so close to Ground Zero that on Sept. 11 it was hit with wreckage from the Islamist attacks (which, according to Rauf in a December interview with the New York Times, was a big reason he picked the site).
As Rauf describes it to his Arab audience, those who disagree with his plans are “a small minority” of “very small, loud and vociferous voices,” who dare to contest his vision that “the American creed” now requires him to build a mosque, originally named for the Muslim Cordoba conquest, near Ground Zero. Asked by the National reporter in Abu Dhabi whether he would have chosen a different site for his mosque and Islamic center if he had foreseen the controversy, Rauf replied, as paraphrased by the reporter, that “the Prophet Mohammad instructed Muslims not to dwell on past decisions and wonder about alternative outcomes.”
… So, to all you “loud and vociferous” folks out there who believe that the basic fabric of democratic society involves at least some minimal willingness to compromise, to correct mistakes, and to take into account the feelings and interests of others — especially within striking distance of a site where monstrous and duplicitously engineered acts of war, committed in the name of Islam, killed more than 2,700 Americans — well, sensitivity, schmensitivity. Fuggedaboutit. Credit someone, somewhere, for the “postponement” of Khan’s taxpayer-funded trip to the UAE. But we’re still left with a Cordoba paradigm in which Rauf stipulates that the views of a majority of Americans amount to nothing more than the irritating noise of a “small minority,” while his own preferences are to be accepted, yea, submitted to, without question — lest the questioners be denounced by Rauf as radicals and by Khan as bigots. After summering largely off the U.S. public radar in Malaysia and the Arabian Gulf, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, self-appointed keeper of the “American creed,” is due back in the U.S. shortly before the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks. One might hope that he and his wife will refrain from hijacking the real meaning of that solemn day with yet more of their campaign to become the inflexible and self-promoting arbiters of “tolerance” at Ground Zero. But I wouldn’t bet on it.