If the president of the United States felt compelled to publicly disown the Christian pastor who baptized his children over his false equivalences between U.S. foreign policy and 9/11, why are we being told to believe Feisal's proposed mosque near ground zero is a beacon of tolerance?Is what Rauf has said all that much different from what Wright said?
So if Islam is not responsible, what was the reason for the 9/11 attacks? In 2004, Sufi Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the spiritual leader behind the mosque, told the Sydney Morning Herald, "there was an endless supply of angry young Muslim rebels prepared to die for their cause and there was no sign of the attacks ending unless there was a fundamental change in the world."But this is the guy that two presidencies have turned to as their ambassador to the Muslim world. And anyone who questions his motivations is a bigot. And we're going to be titled Islamaphobes by the bien pensants at Time Magazine if we worry about some of the aspects of Islamism that are troubling Christopher Hitchens.
What fundamental change did Imam Feisal recommend? "[Feisal] said there could be little progress until the U.S. acknowledged backing dictators and the U.S. President gave an 'America Culpa' speech to the Muslim world."
Feisal further offered his own reasoning for why the 9/11 attacks were not related to Islam. "The Islamic method of waging war is not to kill innocent civilians," he told the Herald. "But it was Christians in World War II who bombed civilians in Dresden and Hiroshima, neither of which were military targets."
Now that's a charitable view of history. Whenever Muslims kill innocent civilians, it has no relation to Islam. The Muslim conquest of India, the bloodiest conflict in history, in which 80 million people were killed? Not Islam. Sept. 11 attacks? Not Islam. Hamas lobbing thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians? Well, Feisal refuses to go on record condemning Hamas even when asked point blank.
But when America's secular government stopped the atrocities of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, it was really all about Christians killing civilians. America culpa!
Emboldened by the crass nature of the opposition to the center, its defenders have started to talk as if it represented no problem at all and as if the question were solely one of religious tolerance. It would be nice if this were true. But tolerance is one of the first and most awkward questions raised by any examination of Islamism. We are wrong to talk as if the only subject was that of terrorism. As Western Europe has already found to its cost, local Muslim leaders have a habit, once they feel strong enough, of making demands of the most intolerant kind. Sometimes it will be calls for censorship of anything "offensive" to Islam. Sometimes it will be demands for sexual segregation in schools and swimming pools. The script is becoming a very familiar one. And those who make such demands are of course usually quite careful to avoid any association with violence. They merely hint that, if their demands are not taken seriously, there just might be a teeny smidgeon of violence from some other unnamed quarter …It's not that we deny that moderate Muslims can exist. I have had several Muslim students who are absolutely wonderful people and students. I'm just suspicious that, despite the State Department seal of approval, Rauf is the true moderate he purports to be.
As for the gorgeous mosaic of religious pluralism, it's easy enough to find mosque Web sites and DVDs that peddle the most disgusting attacks on Jews, Hindus, Christians, unbelievers, and other Muslims—to say nothing of insane diatribes about women and homosexuals. This is why the fake term Islamophobia is so dangerous: It insinuates that any reservations about Islam must ipso facto be "phobic." A phobia is an irrational fear or dislike. Islamic preaching very often manifests precisely this feature, which is why suspicion of it is by no means irrational.