Dorothy Rabinowitz has just had enough of what she calls this "liberal piety" most recently expressed as our betters attempt to explain freedom of religion to us over the Ground Zero mosque.
Americans may have lacked for much in the course of their history, but never instruction in social values. The question today is whether Americans of any era have ever confronted the bombardment of hectoring and sermonizing now directed at those whose views are deemed insufficiently enlightened—an offense regularly followed by accusations that the offenders have violated the most sacred principles of our democracy.She reminds us of how Mayor Bloomberg will stretch himself into a logical pretzel in order to avoid the conclusions that are obvious to so many others.
It doesn't take a lot to become the target of such a charge. There is no mistaking the beliefs on display in these accusations, most recently in regard to the mosque about to be erected 600 feet from Ground Zero. Which is that without the civilizing dictates of their superiors in government, ordinary Americans are lost to reason and decency. They are the kind of people who—as a recent presidential candidate put it—cling to their guns and their religion.
mmediately after the suspect in the attempted car bombing near Times Square was revealed to be Faisal Shahzad, of Pakistani origin, Mayor Bloomberg addressed the public. In admonishing tones—a Bloomberg trademark invariably suggestive of a school principal who knows exactly what to expect of the incorrigibles it is his unhappy fate to oversee—the mayor delivered a warning. There would be no toleration of "any bias or backlash against Pakistani or Muslim New Yorkers."We saw the same jump by elites to try to deflect our attention away from what was clearly obvious after Mayor Nidal's Fort Hood shooting.
That there has been a conspicuous lack of any such behavior on the part of New Yorkers or Americans elsewhere from the 9/11 attacks to the present seems not to have impressed Mr. Bloomberg. Nor has it caused any moderation in the unvarying note of indignation the mayor brings to these warnings. It's reasonable to raise a proper caution. It's quite something else to do it as though addressing a suspect rabble.
It's hard to know the sort of rabble the mayor had in mind when he told a television interviewer, prior to Shahzad's identification, that it "could be anything," someone mentally disturbed, or "somebody with a political agenda who doesn't like the health-care bill." Nowhere in the range of colorful possibilities the mayor raised was there any mention of the most likely explanation—another terrorist attempt by a soldier of radical Islam, the one that occurred to virtually every American who had heard the reports.
The notion that it is for the greater good that the people be led to suspect virtually any cause but the one they had the most reason to fear reflects a contempt for the citizenry that's of longstanding, but never so blatant as today. It is in the interest of higher values, Americans understand—higher, that is, than theirs—that they are now expected to accept official efforts to becloud reality.Rabinowitz is exactly right to deride the notion that is constantly being pushed at us that we need to do something or other for the rest of the world to believe that we respect the principles of our founding.
Such values were the rationale for the official will to ignore the highly suspicious behavior of Maj. Nidal Hasan, who went on to murder 13 Americans at Fort Hood. A silence maintained despite all his commanders and colleagues knew about his raging hostility to the U.S. military and his strident advocacy on behalf of political Islam.
Those who knew—and they were many—chose silence out of fear of seeming insensitive to a Muslim. As one who had said nothing in the interest of this higher good later explained, Maj. Hasan was, after all, one of the few top-ranking Muslim officers the army had.
Here was an idea we have been hearing more and more of lately—the need to show the world America's devotion to democracy and justice, also cited by the administration as a reason to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City. Who is it, we can only wonder, that requires these proofs? What occasions these regular brayings on the need to show the world the United States is a free nation?Being instructed by our supposed betters on the principles of our nation is backfiring. We know that we are not racist simply because we oppose the President's policies. We know that building the mosque at Ground Zero has nothing to with bigotry. We know that wanting to keep our borders secure doesn't mean that we hate immigrants. And the more that we're told otherwise by elites, the less we're interested in hearing from those elites in the first place. Argue about the policy instead of trying to ascribe ignoble motives to those who disagree with liberal positions.
It's unlikely that the preachments now directed at opponents of the project by Mayor Bloomberg and others will persuade that opposition. Those fighting the building recognize full well the deliberate obtuseness of Mr. Bloomberg's exhortations, and those of Mr. Cuomo and others: the resort to pious battle cries, the claim that antagonists of the plan stand against religious freedom. They note, especially, the refusal to confront the obvious question posed by this proposed center towering over the ruins of 9/11.
It is a question most ordinary Americans, as usual, have no trouble defining. Namely, how is it that the planners, who have presented this effort as a grand design for the advancement of healing and interfaith understanding, have refused all consideration of the impact such a center will have near Ground Zero? Why have they insisted, despite intense resistance, on making the center an assertive presence in this place of haunted memory? It is an insistence that calls to mind the Flying Imams, whose ostentatious prayers—apparently designed to call attention to themselves on a U.S. Airways flight to Phoenix in November 2006—ended in a lawsuit. The imams sued. The airlines paid.
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser—devout Muslim, physician, former U.S. Navy lieutenant commander and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy—says there is every reason to investigate the center's funding under the circumstances. Of the mosque so near the site of the 9/11 attacks, he notes "It will certainly be seen as a victory for political Islam."
The center may be built where planned. But it will not go easy or without consequence to the politicians intent on jamming the project down the public throat, in the name of principle. Liberal piety may have met its match in the raw memory of 9/11, and in citizens who have come to know pure demagoguery when they hear it. They have had, of late, plenty of practice.