Category Archive 'Abdul Rauf'

13 Aug 2010

Multicultural Bias of the Establishment

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Mayor Bloomberg and reputable members of the establishment in general view people objecting to the erection of mosque and Islamic cultural center in the vicinity of the fallen World Trade Center towers as bigots and yahoos, who irrationally insist on blaming the overwhelmingly larger body of moderate Muslims for the crimes committed by a small number of unrepresentative extremists.

The Muslim religious leader behind the Ground Zero Mosque project is Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. The defense of the Ground Zero Mosque project is intimately associated with
the identification of Abdul Rauf as a moderate Muslim, a reasonable representative of a different religious denomination who is not our enemy and who does not deserve to bear any sort of guilt for Islamic extremism or acts of terrorism.

Yet, Imam Abdul Rauf has made a number of somewhat controversial public statements.

On September 29, 2001, a mere nineteen days after the attacks, when asked by CBS if the U.S. deserved the attacks, Rauf answered: “I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened. But the United States’ policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.”

The interviewer inquired how the US was “an accessory,” and Abdul Rauf replied, “Because we have been accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA.”

In a June interview this year with WABC radio in New York, Abdul Rauf evaded answering whether he agreed with the U.S. State Department’s designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization. “I’m not a politician. I try to avoid the issues. The issue of terrorism is a very complex question.”

Clifford D. May offers this completely devastating rejoinder.

No, actually, it’s quite simple: Whatever your grievances, you do not express them by murdering other people’s children. Not accepting that proposition does not make you a terrorist. But it disqualifies you as an anti-terrorist and identifies you as an anti-anti-terrorist.

A thought experiment: I am grieved by Saudi policies — for example, Saudi religious discrimination, oppression of women, and persecution of homosexuals. If I were to express these grievances by blowing up a Saudi kindergarten, do you think Imam Feisal would say (1) the Saudi Royal family must share responsibility for the carnage, and (2) whether or not I had committed an act of terrorism is a “very complex question”?

How can well-educated, sophisticated people apply such a preposterous double-standard in their thinking that they will perform gymnastic contortions to defend and apologize for a Muslim community leader with all sorts of unsavory personal connections and instantly exclude from legitimate discussion anyone who would criticize the symbolism of the Ground Zero Mosque project or question the bona fides of its organizer?

May explains:

[M]ulticulturalism and moral relativism, doctrines devoutly embraced by the intellectual classes, render “everything the equal of everything else.” As a consequence, some very smart people have “lost the ability to make the most elementary distinctions.” Except one: They reflexively regard those from the Third World as virtuous and those from the West as steeped in blame, shame, and guilt.

So if Imam Feisal says he’s a moderate, he must be a moderate. Why read his books or inquire into what he preaches in his mosque or with whom he associates on his frequent trips to Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and other exotic locales? Would we ask such questions of a Baptist minister building a church near Ground Zero?

09 Aug 2010

One-Sided Religious Tolerance

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In Afghanistan, intolerant Muslims claim the right to execute out of hand unarmed medical volunteers who’ve traveled at their own personal expense to provide eye care to Afghan villagers on the basis of suspicion that they were proselytizing the Christian faith. [Christian Science Monitor]

Currently, in New York City, Muslims also claim the right to erect an enormous mosque and cultural complex, two blocks from the site where an unprovoked attack by Muslims killed 3000 people during a time in which militant and utterly intolerant Islam is still waging war against the United States, its allies, and the Christian West.

Publius, at the (Canadian) Western Standard, identifies the ironies of the debate.

The construction of the near Ground Zero community center / mosque is seen through the prism of the cultural wars. Liberals, who regard Islamist terrorism as a mere criminal activity, do not see the project as a threat, and view opposition as an expression of bigotry. To many conservatives, who subscribe to the Clash of Civilizations thesis, it is a woeful concession to an avowed enemy. Islam, or variant of Islam, is the enemy, and if only for symbolic purposes, a mosque at Ground Zero would be a triumph for the other side. A modern day version, in reverse, of the Marines hoisting Old Glory over Iwo Jima.

Libertarians tend to focus little of their energy on foreign affairs. With some notable exceptions, it is a blind spot for the movement. This is typically justified as fighting for freedom at home, before you go fighting for it abroad. Having a naturally jaundiced view of government action, libertarians lean toward regarding Islamic terrorism as another one of those unfortunate side-effects of big government.

In this light, the narrative of a bumbling, and grasping, oil driven foreign policy creating, or exacerbating, terrorism seems quite plausible. The big government as bad approach is usually understood as a one way street. Big American government is bad, and it causes nasty things at home and abroad. Strangely the logic is rarely used on other countries, that really big and bad governments in other countries might be generating terrorism, Islamic themed or not.

This blind spot in libertarian foreign policy analysis dovetails with another, and broader, shortcoming in how many libertarians view politics, the fallacy of economic man being universal man. Human beings are certainly motivated by money. It is not for pleasure that commuters fight their way through heavy traffic each morning and evening. But along with economic man, who carefully strives for profit maximization, there is also social man, romantic man, spiritual man and dozens more like him. We are driven by many things, including our ideas and beliefs.

The believer in economic man assumes that violence is simply an expression, albeit a perverse one, of this profit maximizing tendency. Thus some libertarians subscribe to the poverty-causing-terrorism theory. This round peg, however, has a very square hole to enter. How is a suicide bomber behaving economically? Bits of flesh have a hard time enjoying the material benefits of life. Such fanaticism cannot be explained in economic terms, it can only be understood philosophically.

The bulk of conservatives understand that we are engaged in an philosophical struggle, one in which symbolism is indeed important. An Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero, however, isn’t that important a symbol. The most important symbol of our Clash of Civilizations is that after nine years there is still a hole in lower Manhattan. It took less than seven years to build the original twin towers. Yet, nearly a decade after primitive religious fanatics scarred the skyline of New York City, it remains scarred. A confident culture would have, and very quickly, rebuilt the World Trade Center, to a new and better standard. That symbolism is far more powerful that a mere mosque two blocks away.

When I read of the murder of those medical volunteers in yesterday’s news, I was reminded of the persistent outrages by Muslims against Christian travelers, traders, and pilgrims to Christian religious sites in the Holy Land that finally exhausted the patience of Christian Europe, and led many of her leaders to take up the cross and go on Crusade.

Islam insolently claims the right to prohibit not only religious conversion and missionary activity, but even religious observances by Christians in places like Saudi Arabia. Yet, at the same time, Muslims are attempting to fully exploit all of the West’s very different cultural traditions for their own advantage.

Permitting the erection of an Islamic landmark in the near vicinity of the site of a terrible and perfidious Muslim attack, whose pain is far from past and forgotten, and whose wrongs have not yet been completely avenged, would be an outrage.

Yes, theoreticians may argue that, in a purely libertarian state, there would be no religious test of any kind concerning the use of property, but New York City has virtually infinite amounts of zoning regulations, and any property use, however legitimate and conventional, in that city is commonly intensely debated and negotiated and fought over in arcane processes open to the manipulation of every kind of special interest and activist ideological group. Repairing the West Side Highway in New York City was once successfully blocked on the basis of the interests of joggers, bird watchers, and homosexuals seeking open air liaisons who liked using the decrepit and closed motorway the way it was.

Approval of the construction of a Financial District mosque undoubtedly required not simply ordinary due process, but extraordinary exemption from the customary squabble among competing interest groups and factions that commonly paralyze all forms of development in New York.

Larry Silverstein has not been able to obtain permission to get the World Trade Center rebuilt in nearly a decade, but Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf only bought an abandoned Burlington Coat Factory building on Park Place last summer [link] and he has already obtained approval from the city to build “Cordoba House.”

The relevant authorities would never have allowed Americans of Japanese descent to construct a Shinto temple in the immediate vicinity of Pearl Harbor while American forces were still fighting Imperial Japan in the South Pacific during WWII, and no Islamic mosque ought to receive construction approvals anywhere near the scene of an Islamic attack on US soil for a very long time.

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