Saturday, July 31, 2010

Religious freedom is for all Americans

The Anti-Defamation League has just come out against the plans for a Muslim community center and mosque near the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan.
“The ADL should be ashamed of itself,” said Rabbi Irwin Kula, president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, which promotes interethnic and interfaith dialogue. Speaking of the imam behind the proposed center, Feisal Abdul Rauf, he said, “Here, we ask the moderate leaders of the Muslim community to step forward, and when one of them does, he is treated with suspicion.”
Jeffrey Goldberg writes:

1) The organization behind the project, the Cordoba Initiative, is a moderate group interested in advancing cross-cultural understanding. It is very far from being a Wahhabist organization;

2) This is a strange war we're fighting against Islamist terrorism. We must fight the terrorists with alacrity, but at the same time we must understand that what the terrorists seek is a clash of civilizations. We must do everything possible to avoid giving them propaganda victories in their attempt to create a cosmic war between Judeo-Christian civilization and Muslim civilization. The fight is not between the West and Islam; it is between modernists of all monotheist faiths, on the one hand, and the advocates of a specific strain of medievalist Islam, on the other. If we as a society punish Muslims of good faith, Muslims of good faith will join the other side. It's not that hard to understand. I'm disappointed that the ADL doesn't understand this.


  1. Rebecca,

    You quote Jeffrey Goldberg as writing:

    1) The organization behind the project, the Cordoba Initiative, is a moderate group interested in advancing cross-cultural understanding. It is very far from being a Wahhabist organization;

    Yet, other writers, including at least one person, Dr. Andrew Bostom, with considerable expertise on Islam, say this is not so. And, one well known US Attorney, Andrew McCarthy (famed for prosecutions related to the first WTC bombing), also says it is not so. We have had numerous other circumstances where the media has called certain imams - quite a number, at this point - moderate who, had such person's words been actually read - instead of their demeanor accepted as representing their viewpoint -, were, instead, Medieval lunatics.

    Do you not think that it is a bit rich that people continuously assume moderation when, in fact, such moderation is a projection of moderation - by wishful thinking - onto rather immoderate people with minds locked in the Middle Ages? How many times can this same MO play out?

    Now, this has nothing to do with whether the Cordoba Center should be built. The First Amendment requires the government to stay out of the religion business (absent a compelling state interest). Bad symbolism, which it may or may not be, is not a compelling state interest.

    Nonetheless, there is a world of difference between accepting the right of immoderate people to preach - which is certainly their right - and branding Medieval lunatics as moderate people - which is delusional. That, to me, is the most unimaginable flight of your intellgence, to paraphrase Paul Berman, one that should worry you more than Mr. Foxman's silly notions.

    I would ask you, if you have not already read the book, to read Paul Berman's The Flight of the Intellectuals. The book shows pretty clearly just how far removed from reality the branding of immoderate people as moderate has gone. And, it shows pretty well just how wrongheaded this is and how destructive this is.

  2. I generally find Jeffrey Goldberg and Adam Holland pretty trustworthy when it comes to finding Islamist wackos - if they say that the people behind this center are okay, I believe them. If they produce evidence to the contrary, I'll consider that.

  3. Rebecca,

    Is Goldberg reliable in this case? Or, is Professor Bostom correct? He contends:

    Imam Feisal Rauf, the central figure in the coterie planning a huge mosque just off Ground Zero, is a full-throated champion of the very same Muslim theologians and jurists identified in a landmark NYPD report as central to promoting the Islamic religious bigotry that fuels modern jihad terrorism.

    And, Bostom provides evidence for his argument. Mr. Goldberg merely asserts moderation.

    So, again: is Goldberg reliable here?

    Andrew McCarthy notes:

    In considering Imam Rauf and his Ground Zero project, Qaradawi and the Muslim Brotherhood are extremely important. Like most Muslims, Rauf regards Qaradawi as a guide, and referred to him in 2001 as “the most well-known legal authority in the whole Muslim world today.” And indeed he is: a prominent, Qatar-based scholar whose weekly Al Jazeera program on the subject of sharia is viewed by millions and whose cyber-venture, Islam Online, is accessed by millions more, including Muslims in the United States. Not surprisingly, his rabble-rousing was a prime cause of the deadly global rioting by Muslims when an obscure Danish newspaper published cartoon depictions of Mohammed.

    If you read Paul Berman's book, you will realize that supporters of Qaradawi are not moderate because Qaradawi is not a moderate but, in fact, a Medievalist. The same for Ikwan supporters.

    So, again, is Goldberg reliable in this case?

    Surely, you realize that he is mistaken.

    For the record, I like Goldberg. However, I do not think he knows much about Islamic theology, although he does know quite a bit about Hamas.