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Culture Jihad

Have we ever had a president so disconnected from the heart of America?

On Friday night, at a White House iftar, the breaking of the Ramadan fast, Obama strode directly into the blazing controversy over whether a mosque should be built two blocks from Ground Zero.

Speaking as though this were simply an open-and-shut case of constitutional law, Professor Obama declared that Muslims “have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country,” including “the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan.”

Hailed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who also sees this as an issue of tolerance and religious freedom, Obama had poured gasoline on a fire that had him in headlong retreat Saturday morning.

“I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That is what our country is about.”

Professor Obama finally seemed to grasp the point.

This is not a question of “Can they build a mosque near Ground Zero?”

It is an question of “Should they build a mosque in the shadow of the twin towers, where 3,000 Americans were suffocated, crushed or burned to death by Islamic fanatics whose Muslim faith was integral to their mission of mass murder and to their identify?”

Unless one is without kidney, spleen, heart, or common sense, the answer would be “No!”

A decent respect for the opinions of one’s fellow Americans would seem to shout out: Put the mosque somewhere else. This is hallowed ground. This is a burial site sacred to the families of those who died, to New Yorkers, to all Americans. A Muslim mosque is out of place there.

Indeed, if, as backers claim, the purpose of this Cordoba mosque and community center were healing, reconciliation, and harmony, it has failed in its purpose. It has already had the opposite effect, enraging and dividing the city and country.

Why would backers of the project press ahead when its purpose is impossible of attainment, unless the real purpose were to impose on the people of New York a mosque they do not want there.

With the president’s intervention, the issue has metastasized into a major clash in America’s religious and culture war. It has gone global, as Hamas has now weighed in on the side of building the mosque near Ground Zero.

“We have to build the mosque, as you are allowed to build the church, and Israelis are building their holy places,” said Mahmoud al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas and the organization’s chief in Gaza.

His arguments echo Bloomberg’s and Obama’s: We have the right and we Muslims must now move ahead with the mosque.

With America’s head of state enlisted on one side of this quarrel, and most Americans on the other, damage will be done to the national unity and there will be consequences for the president’s party.

So be it. For if the president believes the Constitution decides this issue with finality, he is profoundly mistaken. We were a country before we ever had a Constitution. We were a nation, born in the furnace of a revolutionary war. That infant nation wrote its own birth certificate, a dozen years after Lexington and Concord Bridge.

While that Constitution guarantees freedom of religious belief and practice to all Americans, we were a Christian country then. And we remain a Christian country, Barack Obama’s dissent notwithstanding.

Three-in-four Americans profess a Christian faith. That reality is not changed because the Warren Court outlawed Bible reading and prayer in public school, ordered the Ten Commandants taken down from classroom walls, purged Christianity from our public institutions or denies to Americans their freedom to put Christmas creches in their public squares.

Islam is a rising faith, the largest on earth, with 1.5 billion adherents. It is a militant faith that believes it will one day encompass all mankind. It holds there is but one God, Allah, that his last and greatest prophet was Muhammad, that Islam, the path of submission, is the path of salvation. It believes that its sacred book, the Koran, should inform the culture, that Sharia should be the basis of civil law.

Where it has become the dominant faith, it has been intolerant of rivals, especially Christianity, the faith of the Crusaders.

By no means are all or most Muslims fanatics of the Osama bin Laden variety, but many are uncompromising in their belief that, once their faith becomes the majority faith in a community or society, Muslims should write the rules and Muslims should make the laws.

And if Americans believe that Islam is consistent with pluralism, ecumenism, and a belief in the equality of all religions and all lifestyles, we are headed for what the Chinese call “interesting times.”

Patrick Buchanan is the author, most recently, of Churchill, Hitler, and ‘The Unnecessary War,’ [1] now available in paperback. COPYRIGHT 2010 Creators.com.

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#1 Comment By Nergol On August 19, 2010 @ 11:22 am

Jim Evans;

So let me get this straight – 0.8% of the population is going to impose their law on this country via a fiendish plot to build a community center, replete with a cafeteria and basketball courts?

This is not a serious argument. This is paranoid delusion. Seek mental help.

Matt;

Again, reasonable people are not required to alter their opinions or behavior based on bigotry, paranoia, or ignorance on the part of others. In fact, any decent society should go out of its way to not listen to bigots, paranoids, conspiracy theorists, dimbulbs, nutcases, or living-room Rommels.

P.S. As for the “Fabian socialist” rant – the day that the atheists are the only ones left who remember that this country has freedom of religion and who remain standing firm in favor of it, is a sad day indeed for all of us who think of ourselves as conservatives or Christians.

#2 Comment By Jim Evans On August 19, 2010 @ 2:39 pm

Nergol:

Shiria Law in America is the stated goal of Imam Rauf and judging by yours and other’s fervent support for the mosque, I’d say there are a lot of useful idiots to help them out with their scheme.

We’ve seen what’s happened in Europe (and we don’t want to see it started, here, on American shores).

This attempt at building a victory mosque is a political & symbolic act.

But, hey, what about Howard Dean: “Move the mosque”?

Is the former Democratic Committee Chairman suffering from a paranoid delusion?

Come on Nergol, tell us your opinion about Howard Dean?

#3 Comment By Jbraunstein On August 19, 2010 @ 3:38 pm

Again I must applaud Nergol for his cutting logic against the ravings of Jim Evans.

Evans typifies the paranoid mindset. Based on his assumptions, the more moderate and western a Muslim appears to be merely demonstrates the subtlety of their strategy for a stealth takeover and imposition of totalitarian Sharia law. The more conciliatory to American norms and customs they are simply indicates how deceptive and stealthy they’re able to be in fooling us weak willed useful idiots, who are going to “surrender” to these hostile forces through our blind allegiance to quaint principles like tolerance and individual liberty.

In the paranoid mind, there can be no consideration that most American Muslims, like most Christians, are religious hypocrites and gladly accept the apostasy that modern, liberal societies and legal structures require of them, and have no interest in Sharia Law or Islamic fundamentalism, just as the vast majority of American Christians have no interest in biblical literalism or hard-core eschatology.

The double standard applied to *all* Muslims, against all reason and evidence, is a sad state of affairs. We don’t consider Christian sects with explicit views and commitments to totalitarian, theocratic concepts with anywhere near the same level of distrust and fear we approach even the most westernized Muslim. How many millions of Christians believe our Middle Eastern conflagrations and unquestionable support for Israel are desirable facilitators of the End Times, and are politically active in encouraging this? Yet, this causes less alarm than a bunch of Sufi Muslims who’s flagrant apostasy makes them even more loathsome to the real Sharia types then us infidels.

One comes away with the impression that this uproar is a tantrum throwing, foot stomping, splenetic display of ignorance and fear of the unknown “other” coupled with an ugly stink of cultural supremacy, tribal warfare and bloody flag waving, all disguised as the self-pitying whine of manufactured offense to common decency, “sacredness”, and the hijacked memories of 9/11 victims. I never knew all these tough, red blooded Americans were such overly sensitive ninnies.

The “True American People” are emotionally raw and edgy from the increasing recognition that they are economically and politically powerless. The sheen of privilege and illusory prosperity that distracted them from the abuse of the Elites has suddenly worn off, like the emperor’s clothes. If only they could muster the same level of passion over things that actually matter to the real freedom and prosperity of their families.

#4 Comment By David On August 19, 2010 @ 4:07 pm

I am disappointed to, say the least, in Mr. Buchanan. It is American “Pom-Pom” politics…We’re Americans after all, and we can do what we wish, even if we break a Constitutional brick in foundation of this nation. The Constitution does not protect or prevent one’s feelings or sense of “pride” from getting hurt or tweeked. When will Americans realize this?

#5 Comment By Jim Evans On August 19, 2010 @ 4:22 pm

Jbraunstein:

Yes, I read your whole comment.

I suspect it says more about you than about me.

In your comment, there is no acknowledgement that Imam Rauf wants to establish Shiria Law in America.

In your comment, there is no acknowledgement that Shiria Law is antithetical to moderate or western values.

A moderate or Western oriented muslim does not want to establish or support Shiria Law on American soil.

Imam Rauf’s stated goal is establishment of Shiria Law in America. Rauf is on record about his desire for Shiria Law.

If you want to be moderate or western, drop the stated goal of establishing Shiria Law in America.

The stated goal of wanting to establish Shiria Law (Islamic legal code) is not “conciliatory to American norms and customs”, rather, it is an affront to American values.

I don’t care how “moderate” or “western” one may sound (in a cynical attempt to ingraciate oneself to the listener), the goal of Shiria Law in America is not in actuality moderate or western and needs to be rejected.

#6 Comment By Tim Kelly On August 19, 2010 @ 9:21 pm

So at a time when the economy is in deep recession, our government is running a $1.4 trillion budget deficit, and our armed forces are mired in two pointless wars, we Americans are supposed to get exercised over the construction of a Muslim community center in lower Manhattan.

Rightwing demagogues, activists, and politicians have stirred up a public controversy in hopes of boosting fund-raising and getting the rubes in the red states all hot and bothered. To heck with the First Amendment, tolerance, or property rights. They have an election to win. That their xenophobic and paranoid appeals may usher in new phase of racism and intolerance does not seem to concern them.

Opponents of the Muslim inter faith prayer center claim its presence desecrates the “holy ground” of Ground Zero. Well, what about the two or three mosques in the area? Should they be closed down? And what about the many massage parlors, escort services, and bars that infest lower Manhattan?

Unfortunately, Muslims are a vulnerable minority in this country and since 9/11 many rightwing activists are willing to stir up emotions in order to create what amounts to a secularized Passion Play, where all Muslims are blamed for the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

Islamophobia has become a popular among the right in this country and too many people feel comfortable insulting Muslims, denying them their rights, and trivializing their suffering.

The spread of anti-Muslim hysteria is largely the fault of the Bush administration, which propagated untruths about the 9/11 attacks.

The perpetrators of 9/11 clearly stated the motivations: Revenge for US support of Israel and our government’s meddling in the Middle East. Their attack was clearly a political act.

But the Bush administration ignored this, and pushed the canard that the terrorists were Muslim fanatics who staged the attacks because of their irrational hatred of American culture.

So we were supposed to believe that there were Muslims hiding under beds, just waiting for the right time to cut our throats, throw burkas on our women, and impose Islamofacism on the country. It was all nonsense but it was just the kind of nonsense that could be exploited to pass new laws and increase spending. It you doubt this just consider the Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act, and the ballooning of the Pentagon’s budget since 2001.

The current hysteria is reminiscent of the witch hunts 17th century and the Red scares of the 20th century.

#7 Comment By Adam Rurik On August 19, 2010 @ 10:09 pm

I propose a compromise: Move Cordoba House further away from Ground Zero, and move Pamela Geller to Antarctica.

#8 Comment By Robert Parker On August 20, 2010 @ 7:21 am

Jim, for the last time you dimwit, PROVE those assertions in regards to his wishing to establish Sharia Law in America. Just saying whatever the hell you want doesn’t make it automatically true. Put up, or shut up, you idiot. And quit assuming anyone who doesn’t worship at the alter of Sean Hannity or whichever other cult of personality for the weak-minded you belong too, is by default a Democrat.

#9 Comment By Tim Kelly On August 20, 2010 @ 8:21 am

The US government has been one of the biggest promoters of Muslim extremism. The CIA stirred up radical Islamic dissent in Iran during its coup against the secular and democratic Mossadegh government. The CIA also backed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as a foil to Arab nationalism. In the 1970s and 80s the US promoted Islamic radicalism by supporting the Mujahideen in Afganistan against the Soviets. And the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 deposed a tyrannical yet secular autocrat and has resulted in the imposition of Sharia law throughout most of the country.

#10 Comment By Jbraunstein On August 20, 2010 @ 8:59 am

Jim,

If you can provide the quotes from a reputable source proving that the Cordoba Imam does in fact want to use a gradualist approach to impose Sharia on America, then I will back down and take your point.

#11 Comment By Jim Evans On August 20, 2010 @ 10:02 am

Robert Parker:

You are moving the goal posts. Originally, it was, “show me that Imam Rauf and his followers where promoting this as the GROUND ZERO MOSQUE (paraphrase)”.

Can’t show their website because after the controversy hit, the website has been scrubbed. But I did present a quote from a NY Times report:

A December 8th, 2009, New York Times article stated, “The location [next to Ground Zero] was precisely a key selling point for the group of Muslims,” and quoted Rauf as noting that they got a property “where a piece of the [9/11] wreckage fell.” ASMA then touted the piece in its 2009 Year End Report.

But to you point, after correcting the record:

Imam Rauf wrote a 2009 article in which he stated: “What Muslims want is a judiciary that ensured that the laws are not in conflict with the Quran,” and quote, “Rather than fear Sharia law, we should understand what it actually is.”

Well…

I agree that this is not a full-throated statement for the establishment of Shiria Law on American soil, which, admittedly, is the impression my comments conveyed.

But let’s look at what Imam Rauf says in Arabic to his fellow Muslims in the Middle East:

On March 24, 2010, Abdul Rauf is quoted in an article in Arabic for the website Rights4All entitled “The Most Prominent Imam in New York: ‘I Do Not Believe in Religious Dialogue.’”

Right4All is not an obscure blog, but the website of the media department of Cairo University, the leading educational institution of the Arabic-speaking world.

Imam Rauf goes on in the Rights4All article:

“This phrase is inaccurate. Religious dialogue as customarily understood is a set of events with discussions in large hotels that result in nothing. Religions do not dialogue and dialogue is not present in the attitudes of the followers, regardless of being Muslim or Christian. The image of Muslims in the West is complex which needs to be remedied.”

On May 26, 2010 Abdul Rauf stated on the popular Islamic website Hadiyul-Islam:

In his interview on Hadiyul-Islam by Sa’da Abdul Maksoud, Abdul Rauf was asked his views on Sharia (Islamic religious law) and the Islamic state. He responded:

“Throughout my discussions with contemporary Muslim theologians, it is clear an Islamic state can be established in more than just a single form or mold. It can be established through a kingdom or a democracy. The important issue is to establish the general fundamentals of Sharia that are required to govern. It is known that there are sets of standards that are accepted by [Muslim] scholars to organize the relationships between government and the governed. [emphasis added]”

When questioned about this, Abdul Rauf continued: “Current governments are unjust and do not follow Islamic laws.” He added:

“New laws were permitted after the death of Muhammad, so long of course that these laws do not contradict the Quran or the Deeds of Muhammad … so they create institutions that assure no conflicts with Sharia. [emphasis in translation]”

Sure sounds like Imam Rauf supports establishment of Shiria Law here in America. At least that’s what he’s telling Muslims in Arabic. Robert Parker, aren’t those the most telling statements of his intentions, when Rauf speaks to his fellow Muslims in Arabic?

Sounds to me like Americans need to ask Rauf a series of direct questions about his intentions & beliefs, as well as the funding he would use.

Robert Parker, isn’t more information better than less information?

Seems like the American People should get to the bottom of all this and have all the information face up on the table for inspection.

No hiding now…

#12 Comment By Jbraunstein On August 20, 2010 @ 12:31 pm

@ Jim Evans

I will wholeheartedly agree on the imperative to know what the actual views of Imam Rauf are on questions of political power and legal jurisprudence. If he does not fundamentally accept the classical liberal framework of the American experiment, then I would reserve the same level of distrust for him as I do all other ideological figures who’s ultimate objectives run contrary to respect for individual liberty.

That said, the quotes here resemble the tone of someone trying to be vague enough to patronize an audience without having to take a firm stand on the heart of the implied controversy. Rouf can easily come back and say that the current structure of American government is consistent enough with a novel and “evolved” interpretation of Sharia as to require no further adjustment. I would hope his belief to be along these lines, or a bunch of well intentioned civil libertarians are going to be put in an unenviable position of defending the center on pure, unadulterated principle…which isn’t exactly popular.

If the Imam is well intentioned and non-subversive, than I maintain that support for the mosque should not only be a matter of principle but an important statement of religious tolerance and anti-bigotry. If the Imam is being deceitful about his and his supporter’s true ideology, then he’s proving the detractors right.

However, the burden of proof is solidly on the detractors to demonstrate with clear evidence that this man and this project should not be taken at face value. (refusal to move the mosque in the face of opposition doesn’t qualify; Rauf should not be expected to compromise with bigots or other parties acting in bad faith). I would think if such evidence is available, it would be common knowledge by now, especially since Raouf was one of the Bush administrations main cultural diplomats, deployed by Karen Hughes, as well as an asset to the FBI.

Why would Bush employ a secret subversive Islamic theocrat to promote am image of American tolerance and compatibility with Islam?

The man strikes me as a liberal who is trying to appropriate the Islamic faith into a liberal framework, just as liberal Christians have done for decades.

#13 Comment By Jbraunstein On August 20, 2010 @ 1:01 pm

BTW, I’m not implying that everyone who opposes the center is a bigot in the above post, only that the fate of the mosque should not be held hostage to the subjective, sentimental gut feelings of Joe six pack who is probably ignorant of the distinctions between Rauf’s and Bin Laden’s brand of Islam.

Furthermore, the “sacredness” or “hallowed” nature of ground zero is also subjective, with the symbolic power of both the mosque and ground zero having completely different implications depending on who you ask, making that argument rather useless.

Bottom line, the fact that many people can’t justify or articulate their discomfort/animosity toward the center in rational terms is a problem. For people who care about preserving the consensus around tolerance and religious liberty, its important that we excavate why people are taking such offense to this, and examine out in the open whether those feelings are warranted and justifiable.

#14 Comment By Robert Parker On August 23, 2010 @ 2:45 pm

Dear Jim. I realize nothing on Earth will change your mind, but you will still be wrong on this. Parse all you like.

[2]

#15 Comment By Destro On August 24, 2010 @ 11:32 am

Does Pat “Catholic-American” Buchanan realize how ironic his stance is that is that not too far away from this Muslim cultural center which is dubbed a “mosque at ground zero”, Protestant nativists tried to prevent the first St. Patrick’s Irish Catholic cathedral from being built?

#16 Comment By Destro On August 24, 2010 @ 12:51 pm

PS: Nativist Protestants did not want the Irish Catholics to build the first St. Patrick’s Cathedral because they saw it as part of a Papist plot to impose foreign Papist rule and Catholic Papal edicts on American freedoms.

Just in case you all lacked the historical perspective.