Bearing False Witness

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Is American unease with building the Ground Zero mosque the moral equivalent of anti-Semitism in France’s notorious Dreyfuss Affair over a century ago?   Evangelical Left theorist David Gushee, writing for Huffington Post, thinks so.

“As a scholar whose first book was on the Holocaust, I hear echoes of the Dreyfus Affair,” Gushee ominously observed of the mosque controversy.

Gushee chairs the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, which seems to have the patronage of George Soros.  (The Partnership was recently founded by former National Association of Evangelicals lobbyist Richard Cizik while he was a senior fellow at Soros’s Open Society Institute.)  Gushee penned the Evangelical Climate Initiative, a Global Warming scare manifesto, in 2006 and the Evangelical Declaration Against Torture, which attacked U.S. “torture” policies, in 2007.

The Evangelical and Religious Left now hail the Ground Zero mosque as a holy totem opposed only by the unrighteous. For Gushee, mosque skeptics resemble the notorious French anti-Semites who slandered and nearly destroyed a Jewish, French Army officer in the 1890’s.  Major Alfred Dreyfuss’s false conviction and imprisonment as a German spy, defying the actual evidence, unpleasantly illustrated anti-Jewish attitudes by many French elites prior to World War I.  The irony is obvious.  Ground Zero mosque organizer Imam Rauf has refused to admit that Hamas wages terrorism and has sympathized with Iran’s theocracy. Given his stance towards these aspiring destroyers of the Jewish nation, the imam’s own views might merit further exploration.  Instead, Gushee compared only the imam’s critics to the anti-Dreyfuss anti-Semites.

Gushee accurately recalled that Dreyfuss was framed by senior French military officers who forged spy documents to implicate Dreyfus before he could be acquitted.  Dreyfuss was sentenced to life imprisonment on France’s notorious penal colony on Devil’s Island off the West African coast.  Crowds before whom Dreyfuss was paraded shouted “Death to the Jews.”  When exculpatory evidence emerged, many French elites still insisted on Dreyfuss’ s guilt, lest French institutions of state and culture be discredited.   Better that one Jewish man suffer imprisonment unjustly than the French nation suffer a crisis of moral identity, they shamefully reasoned.

As Gushee wrote, French “demagogic media leaders stoked the fears and prejudices of the French Christian (primarily Catholic) majority throughout the conflict” over Dreyfuss at the turn of  the century.  Slanders about Jewish untrustworthiness were bandied about by Dreyfuss’s accusers.  But eventually the evidence prevailed.  Dreyfuss was released in 1899 after 4 years in prison.  He eventually regained his previous French Army rank and, though Gushee does not mention it, maybe because of his own pacifist leanings, Dreyfuss served heroically in World War I.  Age and ill health, partly due to his heinous imprisonment, did not impair his resolve to fight for France.  He survived until 1935, mercifully dying before Germany’s occupation of France and widespread French collaboration with the Holocaust, which the Dreyfuss Affair in some ways presaged.  One of Dreyfuss’s granddaughters died at Auschwitz.

Somehow, Gushee imagined the Dreyfuss story parallels the plight of Imam Rauf and his proposed $100 million mega-mosque at Ground Zero.  “The limits of my comparison between the Dreyfus case and the mosque controversy are obvious,” Gushee sheepishly admitted, without specifying what the “obvious” differences are.  But the “similarities” are the supposed “identification of an entire religious minority as a threat to the nation, the harmlessness of both Captain Alfred Dreyfus and Imam Abdul Rauf, the role of major media voices in whipping up frenzied national fears, and the questionable capacity of the nation to honor its own legal and moral principles.”

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  • proxywar

    It's not like anyone couldn't take history and twist it.

    For instance…

    Why not use this example from history to promote good prudence instead?

    eg. The Catholic Church abandoned the convent at Auschwitz. The church ultimately bowed to concerns that well-meaning nuns served as a hurtful distraction to the memory of the many Jews killed at the camp, despite the fact Catholics also died there.

    They didn't have to do this but it was an act of good purdence to do it.

    BLAH BLAH BLAH… If all this guy has is a floating abstraction he's already lost.

  • aaa

    Get your geography right. Devil's Island is off the coast of South America not Africa.

  • DagW

    Since 1789 the "Left" has traditionally meant the opposition. In the case of "intellectuals" it means opposition to the status quo, that being corrupt and reactionary interests opposed to truth and social justice, which is what was so appealing in the Dreyfuss Affair to such as Zola, et al. That a man could be sacrificed for the good of the State, even though he was innocent of the charges against him, seemed good to the "Right" in that the State is more important than the individual. To oppose this travesty of justice and common decency was a thinking man's position, one taken up by humanists and intellectuals.

    But in today's world, the Left is opposed to all Modernity in favour of "victims" who are not innocent at all. Today's Left are opposed to anything that is not the State as collectivist and feudal reaction itself. Rather than the thinking segment of a nation, they "feel," as Herder puts it. All non-Modernists are victims of capital because capital is alienating of the natural. All non-Modernists are Dreyfuss in that they are deported from their own authenticity by "Power." This is not Zola. This is Rousseau.

    But for the pseudo-intellectuals of the Left, to be an intellectual and a Leftist means to be opposed to social injustice, whether it is unjust or not. To be part of the crowd one must act as a Dreyfussard intellectual, opposing all "injustice," no matter how savage or inhuman is the "victim" in the flesh. The Palestinians thus become, for the Dreyfussard intellectuals, Dreyfuss, falsely accused, falsely deported, tormented. Always oppose, always take the side of he who is accused. We end up with pseudo-intellectuals who promote philobarbarism as morality itself, the highest moralism they can reach.

    The Left must oppose, and when they are in power, are the State, they must oppose the people as reactionary. Being intellectuals, those who disagree with them must be stupid. What is the good of stupid people? How can stupid people make a better world? They cannot, and intellectuals, (moralists to the core,) demand a better world for all, demand social justice for all. Stupid people, corrupt people, evil people must be opposed. The world can only be good if smart people rule it for other smart people. Thus, stupid people, those too stupid to love Obama, for example, must be got rid of somehow.

    That somehow is a eugenic programme combined with an ecological one: oppose stupid people, cut their birthrates, and rid us of their stupidity to allow for a better world and a healed earth. With an end to stupid white men, the intelligent people can rule as they should, and the rest of the world's people, bless them all, can return to nature as the happy creatures they were before the rise of Modernity turned them into ugly American imitations.

    Is it any wonder that these Gnostic fools cling to this religion? Is it any wonder that so many religious turn to this gnosticism? They're "intellectuals" who oppose– whatever it might be, which is to say, it is America, it is capitalism, it is Modernity they oppose.

    The Left, worshipping themselves, are the demiurge.

    If not for such as Tooley, one could easily come to hate Christians.

    • Jim C.

      You do realize that your post embodies exactly what you decry?

  • DagW

    There's a dozen ideas thrown together all at once. The point is, pseudo-intellectuals and pseudo-religious types ape a past long gone, not understanding why they do so but loving themselves for the sound of their own voices bleating moralisms in public, thinking themselves special, thinking themselves as courageous as those who fought to save Dreyfuss himself. Phonies. I spit.

  • dseigler
  • Jim C.

    No. The vast majority of Ground zero mosque opponents are nothing like European anti-Semites. They are, however, emotional and irrational (though they are rational enough to know they have no legitimate legal gripe). Their understandable emotional reactions are being cynically used by public figures in an election year to make irrational statements that cause the likes of bin Ladin to grin. Like every wedge issue before it–abortion, gay marriage–it will disappear promptly after elections.

    • Fred

      Jim C. , what is irrational is to allow a mosque to be built when there is no logical need for the mosque – there are no Muslims living in the area who have no place to worship. IT IS A VICTORY MONUMENT. Construction of that mosque will embolden our enemies. And do you really think that bin Ladin DOESN'T want the mosque built? The Gzm is not a "wedge" issue – it is a moral issue.
      Our enemies grin at our divisivness – that we stupidly allow our laws and language to be used against us to further THEIR cause.

      • Marco Polo

        It's NOT a Mosque!

    • MsJuJuB

      Jim, take the time out of your day to investigate "Cordoba" and "Initiative" before displaying your ignorance of Islamic triumphatism and the Koranic call for the spread of Islam by all means (including deceit). It might interest you that the top 2 floors of the building are to be the "prayer" room (mosque). This part of the building has a clear view of the WTC site facing East. "Irrational"? Do have any thing of real and pertinent value to add to the conversation? Life is full of emotion, especially when you see a wrong that must be righted.In case you haven't figured out the current disgust of politicians by the American people, we don't give a dam- what the politicians think.

    • sebyandrew

      They are, however, emotional and irrational (though they are rational enough to know they have no legitimate legal gripe). Their understandable emotional reactions are being cynically used by public figures in an election year to make irrational statements that cause the likes of bin Ladin to grin. Like every wedge issue….

      As if there can't be anything but a "wedge issue" for those public figures to foist upon the ignorant (emotional and irrational) i.e. us. Just rational enough to know that there are no legal grounds, and barely so, we can only emote.

      You do realize that your post embodies exactly what you decry?
      Jim, that was quite the statement .

  • BS77

    Why is the left so concerned about a mosque near Ground Zero?? This is not a residential area. There are few, if any, muslims in the neighborhood….but, anyway, the ACLU went nuts over Christmas displays and crosses, bonkers over a judge daring to display the Ten Commandments in a courtroom (the horror!!!)….but now, the left is falling all over itself to promote "tolerance" and "understanding"…….Most New Yorkers DO NOT WANT a fifteen story GLOATING PLATFORM steps from GROUND ZERO.
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