Bearing False Witness

Mark Tooley is President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (www.theird.org) and author of Methodism and Politics in the Twentieth Century. Follow him on Twitter: @markdtooley.


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The other ostensible “parallel” that Gushee discerned between Dreyfuss and Imam Rauf is the “role of the Christian majority and some of its most vocal and visible leaders in turning the religious ‘Other’ into an object of infamy.”  Gushee recalled that “Catholic demagogues” assailed Dreyfuss.  Today, American “Protestant evangelicals” are doing likewise to Imam Rauf.   Honorable Frenchmen finally resisted “demagoguery” to vindicated Dreyfuss. Today, Gushee enthused, pro Ground Zero Mozque Mayor Bloomberg shows similar courage.

Gushee helpfully explained that President Obama has not been more forceful for the Ground Zero mosque only because he risks being “Dreyfused” and targeted by “extremists” who crave to “’other’ him right out of American public life” in a “a truly shameful display.”  Since the President has been politically neutralized, “It is up to the rest of us to resolve our own budding Dreyfus case before it goes any further,” Gushee somberly concluded.

Skeptics of the Ground Zero Mosque include more than the purportedly mindless Protestant evangelicals who especially distress Gushee.  They also include the Anti-Defamation League, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, a majority of New Yorkers and a majority of Americans.  Perhaps all have been seized by Dreyfuss era levels of bigotry and fear.  But no one is proposing to imprison Imam Rauf or disputes his freedom to build a mosque.  At issue are the particular site for that mosque and its potent symbolism, with geopolitical consequences.

Also debated are the imam’s views about Hamas, Iran and Islamic law.  While potentially hateful views do not mitigate First Amendment rights, free speech also includes the right of skeptics to challenge Imam Rauf about his seemingly disturbing views, some of which may align with forces that parallel the anti-Semitism that stigmatized French Jews during the Dreyfuss Affair.  Why are Ground Zero Mosque enthusiasts like Gushee so uninterested in those stances and likening most Americans to Dreyfuss level anti-Semitism?  Unlike Dreyfuss, Imam Rauf has the support of most American cultural and governing elites. Unlike Dreyfuss, whom the French Army railroaded, Imam Rauf is dispatched by the U.S. State Department on a global speaking tour.

Major Dreyfuss and his supporters made no demands on France except the right to serve their nation unmolested.  Imam Rauf and his supporters, despite their ostensible appeals to interfaith harmony, want to construct a mosque where it will excite further distrust, and inflame Islamist extremists with triumphalist symbolism.  French anti-Semitism irrationally targeted a peaceful, small religious minority who supported France’s secular state.  Concerns about the Ground Zero Mosque center on global political Islam, with millions who support violent jihad, and hundreds of millions who matter of factly support Islamist theocracy.

Among other ironies, the Dreyfuss Affair persuaded many Jews and their supporters to become Zionists.  The creation of modern Israel was one inadvertent result of the French anti-Semitism that persecuted Dreyfuss.  Imam Rauf’s ambivalence about Hamas and Iran’s theocracy, which are dedicated to Israel’s eradication, is a potential historical connection to Dreyfuss that Gushee is unlikely to examine.

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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.

  • http://nodhimmitude.blogspot.com 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?

  • http://nodhimmitude.blogspot.com 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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