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Apologists for the proposed Ground Zero mosque in New York City initially adopted a defensive posture. They assured us that all Muslims wanted to do by building the fifteen story, multimillion Park51 cultural center and mosque was to promote healing between different cultures and religions. That story didn’t sell very well among most Americans and the longer that the project’s supporters stuck with that story, the less credible the message became. If you want to promote healing, why in the world would you knowingly insult the people with whom you want to reach an understanding? Befuddled, defenders of the project have abandoned that defense and charged forward with a new offensive, designed to play on all of the guilt and self-doubt that are such a large part of the modern American psyche. In short, it’s all about “Islamophobia.”
Daisy Khan, who together with her husband Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has been pushing the project forward despite the fervent opposition, tried to turn the tables on critics of the mosque. “We are deeply concerned, because this is like a metastasized anti-Semitism,” she said this week. “It’s beyond Islamophobia. It’s hate of Muslims.” Similarly, writer Bobby Ghosh answered the question posed by a recent Time magazine headline “Does America have a Muslim problem?” decidedly in the affirmative, saying that “…it is plain that many of Park51’s opponents are motivated by deep-seated Islamophobia.” Obediently following the new marching orders, the ultra-liberals over at Media Matters for America worked themselves into lather over the issue over the last few days, declaring ad naseum that conservatives and the “right wing media” are stoking the flames of Islamophobia in America for no discernable reason.
There’s no denying that many Americans, and that surely includes many who oppose the construction of the mosque, are afraid of Islam. Indeed, Americans have good reasons to fear Islam and a large, tender focal point for those fears lies near the southern tip of Manhattan. That message has been delivered loud and clear to Daisy Khan and Feisal Abdul Rauf, yet they choose to ignore it, a reaction that serves merely to increase America’s trepidation. But, even if we put 9-11 to the side for a moment, there are still so many things about the “religion of peace” that can and should make Americans fearful.
Apologists for Islam spend a great deal of time and energy asserting that violence committed in the religion’s name are an aberration; the sordid actions of a small, fanatical and deluded minority within the Muslim world. Let us assume for a moment that every single Muslim prone to violence could be rooted out and rendered harmless. What would remain?
The world would be left with a religion that boasts hundreds of millions of adherents, the vast majority of whom live in places where the standard of living is far below that of the west. That religion would still demand that its followers accept its holy book as the absolute, unalterable word of God and would allow no deviation. Islam would still forbid any melding of secular values and faith. Women would still not possess anything approaching equal rights. Islam would still define all other religions, and those who believe in them, as inferior. All of the troubling aspects of the Quran – such the belief that it’s acceptable to lie to infidels in order to further Islam; the acceptance of polygamy, marriage between grown men and child brides; the idea that rape cannot be proven unless it happens in front of four witnesses; and God’s promise that Islam will one day be the universal religion on the face of the Earth – all of these deeply disturbing ideas would still be devoutly believed by hundreds of millions of people. As a condition of this thought experiment, none of those hundreds of millions of people would choose a violent path to achieve their goals, but they would still cherish and pursue such goals, not just in their own communities, but throughout the world.
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