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Telling opponents to shut up or Muslims will hate us is an interesting exercise in wishful thinking — or a demonstration of ignorance so profound as to elicit serious questions regarding the mental acuity of leftists who are pushing this idea. “Leading by example” when it comes to religious tolerance is what America has been doing for 222 years and it hasn’t seemed to take yet in the Islamic world.
Why allowing Park 51 to go forward would alter anything believed by any Muslim anywhere in the world relating to tolerating other religions is a question that goes unanswered. Would a Catholic church suddenly spring up in Mecca? Would the dire straits of Christians seeking to worship in Muslim countries be eased? Would Muslims make peace with Israel?
All because opponents’ concerns were stifled and “justice and tolerance” were to triumph at Ground Zero?
That’s the problem with “setting an example.” Tolerance is a two way street and you can set a million examples, but if the other side is unwilling to alter the fundamental tenets of their faith to accommodate the lessons we are trying to teach, the end result is simply another politician blowing a lot of hot air, while those who agree with him get to feel good about themselves for being such great human beings.
If Park 51 were to be built tomorrow and we all held hands in a circle surrounding the structure in some grand gesture of ecumenical unity, 10,000 radical imams all over the world would still address their benighted followers that same day and preach hatred against the US and the West. What example can we set for them that could possibly make a dent in their fanatical views?
Even if they don’t take the obvious cue and boast of Islam’s power and prestige in erecting a community center containing a mosque in plain sight of their victory over the vanquished infidels who dared insult Islam by their very existence, what possible relevancy is there in setting an example of pluralism and respect for other faiths? The debate itself might be more instructive to the majority of Muslims, not to mention our fellow countrymen who think that opposing Park 51 is akin to hating Islam.
By falsely conflating opposition to building the center with the supposed bigotry of opponents, leftists are, in fact, responsible for feeding the venomous attacks on the U.S. by extremists, as well as confusing the majority of Muslims whose experience with democratic debate is extremely limited. What do most Muslims around the world make of opposition to Park 51? Whatever they read and hear in their media. Needless to say, their media is full of quotes from American media containing all the over-the-top, over-hyped, exaggerated, and false accusations of Muslim hating by opponents. With little in the way of balance, one can imagine what most Muslims are thinking of America right about now.
If Bloomberg wants to set an example, perhaps he can start by realizing that demonizing Park 51 opponents only serves the interests of Muslim extremists. He and supporters of this ill-conceived, fantastically inappropriate project should stop worrying about setting examples and care more about what the vast majority of the country thinks of this idea.
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