Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a very tolerant fellow. Don’t believe me? Just ask him:
[L]et me declare that we in New York are Jews and Christians and Muslims, and we always have been. And above all of that, we are Americans, each with an equal right to worship and pray where we choose. There is nowhere in the five boroughs that is off limits to any religion.
Well, that’s a relief. Good thing we got that squared away before those wild-eyed bigots and Muslim-haters who are opposing the construction of an Islamic community center and mosque within spitting distance of Ground Zero got it in their heads to try and prevent the free exercise of anyone’s religion. After all, isn’t that what this whole foofaraw is all about? Tolerant, courageous, benign lefties manning the battlements against the ignorant, savage, peons who, in their hate for non-Christians, are seeking to deny peaceful, moderate Muslims their constitutional rights?
To raise such a ridiculous strawman as the idea that opponents of the Park 51 project are seeking to suppress Islam gives Bloomberg and other lefties the opportunity to indulge in their favorite fantasy; the illusion created in their mind’s eye that their tolerance makes them heroic figures to the rest of us mere mortals. It isn’t enough that they believe what they stand for is right. There must also be the ancillary benefit of others admiring them for it.
This is why they must ascribe the most outrageously false motives to their opponents, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. Only by overcoming perceived evil can their tolerance be recognized as a sacrifice truly worthy of worship and awe. How can the rest of us look upon these warriors for ecumenicism with doe-eyed wonder unless the forces that are opposing them can be represented as malevolent fanatics? Demonization has its uses in the lexicon of leftist ideology — no more so than when it is done in service to the illusion of tolerance.
The self-gratification that comes from feeling morally superior to your opponent is worth ignoring even obvious counter-arguments such as Park 51 backers being insensitive to the feelings of others, or the danger of encouraging extremists, or even exposing the doubletalk of Imam Rauf.
Bloomberg, as with politicians on both sides of the Park 51 issue, is seeking to make political hay out of the imbroglio. There are very few things politicians enjoy doing more than posturing, and this goes double for lefties who can’t resist demonstrating their street cred when it comes to what they perceive as moral issues. They believe that being down with racial and other oppressed minorities, as well as fashionable religions like Islam, imparts an authenticity to their politics that raises their moral masquerade to a level beyond the grubby, conniving jostling for power to the sublime and elevated plane of revealed truth.
This notion of undeniable truth has taken a fantastical turn lately as the latest argument in favor of Park 51 makes the rounds of the leftist punditocracy; we better support the project or Muslims around the world won’t like us.
Bloomberg brought home the point that the propaganda war now being waged on Islam in America threatens to undercut our counterinsurgency battle for “hearts and minds” in Iraq and Afghanistan. “If we do not practice here at home what we preach abroad–if we do not lead by example–we undermine our soldiers,” he said. “We undermine our foreign policy objectives. And we undermine our national security.
Apparently, Park 51 opponents are not only mouth breathing rubes who hate Islam, but now we’re gumming up President Obama’s extra good foreign policy while stupidly inviting the jihadis to attack us. If I were Bloomberg, I’d lock these people up before the world goes up in flames as a result of their machinations against innocent Muslims.
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.