Accepting an invite from Ground Zero Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, National Council of Churches chief Michael Kinnamon joined other leftist clergy at a recent Time Square rally against New York Congressman Peter King’s upcoming hearings on radical Islam.
The Religious Left wants to pretend that radical Islam is an imaginary problem and prefers generically to target “religious extremism,” in which Christians and others can be imagined as equally prone to international terror. In truth, the Religous Left probably thinks conservative Christians, especially Zionists, are a far greater threat than al Qaeda. On March 10, Kinnamon and other likeminded clergy will gather on Capitol Hill to denounce Congressman King’s investigation of radical Islam in America. But the March 6 “Today I Am a Muslim Too” jamboree in New York presaged what the Washington, D.C. press conference will declare.
Prior to the New York rally, Kinnamon praised his interfaith partner, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), for condemning the recent Islamist murder of Christian Pakistani politician Shahbaz Bhatti. ”We will continue to do all we can to stand in solidarity with the Muslim community in the U.S., even as you express such wonderful solidarity with the Christian community in Pakistan,” Kinnamon assured ISNA, which is participating in the Washington, D.C. press conference.
In Times Square, Kinnamon warned that Americans are “in danger of succumbing to a bigotry that will scar our generation in the same way that bigotry scarred those who came before us.“ He cited the usual historical litany of grievances regarding European conquest of the Americas, slavery, and the World War II internment of Japanese Americans. ”Today, we look back on these horrifying events with anguished remorse; and yet I wonder if we’ve learned anything from history,” the ecumenical bureaucrat bewailed. “Today, millions of Muslim Americans are subjected to thoughtless generalizations, open discrimination, and outright hostility because of a tiny minority whose acts of violence deny the teachings of the Quran and are denounced by other Muslims!“ It has become part of established Religious Left lore that Muslims in America have joined the long, ugly list of hypocritical America’s oppressed victims.
So naturally, the church council chief eagerly joined others at the Times Square rally in condemning Congressman King’s project as innately bigoted. “No matter what Rep. King may say, his hearings convey the implicit message that Muslims aren’t part of ‘us’—and to this sort of bigotry, all citizens of conscience must say NO!“ Kinnamon hailed ISNA as one of his church council’s “closest partners.” And he cited ISNA’s opposition to killing Pakistani Christians as proof that Congressman King’s “assertion that Muslims have not spoken out forcefully enough against extremism is simply wrong—indeed, it is slanderous.“ Urging King to steer his investigation away from Islam in favor of “extremism” in general, Kinnamon, who exaggerated his own church council’s membership by about 25 percent, enthusiastically professed: “On behalf of the fifty million members of our churches, I declare as loudly as possible that whenever Muslims are threatened or demeaned, so are we—because ‘Today we are Muslims, too!’”
Apparently Kinnamon and the Times Square protesters want to liken American Muslims to besieged West Berliners during the Cold War, with the Religious Left and other cobelligerants playing JFK. But is any investigation of radical Islam acceptable to them? Or must there be the ongoing pretense that “extreme” American Methodists or Lutherans are just as likely to host terror cells? And with or without ISNA and its claims to speak for American Muslims, perhaps as spurious as Kinnamon’s claims to speak for 50 million American Christians, wouldn’t most American Muslims want violent radicalism exposed and expunged from among them?
Another Religious Left voice joining Kinnamon in denouncing the King hearings was Brent Walker of the liberal Baptist Joint Committee, whose recent press conference call pronounced that the ”implied suggestion that terrorist threats to the American people result from one religious group is an insult to the millions of peaceful Muslim American citizens.“ Himself playing the victim, Walker complained that he as a Baptist is often lumped together with “extremist” Fred Phelps’ infamous “God Hates Fags” Westboro Church, which is a family cult with no ties to any Baptist denomination. Walker warned that King’s hearings ”would imply that the potential for terrorism from outside of Islam is not significant enough to merit a hearing.“ And he insisted:. “Highlighting only one potential so-called breeding ground for terrorism ignores the reality that other sources of terrorism exist.”
Of course, Walker did not explain what other religous groups in America might host terror cells with overseas support and a proven successful proclivity for mass murder aimed at the United States. ”It is a ploy that plays on widespread misunderstanding of Islam, and it encourages the American people to view extremist outliers in Islam as representative of the entire faith,” he complained, warning that King’s hearings could threaten “everyone’s religious liberty.”
The Religious Left’s ongoing pretense that radical Islam does not pose a unique threat accompanies the Religious Left’s wider assumption that America is a force for oppression in the world. Mostly pacifist, it’s also true that the Religious Left does not want any meaningful military defense against terror and is deeply discomfited even by aggressive police and intelligence action against terror, since all “violence” is supposedly equally wrong. Until the Religious Left explains how exactly it would defeat terror, besides its usual aggressive interfaith dialogue and calls for endless accommodation, its complaints against Congressman King’s hearings should be disregarded as unserious.