Until now I’ve avoided writing about this whole “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy. Mainly because I really didn’t think it was much of a controversy. I knew that Pamela Geller was making a big fuss about it, but, let’s be honest here, Pamela Geller is either (a) a sociopath or (b) a very, very disturbed human being, someone so disturbed, someone who’s built up so many defense mechanisms, that she’s become completely oblivious to reality.
I didn’t think that many other Americans, even most of the racists over at Fox News, would stoop so low as to object to a mosque being built a couple blocks from Ground Zero. I mean, come on, I thought, people aren’t that ugly, are they?
Well the answer, it turns out, is that, yes, actually people are that ugly. Sarah Palin, for instance, recently Tweeted: “Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate [sic].” Many others have provided more verbose, although equally nonsensical, “refudiations.”
For instance, take the New York Post—please. The Post keeps warning that the would-be mosque’s imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, might not be the nice, kindhearted man he seems. For example, did you know that Rauf has given money to the Free Gaza Movement? Yes, the Free Gaza Movement, the very group which organized that nefarious flotilla, you know, the one that tried to deliver humanitarian goods to Gaza, things like CAT scanners, wheelchairs, and crutches.
The Post quotes a woman whose husband was killed in 9/11 to explain what all this means: “I think it goes to show he is not the man he represents himself to be. We have two Imam Raufs. We have the anti-Israel, anti-democratic imam, and we have the smiling, soft-spoken moderate Muslim who says ‘Why can't we all get along?’”
On Monday, the Post reported that, in a recent radio interview, Rauf “refused to describe Hamas as a terror organization.” Never mind that, in the interview in question, he made it clear that he believes targeting civilians is wrong and that he even described himself as “a supporter of the state of Israel.” Never mind that Rauf sees himself as a peacemaker, a “bridge builder,” and as such probably realizes that making a blanket condemnation of Hamas, one which fails to recognize the group’s diverse and complex nature, would likely hurt his future chances to engage the group and encourage it to do the right thing.
Never mind all this. And never mind that Hamas has repeatedly stated that it’s willing to accept a two-state solution. Never mind that it’s even stated its willingness to recognize Israel. None of this is important. And how do I know it’s not important? Because the Post doesn’t think it’s important, that’s how.
As absurd as the New York Post is, it has nothing on the Weekly Standard. In a recent article there, Stephen Schwartz suggests that Rauf’s mosque is being funded by extremists. As evidence, Schwartz tells us that in 2003 two Iranian brothers had talked about building a mosque in lower Manhattan. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll refer to them as Brother 1 and Brother 2. Well it turns out that Brother 1 once served in the same nonprofit organization as Rauf. Furthermore: from 1983-1992, Brother 2 headed a different nonprofit. And furthermore: in 2009, the US government accused this second nonprofit of being a front for the Iranian government. All of which, of course, proves that terrorists are funding Rauf’s mosque, right?
What’s that, still not convinced? How about we put this argument into syllogistic form:
- Rauf once worked with Brother 1 in Nonprofit A.
- Seventeen years after Brother 1’s brother (Brother 2) stepped down from Nonprofit B, the US government accused Nonprofit B of being a front for the Iranian government.
- Therefore, Rauf’s would-be mosque is being funded by terrorists.
Schwartz offers a couple of other, equally convincing (hear the sarcasm oozing from my voice) arguments. For instance, he tells us that the man who bought the location for the would-be mosque is business partners with Amr Moussa’s nephew. Amr Moussa heads the Arab League and, according to Schwartz, “was the first major Arab leader to go to Gaza and affirm support for Hamas, in mid-June, after the recent blockade-running assault.” Another QED, right?
Leaving aside the tangential, in fact less than tangential, in fact non-existent, relationship between Rauf and Moussa, it should be noted that Moussa didn’t actually “affirm” his “support for Hamas.” What he did was go to Gaza and talk to some of Hamas’ leaders and encourage them to be reconciled with Fatah, something which would undoubtedly benefit Palestinians.
But since we’re talking about a Weekly Standard article and all, I suppose there’s no need to let facts get in our way.
(For more on this issue, I recommend this excellent article at Teenage Politics, as well as this hard-hitting piece by Robert Wright.)
(Oh, and I can’t leave out this great article by Juan Cole.)