I’m proud that the president of my country, and the mayor of my city, have spoken out forcefully against the bigoted campaign to block the construction of a Muslim community center on Park Place in lower Manhattan. This is a phony issue ginned up by the right, in fact part of a wider outburst of xenophobia that actually has little to do with the hallowed 9/11 site itself. And the fact that a demagogue like Newt Gingrich can now accuse President Obama of “pandering to radical Islam” gives you a good idea of what the game plan was from the beginning.
For Obama, this is not the time to back-pedal.
Ironically, Gingrich’s smear coincides with this extensive report, on Obama’s significantly stepped-up war against radical Islam. The facts are in front of us.
I’m saddened to know that a majority of my fellow New Yorkers disagree with Mayor Bloomberg, and my advice to them would be to look beyond New York’s borders — I know, it’s so difficult — and learn something about the internal divisions in the Muslim world. Jeffrey Goldberg put it most effectively: “If he could, Bin Laden would bomb the Cordoba Initiative.” Or as President Obama noted, “Al Qaeda has killed more Muslims than people of any other religion.”
This is something I’ve said a thousand times before on this blog — and it’s something equally ignored by the Rush Limbaugh right and the Code Pink left: The chief victims of jihadi violence are Muslims. It’s time for Americans to get over their narcissism and understand what this means.
The Cordoba Initiative must go forward. It is an eloquent rejection of jihadi ideology, a powerful alliance of pluralist Islam and the Western democratic ideal.
As for the sensitivities of the 9/11 families: There are other 9/11 families who passionately disagree with the effort to demonize Cordoba. Why do their opinions not count? Muslims, too, were among the 9/11 victims. And in case you think that the ADL speaks for the entire Jewish community on this issue, please read this.