Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bloomberg Downtown: The Islamic Mosquito?

When you're alone
And life is making you lonely,
You can always go downtown

When you've got worries,
All the noise and the hurry
Seems to help, I know, downtown

Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city
Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty
How can you lose?

With Mayor Bloomberg continuing to sing the Islamic version of the Petula Clark song-trying to insure that he doesn't slip into irrelevance in his lame duck third term-the political tide against the mosque's location is decidedly going in the other direction-underscoring once again the mayor's tone deafness. But, given the acrimony on both sides, the debate is beginning to resemble a raucous fight between two rabid groups of sports fans. And in that spirit, we believe that the only thing the pro-mosque team is lacking is a mascot-and what could be a more appropriate one than a Mosquito. We hereby nominate the vertically challenged mayor for that coveted role

As the NY Post reports: "A defiant Mayor Bloomberg, saying there should be no compromise, insisted last night that a mosque be built near Ground Zero, declaring, "We must do what is right, not what is easy. "And we must put our faith in the freedoms that have sustained our great country for more than 200 years," he told Muslim-American guests invited to Gracie Mansion for dinner to mark the breaking of their fast during the Islamic holiday of Ramadan. Bloomberg said there is no middle ground when it comes to religious liberty, calling the plan to erect the mosque a litmus test for upholding "American values."

Oh boy, and this is from a fellow who, before he became mayor, had never once marched in the Israeli Day parade or had any known connection to issues of religious freedom. And Bloomberg believes that this mosque and these mosque founders are the rock that he wants to place his first emotional exercise of first principles on? He does acknowledge that Iman Rauf might have said some regrettable things is the past: "The mayor also praised Rauf -- acknowledging that the imam has made some controversial statements in the past, but recalling that Rauf spoke at the interfaith memorial service for Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, a Jew murdered by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002."

But you can't simply elide what Rauf has said-and said on numerous occasions: "The controversial imam at the center of the debate over the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero says his goal is to create coalitions across the religious divide, but during a 2005 conference in Australia, he said America may be worse than Al Qaeda."We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than Al Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims," said Imam Fiesal Abdul Rauf, speaking at the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Center during a question and answer session dedicated to what sponsors say was a dialogue to improve relations between America and the Muslim world."

And Rauf went on the blame the death of 500,000 Iraqi children on America-a ridiculous statement even if you ignore the fact that the sanctions against the country was in response to the brutal dictator's own actions against the world and his own people: "You may remember that the U.S.-led sanctions against Iraq led to the death of over half a million Iraqi children. This has been documented by the United Nations," said Rauf, who called himself a spokesman for Islam. But diplomats and others, including former President Bill Clinton, have said that sentiment is wrong. Saddam Hussein's regime corrupted then-U.N. sanctions and denied humanitarian aid to his own people. In a Nov. 8, 2000, interview on Pacifica Radio, Clinton said if any child is without food or medicine, then Saddam is to blame because the dictator is "lying to the world and claiming the mean, old United States is killing his children."

But now more and more Americans are coming to the conclusion that this has nothing to do with religious freedom-in spite of the mayor's overheated rhetoric-but Bloomberg fits comfortably within the ideological parameters of the political class-those who definitely don't cling to their guns and religion.. And the effort to ignore the politicization of Islam-and Rauf's comfortable fit in this Islamist movement-threatens to relegate the mayor to jackassery.
Bloomberg has also adopted the now popular left wing meme that moving the mosque will somehow spur terrorism-as if these Jihadist folks needed any greater incentive. But, Rauf himself has stated that 9/11 was in part a response to American foreign policy-going so far as to say that we were, "co-conspirators." Yes Mayor Mike, he has said some controversial things, hasn't he?
The NY Times reports on Bloomberg's "weekend at Bernie's" emotional resurrection: "It was Mr. Bloomberg’s second major speech in three weeks supporting the plan, and its soaring tone and forceful arguments suggested that he had firmly embraced his role as a national defender of the plan for the center, even as high-profile voices have called for a re-examination of the wisdom of the current site. Mr. Bloomberg rejected those calls, arguing that to move the center would slight American Muslims and damage the country’s standing. “We would send a signal around the world,” he said, “that Muslim Americans may be equal in the eyes of the law, but separate in the eyes of their countrymen. And we would hand a valuable propaganda tool to terrorist recruiters, who spread the fallacy that America is at war with Islam.”
What a load! It is in fact the mosque founders' stubborn insistence on singing their, "We shall not be moved," spiritual that has exacerbated the debate-along with the Iman's wife Daisy Kahn's accusation that the critics of the site have generated a "metastasized anti-Semitism." As one NY Post letter writer points out: "This is not about healing, understanding or acceptance of a certain religion. Imam Rauf and Khan should listen, try to understand and meditate on a solution. Instead, they are adamant about their agenda. This is about them and their statement. Where is the spirituality in that?"

The reality is, as Jonah Goldberg has pointed out, that there is no greater recognition of America's tolerance to Muslims than the fact that there has not been any widespread eruption of anti-Muslim bias since the attack on the Towers: "And there isn't an anti-Muslim climate either. Yes, there's a lot of heated rhetoric on the Internet. Absolutely, some Americans don't like Muslims. But if you watch TV or movies or read, say, the op-ed page of the New York Times - never mind left-wing blogs - you'll hear much more open bigotry toward evangelical Christians (in blogspeak, the "Taliban wing of the Republican Party") than you will toward Muslims."
In fact, even though America has been the most hospitable place in the world for Jews outside of Israel, the level of genuine anti-Semitic activity in this country far outstrips the "Islamaphobia" that the mayor and his new inamorata Daisy Khan are seeing because of the GZM: "In 2001, there were twice as many anti-Jewish incidents as there were anti-Muslim, again according to the FBI. In 2002 and pretty much every year since, anti-Jewish incidents have outstripped anti-Muslim ones by at least 6 to 1. Why aren't we talking about the anti-Jewish climate in America?"
And why is the tolerance come lately mayor leading the crusade against this persistent prejudice? For Mayor Mike guns take precedence over the threat to his co-religionists:. And after doing nothing for nine years about the disgraceful hole at Ground Zero, Bloomberg is now, and only now, fully engaged in the debate on building at the sacred site-where has the mayor's emotional demiurge been hiding for all these years? It has taken the possibility of a mosque in the proximity of the towers to get his Rip Van Winkle-like emotions awakened?

But if there is going to be a Muslim backlash-we can thank the mayor. As Goldberg tells us: "And now, thanks to the "ground zero mosque" story, we are again discussing America's Islamophobia, which, according to Time magazine, is just another chapter in America's history of intolerance."  But it is the provacation of Iman Rauf and his intransigent enabler Bloomberg that is doing more to stoke the Jihadist fire around the world. They are the ones who have conflated a real estate site fight into a Holy War-and they will reap the whirlwind-unfortunately it will be for all of us.