We’ve had nearly a month now of fruitless acrimony over the Ground Zero mosque.
About everything that can be said has been said. Little-read Newsweek and Time have published a near dozen “I accuse” essays about America’s supposedly yokel intolerance — as if we did not get their message at about screed two.
The past inflammatory statements and hypocrisies of the Janus Mr. Rauf have been widely aired, and juxtaposed with his occasional Aspen-like ecumenical “I feel your pain” outreach. We have learned that to emphasize the former is considered bigoted calumny, but to cite the latter is called context.
In varying degrees, all four possible motivations of Mr. Rauf have also been widely dissected. For a brief moment let’s review them.
1) Rauf is a sincere ecumenicalist, who simply wants to turn the “tragedy” of 9/11 into a teachable moment of interfaith bridge-building: the mosque, in other words, will be a beacon of America’s tolerance;
2) Rauf is part crass P.T. Barnum, part new-age Deepak Chopra con artist whose therapeutic mish-mash and narcissistic efforts to build a $100 million-complex will result in a lot of lucre and influence for himself: the multistoried and multimillion-dollar mosque then will be quite a nice headquarters for Rauf, Inc.;
3) Rauf is a simple naïf who sort of bungled into a controversy, fled the country, and has no idea of the firestorm he inadvertently lit and so when or how or if to come back: the mosque will not be built as he retreats back to a less foolhardy, less ostentatious project;
4) Rauf is a wily, cynical divisive figure who knows darn well that, on his Islamic flank, radical Islamists will use his mosque for triumphalist propaganda value, while, on his liberal flank, the clueless multicultural left will see it as a way of contextualizing America’s role in the world — as all the while he emphasizes a supposed litany of America’s overseas transgressions; if the mosque is built, it surely by intent will be a much discussed, perennially controversial center aimed at offering context to often polarizing Islamic ideas about everything from Iran, Hamas, and bin Laden, to Sharia and the role of religion and state — a project as praised by the left in the U.S. as it is employed as a banner logo on radical Islamist Internet sites in the Middle East.
I could analyze all this a zillion ways, but let us try some economic reductionism, crude though it may be. A majority of those in the elite liberal culture (CBS, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the foundations, universities, Hollywood, and the usual suspects) seem to have opted for explanation 1, while a vast majority of Americans, even in liberal New York, seems to agree with 4. So the mosque is as much about ourselves as it is about the seemingly permanently absent Mr. Rauf.
This same divide plays out in varying degrees over the Arizona immigration bill, the gay marriage propositions in California, and even much of the Obama agenda itself.
I have no interest in trying to persuade the elite why or where they are wrong, or in hearing from them for the nth time why I am supposedly not only mistaken, but bigoted for thinking a huge Islamic complex juxtaposed to Ground Zero is in itself bad taste, but, under the leadership of Mr. Rauf — given his written and oral corpus of unhinged and crack-pot ideas — bad taste to such a degree that all legitimate rhetorical means should be employed to persuade concerned parties to move it.
He goes one to detail how in Bloomberg’s world, they don’t worry about making their mortgage or rent. About losing their job or sending their kids to a public school.
In other words, there is a cocoon around many of our culture’s most vocal critics.
So the “elites” look down their nose at those of us who criticize the mosque as being manipulated, ignorant and fearful. But the regular folk live in the real world.
In such a world, there is less luxury for either the frivolous or the empathetic grand gesture. Such pragmatic folk, for example, would know that you would not build a supposedly mainstream states-rights, pro-gun, pro-militia center near the Oklahoma City bombing site “to reach out” and “bridge the gap” between pro- and anti-government ideologies — purportedly to dialogue in order to prevent another extremist Waco or McVeigh-like bombing.
VDH ends his piece writing that the elites live in a world that has little to do with rest of America. They can whine about caring for the little guy while dictating to all the rest of us how we should be more sensitive, more non-judgmental, more touchy-feely all they want.
We deal in the real world, and in the real world you don’t put a mosque so near to a painful, and still open wound. They have the right to build it, sure. Doesn’t mean they should.
And that’s all we are saying.