August 21, 2010

THE PECULIAR GENIUS OF AMERICAN CONFORMITY...:

Move the New York City mosque, as a sign of unity (Karen Hughes, August 22, 2010, Washington Post)

When my fellow Americans ask why more Muslims don't speak out against such violence, I respond that they do -- and I met many who were vocal in their condemnation of al-Qaeda and its acts of terror. Osama bin Laden wants to portray our efforts against terrorism as the West vs. Islam; we must work hard to portray them as civilized people of many faiths vs. a death cult.

That's why I believe it is so important that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his congregation make what I fully understand would be a very difficult choice: to locate their mosque elsewhere. Putting the mosque at a different site would demonstrate the uncommon courtesy sometimes required for us to get along in our free and diverse society.

I recognize that I am asking the imam and his congregation to show a respect that has not always been accorded to them. But what a powerful example that decision would be. Many people worry that this debate threatens to deepen resentments and divisions in America; by choosing a different course, Rauf could provide a path toward the peaceful relationships that he and his fellow Muslims strive to achieve. And this gesture of goodwill could lead us to a more thoughtful conversation to address some of the ugliness this controversy has engendered.

In 2005, when I was at the State Department, a Danish newspaper published cartoons mocking the prophet Muhammad. The debate around the world was heated and strikingly similar to this one. It pitted those supporting the right of a free press to publish anything, no matter how offensive, against those who took to the streets and threatened death to the cartoonists. Many of those citing freedom as they advocate locating the mosque near Ground Zero were on the other side of the argument when it came to the cartoons. At that time, I joined with many Muslim friends in saying that while newspapers were free to publish the offensive materials, I hoped they would show respect and restraint and decide against it. That is an instructive model now.


...is that it requires the newcomer to be more American than his peers. Thus, the Imam will exemplify American values in the face of unAmerican hatreds.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at August 21, 2010 8:33 AM
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