With New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg condemning as “un-American” those who believe the ground zero Islamic center should be moved elsewhere, the ill-advised project’s most prominent defender is tottering on the precipice of the deep end.
It’s unfortunate that a man who made a fortune building a media company devoted to providing accurate and timely business information now resorts to such extreme rhetoric. The mayor needs to get a grip and apologize to those he has insulted, who include, according to multiple opinion surveys, clear majorities of New Yorkers and the American people.
Also, it’s time for the project’s main advocate, Imam Fiesal Abdul Rauf, to explain his previous rationalizations for terrorist attacks against America. Speaking in Australia in 2005, Rauf said, “We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al-Qaida has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims. 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.”
Rauf, who described himself on that occasion as an Islamic spokesman, echoed a familiar alibi of Islamist terrorists who murder innocent men, women and children, including many who share their faith. President Bill Clinton, who supported the sanctions, rejected the alibi as nothing more than a lie that originated with former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
In the same appearance in Australia, Rauf acknowledged that terrorist acts are wrong, but he implicitly defended those who commit them, saying, “But after 50 years of, in many cases, oppression, of U.S. support of authoritarian regimes that have violated human rights in the most heinous of ways, how else do people get attention?”
That argument simply won’t cut it with Americans who long ago tired of hearing the most heinous of crimes explained away as products of the perpetrators’ damaged childhoods, poverty, drug abuse or whatever else happens to be the fashionable excuse of the moment.
Rauf might gain some credibility if, while on his current U.S. taxpayer-funded junket to the Middle East, he used the occasion to challenge Muslim leaders to end their barbaric practice of executing those who convert from Islam to another faith. He could further gain credibility in the U.S. by demanding that Muslim leaders allow Christian and other missionaries to operate openly and without fear in their societies. There are 100 mosques in New York City. Will 100 Christian churches ever be permitted in places like Riyadh and Kabul?