It’s not real holy Holy Ground after all

Jed Babbin looks at the conflict between America and Islam nine years after the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001.  It’s a frank examination of the motives of Imam Feisal Rauf and President Barack Obama at play in the Cordoba House mosque near Ground Zero controversy.

“A week after 9-11, President Bush said, “…the face of terror is not the true faith of Islam.” Perhaps. But the face of Islam is a political face, and by fearing to oppose even the most aggressive Islamic political action — on the battlefield or in New York City’s mosque controversy — we surrender our political rights.

Obama’s 9-11 statement reveals his belief that — like George Casey — he believes that tolerance and diversity are more important than defending the nation. George Bush didn’t have the courage to fight the ideological war and Obama is pre-emptively surrendering.”

An interesting, though somewhat lengthy, exchange in the comments contains some thought-provoking ideas interspersed with the usual nutcases who just want to vent. Jeremiah starts the conversation by agreeing with Babbin’s concepts on Islam, while presenting a well-reasoned opinion defending President George W. Bush’s response to the attack. 

Contrary to Imam Rauf’s statements about the mosque’s location, Jeremiah writes; “What the Muslims intend to build at Ground Zero isn’t a mosque, per se. It doesn’t fit the strict architectural requirements of a Mosque, or a House for Proselytizing. According to Amire Taheri, what will be built at 51 Park Place will be a Rabat. Traditionally, a Rabat housed ghazis (literally raiders). It is a place where they can pray, rest, eat and prepare for their razzias (raids). These raids are not necessarily violent. They can be anything from simple protests, evangelizing, to terror attacks. Traditionally, Islam sets up Rabata in the heart of the infidels’ cities and lands. And from there, they weaken the infidels ability and will to resist. This was how Byzantium was defeated, as well as many lands in Southeast Europe and East Asia, as well as Africa.

If one reads Islamic newspapers, blogs, and magazines, one finds that the 9-11 terrorists are not called terrorists in Islam, but ghazis; their attacks are called razzias. And while, they might call certain Islamic meeting places mosques when speaking to Westerners, they refer to those buildings as Rabats. The proposed Ground Zero Mosque or Cordoba Center is no different. It is a Rabat.” 

America’s tolerance is not reciprocated by Islam and the leaders of a fanatical religion that insists on total compliance with its intolerance to other lifestyles, religions and governments. Americans should feel no more obligation to tolerating radical Islamic dogma than we should the Quran burning threat by Rev. Terry Jones, the burning of American flags by rioting protestors, or the burning of bibles by Muslim authorities in Middle East countries who prohibit other religions’ churches and temples while prosecuting Christians and Jews. 

A friend now living in England wrote; The observations about where Americans came from, as noted in the following piece by Janet Daly in the Sunday Telegraph (the most conservative of the four ‘quality’ broadsheets here), are ones I’ve been making for years. Her column follows.

The Terry Jones saga shows the strength of anti-Americanism

The ‘pastor’ who threatened to burn the Koran shows how eager Europe is to believe the worst of America, argues Janet Daley. 

Terry Jones held the world in thrall with his on-again, off-again Koran-burning stunt Photo: AP

Anti-Americanism has a new pin-up. “Pastor” Terry Jones, whose congregation may number as many as 50 on a good week, is holding the world in thrall with his on-again, off-again Koran-burning stunt. In spite of his idiotic proposal having been condemned by everyone in US public life, including the President, Sarah Palin, the secretaries of state and defence, the Pentagon, and the spokesmen of every respectable religious group, this wacko fantasist would have been capable (we were told) of destroying any prospect of peace between the West and the Islamic world. 

Mercifully, after what may have been a persuasive visit from a gaggle of FBI men, the “pastor” decided to cancel his grotesque commemoration of September 11. But presumably if his face-saving story of receiving an assurance that the Ground Zero mosque was to be moved is definitively trounced, he could choose once again to push us to the brink of global Armageddon. 

Hello? Has anyone noticed how utterly ridiculous this is? One publicity-crazed loony threatens to commit an irresponsibly offensive act, to the virtually universal disgust of his own countrymen and the populations of America’s allies, and that’s it: the annihilation of any chance of bridge-building or conciliation between Muslim countries and the Western nations.

That this absurdity became the immediately accepted received wisdom suggests that the world (and not just the Muslim parts of it) must be very eager indeed to find a plausible excuse for casting America as a cartoon country whose heartland is dominated by bigoted know-nothings. Never mind that this is the same America which, only two years ago, was being hailed by ecstatic European liberals for having elected a black president, whose father and stepfather had been Muslims. I remember saying at the time that the victory of Barack Obama would provide only the most fleeting respite from the dominant anti-American mythology which is so essential to European self-regard.

But we are where we are. The failure to make any serious attempt to understand the United States and its political culture is now more than smug, stupid and cynical (although it is certainly all those things). The perverse ignorance which allows the British liberal establishment to caricature America’s obsessive concern with its constitutional integrity as simply a front for bigotry (note the BBC’s derisive treatment of the Tea Party movement) is beyond silly: it now presents a real threat to the common cause which the nations of the Enlightenment must make if they are to see their way through the present danger.

So let me have a go at explaining why Americans are not kidding when they talk about the intentions of the nation’s founding fathers, and why their reverence for and constant appeals to the Constitution are not an excuse for prejudice, but the precise opposite. 

The British, particularly – who feel that, for historical reasons, they should be in a better position to understand America than anyone else – find it almost impossible to believe that ordinary, not particularly well-educated, US citizens could be genuinely concerned about fidelity to an abstract notion of freedom embodied in a document that underpins their concept of government. (And no, Magna Carta is not the same thing: that was a deal between a king and a posse of feudal barons, not a legally binding social contract between a nation and all of its people.) But other countries – France, for example – have 18th‑century republican models of government, too, and their peoples do not seem to have elevated their constitutional nature to such sacred status.

What is unique about the US – and indispensable to the understanding of it – is that it is a country of the displaced and dispossessed: a nation which invented itself for the very purpose of permitting people to reinvent themselves, to take their fate into their own hands, to be liberated from the persecution and the paternalism of the old cultures they had left behind. Almost every American either is himself, or is descended from, someone who made a conscious decision to pull up his roots and take his chances in a land he had almost certainly never seen and which, until quite recently, offered no protection or security if the gamble failed. 

And what a terrifying gamble it was: I had not realised until I visited the Ellis Island Museum that one of the conditions of entry to the US in the 19th and early 20th centuries was that the immigrant did not have a pre-arranged job. This was presumably to ensure that cheap labour gangs could not be imported to undercut indigenous workers. But the effect was that everyone who came to America had to be willing to take the risk of starting with nothing and making his own way in the world. 

Can you imagine what the character (and the desperation) of these people must have been? To travel 3,000 miles in steerage, with all your worldly possessions on your back, to an unknown future – and all to escape from the demonic power of a state which had oppressed or demeaned or maltreated you? Not only is hatred and suspicion of over-powerful government embedded in the consciousness of ordinary Americans, it is inscribed in the Constitution, which provides, probably more than any document in human history, a literal embodiment of political values and a bond between disparate people which gives them a sense of national identity. 

Perhaps the failure of understanding is incurable. America, they say, is an optimistic country because that’s where the optimists went. And most Europeans, after all, did not go. This is, indeed, a strange nation: its citizenry has been almost entirely self-selecting (apart from those who were taken there in chains, whose descendants have had such significant social problems). To be pessimistic or defeatist in the US is a sin against the Holy Ghost: an unforgivable waste of the opportunity which the country has offered you. 

I wonder if the Obama liberals – in their eagerness to turn the US into a European country, complete with paternalistic interventionism and bourgeois guilt – realise what is in the rest of that package: passivity, resignation and the corrosive cynicism that makes it impossible for Europeans to believe that ordinary people can use words like “freedom” and “justice” without smirking, and are not prepared to give up on the attempt to reconcile their ideals with the difficult realities of human behaviour.”


About zingstrom

Journalist, free-lance writer, photographer and aviator.
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