Religion,  Stateside

Jeffrey Goldberg on the Ground Zero mosque

As he does on most of the issues he deals with, Jeffrey Goldberg takes precisely the right stand on the controversy over building a mosque and community center near Ground Zero in lower Manhattan.

Sarah Palin called on “peace-seeking” Muslims to “refudiate”– yes, she wrote “refudiate”– the plans for the mosque, which would be built by the Cordoba Initiative, the very model of a moderate Muslim organization.

Goldberg, an Atlantic writer whose blog is one of my daily (at least) must-reads, is an unapologetic Zionist, a sometimes-critical defender of Israel (where he lived and served in the IDF) and a strong opponent of Islamic extremism.

He writes:

I know the people who run the initiative; they are, for lack of a better term, “peace-seeking Muslims.” I spoke at a program co-sponsored by Cordoba last year, and I came to understand that the organization is interested mainly in battling extremism within Islam, and in building bridges to non-Muslim faiths. It seems to me that its mission makes Cordoba an appropriate fit for Ground Zero. One of the ways to prevent future Ground Zeroes is to encourage moderation within Islam, and to treat Muslim moderates differently than we treat Muslim extremists. The campaign against this mosque treats all Muslims as perpetrators. This is a terrible mistake, for moral and strategic reasons. I’m afraid that Sarah Palin, if she were ever to become President, would help create what Muslim extremists have so far unsuccesssfully sought to provoke: an all-out clash of civilizations.

And Goldberg was right to criticize the Anti-Defamation League’s wrong-headed and baffling opposition to building the mosque.

Opposing the construction seems to have become a cause celebre for Republicans; joining Palin in opposition are other possible GOP candidates for president in 2012– Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty.

Goldberg, however, cites the words of another Republican whose attitude toward the peaceful vast majority of American Muslims was one of inclusiveness rather than politically-motivated mistrust and fearfulness.

America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country. Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads. And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect.

Women who cover their heads in this country must feel comfortable going outside their homes. Moms who wear cover must be not intimidated in America. That’s not the America I know. That’s not the America I value.

I’ve been told that some fear to leave; some don’t want to go shopping for their families; some don’t want to go about their ordinary daily routines because, by wearing cover, they’re afraid they’ll be intimidated. That should not and that will not stand in America.

Those, of course, were the words of President George W. Bush, speaking at the Washington Islamic Center a few days after 9/11.

Yes, the current crop of “leading” Republicans makes me long for the tolerance of George W. Bush.

Update: As is often the case, The Daily Show has one of the best takes on the matter. (May be unavailable to readers outside the US.)

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Municipal Land-Use Hearing Update
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Municipal Land-Use Update – Ground Zero Mosque
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party