The 4 Freedoms Library

It takes a nation to protect the nation

An excellent article by Christopher Caldwell.  It seems the Western world is waking up.  It garnered a surprising number of hostile comments from indoctrinated dhimmis though.

By Christopher Caldwell

Published: August 6 2010 21:47 | Last updated: August 6 2010 21:47

Urban planning votes do not usually garner widespread attention in the US. But this week, when New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission okayed the demolition of a 19th-century coat factory on Park Place, the story made front pages. The decision removed the last obstacle to building a 15-storey, $100m mosque-cum-community centre a stone’s throw from where the World Trade Center stood until it was destroyed by terrorists on September 11 2001. The mosque organisers say they want to build bridges between Islam and the west. More than half of New Yorkers, and more than half of Americans, oppose the project.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg thinks they are wrong. Citing freedom of religion, he has defended the mosque project in speech after speech. He gave another this week, saying of the fire-fighters who died on the day of the attack, “We do not honour their lives by denying the very constitutional rights they died protecting.” This would be stirring if constitutional rights were the whole of the issue. But they are not.

Not even the tongue-tied former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who called on “peaceful Muslims” to “refudiate” [sic] the project – disputes the right of Muslims to build houses of worship where they wish. Few mosque opponents argue seriously that this one can be blocked. The argument of Ms Palin and others is instead that it is insensitive to build a mega-mosque next to the spot where 2,700 people were killed in Islam’s name. This distinction – between what is constitutional and what is appropriate – is an important one.

It is lost on Mr Bloomberg. In May, he said: “If somebody was going to try, on that piece of property, to build a church or a synagogue, nobody would be yelling and screaming.” That is right. But history matters, too. The attacks of 2001 were not a political-science abstraction. They were an expression of Islam. Not all of Islam, certainly – and Islam is neither the only religion that has such crimes to answer for nor the only one that has provoked such controversies. The building of a Carmelite convent at Auschwitz in the 1980s so wounded Jewish sensibilities that Pope John Paul II ordered it removed in 1993, even though the Holocaust was not carried out in the name of any faith.

It was perhaps with that episode in mind that the Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-Semitism and other forms of religious bigotry, produced an admirably balanced response to the controversy, one that respected both the constitutional and historical aspects of it. While defending Muslim religious freedom unreservedly, the ADL warned that building the mosque at Ground Zero “will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right”. In other words, if the consortium wants to build it, it can build it. But it would be a very bad idea. They should build it somewhere else in Manhattan.

Including Islam within the fold of traditional western religious tolerance is not business-as-usual. It is an experiment. Our Lockean ideas of religious tolerance had their origins in the 16th century (the peace of Augsburg) and the 17th (the peace of Westphalia). Those understandings regulated relations between Christian sects and were steadily liberalised. Judaism later proved assimilable into this system in the US, but not, to put it mildly, everywhere in the west.

Islam – which is, like Christianity but unlike contemporary Judaism, an evangelising and expansionist religion – is a bigger challenge. A radical school of it views the US as its main enemy. Because that school is amply funded by Arabian oil, there is a standing fear that radicals will capture any large international project involving Islam, no matter how good its original intentions.

Most newspaper accounts of Manhattan’s mosque project have lauded its leader, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Bloggers are quicker to note that he said after the 2001 attacks that US policies had been “an accessory to the crime”. The organisers have been unforthcoming about their sources of funding. They are proceeding with the mosque project, even as it produces the very opposite of the inter-religious harmony they claim to seek.

A married couple from Connecticut, whose son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter were killed on a flight that hit the World Trade Center, wrote to The New York Times to oppose the project on the grounds that it “has the trappings of a victory mosque”. That expression captures a lot. People around the world will differ over the meaning of September 11 2001, but there can be no doubting that it is one of America’s most consequential military defeats. It led to a stalemate in Afghanistan and a war in Iraq that undermined the US’s standing in the world. By providing another reason for low interest rates and easy credit, it helped spur the present economic crisis. Whether or not this was inevitable, it happened. Osama bin Laden’s strategic calculus – that the US lacked either the resolve, the cohesion or the cultural self-confidence to stand up to a mighty blow – has in many ways been vindicated.

Remedying the weakness that Mr bin Laden diagnosed and exploited is seen by a lot of Americans as a matter of national survival. “Building bridges” to other cultures is a distraction from that task. It will be years before we know whether such sentiments are counselled by the voice of fear or the voice of reason, but they must be taken seriously. Mr Bloomberg is not taking them seriously. Faced with a delicate and intellectually complex situation, he has taken refuge in cant. He may have squandered an opportunity to resolve this controversy at a relatively low cost.

The writer is a senior editor at The Weekly Standard

Tags: A, FT:, bridges, mosque, that, wrecks

Views: 85

Replies to This Discussion

You couldn't make this stuff up. There's now plans for a 2nd victory mosque even closer to ground zero! I guess they just want to celebrate the victorious deaths of 3000 filthy kuffar with even more good Muslim brothers.

Well, why shouldn't they? It seems its already perfectly acceptable for them to take possession of the sidewalk whenever they want, upto 5 times a day. Can we do that by any chance? Sorry, silly question!

Americans, if you were thinking of snapping, now is the time.
Feisal Abdul Rauf's Repellent Record as a Property Developer
by Stephen Suleyman Schwartz: September 17, 2010 at 4:30 am

Feisal Abdul Rauf, "spiritual guide" of the Ground Zero mosque scheme, a/k/a "Cordoba House," came back to the U.S. from Malaysia and the Persian Gulf last week. His partner, Sharif El-Gamal, presented as the pragmatic property developer in the project, who changed the name of the intended structure to "Park51," has fallen away from the center of attention. Since his return here, Rauf has again displayed the evasive manner widely discussed in the controversy over the proposed 13-15 storey "Islamic center."

In the past, Rauf was coyly ambiguous about terrorism, while now he is teasingly vague regarding calls to move the proposed megamosque to another site, declaring in a September 8 CNN interview, "Nothing is off the table." Paraphrasing, in a Monday event at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City, he said "all options are on the table," while dismissing arguments that Ground Zero is hallowed ground, as the area includes "a strip joint around the corner, with betting parlors."

But Monday, September 13, was important for Rauf and his efforts in another way. The municipal authorities of Union City, NJ, filed a complaint against Sage Development, LLC, and Rauf, the sole officer/director/member of the corporation, for abuses at a 16-unit residential building he owns. According to the city, the suffering inflicted on Rauf's tenants include lack of lighting in hallways, non-functioning smoke detectors, a non-functioning central fire alarm, and failure to provide gas and hot water, all because of nonpayment of utility bills. Further, there are bedbugs in two units, requiring extermination services throughout the building, dirty hallways and garbage storage issues, debris on fire escapes, lack of fire extinguishers, and a rotting floor on one fire escape.

In sum, Sage Development and Rauf are "clearly not operating the Premises in a fiscally, socially, and legally responsible manner." In 2005, Sage's corporate status was revoked by the state of New Jersey for failure to file mandatory annual reports. Union City officials have asked for the appointment of a custodial receiver to collect rents, pay utility bills, resolve state and local code violations, and provide a fire watch at the property. The complaint adds, "Without the appointment of a Custodial Receiver for the Property, the Property will continue to pose a threat to the welfare of its tenants and the citizens of Union City."

The contrast between Rauf's continuing sleek performances at high-level venues like CFR, and the squalor present in his New Jersey rental properties, merely adds to the distasteful portrait of his character offered by the widely-acknowledged insensitivity of the Ground Zero Mosque concept, his ambivalence about Islamist radicalism, his admiration for the Iranian clerical dictatorship, and his lack of transparency about the presumptive financial sources for erection of Cordoba House/Park51. His "alternate" role as an oppressive and unresponsive rental proprietor was first revealed by shoe-leather reporters at such print newspapers in New Jersey as the Bergen Record, which first got the story at the end of August, and the Newark Star-Ledger. When their stories broke in New Jersey, Rauf was still away from the U.S., and his wife, Daisy Khan, told the Record his problems with tenants had "'no relevance to the Park51 project. The Imam does not get paid for his spiritual work or work as an Imam,' she wrote. 'He invests in real estate, much as someone would invest in stocks, bonds or other assets to secure one's future and provide an income stream. He has dedicated his life to helping others working as an Imam.'" She went on to claim that tenant problems were fixed as soon as they were brought to Rauf's attention, but Union City's complaint says otherwise.

Rauf's fundraising activities, which have been presumed to center in the Persian Gulf states and Southeast Asia, have also been prolific and, for him, rewarding in New Jersey. The Bergen Record described how, from the 1970s to the early 1990s, Rauf purchased five apartment buildings in Union City, Bergen, and Palisades Park. He then raised $2.4 million in local and state housing rehabilitation money by schmoozing, among others, then-mayor of Union City, now U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D) and another local official, Robert C. Janiszewski. Menendez has granted political support to the Ground Zero Mosque. But all the Rauf properties designated for refurbishment have been plagued by financial and management problems.

While New York mayor Michael Bloomberg had praised Rauf for "promoting America and American values," Union City mayor Brian Stack describes him less benevolently. "He's a slumlord," Stack said, as noted by Bergen Record writer Mike Kelly. In addition, Kelly reported that on September 10, utilities were restored to Rauf's building in Union City, but the fire alarms still failed to work – yet another among a myriad of violations of city codes. Since then, Kelly wrote, "a Union City police officer has been assigned to sit in a car outside Rauf's building so he can pound on tenants' doors and guide them to safety in case a fire breaks out."

Ultimately, Rauf appears as a residential property owner who, unlike El-Gamal, has cleverly used his tainted real-estate income to finance his second career as a prospective intermediary between American Muslims and non-Muslims. Former associates of Rauf in both "his" Masjid Al-Farah ("Mosque of Divine Ease,," in Arabic), at 245 West Broadway in Manhattan – as he has insistently said, only 12 blocks from Ground Zero – and the "New-Age" Sufi group associated with it, have come forward to provide more repellent details from Rauf's biography. Some who have known him intimately, and for decades, confirm a description of him as a man very distant from spiritual concerns. Although they understandably request not to be identified, these former associates of Rauf in the latter's role as a religious leader offer similarly damning aspects of his behavior, all now confirmed by the Union City complaint.

Two among the former congregants at Masjid al-Farah have disclosed that when Rauf first showed up there, he was associated with a group of Egyptian, Afghan, and Pakistani visitors who tried to steer the small mosque away from Sufi spirituality to Islamic fundamentalism. One informant described being sent by Rauf to work on the properties in New Jersey in the late 1980s. Rauf, the informant said, complained that he received nothing but rent from the buildings and was dissatisfied that he could not increase their value. But he showed little enthusiasm, according to the informant, in basic amenities for tenants.

One building was badly infested with rats, and the informant confronted Rauf in the Sufi mosque, asking if the latter would let his own daughters live in such an environment. Rauf allegedly replied, "there are not so many rats." An exterminator from India was hired but said the same thing, according to the informant. The informant told Rauf he would debate him in the mosque about the contradiction between the spirituality he preached and the abuses in his rental properties and Rauf allegedly said, "you are not a businessman."

Can a man who will not abate rats in an apartment building he owns be trusted to exclude radical adherents from a massive and intrusive religious facility in a place he scorns to honor?


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