On Fox News Sunday, the panelists discussed the Ground Zero mosque. Ceci Connolly supplied the standard liberal line: freedom of religion requires that we allow the mosque to be constructed on the site where the ashes of 3,000 Americans blew through the air like confetti. Bill Kristol and Liz Cheney took the opposite view; Cheney was most concerned about the shadowy funding and the imam’s connection to jihadists (“the same groups that attacked us on 9-11″), while Kristol urged that out of “decency and propriety,” we shouldn’t allow a mosque to “tower over” Ground Zero.
The real surprise in the discussion was Juan Williams, who one expected to take Connolly’s side. Williams, however, didn’t parrot the left’s “tolerance” line. Instead, like Cheney, he criticized the lack of “transparency” in funding. But he did not stop there. He called building the mosque a “thumb in the eye” of those who lost their lives and suffered trauma. He concluded that, contrary to the imam’s claimed intention, the construction is “not promoting dialogue or understanding; in fact it is polarizing.”
Well bravo, Juan! This is the proper and entirely compelling rebuttal to liberals’ fixation with “tolerance.” Liberals assume that we must respect the Muslim group’s sensibilities and refrain from denying them their monument to Islam. (And we certainly can’t question their motives or associations.) But Williams quite rightly doesn’t take the imam’s argument at face value. What about the mosque builders’ tolerance and respect for others? Quite obviously, it is entirely absent.
And there’s the rub. In the left’s vision, “tolerance” and indulgence of aberrant conduct is our burden and obligation, and ours alone. That not only leads to cultural surrender; it also infantilizes Muslims. They can’t be expected to exercise restraint or respect or even decency, it seems.
The mosque controversy is fascinating not because of what it reveals about radical Muslims. We — or at least those not practicing willful ignorance — have long since figured out what they are up to. No, what’s intriguing, and to a degree horrifying, is what it tells us about the left’s cockeyed view of “tolerance” and its inability to engage and refute the arguments of those who wish to destroy our society and murder our fellow citizens.