Commentary Magazine


Let’s Talk About Reconciliation

As Abe details, the left has become so infuriated at critics of the Ground Zero mosque and so exasperated with Obama’s performance that it’s verging on the unintelligible. But while the left and the objects of its affection — the mosque builders — rage at those who want the mosque to simply be moved, they have given additional ammunition to the critics who have decried the Ground Zero mosque as more of a provocation and stunt than a symbol of healing.

Eric Cantor makes this point skillfully today:

Everyone accepts the fact that radical jihadists were the ones that perpetrated this crime — leave out the state sponsorship — everyone knows the reasons those individuals boarded those planes that morning was because they felt their religion — Islam allowed them to do it, or their version of Islam,” Cantor said.

If they wanted to build a mosque somewhere else, Cantor said he’d be in favor of it.

“But think about it,” he said. “Why would you want, as an imam, why would you want to put a cultural center right there if it’s meant to heal people when right away it’s caused such a national uproar? That is in and of itself evident of the fact that they’re not interested in healing or bringing people together. They’re interested in posing their view. That’s what so insensitive about it.”

And look at the results. The pro-mosque side has resorted to name-calling and offensive analogies. The cause of “reconciliation” has been set back and the entire country is now discussing why so many people are confused about Obama’s religion.

But this is really par for the course when it comes to the entire notion of Muslim outreach. The outreach is expected to go one way. When those supposed to be solicitous of Muslim sensitivities instead proffer their own interests, they are accused of being nationalistic, xenophobic, racist, and following in the footsteps of anti-Semites. My, this sounds like a faint echo of what Israel is subjected to every day.

Peace, reconciliation, tolerance — these all are cooperative activities. Perhaps the entire notion of “Muslim outreach” is flawed, based on the mistaken idea that one side — that would be the non-Muslim World — must atone, seek forgiveness, and boost the other’s ego. That, we are seeing, both here and in the Middle East is a recipe for disaster, for it enfeebles one side and alleviates them of the responsibility to examine their own actions, modify their behavior, and understand that their opponents’ concerns are grounded in history and experience. Like the “peace process,” it turns out that “Muslim outreach” creates more problems than it solves.