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Contentions

Western Culture and the Mosque II

At Atlas Shrugs, Pam Geller has the transcript of a lecture given by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf in Australia in 2005. What strikes me most about it is how well its sentiments align with the canon of left-wing elitist thought in the West. Rauf’s 2005 address is a textbook example of playing on the heroic civilizational guilt perpetually assumed by the Western left.

There’s hardly a shibboleth left uninvoked by the time Rauf is done. It’s actually funny to tote them up:  there are the obligatory references to America having blood on its hands; to our bomber aircraft generating the pretext for terrorism; to “U.S.-led sanctions against Iraq” killing half a million children; to the N-word and our penchant for “creating ethnic conflicts”; to the British colonial authorities bringing division and strife to the Middle East.

Of Islam, Rauf says the following:

From the point of view of Islamic theology, Islamic jurisprudence and Islamic history, the vast majority of Islamic history, it has been shaped or defined by a notion of multiculturalism and multireligiosity, if you might use that term.

The point is not whether this is true or false; the point is that Rauf chooses to make his case in these button-pushing terms. He is also perfectly aligned with the Western left in his take on Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. In his view:

[A] resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict [is] number one on the list of things that need to be done because you address this problem and a whole host of problems will be addressed automatically.

But he frames the Israeli role with prejudice. “Israelis,” he says, “have moved beyond Zionism.”

It’s like ticking off a checklist. The U.S. media have comfortably framed the debate over the Park 51 mosque as a case of Middle America versus Islam, but in a very real sense, as others have noted, it’s a case of Middle America versus our leftist cultural elite. In that sense, it almost doesn’t matter what Imam Rauf “really” believes or intends.  What matters is that he tailors his appeals to a Western cultural elite from which Middle America is decisively alienated.

There are many reasons for this internecine alienation, only a small percentage of them related to radical Islamism. Regarding the Ground Zero mosque itself, arguments can be advanced about the dangerous opportunities it may give Islamists. But I suspect that one of the most egregious offenses perceived by average Americans is that our cultural elite is – once again – ridiculing and abusing the people for not hewing to a narrative of culpability and self-abnegation that has no constructive purpose.



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