Tuesday, August 17, 2010


This is a bizarre post by Bill Kristol:

The Beginning of the End of the Ground Zero Mosque

A column in a leading Arabic-language daily should lead even liberals to throw in the towel.

A column (h/t, MEMRI) in the August 16, 2010 London daily
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat by Abdul Rahman Al-Rashid, director of Al-Arabiya TV and the paper's former editor, "A House of Worship or a Symbol of Destruction?" should mean the end of plans for a mosque near Ground Zero. Mr. Al-Rashid supports President Obama's stand for the mosque in principle (as he supports Obama-like or even beyond-Obama-like policies with respect to the Middle East). He's no neocon. But his practical case against building the mosque is irrefutable....

Wow, this must be a really, really devastating argument -- right?

Um, no. Here's the key passage:

I cannot imagine that Muslims want a mosque on this particular site, because it will be turned into an arena for promoters of hatred, and a symbol of those who committed the crime. At the same time, there are no practicing Muslims in the district who need a place of worship, because it is indeed a commercial district....

Hunh? That's Kristol's idea of a death blow to the project? The same damn argument every other opponent makes, on the basis of zero evidence -- that this Islamic center will be a hotbed of radicalism -- combined with a statement that's utterly at odds with the facts?

As anyone who's looked at a recent New York Times already knows by now, there are two mosques in the area of Ground Zero already, both predating 9/11 (one, in fact, predating the World Trade Center itself), and both quite crowded -- as the Times notes, they're both one-room operations that "routinely turn people away for lack of space." The area has "no practicing Muslims"? Give me a break.

I know most lefties think Kristol is stupid, but I think he realizes that this article is a big fat nothing, and he doesn't care. I think he believes that if opponents makes enough noise suggesting that the project is doomed, it might make the demise seem inevitable and might soften whatever remaining support the project has. (I suspect that's also the thinking behind last night's Haaretz report, subsequently debunked, that the Islamic center's planners were backing down.)

As I've said before, I actually think the project is doomed, but certainly not for this reason. It's doomed because, in America, only a tiny percentage of the population recognizes the fact that whenever right-wing operatives open their mouths or take to their keyboards, they're acting in bad faith, and not in the best interests of America. If these people were seen as the self-serving bad actors they actually are, if they were under a cloud a cloud of suspicion as they deserve to be, they wouldn't be winning. But only a small percentage of Americans get it, so it's easy for the Kristols of the world to manipulate the rest.

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