Sunday, August 22, 2010


National Review rage junkie Andy McCarthy calls this a "thought experiment":

A friend poses the following: Imagine that there really were these fundamentalist Christian terror cells all over the United States, as the Department of Homeland Security imagines. Let's say a group of five of these terrorists hijacked a plane, flew it to Mecca, and plowed it into the Kaaba.

Now let's say a group of well-meaning, well-funded Christians -- Christians whose full-time job was missionary work -- decided that the best way to promote healing would be to pressure the Saudi government to drop its prohibition against permitting non-Muslims into Mecca so that these well-meaning, well-funded Christian missionaries could build a $100 million dollar church and community center a stone's throw from where the Kaaba used to be -- you know, as a bridge-building gesture of interfaith understanding.

In other words -- and haven't we all been over this ground many times before, Andy? -- you're comparing, Mecca, where there are no churches, to the area around Ground Zero, where there are two mosques that predate 9/11, one of which predates the World Trade Center itself. You're also urging us to lower our standards of religious tolerance to that of Saudi Arabia.

But go on.

What do you suppose President Obama, Mayor Bloomberg, the New York Times, and other Ground Zero mosque proponents would say about the insensitive, provocative nature of the proposal?

Here's what I know all of them wouldn't do: make this the single most important issue on their agendas. The Times wouldn't drive every other story off its front page to devote all of its pixels and printer's ink to inveighing against the project. Obama would probably defer to his secretary of state, who would issue a cautious statement. Bloomberg would recognize that it was none of his damn business and say nothing.

Do you think the State Department would make the leader of the Christian missionaries a special emissary and send him to represent the United States on diplomatic business overseas?

Do you think Presidents Bush and Obama chose Imam Abdul Rauf as an emissary after the Islamic cultural center became the focus of a phony right-wing scandal? As late as last December, a Fox propagandist said the imam and his wife were among the good guys.

And now a thought experiment from me: Would the planners of the Christian center in Mecca be chosen as emissaries if the President were named Palin or Gingrich or Huckabee? That's easy: oh, hell yes.

...What do you suppose Pope Benedict and other Christian leaders would say? ...

I'm surprised that I have to explain this to someone named McCarthy, but the pope is the leader of all Catholics, not all Christians. And this particular pope has been burned by insensitive remarks about Islam. He'd probably say nothing.

Other Christian leaders? You mean, say, evangelicals in America? I bet they'd absolutely insist that construction should go forward. I'd bet they'd collect a hell of a lot of money with fund-raising appeals tied to the project.

Yeah, I left out a few of McCarthy's questions about the likely reaction of Muslims. Forgive me if I focus on the reaction of non-Muslim Americans. I particularly think Fox might very well decide that the banning of the project is the perfect subject for a ginned-up 24/7 media blitz.

Especially in an election year.

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