Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11 Anniversary: Administration Rubs Salt Into A National Wound

The events of the last few days should forever cast upon this administration the twin stains of hypocrisy and cowardice. The affair of the proposed Koran burning, which I wrote about here, has been met with such a ferocity by the American media and the American establishment that it is hard to feel anything but revulsion at the treatment of Pastor Terry Jones.
Burning Korans is an act that Muslims will find outrageous, and many Muslims would want to respond with violent acts, but it is every American’s right to burn books that he or she legally possesses.
There is something very alarming about seeing books being burned. In the days of the Renaissance, the genuine advancements in art, thought and literature that were changing and civilizing the European world were met with hostility. A tyrannical Dominican friar named Girolamo Savonarola (1452 – 1498) became leader of Florence. In 1497, in an act known as the Bonfire of the Vanities, he publicly burned books and art. A year later Savonarola was suspended by chains from a giant cross and roasted to death over a bonfire, in Florence’s public square. In the 20th century, the Nazis burned books and art. Burning of books has always suggested intolerance.
Pastor Terry Jones intended to burn Korans, and when religious leaders in America and South Africa presided over the burning of “offensive” music albums by the Beatles in the 1960s, he was following a tradition. As far as I can tell, no American president intervened to condemn preachers burning Beatles records, or later examples of music. Whether or not Pastor Terry Jones, whose church is so small he has less than fifty members, considered the extent of the  backlash when he decided to mount his own protest on the anniversary of 9/11 is not known.
Yesterday, Pastor Terry Jones was even vilified in the British Parliament. Sir George Young, the leader of the House of Commons, and a member of the Cabinet, used Parliamentary Question Time to declare that Pastor Terry Jones was a “stupid bigot.” Young’s comment was met with resounding cheers.
When a man who only has a few supporters is attacked in the media, and in the world’s press, receives more than a hundred death threats in his own country, and is portrayed as a hate-figure in the Muslim world, is it not disgraceful that he should then be condemned publicly by politicians and even his president? Is this justice? Is this showing respect for the man’s First Amendment rights?
Why would the President of the United States get involved? On Friday August 13 Obama defended the religious rights of Imam Rauf to build a mosque near Ground Zero, even though 70 percent of Americans felt offended by this. Obama effectively sided with the imam, the imam who in 2001 had said that “United States policies were an accessory” to the attacks of 9/11. Rauf had added: “In fact, in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA.”
In the eyes of many Americans, the president of the United States had already shown himself to be more concerned with the feelings of Muslims than Christians, Jews or any other American group. When he publicly spoke of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s rights to build a mosque at Ground Zero, that impression deepened. Rauf is paid by the State Department to travel abroad and talk to Muslims, and the White House has a Muslim adviser. There is no “Christian” and no “Jewish” adviser in the White House.  Members of Muslim Brotherhood-related groups are invited to iftar dinners in the White House, even though the Muslim Brotherhood seeks to destroy democracy and replace it with the barbaric system of Sharia. Is the administration trying too hard to appease the Muslim world, and neglecting the will of the people?
Tomorrow is the anniversary of 9/11. If one thing has emerged from the recent debacles involving the proposed Ground Zero Mosque, it is that many Americans still regard the attacks that took place nine years ago tomorrow as a hurtful wound that has not healed. It is a wound that will not be healed by an administration that allies itself with Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood. It is a wound that is being aggravated by an administration that seems to pander to Muslims, but neglects Christians, Jews and members of other religious groups.
Pastor Jones, despite representing a small religious community has been subjected to severe pressure. He has been condemned by Eric Holder and Hillary Clinton. General David Petraeus has suggested that burning Korans will put American soldiers at risk.
American soldiers have always been at risk from fanatical Muslims, just for being American. The Taliban and Al Qaeda are not going to become non-hostile because Korans are NOT burned. And American soldiers have sometimes been put at risk by fanatical Muslims in their own ranks such as Sergeant Hasan Akbar, who killed two superior officers in a grenade attack on the eve of the Iraq invasion of 2003. Another fanatical Muslim who put American soldiers at risk was the army psychiatrist and “Soldier of Allah” Major Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 military personnel at Fort Hood.
President Obama has gone along with the notion that a small event in Florida involving some Korans and some gasoline would threaten the security of the nation. Obama said openly that the burning of Korans would be
“a recruitment bonanza for al-Qaeda. If he's listening, I hope he understands that what he's proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans. That this country has been built on the notion of freedom and religious tolerance. And as a very practical matter, I just want him to understand that this stunt that he is talking about pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women who are in uniform.”
Not content to demonize the pastor for being “un-American,” Obama apparently urged Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to pressure the pastor. Gates called Terry Jones and according to Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell:
“The Secretary expressed his grave concern that going forward would put the lives of our forces at risk, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, and urged him not to proceed with it. That was the extent of it.”
The disproportionate pressure that the administration has brought to bear upon a preacher from a humble community is startling. A BBC reporter, Mark Mardell, has written:
“There's something grotesque about the man who's in day-to-day charge of the most powerful military force the world has ever known having to lift the phone and plead with an eccentric pastor with a flock of around 50.”
Why Did Pastor Jones Back Down?
Yesterday, at a press conference in Gainesville, Florida, Pastor Terry Jones announced that he had come to an agreement with the backers of the Ground Zero Mosque and for this reason the planned Koran-burning would not go ahead. He told reporters:
“We are, of course, now against any other group burning Korans.  We would right now ask no one to burn Korans. We are absolutely strong on that. It is not the time to do it.”
He said that the backers of the Ground Zero Mosque had said they would be moving the location of the proposed Islamic “cultural center” in Lower Manhattan. Jones said that he would be flying to New York on Saturday to talk to the imam of the proposed Ground Zero Mosque.
Standing beside Pastor Jones was Imam Muhammad Musri, the head of the Islamic Society of Central Florida. Pastor Jones, during the press conference, said that Musri had told him that officials had guaranteed that the mosque would be moved. Jones said:
“I asked him [Musri] three times, and I have witnesses. If it's not moved, then I think Islam is a very poor example of religion. I think that would be very pitiful. I do not expect that.”
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf then declared from New York that he had no intentions to move his mosque.
This caused Pastor Jones to then announce that Imam Muhammad Musri
“had clearly, clearly lied to us. Given what we are now hearing, we are forced to rethink our decision. So as of right now, we are not cancelling the event, but we are suspending it.”
Pastor Jones may well have been lied to. Musri was present at the press conference. He has subsequently claimed that his words were “stretched”, and that he had only agreed to fly to New York with Pastor Jones to meet with the Ground Zero Mosque backers.
Muhammad Musri silently stood by while Pastor Jones apparently made a fool of himself, only to later claim that his words were stretched. He could have contradicted the Pastor then and there. The fact that he did not do that indicates that he may have deliberately set up the preacher.
The whole affair has been undignified, and has done more to present to Muslim nations the concept that America is weak and spineless.
Few people agree with burning Korans, but when a president talks of the rights of an imam to build a mosque at Ground Zero, it is shameful that he should then condemn a preacher for wishing to express his own political views. It is also shameful that the president should use the issue of the safety of American troops as a means to pressure the preacher. After the president’s Rules of Engagement and COIN strategies have placed American soldiers at increased risk, this smacks of more than hypocrisy.
Tomorrow will be the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in America’s history. When Pearl Harbor took place, it was an opening salvo in a war where the identities of the participants would be known. 9/11 was an opening salvo in a war, as Bernard Lewis noted, but the identities of the participants in this war between Islamism and the West are clouded.
It can only be hoped that when the anniversary of 9/11 takes place tomorrow, the memory of those innocent people whose lives were sacrificed will not be clouded by political actions.
Imam Feisal Rauf has managed to turn the spotlight onto his own ambitions, while only paying lip service to those who died. A man who blamed American policies for 9/11 is hardly the person to be representing America. He has succeeded in putting Islam center-stage in the news, while minimizing the fact that the perpetrators of 9/11 were following Koranic injunctions to the letter.
The current administration has taken Rauf’s side and opposed a small-town preacher, apparently in an effort to appease the extremists of Islam. In the current febrile climate, it is becoming increasingly likely that the anniversary of 9/11 will be diverted by the administration from its true significance. The day will surely be used to make further politically appeasing gestures to the Muslim world, when it should be about showing solidarity with, and commiseration for, the relatives of those whose lives were cut short by the vicious and inhuman vanguards of radical Islam.

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