Cordoba

Hertzberg On Cordoba

This is such an excellent passage I'll simply excerpt it here without comment: [T]here have already been several fatalities (in Afghanistan, where “blasphemy” is a capital crime) on account of the Koran business, even though nothing has actually happened yet. This illustrates the reality that among some Muslims in some parts of the Muslim world, Islam is still at a stage of development akin to that of Christianity in pre-modern times, when disputes over theological fine points regularly led to wholesale slaughter.

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Nancy Pelosi who always has her ear to the ground for a simple-minded explanation of an intricate matter has demanded to know whose money is behind the campaign against the Ground Zero mosque. Maybe she can't imagine anything other than a grand conspiracy: maybe Glenn Beck or David Koch, maybe Sarah Palin or some other ditzy lady with access to right-wing money. In my view, the really modest struggle against the mosque is probably the closest thing we've had to a genuinely grass roots effort against the casual and elitist First Amendment fundamentalists.

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Mosque Notes

Collective responsibility. One of the most accomplished Jewish terrorists of our time, Baruch Goldstein, came from the Jewish universe in which I was raised. When he committed his crime, there were a few former and present citizens of that universe, a revered rabbi of mine among them, who demanded a stringent communal introspection; but the critics were denounced as slanderers who tarred all of religious Zionism, or all of “Modern Orthodox” Judaism, or all of Judaism, with the same treasonous brush.

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The fervent mosque-haters have this much right: Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Sufi leader of the Cordoba Initiative that plans to build an Islamic center on Park Place near the site of the World Trade Center, is subversive. But what he wants to subvert is not the United States of America. What he wants to subvert are dictatorships in Islamic nations. Imam Rauf’s third book, published in 2005 but unavailable to me last week when I wrote about him and his earlier work, is called What’s Right with Islam is What’s Right with America.

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The folk who planned the mosque at the World Trade Center could not have expected but that their project would be much resented, not just in New York but across America.

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-- Bennet Ramberg asks, "Should Israel come out of the nuclear closet?" -- Joshua Prager remembers Bobby Thomson. -- Romanian punter discovers the American dream. -- Marc Tracy answers the "Why Cordoba?" question.  

An Answer For Marty

Marty, continuing TNR's rich tradition of internal debate, lobs a question my way about the Park51 project, originally named "Cordoba House": Have you wondered, as I have, why this project is called the Cordoba Initiative? Well, the city was conquered in 1148 by a Muslim dynasty, the Almohades, who offered the Jews a rich choice: conversion to Islam, death or exile. The family of the Jewish philosopher Maimonides was born in Cordoba and Moses ben Maimon spent his childhood there. Until, that is, the Muslims arrived. When given their options, they left. Which is what most of the Jews did then.

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-- As Steven Benen puts it, "Try to contain your surprise": News Corporation gives $1 million to the Republican Governors Association. -- Roger Simon has some fun with the idea of "Obama the one-term president." -- Robert Walker suggests climate advocates can learn from the NRA. -- Jonathan Bernstein reluctantly talks about Cordoba House.

Apparently, Muslims are also not particularly stirred by the president’s policies. They wanted him to be more forthright and more forthcoming on their issues as he had indicated he would be in his much-vaunted “new beginning” speech last year in Cairo. In a New York Times dispatch yesterday, Sheryl Gay Stolberg cites an Arab-American journalist as complaining that Obama has since left many Muslims disappointed. Well, on this count, at least, those disappointed Muslims are at one with most other Americans.

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The case of the “Ground Zero Mosque”—that is, for those who’ve been on Mars for the last few weeks, the Islamic Cordoba House that is to include a mosque, along with an auditorium, a swimming pool, art exhibition spaces, bookstores, and restaurants, though it is not to be built at Ground Zero, but rather, two blocks away—continues to prove highly teachable, as the academy likes to describe topics amenable to Socratic or other instructive dispute. But the dispute hasn’t yet finished granting its gifts.

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