If someone wrote and stood by a sentence like this one:
…we’d all call for that someone’s head – wouldn’t we? Wouldn’t it be the basis for 100 super-hot posts at Contentions especially, tumbled forth until the (web)logs gathered beneath whichever particular pundit or politician had finally caught fire?
The sentence is Jennifer Rubin’s. I changed one word. The following excerpt is exactly as written (including a link to a WaPo Op-Ed that Rubin considers representative of “the left”):
The left continues to feign confusion (it is hard to believe its pundits are really this muddled) as to the reasons why conservatives (and a majority of fellow citizens) oppose the Ground Zero mosque. No, it’s not about “religious freedom” — we’re talking about the location of the mosque on the ash-strewn site of 3,000 dead Americans.
She’s right in a way. “It” isn’t about religious freedom. It’s about people who substitute italicized emotionalism and demagogic metaphors for… anything and everything else.
Again, no one is telling Muslims not to build or pray in mosques; we on the right are simply asking them not to do it in the location where Islam was the inspiration for mass murder.
“You on the right” are insisting on a definition of Islam that makes it possible for it to be the “inspiration” for mass murder. This concept is merely an ideological position shared by two groups who are, as we know, think alike on this question: Islamophobes and Extreme Islamists. What “inspires” the terrorist is not Islam, but an interpretation of Islam. This difference is not trivial: It is a supremely important difference for a believer, for any opponent of extremism, for anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim, who prefers to divide and undermine the potential enemy rather than to build his coalition to the maximum possible extent.
It is interesting that the word mosque is not employed by those excoriating the mosque opponents. As a smart reader highlights, why is it described as a “cultural center”? Pretty dicey to articulate exactly what position the left clings to — namely, that we must allow a mosque at Ground Zero.
People interested in constructive dialogue attempt to use precise language. People interested in exploiting and inflaming anti-Muslim sentiment talk incessantly about a “mosque.” Other people find the notion of being “anti-mosque” repellent. In a country built – supposedly built, once built – on concepts of religious freedom and freedom of conscience, this sentiment ought to be ingrained. I think it was. I think it probably still is, but certain political forces are seeking to overwhelm it via deeper impulses. It wouldn’t be the first time that trick has worked. We typically refer to those other times as the most shameful ones in our history, often right before we get on with the business of repeating them.
Of course, it’s not just a mosque to the anti-mosquers: Rubin goes on to praise the “open letter” in today’s Wall Street Journal in which Dan Senor repeats the comical “Muslim monument” canard conjured up and popularized by Andy McCarthy and Raymond Ibrahim: Adopting this view requires an excess of Dopamine rummaging around your brain or some other distortion of the senses that turns a 13-story building in Manhattan, a couple blocks away from a planned skyscraper park including the country’s tallest structure – the possibly misnamed “Freedom Tower” – into an impressive monument (capable, according to William Kristol, of “towering” over Ground Zero).
Yet Senor is right about one thing: A mosque does represent a “milestone on the path to the further spread of Islam throughout the world” – in about the same way that churches are milestones, ashrams milestones, or even synagogues or small journals and websites of conservative opinion can be milestones “on the path to the further spread” of their respective religions or ideologies.
Yet there is a difference, according to Rubin:
I certainly do believe “you are either for us or you are for them” — when it comes to Israel and to America. That this notion disturbs the left tells you precisely why it is estranged from the vast majority of Israelis and Americans
So it’s whatever number of right-thinking Americans and Israelis versus everyone else. Those who think right can build embassies the size of Vatican City in the countries they invade and conquer, can build airbases the size of small towns – and you better not complain or even notice if you want to remain on the right side of the either/or.
I don’t know who Rubin’s “them” is. She’s unclear, or perhaps confused, about it in the way described by Roger Cohen in that op-ed she linked. (Her lack of embarrassment over a comparison of his work and hers is an index of her mental distraction.) She seems to define “them” as everyone on the left, and anyone uncertain about where they are, and certainly all Muslims except possibly for the ones terrified enough by the American right to be afraid of riling it up. “Them” may be everyone who isn’t a spittle-beflecked neo-McCarthyite dreaming up new ways to impugn the character and motives of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf – plus everyone maintaining nothing much against, no great fear of, or considered support for his project.
I certainly do put myself on the other side of Rubin’s paranoid divide, not least because I suspect that support for any variant of both-and puts anyone there.
Maybe the left is simply being oppositional — i.e., whatever the right believes is wrong. But if not, it is, quite vividly, advertising its own intellectual crack-up and unfitness to govern.
There’s a whole lotta projection going on in the movies.
I’m beginning to understand why the neoconservative right has been unable to maintain its intellectual and political coherence over the course of the War on Terror from inception to today: The main neocons never really did believe in, never really had thought through, the higher goals with which they sought to justify their military projects. Then, it was wishful thinking joined to vengeance. Now it’s remnant vengefulness joined to opportunism – in some cases, like Rubin’s, quite openly joined to dual chauvinism – all advertised and insisted upon with emotionalism of the most noxious and dangerous type: Implacably convinced of its own rationality.