Now, Gary, that’s what I call a reasonable response. And you’ve raised a good question: Does building the mosque at Ground Zero make it easier or harder to win the War on Terrorism?
The theory that building the mosque takes us a step closer to victory, it seems to me, goes like this: By showing what good open-minded folks we are we’ll win the hearts and minds (or at least the goodwill) of millions of Muslims. That may be so. But, on the other hand, millions of Muslims may not appreciate our Western idea of enlightenment.
The Islamic terrorists don’t have laser guided bombs or drones or helicopters or even tanks, so let’s assume they’ve figured out they’re never going to put more weapons or soldiers on a battlefield than we are – so how do they figure they can win a war with us? The answer may be they figure winning the war comes down to conviction and, the way they see it, they’re fighting for a Holy Cause and they’re willing to suffer and sacrifice and bleed more for victory than we are. In their view Americans don’t love anything as much as money and self-indulgence – we’re rich beyond imagining and hedonistic beyond belief and hollow to the core so we have no real conviction.
Now, a French philosopher might see building a mosque by Ground Zero as proof of pure enlightenment but an Islamic terrorist (who figures he’s got his hands around the one true faith) might see our multi-cultural open-mindedness as proof we don’t believe in much of anything at all and tell the good Muslims, See, we told you. There’s the proof. America is a paper tiger. Americans have no conviction.
And who will the good Muslims believe? Will our good will win them over? Or will they think building the mosque by Ground Zero (after Al Qaeda attacked us) proves the terrorists have a point: That we are corrupt, hollow hedonists with no conviction stronger than our desire for gas guzzling automobiles and Super Bowl Tickets?
So will building the mosque be seen as ‘proof of our goodwill’ or ‘proof of our weakness’?
Most Americans, I suspect, believe it is a sign of weakness or, worse still, proof we do lack conviction – that when our dedication to pluralism morphed into a blind faith in multi-culturalism we lost the conviction that saw us through World War II and The Cold War.
And, Gary, the tension behind these two views of mosque building leads to an equation you understand very well: Is it more important to be liked? Or to be respected?
You raised a valid point in your blog but, as long as we’re fighting a war, put me down in favor or respect.