Filed under: Religion | Tags: Cordoba House, Illario Pantano, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Islam, University of Chicago
Conservative activists and the Muslim-baiters among them are furious about a proposed Islamic community center to be built near Ground Zero. The debate has become entirely unhinged and some of the more hateful folks are using the controversy as a rallying cry to oppose the construction of all future mosques. Among them is Illario Pantano, a Republican candidate for the House from North Carolina. Writing in the The Daily Caller, he notes:
This Cordoba Mosque is not benign. This is not about reconciliation or understanding. If this was truly about bridging cultures, we should be erecting a church because it was Christians who were targeted for murder, not Muslims. This is about marking religious, ideological and territorial conquest. The Mosque is a martyr marker, and it must be stopped.
How would erecting a church in this instance bridge cultures? It’s completely illogical. (Pantano can’t even call the project by its actual name. It’s not the Cordoba Mosque, it’s the Cordoba House.) And what evidence does he have to prove that the project is “not benign”?
One thank-you note can be struck early for the mosque’s front man: Kuwaiti-born Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, Rauf is also the CEO of the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA). But he’s more than just an apologist for the religion-based sharia law, which many experts see as being in direct opposition to the U.S. Constitution. Rauf is also a key member of the Malaysian-based Perdana Global Peace Organization, which is reportedly the single biggest donor to the Free Gaza Movement (FGM) and its affiliated activists. Those activists include former Weather Underground founders William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, as well as Jodie Evans, the leader of Code Pink: Women for Peace.
The project is not benign, writes Pantano, because Rauf, a devout Muslim, believes in both the religious and secular jurisprudential elements of his faith. That’s quite a clever argument. Worse, through a series of connections wholly-unrelated to Rauf’s personal actions, he is affiliated to those nefarious folks over at Code Pink. This Kevin Bacon game and guilt-by-association style of presenting an argument is becoming increasingly popular among conservative activists. In this case, as in most, the reasoning is downright laughable.
Here is how some other so-called activists have used it. Rauf is Egyptian and his father was associated with one of the biggest political movements there, the Muslim Brotherhood. Ayman al-Zawahiri was part of the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Zawahiri knows Osama bin Laden. Therefore, Rauf and bin Laden are inseparably linked. Using this line of reasoning, virtually anyone and everyone can be associated to every terrible thing that has ever happened.
For instance, Barack Obama taught at the University of Chicago. So did economist Milton Friedman. Friedman gave Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet advice on how to put his economy through shock treatment. Barack Obama, therefore, supported the privatization of the Chilean economy and the brutal reign of Pinochet. Pinochet was friends with Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama also supported Ronald Reagan. Since Reagan defeated the commies, then Barack Obama actually was instrumental in bringing down the Soviet Union.
Pantano and his ilk make absolutely no sense. But that’s precisely why this sort of fly-by-night reasoning is so popular. To make sense is to be an elitist.