"We are Americans, each with an equal right to worship and pray where we choose," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said this week. "There is nowhere in the five boroughs of New York City that is off limits to any religion."
Our founding documents guarantee that — and not just in the five boroughs.
But the unprecedented furor over plans for a mosque complex at Ground Zero tells us there is a coalescing sense that Islam is more than a "mere" religion as non-Muslims conceive of "religion." It is becoming clear to people, despite the gag of political correctness, that there's a reason "Islam" means "submission." Islam not only seeks to order the spiritual realm inhabited by a Muslim and Allah, it lays out a doctrine to control every believer's behavior (down to the most intimate bodily functions) as well as the public life of the collective. Doctrinally, Islam is thus "doubly totalitarian," in the words of G.H. Bousquet, a leading scholar of Islamic law, in accordance with the body of law known as Shariah. Under Shariah, freedom of conscience and freedom of speech are outlawed with extreme sanction (those who leave Islam fear death to this day), while non-Muslims and women exist as legal inferiors to the Muslim man. Meanwhile, jihad — holy war to extend Islamic rule — is a sacred command. And I have the books that prove it.
In other words, this isn't Islam because I say so, but because its sacred, authoritative, mainstream, non-hijacked, untwisted texts say so. It is the religious and political and legal ideology that inspired the al-Qaida killers on 9/11, and it is the religious and political and legal ideology that inspires the mosque complex at Ground Zero. And I didn't come up with that, folks; I just happened to notice, and thought you should know.
The crucial fact is, whether we are brutalized by acts of jihad or confused by acts of dawa (proselytizing), their goal is identical: more Islamic law. And this end will always justify the means as seen, for example, back in 2005 when hundreds of acclaimed Islamic clerics and heads of state gathered in Amman, Jordan. There, quite anti-climactically, they issued the "Amman Message" that declares that no Muslim who adheres to a recognized school of Islam may be labeled an apostate. Subtext: Not even Osama bin Laden could be, in effect, ex-communicated or otherwise blackballed or removed from good standing by these Islamic authorities. One of the 552 signatories was Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.
Bloomberg types are blind to these things, from the Shariah-spreading efforts of Rauf (noted here last week), to dictates of Shariah that subvert constitutional liberties. So, blindly, they sound platitudes in Islam's defense, plucking emotional chords that resonate with Americans about "liberty," "tolerance" and "religious freedom" on behalf of a belief system that, ultra-ironically, outlaws them all.
Bloomberg actually suggested that a failure to erect the mosque complex would "undermine our soldiers," "our foreign policy objectives" — even "our national security."
"Just as we fought communism by showing the world the power of free markets and free elections," said Bloomberg, "so must we fight terrorism by showing the world the power of religious freedom and cultural tolerance. Freedom and tolerance will always defeat tyranny and terrorism — that is the great lesson of the 20th century, and we must not abandon it here in the 21st."
It almost sounds wonderful — until the froth dries and you remember that fighting tyranny is never as easy as show-and-tell. This is something that victims of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc, for example, could explain to the mayor. Freedom and tolerance, regardless of how well they are exemplified, don't have a chance against tyranny and terrorism if they aren't vigilantly protected.
Indeed, tolerance is doomed if it is extended to the intolerant, something philosopher Karl Popper worked out in the last century. "Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed and tolerance with them. … We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant."
For the sake of the Twin Towers that's a duty.
Diana West is the author of "The Death of the Grown-up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization," and blogs at dianawest.net. She can be contacted via email@example.com.