So finally we’re asking: Where is this “moderate Islam” you’ve been telling us about? Why would a self-proclaimed bridge-builder insist on something so patently provocative and divisive? How can we be sure that if imam Rauf builds his monument on our graveyard, it won’t become what other purportedly “moderate” Islamic centers have become: a cauldron of anti-American vitriol?
It turns out that there are no satisfactory answers. When finally pressed on the taxonomy of moderate Islam, the best our elites can do — besides shouting “Islamophobia!” — is debate whether there ever was a “golden age” of Islamic tolerance. They have to confess that the Islamists — whom they’d like us to see as a handful of “extremists” but who are in truth a mass movement — are in the ascendancy. It is embarrassingly obvious that while some of us have been working to defeat Islamism in our midst, our elites are of the incorrigibly progressive mindset that counsels accommodating them — in the delusion that they will be appeased rather than encouraged to become more aggressive. That is precisely the mindset that makes an Islamist think: Maybe now is the time for a $100 million mosque at Ground Zero.
“Moderate Islam” is a dream, not a reality. It is a dream with potential, because there are millions of Muslims who are moderate people, and because there are dedicated Muslims working to transform their faith into something that is institutionally moderate. But they work against great odds. They confront Islamists whose dedication to theocratic principles is deeply and undeniably rooted in Islamic scripture. And they confront American opinion elites who, wittingly or not, serve as the lifeline of the Islamists.
The reformers’ slim chance at prevailing hinges on the American people’s will to say “no” to our self-anointed betters. Ground Zero, once again the site of epic Islamist overreach, may be remembered as the place where we started to say “no.”
— Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.