I think the Left fundamentally misunderstands much of the public’s opposition to the Ground Zero mosque. Where the Left see irrational “Islamophobia” and bigotry, I see specific opposition to the so-called Cordoba House — a triumphalist $100 million monstrosity constructed under the leadership of an imam who won’t renounce Hamas, blames America as an “accessory” to 9/11, talks about the blood on America’s hands, morally equates al-Qaeda and America, and may very well draw on Saudi and Iranian funds for his mosque.
Let’s pose a counterfactual. Let’s suppose that a small group of exiled Iranian dissidents, patriotic American Muslims, and former translators who served American military units in Iraq wanted to create a center designed to educate Muslims to confront and oppose jihad. (After all, as Andrew McCarthy eloquently notes, patriotic American Muslims have been instrumental in fighting terror here at home.) This center, perhaps called the Hameed al-Daraji Center, after the 50 year-old Iraqi who served seven years with American forces before being killed by his jihadist son, could educate Muslims about the cost of jihad, contain a library of books and resources providing historical, sociological, and theological arguments against violent jihad, and would honor the victims of jihadist terror in America and abroad.
Even if it were to be placed at exactly the same Park51 location, I think the debate would be fundamentally different. After all, Islamic radicals arguably hate dissident Muslims the most — I’ve seen what they do to Muslims who fight alongside Americans with my own eyes. I think most Americans would rally to support such brave men and women. The sad reality, however, is that this mythical Hameed al-Daraji Center might have to be built without significant Muslim financial support. After all, Saudi and Iranian money backs the jihad.