Radicalism in the Mosque Debate

by Jay Nordlinger

Michael Moore is all for the Ground Zero Mosque. More than that, he would like to see the mosque on Ground Zero, not just next to it. I mention this in Impromptus today. What I do not mention — and add here — is that Joe Klein of Time magazine takes the same position. Last month, he wrote, “I am, admittedly, a bit radical on this subject: I think Ground Zero itself — not a building two blocks away — would be a terrific site for a mosque, as a demonstration of American freedom, one of the truly superior qualities our nation offers the world.”

As I say in my column, why not a mosque on the Pennsylvania field? And maybe we could do something about the Pentagon?

This debate long ago got very weird. For one thing, support of the Ground Zero Mosque has become a test of patriotism and Americanism: If you object to the mosque, you must hate James Madison, the Liberty Bell, and Betsy Ross.

Klein wrote, “. . . you don’t have to agree with me. . . . You just have to like the Constitution. I love it.”

Yeah, yeah: Well, as a Constitution-hater, let me say that there’s a heavy dose of McCarthyism in the rhetoric of the Left, particularly as the Left speaks about the mosque. And McCarthyism, of course, is perfectly respectable on the left, verboten only on the right: Tailgunner Joe made it that way. (Thanks a lot, Joe.)

Remember when Howard Dean said of the attorney general of the United States, “John Ashcroft is not a patriot”? If a conservative had said that about a liberal, he would probably have been drummed out of public life. Howard Dean became chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Of course, he also said, “I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for.” Plus, “This” — meaning politics at large — “is a struggle of good and evil. And we’re the good.”

Often, it can appear that being on the left means being able to say whatever the hell you want.

Two more comments, both related to Joe Klein: Would the conservative equivalent of Klein — someone at the Time magazine level — ever write, “I love it,” in reference to the Constitution? I mean, isn’t that a little . . . crass?

Second, Klein’s 1996 novel Primary Colors is really, really good. So good, in fact, that when its author was known only as “Anonymous,” I suspected Chris Buckley wrote it.

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