In the coverage of the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" have you heard many references to the fact that the spiritual leader of the project is a moderate Muslim widely respected for his firm stance AGAINST radical Islam? It is the kind of information I would like our President to highlight. Obviously the information is out there... But it is not a central part of the debate today.
If the U.S. and the rest of the modern world is ever going to "defeat" radical Islamic terrorists, it will ultimately be achieved by marginalizing that movement. And how does one marginalize extremists? You support moderates of the same faith!
Our government has paid Feisel Abdul Rauf, the Imam at the heart of the Ground Zero controversy, to go abroad and preach his moderate message in the Middle East. Our State Department has been encouraging clerics of his ilk ever since 9/11. These are credible voices in the Muslim world that accept Jews as equals and reject horrid interpretations of jihad. There should be NO debate about the wisdom of locating an Islamic Center run by moderate forces near the site of the radicals' most notorious crime. What is so hard about "stick it to the terrorists?"
I always love it when folks who are my ideological opposite agree with my point of view. In this case, I have former Bush speech writer Michael Gerson:
How precisely is our cause served by treating the construction of a non-radical mosque in Lower Manhattan as the functional equivalent of defiling a grave? It assumes a civilizational conflict instead of defusing it.
I have even found myself wondering these days why the former President himself does not come out with a public statement in support of this Center! The rhetoric around this has become white hot. What better way to cool things down than for the former standard bearer of the political right to inject some sanity into the debate.
Here's a radical notion: Let's include an interfaith gesture of some kind AT GROUND ZERO ITSELF. A bold statement that lets everybody know, especially Bin Ladin et al, that the United States is a place where freedom of religion is embraced, where violent acts do not force us to abandon our most sacred values and where moderate Muslims are encouraged to worship wherever they see fit!