It’s Long Past Time to End Public Funding for Broadcasters

This is a roundup of some of the best commentary I’ve seen on the bizarre dismissal of Juan Williams.  Cliff May sets the scene:

Juan Williams

So much for National Public Radio’s commitment to freedom of speech. As just about everyone now knows, NPR fired commentator Juan Williams for expressing not an opinion but a fear — one that millions of Americans almost certainly share.

“When I get on a plane,” Williams told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, “I’ve got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”

This reminded me: A few years ago, I was traveling with a government official from the Middle East. His name clearly identified him as a Muslim. We were screened at two airports, and I noticed he was not searched thoroughly. He told me that was not unusual — and he was not pleased by it. Why not? Because, he said, “If they’re not scrutinizing me, who else are they not looking at? I don’t want to get killed in a terrorist attack any more than you do.”

To express that fear in public cannot be a firing offense.

Dr. K cites an unexpected authority to emphasize a similar point:

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, I want to start by having people look at this quote from Jesse Jackson about 18 years ago in which he says, I hope we can put it up on the screen, that when he walks down the street, hears footsteps, and he starts thinking about robbery, he looks around and when he sees someone who is white, he feels relieved.  Jesse Jackson is saying this. In other words, if the people he looked at were black, he would feel anxiety or fear.

Now, this — there is nobody in his right mind that is going to say that Jesse Jackson is a racist, anti-black racist. He’s not.

From the left flank, here’s Tim Wise (h/t Tigerhawk):

Yet what had Williams done, exactly? He acknowledged his own biases, and then explained the fallacy embedded therein. He was being honest, and in so doing, demonstrating an important fact that the nice white liberals who predominate at NPR try to deny, especially for themselves. Namely, that even the best of us can be taken in by racism, by religious bias, by ethnic chauvinism, by prejudice. No matter our liberal bona fides, the bottom line is this: advertising works, whether for selling toothpaste, tennis shoes, or stereotypes….

The only difference between Juan Williams and the people who fired him is this: Williams is honest enough to admit his own damage. And importantly, what the research on this subject tells us is that it is precisely those persons who are able to see and acknowledge their biases who are the most likely to challenge themselves, and try valiantly not to act on them. In other words, it is the Juan Williams’s of the world whose self-awareness in this regard will minimize the likelihood of discriminatory behavior. Meanwhile, it’s the liberals who deny to their dying breath that they have a “racist bone in their bodies,” or who swear they “never see color,” or insist that they are open-minded, forward thinking and free of prejudice, who are often unable to see how their internalized biases effect them, and move them around the chessboard of life without them even realizing it. Frankly, those are the ones from whom racial and religious “others” probably need the most protection.

Seth Lipsky in the Wall Street Journal describes the forces aligning against government-subsidized broadcasting:

At least one good thing has come out of National Public Radio’s firing of Juan Williams. NPR’s vice president had barely hung up the phone after informing Mr. Williams that he was being terminated—and refusing to meet with him, a long-time colleague, to discuss the matter—when the calls began for Congress to cut off funding for NPR entirely.

Bill O’Reilly… called for “the immediate suspension of every taxpayer dollar going into NPR.” Sarah Palin issued a Facebook posting called “Juan Williams: Going Rogue,” in which she wrote: “If NPR is unable to tolerate an honest debate about an issue as important as Islamic terrorism, then it’s time for ‘National Public Radio’ to become ‘National Private Radio.'”

Then South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint issued a statement saying that he would introduce a bill to end federal funding of public broadcasting. Most significantly, the man who may be the next House Speaker, John Boehner, told National Review Online: “We need to face facts—our government is broke. Washington is borrowing 37 cents of every dollar it spends from our kids and grandkids. Given that, I think it’s reasonable to ask why Congress is spending taxpayers’ money to support a left-wing radio network—and in the wake of Juan Williams’ firing, it’s clearer than ever that’s what NPR is.”

Jennifer Rubin:

With over 500 TV stations as well as satellite and over-the-air radio, why in the world do taxpayers need to pay for left-wing propaganda masquerading as news? Seriously, that’s what the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and Fox News’s cable competitors are there for.

In Any Language, the Ground Zero Mosque is a Bad Idea

Yasser Arafat, the Father of Modern Terrorism, whose 1994 receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize tarnished that award for all time, pioneered the art of condemning violence in English while encouraging it in Arabic.  He largely got away with it, because of a shortage of Arabic-language speakers in America and Europe.

Enter MEMRI, the indispensable Middle East Media Research Institute, founded in 1998.  MEMRI has played a role in virtually every news article you’ve ever seen about radical Muslims preaching death and destruction in Arabic, not to mention Farsi, Urdu, Pashtu, Dari, Hindi, and Turkish.

(Hm… the premise of this post was that it’s refreshing to see MEMRI with a translation of a Muslim with a moderate message.  So I get a couple of nice setup paragraphs written… and I realize the article in question was actually written in English.  Whatever.  Onward!)

Abdulateef Al-Mulhim is a former Commodore in the Saudi Arabian Navy, who spent several years in the U.S. as a liaison officer at the Pensacola Naval Air Station (where my favorite sailor did his A School training last year), after spending several years in the late 1970s studying at the State University of New York’s Maritime College.  While in New York he visited the “breathtaking” World Trade Center more times than he could count.

During his years in the U.S. … well, let him tell it:

I drove on every highway and used every airport you can think of. During all that time I never had any problem praying and practicing Islam. As a matter of fact, the American people are the most admired for their respect of the Islamic religion. We prayed everywhere – in the classroom, the office, airports and in any highway exit. So Islam can be practiced anywhere without any fanfare or prestigious mosque. The U.S. is the most tolerant country regarding building an Islamic center. But why [did] Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf choose Ground Zero?”…

When I watched the collapse of the World Trade Center and the rescue efforts done by the people of New York, I knew for sure that someone I know was a victim or a rescue member. Two weeks later I received an e-mail from the Maritime College Alumni Association announcing the death of two of the school graduates. One is from the class of 1963 and the other from the class of 1986 (I will not mention their names). Another very close friend of mine and from the same class (1979) left one of the burning towers 15 minutes before it collapsed. Now I am emotionally more hurt than before. …

This is why I think that we Muslims have to carefully consider the place where the mosque will be built. There are a lot of mosques in Manhattan and having the mosque near Ground Zero may bring more harm to the Muslims than good. There is freedom of religion, but there is a common sense too.

Well said, Commodore Al-Mulhim.

In “Let’s Roll,” Neil Young Channels His Inner Neocon

This blog has a new theme song.

As quasi-obsessive as I am about 9/11, I can’t understand how Neil Young’s “Let’s Roll” escaped my notice from November 2001, when he first released the single, until today.  Thanks to Facebook friend Meg Marlowe for posting a YouTube link to the live version a few hours ago. [Note: the live version got deleted, the link now points to a music video.]

I love every syllable of the lyrics, but here’s the passage that qualifies the song as an anthem for All That Is Necessary:

No one has the answer
But one thing is true
You’ve gotta turn on evil
When it’s coming after you

You gotta face it down
And when it tries to hide
You gotta go in after it
And never be denied

I actually prefer the studio version, which you can also hear in its entirety via  (Mr. Young, I don’t know whether this post or any of the links violate your copyright, but FWIW, I just bought the song on iTunes.)

I’ve always loved Neil Young’s music, and in my youth I loved his politics as well.  I’m thinking particularly about  “Ohio,” the haunting Vietnam-era rally cry with its semi-explicit call to revolution (“gotta get down to it… should have been done long ago.”) In the three-plus decades since then, Young clearly hasn’t traveled as far down the neocon path as I have — in 2006 he released “Let’s Impeach the President,” which I won’t be buying.  But it’s amazing to me that the man who wrote “Let’s Impeach” and “Ohio” could also produce, in “Let’s Roll,” a clear-eyed clarion call without the slightest whiff of anti-American sentiment.  As Meg said on Facebook, “we all grow, right?”

Never Forget

This annual post was first published two years ago.  It is dedicated to the men and women of the United States armed forces, and to every firefighter who has ever run into a burning building — 343 of them in particular.

The name of this blog comes from something that English statesman Edmund Burke apparently did not actually say, so I’ve felt free to modernize the language:

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.”

Regardless of who said it first, that sentence is the purest possible distillation of my worldview, and today is a powerful annual reminder of why I regard it as an enduring truth.

The events of 9/11 were the legacy of more than two decades of doing nothing, or next to nothing, in response to attacks from fascists in Islamic guise.

Militant Islamists declared war on America in November 1979 by taking hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. This was followed by 1983 attacks on the U.S. embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut; the Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie in 1988; the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993; the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996; the simultaneous 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania; and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in 2000; along with smaller atrocities too numerous to list.

Only after 9/11 did America, led by a President who despite his substantial flaws was resolute enough to call evil by its name, finally mount a sustained response and take the battle to the enemy. And no, Saddam was not behind the 9/11 attacks — but liberating Iraq and planting a (still-fragile) democracy in the heart of the Islamic Middle East is an essential part of the broader war.

All of this is why, despite profound disagreements with the Republican Party on social issues, despite voting for Bill Clinton three times (including 2000), I can no longer vote for Democrats for President. Not until the party has a standard-bearer who understands the cost of meekness in the face of fascism, and who is prepared to stay on the offensive against people for whom “death to America” is not a metaphor.

Park51 Would Be the Most Expensive Islamic Center in North America

Artist rendering of Park51

One of the first thoughts that occurred to me when I began writing about the planned 13-story, 100,000 square foot, $100 million Islamic center near Ground Zero is, “surely this would be the biggest Islamic facility in the country?” To me, the trophy-building scale of the project is what makes it objectionable at that site.

But despite the zillions of words that have been written about the controversy, and despite the time-honored journalistic tendency to identify the biggest this and the tallest that, I’ve looked in vain for anything providing that bit of context.

It turns out that such comparisons are not easily made.  But after surveying the competition, I believe that if it is built, Park51 arguably will be the largest and tallest, and certainly will be the most expensive, Islamic center in North America.

Islamic Center of America, Dearborn, Michigan

If you Google “largest mosque in America,” the first result is the Islamic Center of America, which according to its website is a 70,000-square-foot complex in Dearborn, Michigan.  It includes a mosque that will accommodate 1,000 worshipers at a time (700 men downstairs, 300 women upstairs, just to remind you who is considered important), as well as a full-service banquet facility and a school.  This represents the first two of four planned phases of construction, with an auditorium and more educational facilities still to come.  “When all four phases are complete, the Islamic Center of America will be the largest in North America,” the website says.

The website gives the cost of the mosque as $14 million.  It’s not clear whether that is the final cost or just the phases built so far, but in either event it clearly won’t approach the $100 million pricetag of Park 51.  The dome in Dearborn is listed as 150 feet high, and the two minarets are said to be “10 stories tall”.  I’ve not been able to find a height for Park51 expressed in feet, but 13 stories implies about 150-160 feet.

Islamic Center of Washington

The Islamic Center of Washington, where George Bush removed his shoes on September 17, 2001, and declared that “Islam is peace,” was opened in 1957, and I could not find any estimates of its cost or square footage.   A Washington Post article refers to the “distinctive 160-foot minaret,” but the main building is only 2 or 3 stories tall.

Islamic Cultural Center of New York

The current largest Islamic facility in New York is the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, at 3rd Avenue and 97th Street in Manhattan, eight miles uptown from Ground Zero.  The Imam there on 9/11, Muhammad Gemeaha, opined that “only the Jews” were capable of destroying the World Trade Center and added that ”if it became known to the American people, they would have done to Jews what Hitler did.”  Charming.  To be fair, the current imam, Mohammad Shamsi Ali, apparently is working hard to build stronger ties with the city’s Jewish community.

The center boasts a 130-foot minaret, and was opened in 1991 at a cost of $17 million.  Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator, that cost translates to about $27 million in today’s dollars.  In light of the concerns about foreign funding of Park51, it’s interesting to note that the Islamic Cultural Center of New York “depended on support from 46 Islamic countries,” primarily Kuwait.

Masjid al-Haram, Mecca

The biggest mosque in the world, of course, is the one toward which Muslims face for their daily prayers:  Masjid al-Haram, the Grand Mosque of Mecca, which dates from 638.  No info on cost, but the Saudis have clearly sunk some bucks in it over the years.  It will accommodate up to 4 million worshipers during the annual hajj.

No infidels allowed.

(All photos from Wikipedia)

A Symposium on Moderate Islam — and Why the Ground Zero Imam Doesn’t Qualify

Feisal Abdul Rauf

Two useful features today in the Wall Street Journal.  First, a symposium titled “What is Moderate Islam?“, in which six scholars and thought leaders explore the topic that represents the world’s best hope for peaceful coexistence between Islam and the West.

Second, “Letters from the Imam,” in which the man behind a controversial proposed Islamic center in Lower Manhattan pointedly refuses an opportunity to portray himself as a moderate in the nation’s largest newspaper.

You really should read the whole thing, but I know you won’t (I can tell from my traffic software when someone clicks a link in one of my posts), so here are highlights from the symposium.

Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia’s opposition leader:

Yet Muslims must do more than just talk about their great intellectual and cultural heritage. We must be at the forefront of those who reject violence and terrorism. And our activism must not end there. The tyrants and oppressive regimes that have been the real impediment to peace and progress in the Muslim world must hear our unanimous condemnation. The ball is in our court.

Former Princeton Professor Bernard Lewis:

For the moment, there does not seem to be much prospect of a moderate Islam in the Muslim world. This is partly because in the prevailing atmosphere the expression of moderate ideas can be dangerous—even life-threatening. Radical groups like al Qaeda and the Taliban, the likes of which in earlier times were at most minor and marginal, have acquired a powerful and even a dominant position.

But for Muslims who seek it, the roots are there, both in the theory and practice of their faith and in their early sacred history.

The Islamist author Ed Husain:

The Prophet Muhammad warned us against ghuluw, or extremism, in religion. The Quran reinforces the need for qist, or balance. For me, Islam at its essence is the middle way in all matters. This is normative Islam, adhered to by a billion normal Muslims across the globe.

Normative Islam is inherently pluralist. It is supported by 1,000 years of Muslim history in which religious freedom was cherished. The claim, made today by the governments of Iran and Saudi Arabia, that they represent God’s will expressed through their version of oppressive Shariah law is a modern innovation.

Reuel Marc Gerecht, senior fellow at the indispensable Foundation for Defense of Democracies:

That is the essence of moderation in any faith: the willingness to exist peacefully, if not exuberantly, alongside nonbelievers who hold repellent views on many sacred subjects.

It is a dispensation that comes fairly easily to ordinary Muslims who have left their homelands to live among nonbelievers in Western democracies. It is harder for Muslims surrounded by their own kind, unaccustomed by politics and culture to giving up too much ground.

Tawfik Hamid, former member of the Islamic radical group Jamma Islamiya:

Moderate Islam must not be passive. It needs to actively reinterpret the violent parts of the religious text rather than simply cherry-picking the peaceful ones. Ignoring, rather than confronting or contextualizing, the violent texts leaves young Muslims vulnerable to such teachings at a later stage in their lives. …

Moderate Islam must be honest enough to admit that Islam has been used in a violent manner at several stages in history to seek domination over others. Insisting that all acts in Islamic history and all current Shariah teachings are peaceful is a form of deception that makes things worse by failing to acknowledge the existence of the problem.

And Akbar Ahmed, chair of Islamic Studies at American University:

Clearly, the use of the term moderate here is meant as a compliment. But the application of the term creates more problems than it solves. The term is heavy with value judgment, smacking of “good guy” versus “bad guy” categories. And it implies that while a minority of Muslims are moderate, the rest are not. …

[He proposes other categories.] The modernist is proud of Islam and yet able to live comfortably in, and contribute to, Western society. … The literalists believe that Muslim behavior must approximate that of the Prophet in seventh-century Arabia. Their belief that Islam is under attack forces many of them to adopt a defensive posture. And while not all literalists advocate violence, many do. Movements like the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and the Taliban belong to this category.

I must say I have mixed feelings about the first paragraph I quoted from Professor Ahmed, immediately above.  (I am, however, confident he and I could discuss it without anybody’s throat getting cut.)  I’m OK with the fact that the term moderate “is heavy with value judgment, smacking of ‘good guy’ versus ‘bad guy’ categories.”  There are good guys and bad guys, and differentiating between them is an essential first step toward achieving peaceful coexistence between Islam and the West.

I accept the professor’s point, however, that the term can imply that moderate Muslims are a minority — which they most certainly are not (or else we’re all hosed).  But here the laws of large numbers come into play.  There are more than a billion Muslims on the planet.  Let’s say Ahmed’s “literalists” are confined to .01% (one hundredth of one percent) of all Muslims.  That implies more than 100,000 dangerous jihadis around the world.

Which brings us to Feisel Abdul Rauf, the man behind the “Ground Zero mosque.” (Yes, I know it’s not just a mosque, and I know it’s not “at” Ground Zero.  It’s at a site chosen for its proximity to Ground Zero.)  The Journal found a couple of letters to the editor from Rauf in the New York Times from the late 1970s, in which:

Imam Rauf seems to be saying that Muslims should understand Sadat’s olive branch … as a short-term respite leading to ultimate conquest.  To drive that point home, he added in the same letter that “In a true peace it is impossible that a purely Jewish state of Palestine can endure. . . . In a true peace, Israel will, in our lifetimes, become one more Arab country, with a Jewish minority.”

Two years later, the imam weighed in on the Iranian revolution. In a February 27, 1979 letter, in which he scores Americans for failing to apologize to Iran for past misdeeds, he wrote, “The revolution in Iran was inspired by the very principles of individual rights and freedom that Americans ardently believe in.”

At the time, Iran’s revolution hadn’t revealed all of its violent, messianic character. Thirty years later it has, yet Mr. Rauf’s views seem little changed. Following Iran’s sham presidential election last year and the crackdown that followed, the imam urged President Obama to “say his administration respects many of the guiding principles of the 1979 revolution.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but I certainly said lots of stupid things in the late 1970s. (I was in college.)  But the Journal offered the imam a golden opportunity to clarify his views and paint himself as a moderate:

We asked Imam Rauf if his views had changed since the 1970s. His complete response: “It is amusing that journalists are combing through letters-to-the-editor that I wrote more than 30 years ago, when I was a young man, for clues to my evolution. As I re-read those letters now, I see that they express the same concerns—a desire for peaceful solutions in Israel, and for a humane understanding of Iran—that I have maintained, and worked hard on, in the years since those letters were published.”

Contrast this dismissive brushoff with the thoughtful, conciliatory comments of Messrs. Ibrahim, Husain, Hamid and Ahmed above.  For a man who claims to want to build bridges between the faiths, Imam Rauf sure does seem contemptuous of the misgivings shared by 70 percent of Americans.  He also sounds like an apologist for Iran, the world’s foremost state instigator of terrorism.

Stumbling Toward a Middle Ground on the So-Called “Ground Zero Mosque”

From Urban Infidel

The controversy over the bigger-than-a-mosque Islamic center proposed on a site chosen for its proximity to Ground Zero bears an unappealing resemblance to the abortion issue.

Lots of principled and meritorious arguments advanced on both sides.  A high ratio of heat to light. Fierce disagreements over terminology:  pro-choice or pro-abortion, mosque or community center, at Ground Zero or near it. A debate dominated by absolutist rhetoric, drowning out anybody seeking a middle ground. (My own position on abortion can be summed up by a headline on my blog: “Abortion Should Be Safe and Legal — But It Stops a Beating Heart.”)

Thinking of the current debate in the context of abortion gives me some sympathy for President Obama’s ham-handed attempt to have it both ways: He supports the mosque.  No, he just means it’s legal.  (In the category of things that feel like other things, Obama’s handling of the GZ mosque resembles the even more problematic Obama approach to Afghanistan: We’re surging… but only for a year.)

A friend and former ink-stained co-worker launched a new blog this week, focused thus far on the mosque controversy.  He and I come down on different sides of the argument, but I liked this passage:

The important thing is not one viewpoint triumphing over another. It’s restoring reasoned and reasonable conversations about stuff that really matters, and making sure that discourse douses the flamers who seek only to divide and exploit.

So in the interests of reasoned discourse, I want to acknowledge that religious freedom is one of the core, foundational values of this country, and Americans rightly have a visceral reaction to anything that smacks of religious intolerance.

But religious freedom is not the only thing at stake here. The analogy of the Pope asking the Carmelite nuns to move their convent out of Auschwitz is a good one — however good the sisters’ intentions were, their presence there was offensive to people who had survived a monstrous atrocity.

The controversy threatens to obscure the crucial distinction between Islam and Islamofascism.  In a lengthy essay at Pajamas Media titled “A Message to Conservatives: Is Islam Really our Enemy?”, Ron Radosh strongly makes the case that it is not:

Unlike those in the conservative movement who believe Islam is the enemy, I argue that there are real moderate Muslims, who need to be encouraged and supported in waging the fight within Islam against the uses of the Quran for radical purposes. These Muslims exist. We must support them, and not fall into the trap of backing imposters and charlatans who claim they are moderates, and who use our gullibility to pull the wool over our eyes, and who gain our monetary and political backing for what in reality are nefarious purposes dangerous to our national security.

But to view all Muslims as per se extremists is to give up this fight in advance, and to push real moderates into the hands of the extremists. If all Muslims are our enemy, we give credibility to the radical Islamofascists,  who claim that their view of the Quran is the only true one, and if one is a real Muslim, they must join Bin Laden and the other radicals in their holy Jihad against the West.

This could be read as a strong argument in favor of welcoming the GZ Mosque, but Radosh doesn’t take it there.  He does provide an excellent overview of the spectrum of conservative thinking on the matter — worthy and otherwise.  (Why oh why does Pamela Geller have to be one of the most prominent voices against the mosque?)

Both sides of the controversy cite the First Amendment — freedom of religion vs. freedom of speech — but appealing to the Constitution is missing the point.  Nobody — no serious person — is suggesting the government should forbid the project.  What I and millions of other Americans (including many moderate Muslims) want is for the developers to find a new site.

And that’s exactly what the developers will do, if they are truly serious about wanting to build bridges.  As James Taranto pointed out, “If the intent of the Ground Zero mosque is ‘to bring Muslims and non-Muslims together,’ it is already a failure on its own terms.”  Reasonable people can disagree about who to blame for that failure, but the fact that the project is divisive is indisputable.

A Message to Conservatives: Is Islam Really our Enemy?

Muslims Against the Ground Zero Mosque

When I first started hearing about it, the controversy over a proposed mosque near the gaping hole where the twin towers once stood seemed like an annoying distraction.  I wished the whole discussion would just go away.   I sympathized with the visceral opposition to a monument to Islam near where fanatical Muslims killed so many Americans.  But it’s too easy to caricature that opposition as religious intolerance.

Fortunately, moderate Muslims have come to the rescue, and have branded the plan as the provocation it is. Raheel Raza and Tarek Fatah, writing in the Ottowa Citizen (hat tip to Andy McCarthy):

So what gives Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the “Cordoba Initiative” and his cohorts the misplaced idea that they will increase tolerance for Muslims by brazenly displaying their own intolerance in this case?

Do they not understand that building a mosque at Ground Zero is equivalent to permitting a Serbian Orthodox church near the killing fields of Srebrenica where 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered? …

As Muslims we are dismayed that our co-religionists have such little consideration for their fellow citizens and wish to rub salt in their wounds and pretend they are applying a balm to sooth the pain.

Neda Bolourchi, a secular Muslim whose mother was on the plane that hit the North Tower, writing in the Washington Post (hat tip for my headline and the following item to John McCormack) :

Though I have nothing but contempt for the fanaticism that propelled the terrorists to carry out their murderous attacks on Sept. 11, I still have great respect for the faith. Yet, I worry that the construction of the Cordoba House Islamic cultural center near the World Trade Center site would not promote tolerance or understanding; I fear it would become a symbol of victory for militant Muslims around the world.

And my go-to guy for Muslim moderation, M. Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, who way back in May had a column in the New York Post that I missed at the time (hat tip to my research assistant, Mr. Google):

My first concern is whether the financing truly represents the local American Muslim community or comes with strings from foreign Islamists. But that is far from my last concern.

I am an American Muslim dedicated to defeating the ideology that fuels global Islamist terror — political Islam. And I don’t see such a “center” actually fighting terrorism or being a very “positive” addition near Ground Zero, no matter how well intentioned.

To put it bluntly, Ground Zero is the one place in America where Muslims should think less about teaching Islam and “our good side” and more about being American and fulfilling our responsibilities to confront the ideology of our enemies.

On reflection, I think it’s a good thing that this controversy is taking place.  It provides a forum for discussion of the delicate but essential task of distinguishing Islam from Islamic fascism.  Three cheers for all of the brave Muslims and former Muslims who are willing to risk participating in that discussion.

A Tireless Muslim Advocate for Islamic Reform

M. Zuhdi Jasser

It’s a shame that conservative arsonist Andrew Breitbart has torched his own credibility so thoroughly at the time one of his websites was preparing to publish an important message from my favorite Muslim-American patriot.

As a public service to anyone who doesn’t want to give Breitbart’s site any traffic, I’m posting an extensive excerpt here from M. Zuhdi Jasser, a devout Muslim and former officer in the United States Navy.  Jasser says of failed Time Square bomber Faisal Shahzad (emphasis added):

The Shahzads of the world do not go to sleep one night a normal citizen in corporate America working for the Affinion Group and wake up the next morning a traitorous jihadist adhering to a radical ideology. There is a process of indoctrination and the pathway is political Islam. …

The core of our American citizenship pledge and my officer’s pledge I took when I was in the U.S. Navy is to defend the U.S. against enemies foreign and domestic. Muslim leadership need to reform the ideas which feed into the development of traitors like Hasan and Shahzad and others who slide down the slippery slope of political Islam to become agents of the “Islamic state” over their allegiance to the U.S., the nation that gave them freedom. Simply placing road blocks along that slope as many who prefer political correctness over debate would do is not enough. The whole slope of political Islam needs to be ideologically defeated in real debate within the House of Islam.

The obligations of jihad in the 7th century Arabian Peninsula under the Prophet Muhammad’s leadership are gone for all Muslims I know. We now only have a national obligation of citizenship to our nation – the United States– and there is and can be no other competing obligations. Muslim teachers need to make that repeatedly clear, with no qualifications about Muslims being in a majority or minority, or future Shahzads of the world will keep returning.

If Muslims apply the true meaning of jihad today that I know and learned from my family, they would start a ‘jihad against jihad’ and work to end the concept with regards to armed conflict, nation states, and the ummah. The real jihad in 2010 is within the House of Islam against the Islamists and those advocates of political Islam and its radical manifestations that have hijacked the spiritual path of Islam.

I was not aware of Jasser and his organization, the American-Islamic Forum for Democracy, in late 2008 when I posted the following words:

There are some reprehensible passages in the Bible, but over the centuries most Christians have come to reject them. Christians stopped sanctioning the killing of non-believers because Christianity as a culture came to know that it was wrong, despite whatever Biblical support might be found. Christians in America cited Biblical support for slavery, and other Christians led the way in renouncing it, first through the abolition movement and later through the civil rights movement.

In the same way, Muslims bear the primary responsibility (not “blame”) for purging Islam of the evil done in its name. Perhaps Islam has been hijacked, as President Bush would have it. But if there is any broad-based, organized effort by moderate Muslims to overpower the “hijackers,” it has escaped my notice.

Shame on me — AIFD has been fighting the good fight since 2003, as I would have known if I had looked a little harder.  In my defense I’ll cite the unfortunate fact that Jasser and AIFD are not nearly as well known as they deserve to be — Wikipedia has a self-described “stub” of an entry for AIFD, and no entry for Jasser himself.

But Jasser is a Muslim Hero, and I’ll continue to look for opportunities to highlight his views.

Islam Needs a Reformation, Not Technological Help

M. Zuhdi Jasser

Leave it to a devout and patriotic Muslim-American to smack down the Obama Administration’s latest example of unseriousness in the struggle against Islamic fascism.

You may have read that Charles Bolden told al-Jazeera last week that when Obama appointed him to lead NASA, the president gave him three charges:  “One, he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.”

Set aside the fact that if you’re the head of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, maybe one of your top three priorities ought to have something to do with, you know, space.  Focus instead on the notion that we should make nice with Islam by helping Muslims “feel good” about the fact that centuries ago, as the President said in his Cairo speech, Muslims contributed to the development of algebra and the use of magnetic compasses for navigation.

Of all the areas for potential interaction between America and Muslim nations, science has to be just about the least appropriate.  Muslim nations already have produced killers who hijacked technology they could not have developed to fly it into buildings they could not have built.  As M. Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy puts it, “Handing them our technology and funds could end up strengthening theocrats and monarchs, further preventing real reform.”

Jasser, a devout Muslim and former lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy, is an important voice with more credibility on the nature of Islam than a cranky white guy from New Jersey could ever develop.  As Jasser writes, focusing on technology

… ignores the fact that many militant Islamist leaders, from bin Laden to Zawahiri to most of the heads of the Muslim Brotherhood, are very scientifically educated. In fact, the Brotherhood (Ikhwan) is sometimes pejoratively referred to as the “Brotherhood of Engineers.”

Zewail [another Obama Administration advisor] goes on to write: “Most Westerners today are unaware of the extent to which Nasser’s regime promoted education as the vital engine of progress.” How insulting: Gamal Abdel Nasser’s legendary fascism, pan-Arabism, and socialism have become “engines of progress.” Nasser infected the Middle East with a deeply corrupt ideology, yet Obama’s science envoy is apologizing for the Egyptian despot.

The challenge is not science and technology. Real Muslim reform will only come from modernization of thought in the political sciences, liberal arts, free markets, theology, and philosophy. Theocratic Islamist movements are the primary obstacles to Muslim enlightenment – not the absence of space technology.

And real Muslim reform, if it happens, will be driven by Muslim heros like Jasser — not by impotent efforts to paper over current threats by making Muslims “feel good” about long-ago events.