In a recent Wall Street Journal article, terrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann said that anti-Muslim rhetoric in America is bad news for anti-terrorism efforts: “We are handing al Qaeda a propaganda coup, an absolute propaganda coup.”
By many accounts, the man who could blunt the power of that coup is Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the religious leader behind the planned Islamic Center near Ground Zero. The imam has been surprisingly mum on the issue while he travels in the Middle East. What message of faith could he offer to Muslims and non-Muslims alike that could turn this moment of division into a time of healing?
The controversy was not generated by Imam Rauf so why should he be held responsible for putting an end to it? The whole thing was created by the Republicans supported by a media hungry for ratings and the consequences lie squarely on their shoulders. It is not just about the mosque near Ground Zero but mosques in Tennessee, Arizona and California that have been opposed by the right.
Imam Rauf was selected by President Bush to go out into the Muslim world and change their impressions of the United States. He continues on this mission under the present administration. Besides, he is not the only one who believes that we are in this mess today largely because of our arrogant misuse of the CIA in the conflict in Afghanistan when the Russians were trying to invade and take over. The whole world knows about this but our ultra-nationalistic right-wing and their supporters behave like ostriches and pretend as though we are innocent. We can fool the world once, not all the time.
Those who started this controversy and continue to whip it into a frenzy have no thought for our troops, and Gen. Petreius, who are valiantly trying to win a war in Afghanistan by convincing the people there that we mean well and are sacrificing our youth so that they can look forward to a better life. This controversy and the senseless idea of remembering 9/11 by burning the Koran proves to the Muslim world that we are arrogant and expect the world to kiss our feet. It has only given Bin Laden and his organization more power to recruit people to fight against us. The responsiblity to defuse this controversey and apologize profusely to our soldiers lies squarely on the right wing knuckle-heads who started it.