I had more or less made my peace with the outcry over the Cordoba Initiative‘s community space + masjid near Ground Zero until the weekend’s Palin silliness.
As if you didn’t know, Palin tweeted as follows:
Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate…Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real….Peace-seeking Muslims pls understand. Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing
There’s something obscene about Palin reminding “peaceful” New Yorkers that the pain of 9/11 is “too raw.” But what really set me off is the idea that “peaceful Muslims” should oppose the masjid because of its associations with 9/11. Here’s the tension: we’re always hearing calls for “moderate muslims” to repudiate extremism, denounce terrorism, etc., but the guy heading the Cordoba Institute is pretty much the paradigm case of the moderate muslim who rejects al Qaeda, Sharia-for-all, global caliphate, all that. The Cordoba Initiative is all about being the moderate Muslim voice. One problem, therefore, is that he’s being opposed by the people ostensibly calling for…more of what he wants to do.
The second problem: the CI masjid will be “unnecessary provocation” only if people see the pain of 9/11 as caused by muslims rather than, say, extremist muslims in al Qaeda. (If I were more enthused about this post I’d make up a story about “how dare you build a synagogue near where that Jewish guy did that terrible thing” etc. etc.) Complaining about the symbolism or psychological effects just helps to cement the idea that the relevant reference class is muslim rather than something else. The point of amplifying the “moderate voice” is to show what is true, viz., the muslim community is a diverse one with a very small minority who likes to blow stuff up. The collective responsibility view implicit in Palin’s opposition is diametrically opposed to that. And you wonder why Step ibn-Fetchit doesn’t come running when you call. (NB slight edit for increased zing.)