If a mosque opens (or more likely, breaks ground) at Ground Zero on 9/11 next year, Barack Obama can kiss the White House goodbye.
Richard [email protected]UK DAILY MAIL IN FAVOR: America’s liberal elite. AGAINST: 70 per cent of the American people. With crucial mid-term elections looming in November, the President finds himself marooned on the wrong side of public opinion. It could cost him control of Congress and, in two years’ time, the White House itself.
Nine years after 9/11, the site of the Twin Towers is still an open sore on the face of New York — a festering reminder of the terror attack which claimed almost 3,000 lives. To add insult to injury, in the eyes of the victims’ families and the majority of Americans, approval has just been granted for a mosque to be built two blocks away from Ground Zero. What began as a local planning dispute could come to determine the fate of Barack Obama’s Presidency.
He also managed to ignite the Bible Belt and God-fearing, moderate Middle America by proclaiming that Islam was a major force in ‘advancing justice, progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings’ and had ‘always been part of America’. In so doing, he displayed an ignorance of history which made David Cameron’s recent confusion over the timing of America’s entry into World War II look like a minor clerical error.
Obama’s words would have come as a surprise not only to the Founding Fathers, who established the United States on concrete Christian principles, but also to those unfortunate women being stoned to death and subjugated in the more barbaric outposts of Islam.
The President’s inept intervention hosed fuel on the flames of a furore which has been smouldering for months. His attempts to backtrack 24 hours later only made him look weak and indecisive. But his reaction was characteristically legalistic, when it should have been empathetic. He concentrated on process, when he should have been focusing on politics and public reaction.
After Newt Gingrich, a potential Republican Presidential candidate in 2012, likened the mosque to planting a swastika at a Holocaust memorial, or a Japanese cultural centre at Pearl Harbour, it went nuclear. Gingrich’s deliberately incendiary analogy hit its intended target. America’s liberal elite spasmed into overdrive, branding all opposition to the mosque as being motived by bigotry and religious hatred, in an attempt to shut down debate.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused campaigners of being part of Hillary Clinton’s imaginary ‘vast Right-wing conspiracy’. It was as predictable as Britain’s self-styled ‘liberal’ establishment’s track record of smearing anyone who expresses doubts about unlimited immigration as a knuckle-dragging, BNP racist.
At a stroke, almost three-quarters of Americans were written off as ‘bigots’. Unlike Britain, though, America’s silent majority refuses to be cowed into submission.
The more extreme opponents point out that the group behind the plan want to call the project ‘Cordoba House’ — in honour of the Spanish city where medieval Islamic invaders erected a mosque on the site of a razed Roman Catholic cathedral to mark their conquest of Christianity.
In their determination to display their ‘tolerance’ of other religions, the supporters of the mosque have paraded their own ingrained intolerance of anyone who disagrees with them. By proclaiming their ‘sensitivity’ towards Islam they have demonstrated their utter insensitivity to the vast majority of Americans, primarily the 9/11 families.
The establishment’s fundamental mistake was trying to treat this application as a local matter, in the hope that no one would notice. Ground Zero doesn’t just belong to New York, it belongs to all America.
The enthusiasm for this mosque is contrasted starkly with the conspicuous failure to rebuild the Twin Towers after nine years; refusal of planning permission for the rebuilding of a nearby Greek Orthodox church damaged in the attacks; and failure to implement a promise to meet the health care costs of rescue workers who sustained debilitating illnesses and injuries on 9/11.
What seems to be forgotten in this case, as so often when it comes to dealing with Islam, is that tolerance is a two-way street. This isn’t about freedom to worship. There are already 100 official mosques in New York’s five boroughs, and more than 1,800 across America. So the question is: Why here? Why now? Why a stone’s throw from Ground Zero? There’s no Muslim population in this part of Manhattan. It’s a business district.
The imam at the centre is Faisal Abdul Rauf, a ‘moderate’ who has advised the FBI and the State Department. But like so many ‘moderates’ this imam speaks with forked tongue, rather like some of the dubious characters seconded by our own Home Office and Scotland Yard over the past few years.
Barack Obama has nailed himself to the side of this mosque and is struggling to wriggle free. Worryingly for the President, two-thirds of voters who define themselves as ‘independents’ — and who swept him to victory in 2008 — are vehemently opposed to the plan.
At a time when 56 per cent of Americans disapprove of his handling of the economy, this is one distraction Obama doesn’t need and should have been bright enough to avoid. His own party is split on the issue, with even Senate majority leader Harry Reid coming out against the mosque, as he tries to cling on to his own seat in November.
The President’s best hope is that Imam Rauf and his backers accept the offer of an alternative site. But the fall-out will linger. One report claims the mosque is due to open on September 11, 2011 — the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks.
If that’s true, Obama can kiss the White House goodbye.