Wrong man for the mission

The possibility that Muslims will erect a victory monument (a/k/a Muslim facility, mosque, Islamic center, interfaith shrine) within yards of Ground Zero is something like a knife in the heart to most Americans. The front man for the project is one Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.
Who is Rauf? He is touted as “a moderate Muslim cleric,” but I’m not buying it. I don’t think it’s too tough to figure out where anyone who says Osama bin Lade was made in America, or that America was an accessory to 9/11, is coming from. We understand.
Claudia Rosett has blown the whistle on a related story. It now turns out that the Department of State is sending Rauf on a little trip to the Middle East. Thank you, Ms. Rosett.
It took Rosett several days of questions and phone calls to the State Department to confirm the story of Rauf’s trip or details about the State-sponsored summer outreach excursions to the Middle East. Rosett comments: “Apparently, it takes quite a while at State to get ‘clearance’ for disclosure to the American public of such basic details as who, exactly, is engaging in public outreach at our expense and on our behalf.” This week the State Department finally confirmed that Rauf is taking the publicly funded trip to foster “greater understanding” about Islam and Muslim communities in the United States. Destinations are to include Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Qatar.
Is Rauf really the right man for the mission? I hereby nominate Andrew McCarthy, a man with deep experience of Islamic communities in the United States and the author of a newly published book on the subject, to replace the unaromatic Rauf on the State Department trip.
“[Rauf] is a distinguished Muslim cleric,” says State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, when asked about the trip. By what is Rauf distinguished? I’d say mostly for the unusual skill he brings to the art of holding himself out as “a moderate Muslim cleric” while expressing the mealymouthed attitude to terrorism to which we have become accustomed. According to Rauf, “Terrorism is a very complex question.” We understand. This is, as Rich Lowry observes “the stock answer of anyone excusing terrorism.”
The State Department denies that Rauf will be raising money for the victory monument on his little trip. But according to a London-based Arabic-language newspaper that interviewed Rauf about the trip, Rauf says he will collect money from Muslim and Arab nations around the world to support his New York project. As the linked New York Post article suggests, he may therefore be multitasking on his trip.
In any event, we have here a remarkable confluence of forces. What are we to make of the fact that the Obama administration is teaming up with the front man for the Muslim victory monument at Ground Zero? Even if it there is something coincidental to these matters, it is a revealing coincidence.


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