In an interview with CNN’s Soledad O’Brien last night, Feisal Abdul Rauf claimed that U.S. national security depends on the building of the Ground Zero Mosque. Here (via the Corner) is the key part of the interview:
RAUF: As I just mentioned, our national security now hinges on how we negotiate this, how we speak about it, and what we do. It is important for us now to raise the bar on our conversation-
O’BRIEN: What’s the risk? When you say “national security,” what’s the risk?
RAUF: As I mentioned, because if we move, that means the radicals have shaped the discourse. The radicals will shape the discourse on both sides. And those of us who are moderates on both sides — you see Soledad, the battle front is not between Muslims and non-Muslims. The real battle front is between moderates on all sides of all the faith traditions and the radicals on all sides. The radicals actually feed off each other. And in some kind of existential way, need each other. And the more that the radicals are able to control the discourse on one side, it strengthens the radicals on the other side and vice versa.
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If this is not handled correctly, this crisis could become much bigger than the Danish cartoon crisis, which resulted in attacks on Danish embassies in various parts of the Muslim world.
If Rauf is correct, then he has placed the security of the United States in jeopardy through his in-your-face drive to build the mosque at this location. But I doubt that Rauf’s purported concern has any substantial factual basis.
More likely, Rauf is concerned about the consequences for Rauf of backing down on the mosque. Doing so would diminish his credibility in the Arab world, particularly among its more radcial elements whose good side Rauf consistently attempts to remain (probably because he shares many of their goals). That’s a price I’d be willing to pay.
As for U.S. interests, the real threat here is the ability of anti-American, sharia supporting Muslims like Rauf to leverage their demands for concessions within the U.S. through claims of dire consequences if we do not comply.
Rauf is an old hand at this. Recall his claim that the U.S. was “an accomplice” to 9/11 by virtue of its foreign policy. This represented, in effect, a demand that the U.S. change its foreign policy or else face more deadly attacks.
Thus, we have an additional reason, if any were needed, to strive, within the limits of the law, to prevent the building of the Ground Zero Mosque.