But does Imam Rauf understand why he’s so well understood?
In order to fully understand the proposed Ground Zero Mosque it requires us to understand the meaning of understanding. There seems to be a misunderstanding of understanding where it concerns Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Cordoba Initiative and the Park 51 project.
According to the Park 51 website:
Park51 will be a community center promoting tolerance and understanding through three types of programs: arts & culture, education and recreation.
The Cordoba Initiative describes its programming in this manner:
The programs at Cordoba Initiative (CI) are designed to cultivate multi-cultural and multi-faith understanding across minds and borders. In the ten years since our founding, the necessity to strengthen the bridge between Islam and the West continues to prevail.
In a guest editorial that was published in the New York Times on September 7, Rauf explains the significance of the name Cordoba:
Our name, Cordoba, was inspired by the city in Spain where Muslims, Christians and Jews co-existed in the Middle Ages during a period of great cultural enrichment created by Muslims. Our initiative is intended to cultivate understanding among all religions and cultures.
During his September 13 address to the Council on Foreign Relations, Rauf returns to the theme of understanding:
But genuine understanding can only happen when there is honesty, sincerity of motive, and an open heart. For when issues are politicized or used as fodder for commentators on the right or on the left, we just pour fuels on the flames of misunderstanding.
Now for most Americans, understanding means mutual respect and tolerance towards others whether as individuals or groups. But understanding can also have another meaning. It is entirely possible to achieve an understanding in the absence of mutual respect and tolerance. If your child goes to school and the class bully tells him that his lunch money is the price he must pay to avoid being beaten up, then there is an understanding. It is perhaps a painful understanding but it is an understanding nonetheless. With this in mind let us examine what happened in Cordoba, Spain more than 850 years ago.
In 1148, Cordoba was invaded and taken over by the Almohades, a sect of Islamic fundamentalists. The Almohades gave the Christians and Jews of Cordoba three choices.
They could convert to Islam; they could leave Cordoba or they could be executed. Amongst those who fled Cordoba was Moses Maimonides, who in adulthood would become a world renowned physician, philosopher and rabbi.
There was undeniably an understanding between the Almohades and the Christians and Jews of Cordoba. But it was an example of an understanding based not on mutual respect and tolerance but rather an understanding based on conquest and contempt of non-Muslims. Suffice it to say, when Feisal Abdul Rauf cites twelfth century Cordoba as a model by which to “cultivate understanding among all religions and cultures,” it neither inspires confidence nor establishes trust. Just ask Christians in Malaysia.
In January, Malay Muslims burned down Christian churches after the Herald, a Catholic monthly newspaper, had the temerity to correctly use the word “Allah” in reference to the Christian God.
Enter Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf with editorial in hand. While Rauf would acknowledge the use of the word Allah was correct in both legal and theological terms he stated nonetheless that when used by Christians, “it is socially provocative.” As Andy McCarthy of National Review Online put it recently, “You know what else might be ‘socially provocative’? A giant mosque at Ground Zero.” Rauf went on to write:
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online