So far, the Ground Zero mosque controversy has focused excessively on its proximity to the scene of the September 11 massacre. The Park51 Islamic center would stand 560 feet from that revered site. Would moving it 5,600 feet away calm this storm?
Perhaps, but far more important is what would happen inside this mosque. That ought to determine if it should be even closer to Ground Zero, or if it even should open anywhere in America.
Imagine if the mosque’s imam said this:
Our mosque will be the world headquarters of a new Islam that is at peace with the 21st century and that strives to do for Islam what Martin Luther did for Christianity in 1517. That’s when he nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg, Germany’s Castle Church, launched the Protestant Reformation, and helped Catholicism correct its excesses.
We will pray every day to save the 2,752 innocent souls slaughtered at the World Trade Center in the name of a militant Islam that we wholeheartedly reject and endeavor to overcome.
We will pray every day to condemn the souls of September 11’s 19 evil perpetrators. May they roast in Hell forever, each morning hotter than the last.
We will pray every day for the rapid defeat of al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and other violent, Islamic-extremist terrorist groups.
We will pray every day for Islam to be a faith equal — but not superior — to other religions that people freely may choose to practice.
We will pray every day for the freedom, equality, and longevity of every human being — regardless of belief, gender, or sexuality.
We invite Jews, Christians, non-believers, and everyone else to join our efforts. And we humbly ask to pursue them adjacent to where radical Islam committed its greatest modern atrocity. May the light of our example drive the darkness from that day.
If this mosque’s imam preached these sentiments, many — and perhaps most — Americans would agree that his antidote to al-Qaeda’s poison could stand 56 feet from the scene of its most heinous crime. Instead, doubts grow about the moderation of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s voice. It seems more likely that the words above would leave him tongue-tied.
• Just 19 days after September 11 — while Ground Zero still was a flaming, smoking ruin — Rauf told CBS’s 60 Minutes: “I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States’ policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.”
• Rauf said in 2005 that “the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al-Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims.” Never mind the millions of Muslims whom America has liberated, or at least tried to rescue from tyranny, in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Lebanon, and Somalia. America assisted millions more Muslims after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and is aiding Muslims today in flood-ravaged Pakistan.
• Rauf has repeatedly refused to identify Hamas as a terrorist group.