The New York Times just can’t leave well enough alone. After running a number of editorials and articles earlier this year in support of the mega mosque and community center proposed to be built right near Ground Zero, it ran another one today. As usual, the Times avoids the central issue in the debate, which is the wisdom and appropriateness of building a 15 story Islamic monument in that particular location.
In its latest editorial on the subject, the Times has sought refuge in the reflections of ultra-left former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens concerning his visit to the U.S.S. Arizona memorial. We are supposed to learn the dangerous consequences of “ignorance” leading to ”invidious prejudice” from Stevens’ personal experience and apply this lesson by analogy to the debate over the mega mosque and community center.
It seems that former Justice Stevens, who had served for two and a half years as an intelligence officer in Pearl Harbor during World War II, confessed last week in a speech in Washington that he had an initial negative reaction decades later at seeing dozens of Japanese tourists visiting the memorial site.
Justice Stevens recalled his initial thoughts:
Those people don’t really belong here. We won the war. They lost it. We shouldn’t allow them to celebrate their attack on Pearl Harbor even if it was one of their greatest victories.
Then, as Justice Stevens recalled, he realized how prejudiced and wrong-headed his initial reaction was. From that experience we are supposed to extrapolate a lesson regarding the Ground Zero mosque controversy. The lesson, according to Justice Stevens is as follows:
The Japanese tourists were not responsible for what some of their countrymen did decades ago [just as] the Muslims planning to build the mosque are not responsible for what an entirely different group of Muslims did on 9/11
Frankly, this is one of the most ludicrous arguments yet to be made in the ongoing controversy. A large majority of New Yorkers oppose only the particular location of the mega mosque and community center proposed to be built in the vicinity of Ground Zero. This opposition has nothing to do with barring Muslims from visiting the 9/11 memorial being built at the Ground Zero site in honor of the victims who perished on that awful day. In fact, Muslims interested in peace and mutual understanding should join all peace-loving people to experience the rebirth at Ground Zero. They should witness for themselves what will arise from the ashes of destruction wrought by “what an entirely different group of Muslims did on 9/11.”
Justice Stevens’ initial prejudiced reaction when he saw Japanese tourists at the Pearl Harbor memorial site is completely irrelevant to the current debate.
I would have been more interested in his reaction if, within a decade after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese had built a memorial to Japan’s nationalist religion: Shintoism, becauses that is essentially what the mosque supporters are proposing to do in building their mega mosque and community center complex so near Ground Zero. Indeed, it was the mosque’s sponsor Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf himself who referred to his pet project as an “icon” that the whole Muslim world would be proud of.
There are also serious doubts about Rauf’s real intentions. While differing in tactics from the violent Islamic jihadists who attacked us on 9/11, Rauf’s underlying ideological belief in the supremacy of sharia law may not be all that different.
In short, the Times once again demonstrates its own ignorance and prejudices in another of its long series of nonsensical editorials. And Justice Stevens should use a bit tighter reasoning before drawing such false analogies with his own personal experiences.
Joseph Klein is the author of a new book entitled Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations and Radical Islam