The Mosque and the “Moderate” Imam

It has become conventional wisdom, at least in the so-called mainstream media and other liberal circles, that Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam who wants to build a mosque near Ground Zero, is a moderate.

A headline in Time magazine calls him “The Moderate Imam Behind the ‘Ground Zero Mosque.’”

A New York Times blog says he is a “moderate Muslim.”

Walter Isaacson, the head of the Aspen Institute, says Rauf has “promoted a moderate and tolerant Islam.”

These are just a few examples.  There are many, many more.

And I have no doubt that Rauf is moderate, by Muslim standards.  But where does he fit in by American standards?

This is the same imam, who just 19 days after September 11, 2001, explained the attacks this way in an interview with Ed Bradley on 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.”

Yes, in the Arab world that probably would be considered “moderate.”  But let’s translate:  “I am against this sort of terrorism, the Imam seems to be saying, but I understand why it happened.  In part, America brought this on itself.”

Such an understanding doesn’t make the United States an accessory to anything.  But it does make the imam himself an accessory to the crime he sort of, kind of, deplores.

Can you imagine any decent person 70 years ago saying, “I don’t condone lynching or any other violence against Negroes. That certainly is wrong.  But I understand why those white folks do it.  Federal government policies drive people to do bad things and therefore those policies  are an accessory to the crime.”

After the terrorist attacks in London in 2005, then-Prime Minister Tony Blair met with key members of Parliament and said that that while government, obviously, had a role in stopping terrorism, law-abiding Muslims had an even bigger role.  A Pew Research Center poll had come out showing that while 70 percent of Muslims questioned said they never support suicide bombings, a sizable minority — 24 percent — said sometimes they did.  The numbers troubled Mr. Blair.

“My view in the end is you cannot defeat this extremism through whatever a government does,” Blair said.  “You can only defeat it if there are people inside the [Muslim] community who are going to stand up … and not merely say, ‘You are wrong to kill people through terrorism … but actually, ‘You are wrong about your view about the West; you are wrong about you sense of grievance.’”

“This whole sense of grievance and ideology is wrong,” Blair said, “profoundly wrong.  There may be disagreements that you have with America, with the U.K., with the Western world, but none of it justifies not merely the methods, but the ideas that are far too current in parts of the [Muslim] community.  Now my view is that until you challenge that at its root, fundamentally, then you’re always going to be left with a situation where people kind of say … ‘Look we understand why you [terrorists] feel like this and you know we can sympathize with that, but you’re wrong to do these things.’  You’re not going to defeat it like that.  You’re only going to defeat it if you say:  ‘You’re actually wrong if you feel those things.”

(Note:  I heard the speech on tape and the italics indicate Blair’s emphasis.)

It was a brilliant analysis by a leader who wasn’t afraid to speak the uncomfortable truth.  Here in America, Imam Rauf understands why the terrorists do what they do.  That’s why he believes American polices are “accessories to the crime.”  And that’s why he is part of the problem, no matter how many times the media call him a ‘moderate.”

A few years ago I wrote a book called Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right, and in one chapter I wrote about the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America which, in 2006, was held in Chicago.

A poll was conducted at the convention that asked:  “Is the American government at war with the religion of Islam?”  Sixty-eight percent of the Muslim-Americans said yes.

“Did Muslims hijack planes and fly them into buildings on 9/11?” was another question.  Only 38 percent said yes; 45 percent said no.

What about America’s invasion of Afghanistan right after we were attacked?  Was it justified?  Eighty-one percent said it was not justified.

I entitled the chapter, “The ‘Moderates’ Are a Little Nutty, Too.”

Yes, it was only a straw poll and only 307 Muslims took part.  And it would be nice to think that these Muslim-Americans represent only a small percentage of Muslims living in this country; that they speak only for the delusional wing of Islam.  But I fear that would be wishful thinking.  And remember:  Everyone who took the poll in Chicago – every one! – was an American citizen.

This tells us something about so-called “moderate” Muslims.  It tells us that the word has different meanings depending on where you stand.   So, yes, in some places and by some standards, Imam Rauf is a moderate.  But not here and not by American standards.

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  • Brendan Horn

    I would have less problems with people like Rauf if they were more honest about their own failings. He said America was partly responsible for the 9/11 attacks yet he does not admit that the teachings of Mohamed are much more responsible. I would argue that the teachings of Mohamed are almost completely responsible for the murders of 9/11. The terrorists are inspired and motivated by the words and teachings of Mohamed. They are not inspired by the words and teachings of America.

    • Nicholas

      So the fact that the United States keeps interfering in foreign countries for our own myopic, financial benefit couldn’t possibly have been a minor factor in 9/11. Did we deserve to suffer that heinous act? Absolutely not. Has previous American policy-makers created a form of American Imperialism by putting ourselves in and changing other sovereign nations to suit our needs? Yes.

      • Richard

        I think that you are overlooking the fact that, due to human nature, every nation, community, and individual person on the planet has engaged in the exact same policy of individual preservation and promotion that you say America has, and to be frank we don’t have a choice if we are to thrive or even survive. We tried to be isolationist at the end of WWI and were still hit with an attack on Pearl Harbor because Japan felt it was in its best interests to do so. That is also the real cause of 9/11; a large group of Muslims decided it was in their best interests to attack the U.S. and justified it with the Koran.

      • Brendan Horn

        Nicholas, I think you have missed my main point. My main point is that people like Imam Rauf have no trouble looking at the negatives about America yet they will never admit the failings of Islam. He says America is partly responsible for 9/11 but wants to paint Islam as a religion of peace. If Islam is such a peaceful religion: why are there so many Muslims committing such violent acts on a daily basis? These terrorists commit their violence based on their interpretation of the Koran. More often than not these terrorists are actually committing violence against other Muslims. Perhaps this makes Imam Rauf afraid to speak the truth about violence and Islam. This is too bad because he will never build any bridges until he can speak the truth about his own people.
        Also, your understanding of history seems rather myopic to me. Japan and Germany are two of the strongest economies in the world. They both have something in common. They were both defeated by America in World War II. American foreign policy helped those nations to rebuild after war. Those countries are lucky they were defeated by America. What country in history has been more generous in victory than America has been? Also, America is usually very generous anytime there is a tragedy anywhere in the world. Please tell me which nation is more generous than America. Are you someone who can only see negatives when you look at America?

        • Nicholas

          I could ask the same question of Christian extremists. If the Christian religion is a religion of love (which it most decidedly doesn’t have a history of showing) then how come many Christians engaged in and continue to engage in hate-mongering and violence against those who oppose their growth?

          Are you someone who chooses to ignore the grievances this country committed to create the society we have today? Are you someone who refuses to admit that in order for our country to exist as it stands today that our foundations are held together by the mortar crafted from the blood and bodies of African slaves, immigrants, and Native Americans? As for Germany, try looking at their Constitution as well as the Constitution of Japan since the war. Compare their progressive policies, crime rates, economic structures, and civil liberties to those produced by our country during the same time frame. Keep in mind that it took another twenty years after World War II for the southern black soldiers who fought for their country in that war to vote for their elected officials.

          As an answer to your question about America’s generosity, please see the above link. Also please look up Honduras, United Fruit Company, Standard Fruit Company, and the term Banana Republic. If our way of life is predicated on subjugating and exploited the lives of other human beings, how can continue to tout that America is the greatest? How can you claim innocence when the benefits you enjoy come from the suffering of someone else?

          • Brendan Horn

            I am not aware of many Christian extremists these days. People like to mention Timothy McVeigh. That was twenty years ago. Compare once every twenty or more years to one or more times every day.
            To me, Osama Bin Laden is very much like Charles Manson. The main difference between the two is that Bin Laden has more supporters. In America, people like Charles Manson die in prison. In the Arab world, people like Bin Laden have too many supporters. The main reason Bin Laden has not been caught is because many Muslims do not want him to be caught. I think you want collective guilt for Americans but not for Muslims. Why such a double standard?
            You are probably a disciple of Noam Chomsky or someone like him. He likes to paint some people as victims and the others as evil. Mainly he hates profitability and wealth, yet he has made a very profitable career for himself. In my opinion, he is one of the most hateful people in the world. He is close to Bin Laden on the hatred scale, though he does not preach violence.
            Most of my ancestors came to this country after slavery. I take no guilt for slavery. In fact, one of my ancestors died fighting for the north during the civil war. It was not his fight but he died anyways. Slave labor contributed to the wealth of this country, but all people who live in this country now benefit from that.
            In this county, people have the right to be wrong. Imam Rauf has that right. You have that right. I have that right. Having a right to perform an action is not the same as a justification for that action. Rauf is shoving his mosque in the face of all the victims who died on 9/11. He is a fool if he does not realize this. He is an incredible jerk if he does realize this. What would you think of a History of Dixie museum right next door to the Martin Luther King Memorial? After all, there have been plenty of wonderful southerners in this nation’s history; not all of them owned slaves, or favored Jim Crow laws.
            The American government may not contribute the most charity in the world when percent of GDP is the only standard used. For some reason, the article you cite seemed not to include personal charity, which most people would consider relevant. I also do not remember seeing statistics from countries outside of Europe or America. I need more data to make the info from that article meaningful. .

          • Nicholas


            In response to your query concerning Christian extremism, here’s a recent article. Another example you can look up would be the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda which is responsible for an incredible of suffering in that region, all under the aegis of Christianity.

            Now we can go back and forth over this many, many times. All religions, regardless of their origins, have committed atrocities. Are they reprehensible? Yes. Should they be condoned? Not under any circumstance.

            Am I someone who detests wealth and profitability? No, I’m not. Wealth is a byproduct of profitability, not the goal. The root of all evil is not money but the love of money, the desire for more than you need. I question you and anyone who glorifies capitalism as the supreme way of living by saying what else is there besides profit? Also, what are the limits to how you obtain said profit? Can you claim to be a good, upstanding member of the Christian faith (which I presume you are considering your statements) knowing that some of the profits (i.e. benefits) you enjoy come from the misery and almost-enslavement of other human beings?

            Actually Oklahoma City was only 15 years ago and before the events of 9/11 it was the single most devastating terrorist act in U.S. history. You seem like a reasonable person Mr. Horn, hence the reason I have not resorted to petty name calling or other such blustering (a sure sign one is losing the argument if I’ve ever seen one) but you come close by associating me with Noam Chomsky. a person whom you profess to hate.

            Here’s where Chomsky and I agree. America has a double-standard when it comes to foreign-policy. Our government professes to help spread freedom and democracy in the world but it also has no issue allying with dictators and despots when it suits our corporation’s profit margins, such as in Chile with Augusto Pinochet or the Shah of Iran or even our old buddy Saddam Hussein. We didn’t care one bit that Saddam was a brutal dictator when we armed him to take on the Ayatollah after the revolution in Iran removed a despot that gave us a good price on Iranian oil. So again I question that moral stand you choose to take. Can you claim that America is a beacon of democracy when we have shown repeatedly that democracy is trumped by our petty drive for greater wealth at the expense of others?

          • Brendan Horn

            You misunderstood me about Chomsky. I did not mean that I hate Noam Chomsky. I meant that Noam Chomsky is a hater. He clearly has a deep hatred of America though he pretends that he does not hate. His ideas basically work their way into the ideology of people like Bin Laden.

            In a world of many devils, sometimes countries need to ally themselves with one devil in order to destroy a greater devil. The perfect example of this was WWII. Hitler was the epitome of evil. Stalin was less evil though still greatly evil. America probably could not have defeated the Nazis and Hitler without Stalin so America allied with the devil Stalin in order to destroy the devil Hitler.

            Afghanistan is similar. America helped get the Soviets out of Afghanistan but then decided that was enough. Because we did not “interfere” after the Soviets left, the Taliban rose to power. Bin Laden somehow became a hero, then preached hatred of America though he never would have beaten the Soviets without American assistance. The vicious Taliban eventually gave a large sanctuary for the psycho-terrorists that we are fighting today. When we assisted Afghanistan against the Soviets, the Soviets were the greater evil. In my opinion, Al Qaeda is now the greatest evil in the world. Bin Laden’s reasons for hating America are incredibly flimsy. He basically believes the same things Chomsky believes about America and adds religion and violence to these beliefs. Bin Laden wants to impose his religious views upon the rest of the world. Because he cannot persuade with words, he chooses violence for persuasion.

            America is not perfect but I prefer the imperfections of America to the imperfections of any other nation. Perhaps you would like America to be more like Switzerland. I personally consider neutrality a negative trait. Evil exists and it does not always destroy itself. It usually needs opposition in order to be eliminated. Americans are more willing and able to confront evil than any other nation. Sometimes America makes the wrong choice. Free people sometimes choose wrong. But only a free person has a chance to choose right.

            I do not consider myself Christian though I have many friends and family who are Christian. I also have friends and acquaintances who are Muslim. There are plenty of good Muslims out there. The average Muslim is similar to the average Christian. My problem with Imam Rauf is not his religion. I have a problem with him because he could solve this controversy in a second and instead he chooses to stoke the flames and make things worse. I think he might actually like the controversy. It helps him to paint Muslims as victims. Muslims are not victims in this country. They are not the victims in Europe. You might find an occasional victim, but I would argue that Muslims are better off in America than they would be in most Muslim countries.

            I would respect Imam Rauf if he looked at Islam with the same critical eye with which he seems to look at America. Fine, he can tell us about the good and wonderful things that Muslims have done. The good is worthy of note. The negatives are also important to note. The piracy off the coast of Somalia, the kidnappings in the Phillipines, the decapitations, and worst of all the homicidal-suicidal maniacs who blow themselves up and murder as many people as they can in seemingly random and indiscriminate fashion in order to get to their perverted version of heaven. The negatives are real and should not be ignored. It is a good joke that some in the media have wondered if people are Islamophobic. Who would be afraid of the suicidal/homicidal bomber? Christian terrorists and extremists might exist but they pale in comparison to the modern Muslim terrorist. If there was a Christian version of Bin Laden I would want him defeated. I don’t know of a Christian Bin Laden.

            If Rauf wants to critique America, he should not be surprised when he receives criticism in return. It is only a natural reflex to respond in such a way.

    • EddieD_Boston


    • Robert

      Very good Brendan your eyes are open to see truth. This Mosque is nothing more than a trophy. No different the the Dome of the Rock.

  • Anthony

    I wonder if Eric Sevareid would have asked, Feisal Abdul Rauf, what the Imam’s definition of the term shirk is and what it means to him and his followers?

  • Ken Besig Israel

    No Wil, America is a wonderful country which protects the helpless and the oppressed, and which grants liberty and justice for all.
    Just how stupid are you Wil, you are very offensive and I have to assume this is because you are not very bright.

    • Wil Burns

      Really Ben, Remember I’m not the hater here. You are!

      • The Patriot

        Yeah, remember everyone…’s that way because Wil Burns and the people who pay him say so!

  • Dan Farfan

    Bernie, well done! Well researched. Connecting those 3 dots (the post 9/11 quote, the Tony Blair passages and the poll results) tells an important story. I wish your piece were longer. I want to know more about each. What’s the next layer (or 2) of each onion?

    For instance what happened NEXT at the conference, after what must’ve been shocking (to some) poll results were announced to the participants? Break for lunch? Kathy Griffin do a 1/2 hour standup routine about Hollywood celebs? 😉

    Was a debate held, of any kind?
    Did the x% try to convince the y%?
    THAT would be must see TV. We need more sunlight.

    In fact, how about CNN? They need bigger ratings and a reason to be mentioned more often. They even have an opening since Amanpour moved to ABC Sunday AM.

    Hold an event. Cameras and mics aplenty. 100 of the same muslims from the conference. Poll a few questions (before, during and after). Debate the issues and a few proposals. Hire Tony Blair to host it.

    FAIRLY edit it (or show it raw). Air it without commercial breaks (puts ads/logos on the screen, like a soccer game). Allow audience participation. Call it “Muslims Speak with Tony Blair.” (Second time around could be a different host.)

    These are big problems, but not too big to fix. However, they are too big to fix using the same old tired tools and techniques. It’s high time some systemic improvements in the way we all communicate about big problems creates new options.

    Maybe that’s “too much” for CNN. BBC, perhaps. And aired on BBC America. Call your cable provider or satellite operator. 😉

    – “The Next 10 Amendments”

  • EddieD_Boston

    You hit this one out of the park Bernie. My biggest concern is why our “brilliant” president doesn’t get it. See how stupid a Harvard education makes you.

  • http://deleted cortez

    Most muslims consider a modern muslim to be one that lives off the west which is justified in the koran.The mistake most people make is assuming muslims who appear comfortable with the west want to be part of it.The fact is most modern muslims dont like western culture they like to live off it not in it.There will never be any real support for our culture because the koran has too many excuses to destroy it and us .The prophet killed people stole their wives and children,this isnt anything like jesus folks .Islam will always tolerate us at best like an annoying teenager they can sell cigarettes to but have no respect for

  • Chief

    An excellent article as usual.
    I am dumbfounded as to what article Peter was reading. The point of forgiveness is to forgive those who have repented.
    I am sorry Peter but you are so far off the mark. You like so many good people are looking and listening to the words and not paying attention to motivation. Think it through along with the culture and history of the actors. Then maybe you will understand the evil behind this plan.

  • Sheryl

    Mr. Goldberg has written a thoughtful, well researched piece on the NYC mosque controversy. The comments posted here send chills down my spine. I had no idea there were so many angry, hateful, “intolerant” people living in America. The coarseness of the debate is regrettable because we all rise or fall with our collective ability to work through fiscal and cultural disagreements.

    The vitriol has been spewed by both sides and it highlights the appalling lack of leadership in America today. Someone should call for cooler heads to prevail. I’m not holding my breath.

    • sailor sid

      to all liberals i must say that not all muslims are terrorists,BUT MOST ALL THE TERRORISTS ARE MUSLIMS.

  • Berg

    As far as you are concerned, the Muslims had won.

  • Wil Burns

    Bernie, I am worried that the USA is a global aggressor and maybe even terrorist. Can you assure me that that is not the case please?

    • EddieD_Boston

      Wil, again, stay off the DailyKook and the Loonington Post. They’re for mentally deranged people.

  • Ron Kean

    Hey Bernie,

    Why is this guy still on here? His hatred for Jews is so blatant, it soils the blog. My reading is that you would never allow anyone to stay if they used the N word or demeaned gays, women, or any other ethnic group.

    Why give this guy a pass?

    • CCNV


      “Peter” has mentioned in many previous rants that he is a black angry black man at that. All of his rants point to the fact that he feels oppressed and is owed something – anything. He is now identifying with the Muslims because he assumes they too, are being oppressed. If he’d only take his meds…

      • Peter

        CCNV are still being intellectually lazy but you are starting the process of wisdom.

        1. My contributions have said that those who have suffered discrimination have no business practicing it against others.

        2. I am not oppressed by any body. I fall within the top 5% of the US population on affluence. I have martin lurther king, malcom X, John F kennedy, lyndon johnson, countless whites and countless jews to thank for that.

        3. Fascism has always started by the demonisation of a sub group and been carried on by the mob until everybody is scared to be the lone voice of reason. Jews should know. This is how the Nazi thought process took hold in germany. Over 120 million people died in that war (of which blacks were a significant part).

        4. Modern day demonisation of muslems and race baiting in america today is being increasingly fanned from the most surprising source. If the truth hurts Ken, Ron and CCNV so much, please feel free to put the mirror down.

        5. Whether we like it or not blacks and jews have a higher standard that we must follow to avoid bigotry in all its forms because we have been recent victims of it. If you cannot understand this simple logic then the vengeful indoctrination to which you may have been subject to since infancy can never be cured!

        6. Peace and love be unto you my brothers.

    • Wil Burns

      Ron, You pine for the days, where seldom is heard a discouraging word, athe sky is not cloudy all day. Ain’t gonna happen!

    • Bernie

      You’re absolutely right, Ron. I’m leaving this vile stuff up for just one reason: so decent people can see how hateful morons like Peter can be. But he’s already been dealt with as far as this site is concerned — even if he doesn’t know it yet.


      • Bruce A.

        Good Point. After all, we need kooks in this world. It makes us appreciate the good people.

  • Elias

    I am sorry that this discussion has become like a street-dispute and without any respect for others. I humbly advise you to follow Gandhi’s words perhaps you can learn something good from those:
    “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
    Peace and Love ..!

  • Elias

    I am sorry that this discussion has become like a street-dispute and without any respect for others. I humbly advise you to follow Gandhi’s words perhaps you can learn something good from those:

    “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
    Peace and Love ..!

    • Elias

      And of course, my note is for Mr. Peter.

  • Kenneth Taylor

    A very powerful indictment Mr Goldberg. I am surprised to read the vitriol in some of the comments. I remember Tony Blair’s response very well because the Muslim community in the UK followed his argument and did not resort to cheering and U.S. flag burning.
    Maybe I am a bit dumb on this subject, I actually believe that the issue has nothing to do with “moderate” or “radical” Muslims.
    In the case of the application for permission to develop a Muslim community centre very close to Ground Zero, the simple and only point is that those who submitted the application would have known exactly what the response was going to be.
    They expected this response and are laughing at the West, poking fun at America.
    9 -11 was by far the worst act of murder we so called Baby Boomers have ever experienced. The Blitz of London was horrible but there was a war on.
    New York was a happy community going about it’s business in PEACETIME.
    For God’s sake stop arguing and become America again, the innovators, leaders, soldiers. before it is too late.

  • Ken Besig Israel

    You must be some weird kind of Christian to spew such vulgar hatred and bitterness towards others, especially since this mosque is just another political issue and has nothing to do with you personally.
    What is particularly odd about your entire screed is your obsessive concern the possible Jewish background or Israeliness of both those who support the mosque and those who oppose it.
    Do you by the way know that the God that you Christians worship and take guidance from was Jesus the Jew and Israelite?
    The way you interpret Jesus and Christian teachings one would think you were talking about Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party.
    Or maybe as is more likely the case you are either drunk or have stopped taking the anti psychotic drugs you need to control your symptoms.

    • Wil Burns

      Ben, You play the Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party card very well. Good job.

  • Elias

    Mr. Golberg, I will add only a quote to your great article:

    “It’s too bad that stupidity isn’t painful.” (Anton LaVey)

  • Buz Chertok

    You better believe that This Rauf guy is a moderate because if say you don’t his buddies just might cut off your head.

  • Ken Besig Israel

    This Iman provides the perfect example of the Moslem moderate in the aphorism about Moslem extremists.
    The saying goes like this. The Moslem extremist is one who threatens to murder you, while the Moslem moderate is the one who explains to you why you deserve to die!

    • Anne in Texas

      Right on….two sentences that sum it up.

    • Berg

      2nd that!

  • Nancy

    I for one believe, yes believe not just say I believe, in tolerance. So I say, let them build the mosque. I am very saddened by those who use this forum to preach tolerance but with the vitriol of their words show quite another shadow of themselves (ie, “know nothings in heat”, as just one example). Let’s try to keep it civil and tolerant here too, shall we? How’s about, “I respectfully disagree”.

    • brucds

      I don’t respect most of the stuff I’ve seen ginning up opposition to this mosque project. Sorry. To slime this man, who spoke at Daniel Pearl’s funeral no less, as somehow beyond the pale of our “tolerance” or to paint a comparison with Nazis to American Muslims who have no connection whatsoever with terrorists, as the egregious little narcissistic puffball Newt Gingrich has done, is disgusting and deserves disdain.

      • Tim Ned

        After watching Hannity last night, which I seldom do, I decided to do some research on this Imam. Hannity is accusing this Imam of supporting Sharia law. I’m sure you would call this smearing. Well do your own research and you will reach the same conclusion as me. This Imam absolutely wants to integrate Sharia Law here. And before you slime me let me state that I am making my conclusion based upon an interview he provided on PBS. Unless of course you think PBS is a slime machine.

        • brucds

          So in your opinion he might be as extreme and “blinded by faith” as a Southern Baptist who believes the US was founded as an explicitly Christian nation that privileges their orthodoxies, uses his cramped fundamentalist theology as a guide to public policy and is part of a denomination that only exists as a separate entity because of their historical support for huma slavery as “Biblical” ?

          I’m not going to spend time on this assertion of yours since you don’t provide any links, but this is all a bunch of guff. You guys are painting a group of American Muslims as implicated in bin Laden’s conspiracy, period. This is crazy. I have no concern to debate the fine points of their theology or even their politics. Are they as irksome to my liberal beliefs as the Christian fundamentalists who want to impose their values in the political? Perhaps. But the issue at hand is what is the “wise” approach to Muslims within our midst – isolating them and tarring them with the brush of bin Laden’s crimes, or treating them on equal footing with other faith groups, many of whom are obnoxious or crazy IMHO. But I don’t pick and choose who rates “tolerance” and who doesn’t. The fact that this imam took a public stance at Daniel Pearl’s funeral is good enough for me to reject the histrionics about his mosque representing, somehow, the murderers of 9/11.

          • tim ned

            Here’s your first link.


            To your first paragraph my answer is no. I did not and would not paint him as such with the explicative comparison that you try to provide which has no substance to the issue. Try to stay focused here. Now do you want to answer if you believe he supports Sharia Law. Don’t ask for more links. Do your own research. Hmm, another question; Do you support Sharia Law?

          • brucds

            “Do you support Sharia Law?”

            That’s just dumb. You’re a waste of my time.

          • brucds

            Also, I put up a bunch of links, including that interview, but they’re stuck in moderation. Have a nice day. I’m out of here. It’s pointless.

          • Tim Ned

            Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

        • brucds

          Here’s a little something for you – an actual link to some discussion of this:

          And another that suggests the Imam wants to use a liberal intepretation of Sharia law to reform medieval penal codes in Muslim countries, which is probably a more effective strategy than suggesting that Muslim countries mass convert to Christianity or make Thomas Jefferson an iconic figure in their political discourse:

          Here’s the PBS interview you reference – and distort:

          I don’t subscribe to the Imam’s belief system any more than I subscribe to the Pope’s risable nonsense. What I do believe in are my own values as an American, which is to stand against religious discrimination, even if I might find some of the beliefs of the subject distasteful, irrational or incoherent. What is wrong here is the painting of American muslims as implicated in bin Laden’s murderous conspiracy. Which is exactly where bin Laden himself would like to see the line drawn. So not only do these folks have “the right”, it is also the height of foolishness to turn this into an issue wherein the only reasonable interpretation in the eyes of Muslims is that they are being lumped together with terrorists. The Imam in question, incidentally, is a Sufi which is quite different from the Wahaabist sect which generally provides the fodder for Islamist terrorism and fouls countries like Saudi Arabia (that’s the one with the King whose hand Bush was walking around holding.)

          • Richard

            There is an old quote that refutes a vast deal of what you are saying: “Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.” To be specific, the moderate Muslims have not done nearly enough to separate themselves from the radicals and condemn them and their actions, regardless of sect. As a result of their negligence in doing so, many rational people see them as pawns, dupes, and enablers that can and will be influenced, if not controlled outright, by Islamic extremists.

      • steve


        • brucds

          Refill that lithium prescription ASAP.

        • Wil Burns

          Steve, I can’t get my head around the idea of basic human rights, where the poor, the disabled, women, minorities and so on have an equal access to the greatness of this country. Can you explain how that works?

          • CCNV

            Everyone is entitled to the American way of life. However, each person MUST want it and must WORK for it. Entitlements should be given ONLY to the handicapped and elderly. Welfare should be issued no longer than a year – and it doesn’t matter if you have one kid or 10 kids, it’s the same amount for everyone. There should be nothing extra in the kitty as an incentive to sit on your ass and mooch indefinitely. Given the current job situation, I believe those who have lost jobs due to layoffs, SHOULD be given food stamps along with unemployment,,,but for how long? When does the idiot in chief realize that JOBS is the issue?

          • EddieD_Boston

            All have equal access. Education is free up to 12th grade and in-state tuition makes college afforadable to everyone (and the poor get financial aid). It’s the individual’s choice. So what planet are you living on? The only choice the poor don’t have are school vouchers… b/c of democrats.

      • jaythompson


        Bernie provides facts and an interpretation of the facts, and does so without vitriolic name-calling. You, on the other hand, resort to an adolescent tantrum of “egregious,” “little,” “narcissistic,” and “puffball” in your characterization of Newt Gingrich. THAT deserves the “disdain” you call for. At least Gingrich (as a competent historian) does research! Do you have “disdain” for that?

    • Tim Ned

      Ok Nancy, I respectfully disagree. Let me explain tolerance to you. Tolerance is when you respect the wishes of the community and make a decision to build a Mosque elsewhere regardless of what the law states and your personal rights. Tolerance is the acceptance of an issue that you do not agree with.

      NYC has over 100 Mosques. Mosques is not the issue nor is the debate if they have the right to build this Mosque. They do have the right. The debate on this issue is about tolerance period! The fact that this Mosque and Imam will not respect the wishes of the community is beyond belief. And just recently refused to meet with the Governor of NY.

      • brucds

        You’ve given us the Orwellian definition of “tolerance”: “Tolerance” means your tolerance of my intolerance!

        Doesn’t fly. But thanks for playing the game.

        • Tim Ned

          Sorry, but what is the difference in my definition versus yours in light of my context. Perhaps you don’t want to address the context? Nice try!

          • brucds

            Try the dictionary for starters…

            If tolerance means the minority’s deference to the majority in an area where they are perfectly within their individual rights, you strip the notion of any meaning. It’s like saying gays should be more tolerant of folks who consider them nasty and not ask for equal rights. (Don’t shock me with the news that you believe that as well. I would never have guessed.)

          • tim ned

            You keep running away for the issue I addressed. Don’t bring civil rights into the discussion on totally unrelated idealistic issues that have no place in this dicussion. Let’s use your definition of Tolerance, not mine, not the medical, industrial, or engineering definition. Let’s use yours. Would this Imam be respectfull and tolerant if they moved the Mosque?

          • brucds

            No – at this point he would merely be chickens**t.

      • Wil Burns

        This non-issue is nothing more than thinly veiled racism. That’s it in the nutshell. You nutjobs need someone to hate, some group to hate, something to hate. This is the new boogie-man.

        • EddieD_Boston

          Wil,”boogie-men” don’t blow up children.

          • Wil Burns

            Eddie, Remember ‘Shock& Awe’… oh nevermind!

    • CCNV

      And right next to that mosque, let’s rebuild the Greek Orthodox church that was destroyed on 9/11. Let’s not give preference to one religion over another.

    • Mike

      People like yourself are part of the problem. “I respectfully disagree” doesn’t work when you are dealing with radical islam, of which this iman is associated with. You cannot reason with them. Ever.

  • brucds

    Because it wasn’t reported on FOX, I should note that my reference in reply to the distinquished gentleman who lives in a land of opposites to anything he hears on “lamestream media” was to the cool Million Bucks that Roger Ailes directed to the GOP campaign funds. Amazing, but true. Of course, as Jon Stewart asked, why isn’t the GOP paying FOX for their BJs. In any event, the fact that FOX is a propaganda operation tied in directly with the GOP is no longer rumor but fact.

    • Anne in Texas

      brucds, what is your wisdom of NBC? Totally in the tank for BHO. NBC a propaganda operation tied directly with the White House. Reporters told not to report anything negative about BHO. Please inform me of your great wisdom about that. Dearth of the truth is the norm in the lamestream meia.

      • brucds

        There is lots of criticism – lots – of the Obama administration on MSNBC’s talk/opinion shows. It’s just different in that it’s reasoned, based on factual information and analysis, rather than irrational and slanderous venom like the crazy men, Beck and Hannity or the $imple-minded quitter, Miz Palin.

        I don’t want to debate this with folks who make crazy claims, such as yourself. You’re beyond the fringe if you thing FOX is fair and NBC never puts out anything but the administration line. It’s just not factually true. Like the slanders here against the NY Imam, who in fact spoke at Daniel Pearl’s funeral and declared his solidarity with the Jewish faith as an “Abrahamic” religion, in the parlance of folks involved in that theology. People who are ginning up controversy against the mosque in lower Manhattan are doing bin Laden’s work – isolating and demonizing all Muslims as somehow part of this global conspiracy. Exactly where bin Laden and his ilk want the discourse to move. Congratulations!

        • Anne in Texas

          You are a mere delusional person tossed to & fro by the winds of the far left nuts. My sympathy to you & your ungodly thoughts. I’m just thankful George Bush was president on 911 instead of BHO. Chew on that & ponder (if you can).

          • Wil Burns

            George Bush was read a book to children on 911. Also, Bush ignored the August 2001 PDB.

      • brucds

        Incidentally, in comparison of their journalism and, yes, patriotism in the sense of real concern for their country, yesterday NBC’s Richard Engel and Rachel Maddow were with the troops in Iraq as the last combat units left the country, reporting on that significant news and getting the views of officers and enlisted personnel on the situation from their POV, while Hannity was sitting on his fat butt in his NYC studio, wearing his flag pin while adding heat to this phony mosque controversy. The FOX family are mostly a bunch of degenerates and hysterics posing as reporters. Maddow has been to Afghanistan – and came home to criticize the administration’s choice to attempt a “surge”, by the way in a very pointed editorial (which I happened to disagree with but appreciated as intelligent criticism) – while Hannity and Beck shout from their studios and cash the checks from book sales, which is the main point of their stupid, embarrassing shows. Creepy clowns – and Ailes is using them to tar the legalcy of conservatism with the brush of far-right conspiracy-minded crazies and cultural resentment. I’m sure Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater are turning over in their graves, if such a metaphorical maneuver is possible.

        • Tim Ned

          Where was Olbermann or Mathews?

          • brucds

            Olbermann was anchoring and Mathews was commenting – although I’m not sure what the point here is. Maybe that everyone on the NBC payroll hadn’t flown to Iraq? Does that put Olbermann on Mathews on par with Hannity who didn’t have the story at all. If that’s your issue, you’re scraping pretty hard – like with your assertion that you can bend the meaning of “tolerance” to suit your comfort zone on this bogus controversy.

          • tim ned

            You left off the medical, industrial, and engineering definitions of tolarance. So pick the one that fits your tolerance. Ok back to subject. Is this Imam tolerant? What’s the big deal moving it out of this area.

            I don’t care about Hannity or Beck. They are pundits. My point was to remind you that MSNBC has them as well.

      • Wil Burns

        Anne, It’s obvious that you never watch NBC! They bash Obama all the time.

        • Stephen Shields

          Blind squirrels find nuts too. What’s your point?

  • Ken Hansen

    Nice column, I can hear the lefties rebuttals to your points – the fellows that hijacked the planes weren’t ‘real’ Muslims, etc. I agree to an extent, I don’t think they shared views with mainstream Muslims here in America, but they are as Muslim as the fanatical Christian fringe are Christians – not very, but still a little bit. I have yet to see this fellow has the $100M to make this happen, and I’d love a reporter to go see his existing mosque 12 blocks from Ground Zero. I’d also like to hear why this is called The Cordoba Project – is it after the Mosque in Spain? The MSM leaves me with too many unanswered questions… Again.

  • MerchantofVenom

    This was Feisal Abdul Rauf full statement:

    “The United States’ policies were an accessory to the crime that happened, because we have been an accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA”

    Hell I feel better already.

    You show me 5,000 (Moderate-normal… if they exist) Muslims marching down Madison Ave with signs denouncing Bin Laden, denouncing radical Islam, and I’ll show you a mosque.

    When you think about a mosque to be built as a monument to Islam, and the first brick hasn’t been laid on the Freedom Tower to honor our dead, shows you where their liberal priorities lie. Where is the same “zeal” to build the Freedom Tower?

    Rauf has become a controversial figure because of his refusal to acknowledge Hamas as a terrorist organization, which is how the U.S. government classifies the group.

    This is what kills me. The goal of Hamas is the destruction of Israel. Their motto…Death to the Jews! I know Bloomberg, a Jew, is not dumb. Then again, the saying…he’s got more money then brains… certainly applies to him.

    This is how out of touch with reality these people are:

    Bloomberg has stated he doesn’t care where the money comes from to build the mosque!

    Instead of investigating the funding for the mosque, Pelosi wants to investigate the funding of the people that OPPOSE it!!!!!

    By the way as I write this Rauf is traveling in the Middle East totally paid for by us… the taxpayers. I can just see Bin Laden reaching for his checkbook…

    Ground zero mosque

    No NEED….to build it THERE

    • Wil Burns

      Where then? How about next to the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. McVeigh Was Christian, so would you also ban a christan church built near the Murrah building?

      • MerchantofVenom

        Good point. I will address it. But first allow me to set it up.

        Bloomgberg wants tolerance. Yet Muslims will kill over a teddy bear or a cartoon. Why did we not erect a statue of the Emperor of Japan at Pearl Harbor? Why is there no statue of Hitler at Auschwitz? How about Hiroshima? Where is the statue honoring Harry Truman?

        About five years ago Muslim extremists (aka Chechnyan rebels) invaded a school in Beslan, Russia. These Muslim terrorists held over a thousand people, most of them children, hostage. For three days they killed and tortured their victims. It has also emerged that scores of the 323 who died – including many children – had been shot in the back. While rescue workers moved among the growing pile of body bags, it was revealed that an 18-month-old baby had been repeatedly stabbed by a terrorist who had run out of ammunition. Call 1-800-RUSSIA and ask them if their planning on building a mosque in Beslan any time soon.

        Now to address your question on Timothy McVeigh. You won’t like the answer. What makes you think McVeigh was a Christian? True he was raised Roman Catholic but he is about as far away from Christianity as John Edwards is from telling the truth. Thousands of people raised Catholic haven’t been to church in 20 years! McVeigh was once quoted as saying, “Science is my religion.” So I see no validity in your arguement… McVeigh was Christian, so would you also ban a christian church built near the Murrah building?”.. Timothy McVeigh was a worthless waste of skin that went wacko over Waco. As you know he was executed as he should have been. Terry Nichols should have been put to death but he’s to busy suing because the food he is served is against his religious principles. You kill 168 people and you even possess “religious principles”! Strangely, KSM responsible for the deaths of almost 3,000 people, is alive and well 9 years after the fact!

        The point is McVeigh and Nichols are “homegrown nut jobs”. Now I know what your thinking… see it’s racism…. this guy proves my point! So before you get all excited the question is does anyone in America approve of McVeigh and Nicholas? Of course not! But in the magnitude of 911, the cut runs much deeper, the blood more red. America should not and will not tolerate being attacked by foreigners on our own soil. It goes against the fabric that unites us and holds this country together. Now if you want to define that has racism go right ahead.

        New York City has more than 100 mosques, compared with 10 in 1970, and more than 800,000 of its 8.21 million residents are Muslims. Why do they have to build a mosque THERE… GROUND ZERO? One reason. Provocation. A slick attempt at….{see all Americans are racists…their against Islam.} And it works, because people like you fall for it. Look up Cordoba House and what it stands for. A Mosque at GZ is Islam’s monument to victory. We came, we saw, we conquered. There is no other plausible reason to build it THERE. Look at it another way. Answer honestly. If you lost a wife and two children in Tower 1 on 911 would you be so gung-ho about building a mosque at GZ? I think not.

        15 of the 19 high jackers were from Saudi Arabia but they were all Muslim. For the sake of argument lets say they were all Jehovah Witnesses. People like me and most of America would consider building a Kingdom Hall at ground zero an outrage. People like you would cry foul. It’s racism! So you see, you can’t win.

        Speaking of winning. They made a movie about trying to win an argument on the internet. Mission Impossible.

        PS: Rauf’s has $180,000 in the bank to pay for a $100 million dollar mosque. Look for him to have the rest of the money when he comes back from his Middle East trip that we paid for. Good luck at finding a construction crew willing to build it.

        • Wil Burns

          Strawman, I wasn’t aware there was going to be a statue of Bin Laden at the Islamic mosque and cultural center. Than you for the misinformation. People like you keep forgetting this is AMERICA!

          • MerchantofVenom

            Wil: Do you believe in God?

    • Wil Burns

      There are Christian churches in Hiroshima & Nagasaki, cities nuked by Christians. Think man, think!

      • MerchantofVenom

        I am thinking Wil. I’m thinking you don’t want to answer my question.
        Do you believe in God?

        • Wil Burns

          Do I believe in a Invisible Cloud Being in the sky? The answer is no, do you?

          • MerchantofVenom

            Invisible Cloud Being… in the sky?

            I never heard of him described quite that way. Yes I believe in God and I always will.

            Does the wind not exist because you can’t see it?

            But thanks… you finally answered my question. I was trying to paint a picture of you in my mind. You are an atheist. Probably between the ages of 25 and 35. And I have a sense you are very unhappy. I’m not saying this as a criticism. I was just trying to get a better understanding of you.

            Now if we follow common practice, the next step is for you to write back in retaliation. Then I’m supposed to redress your remarks. Followed by your counterattack. And so goes, tit for tat, until we come to the point where the whole thing becomes futile. A destination, I believed, we arrived at quite some time ago.

      • Stephen Shields

        Hiroshima and Nagasaki weren’t nuked in the name of God. The 9/11 plot was carried out in the name of Allah. Think Wil, think!

      • Alessandre

        There were Christian Churches in Hiroshima and Nagasaki before they were nuked by Christians. There were Christians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki before they were nuked by Christians. Those silly Japanese Christians ought to have changed their faith instead of thinking they had been bombed by Americans.

    • Nicholas

      Allow me to point you to two links you might find interesting. First:

      This is Glenn Beck in April of this year saying something quite similar to the Imam who wants to build the mosque.

      Also as for the condemnation of all Muslims due to the actions of the extremist minority, I give you the second link:

      This is a transcript of a speech given by Heston, then the President of the NRA, after the Columbine Massacre at an NRA gathering in Denver, Colorado on May 1st. This isn’t a Michael Moore edit. This is what he actually said. Pay close attention to when he condemns reactionary politics. Since these men are both bastions of Republican ideology, especially Heston who spend the vast majority of his life as a Republican, I think you may want to at least reconsider your stance or at the very least reexamine why you feel so vehemently about this subject.

  • Bruce A.

    Good one Berine. Who exactly is the Iman? Where did he come from?
    What has he been preaching over the past 15 or 20 years?
    Does anybody know?

  • brucds

    Do you folks realize that this Imam spoke at Daniel Pearl’s funeral and publicly declared his solidarity with the Jewish faith ?

    The bigotry in this ginned up controversy is indecent and nauseating. You really are a bunch of Know-Nothings in heat.

    • Berg

      And that proofs what? Only that hr said so.
      You want to believe him? Go ahead.
      I consider it lips service.

      • brucds

        Unlike your random posting here, his public identification with Daniel Pearl’s martyrdom and with the Jewish faith puts him in the spotlight as an Imam who opposes the fundamentalist extremists. As Jeffrey Goldberg – who served in the Israeli Defense Force and isn’t known for being soft on Islamist terrorism – notes, this makes him a target for the terrorist faction of Islamist fundamentalism.

        What you indulge yourself in here is cheap – idle lip service (to ignorance IMHO) with zero consequences. What the Imam did was show courage publicly and in high profile, rebuffing the violent crazies who hijack his faith.

  • Frederick Williams

    The comments coming in continue to associate ALL Muslims with the terrorists who launched the attacks on 911. That’s like saying ALL Christians are complicit in the Oklahoma City bombings, or any of the other Christianist terrorist acts committed daily in this country. Your thoughts, Mr. Goldberg? Or are you too prejudiced against ALL Muslims yourself, for various personal reasons, to have a reasoned opinion on this subject?

  • Frederick Williams

    Like all other right-wing talking head faux “journalists,” you have taken what the Imam said about 911 out of context. His comments — which are virtually identical to those of many other commentators, including Republicans — simply stated that the crime occurred in part because of U.S. policies and the perception of those policies in the muslim world. Seems like a no-brainer to me. The statement does not say the policies in question were good or bad. Why else did 911 happen? Because Al Quaeda just “felt like it”? There obviously has to be some correlation between what the U.S. does and the reaction of the rest of the world, without making any value judgment on the actions of the U.S. But I guess this kind of reasoning involves too much critical thinking for the kind of people you and Fox News propagandize to 24 hours a day. The comment of Mr. Canales — that all he “need[s] to know is that the ‘lame-stream’ media [hmmm — where did he get that expression I wonder?] considers [the imam] a ‘moderate Muslim’,” and he’s ready to jump on the condemnation bandwagon.
    I shudder for the future of this country with this kind of brain-dead jingoism growing under the tutelage of cynical demagogues like yourself and your “colleagues” at Fox.

  • Ellie Velinska

    Have you ever negotiated the price of something on a market in the Muslim world?
    They can talk you out of your last shirt and you will be left wondering: how did that happen.

    I think the 9th circuit just got us closer to the Third World market by proclaiming that liars are protected by the first amendment.

  • Lily

    Saying that America was complicit or an accessory is like saying the girl in the short skirt is complicit if she is raped!

    I am a died-in-the-wool pro-lifer but I will not stand for abortion clinics being bombed or providers being hassled or killed. They are not complicit, they are not accessories they are not asking to die. Anyone who does bomb a clinic or murders a provider needs to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

    The “moderate” Imam should join forces with the religious nuts in Kansas who protest at soldiers funerals.

    • brucds

      Glenn Beck, who I happen to find abhorrent, said the same thing. And one of the editors of the National Review has argued that American culture is so tainted by liberal excess that the Muslim world – rightly – takes offense. And of course, Jerry Falwell blamed it on gays, etc. On a more serious note, there are extensive critiques on both the left and right as to the implications of US foreign policy gone awry over many decades that have brought us to this juncture where we’re mired in Middle Eastern wars. Taking the Imam in full context, he’s a perfectly moderate man who has nothing to do with violent extremism. This is bigoted nonsense being ginned up for political gain.

    • Wil Burns

      Lily, The Iman ain’t the one doing the protesting! Try to keep up and get informed about the issue.

  • Al Canales

    Good column, Bernie. All I need to know is that the “lame-stream” media considers Feisal Abdul Rauf a “moderate Muslim”. To me, that means he is not! But thanks for the confirmation!

    • brucds

      Go for the Media that publicly opens its coffers to the GOP – they’re “fair and balanced.”

      The cat is out of the bag.

      Your ignorance is undoubtedly bliss.

      • chuck

        Are you Wil??

        • MerchantofVenom

          I think you’re right. We’re getting two a holes for the price of one.

          • Wil Burns

            Hey Buster, I’m 6’2″ 220#, rich, and having a great time keeping the hate for Bush alive! And you?

          • Stephen Shields

            I’d be willing to be you are 45, 5’4″, 220, poor, living in your mom’s basement and keeping the hate for Bush alive because you are neurotically obsessed with someone who is smarter than you.