Feisal Abdul Rauf
Every time I turn on the TV or read the paper I see evidence of the rising tide of Islamophobia. The national discussion is being driven by the disinformation. I hope that in the end America is better than this–but combing through the demagoguery is no easy task–especially for those of us with jobs and responsibilities.
Factcheck.org has published a detailed report on Feisal Abdul Rauf and the Ground Zero mosque controversy. I highly recommend it to anyone who has not closely followed this story.
One of the cornerstones of the disinformation campaign is the now famous 60 Minutes interview, where Feisal Abdul Rauf said America was an accessory to 9/11. This quote is offered as evidence of Rauf’s deep- seated anti-American sentiments and thus as justification for opposition to his Park51 project.
In that same interview Rauf also said that “fanaticism and terrorism have no place in Islam,” and that “there is no justification” for the attacks of 9/11 from an Islamic perspective.
You won’t catch Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh or anyone on Fox News talking about that part of the interview. Of course there is a good chance they have never bothered to watch the whole thing.
But much like there is a difference between building a mosque and a cultural center and building it on Ground Zero and near Ground Zero, there is a difference between saying American foreign policy was an accessory to 9/11 and saying 9/11 was justified.
Besides he is right. American foreign policy was an accessory to 9/11.
In the 1980’s Osama Bin Laden and his supporters were recruited and paid nearly $4 billion by Ronald Reagan’s CIA and the Saudi Arabian government to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan.
Recently Hillary Clinton acknowledged that we funded the people we are now fighting; the people who are actually aligned with the perpetrators of 9/11.
Maybe you are only allowed to say that aloud if you are white–or at the very least not a Muslim.
Fox News and the right-wing blogosphere are attempting to revise history and offer an “alternate theory of the crime.” Without denying that we funded Mujahideen–who then turned on us–they claim we funded “other” Afghan fighters, not necessarily Bin Laden. While it is nice to see they are capable of nuance when it suits them, this does seem a bit like splitting hairs.
Whether you chose to buy their revisionist history or not, the fact is the U.S. has long been a strong supporter of the Saudi Royal Family–up to and including the $60 billion in high-tech weaponry we just sold them.
Bin Laden is a mortal enemy of the Saudi Royal Family, and has long sought to overthrow them.
A foreign policy that involved supporting the Saudi government made us a target of Al Qaeda, and thus American foreign policy was an accessory to 9/11.
Feisal Abdul Rauf published this editorial in response to Sarah Palin’s now famous tweet. Read it for yourself and decide whether this man is a secretly anti-America.
We believe that people of good faith can use the common core of their religions to find solutions to problems that will let them live together. The genius of America has been to overcome fear and bigotry against newcomers with different religions to welcome the energy of the immigrant. I am confident that will happen again.
Sadly I do not share Imam Rauf’s confidence, but I am not yet ready to cede America to the Sarah Palin’s of the world.
In discussing the Ground Zero “mosque” issue with friends and family, I find reasonable intelligent people making the “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should argument. They agree that Feisal Abdul Rauf has a Constitutional right to build Park51. They suggest he choose not to as a show of “sensitivity” and willingness to compromise.
But doing so is a tacit acceptance of the idea that Al Qaeda represents all of Islam; that Feisal Abdul Rauf–a moderate American Muslim–is synonymous with Osama Bin Laden in the larger American schema.
Are there enough of us willing to reign in our emotions and apply our intelligence to sifting through the lies and manipulations surrounding this chapter of American history?
Here is yet another example of opponents of Rauf and the Park51 project clouding the issue with distortions and lies.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism, founded by controversial journalist Steven Emerson, has taken issue with statements Feisal Abdul Rauf made in 2005 during a lecture at the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Center in South Australia.
The statement highlighted by the IPT was: “We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaida has on its hands of innocent non Muslims. You may remember that the US-led sanctions against Iraq led to the death of over half a million Iraqi children.”
Rauf went on to explain:
“Collateral damage is a nice thing to put on a paper but when the collateral damage is your own uncle or cousin, what passions do these arouse? How do you negotiate? How do you tell people whose homes have been destroyed, whose lives have been destroyed, that this does not justify your actions of terrorism. It’s hard. Yes, it is true that it does not justify the acts of bombing innocent civilians, that does not solve the problem, but after 50 years of, in many cases, oppression, of US support of authoritarian regimes that have violated human rights in the most heinous of ways, how else do people get attention?”
He is explaining why people turn to terrorism. He clearly states that he does not believe this is a justification for terrorism. He says it twice.
But you will never hear that quoted by the Steven Emerson, Pamela Geller, Sarah Palin, Fox News crowd.
Rauf continues his explanation:
“I’m just providing you with the arguments that are happening intra Islamically by those who feel the emotion of pain. Half a million Iraqi – there’s a sense in the Arab and Muslim world that the European world and Western world is just – does not care about our lives or human lives. There’s a perception in much of the Arab world and the Muslim world that the issue is about race.”
The IPT engaged in selective editing. They cherry-picked a line and presented it out of context with the goal of creating their own reality–that Feisal Abdul Rauf is an anti-American supporter of terrorism. He is neither.
I say cut out the middle-man. Forget the manipulations of provocateurs like Steven Emerson and the Investigative Project on Terrorism–go straight to the source.
The full text of Rauf’s 2005 speech titled, What does it take to change the relationship between the West and the Muslim World can be found here.
Take a look and decide for yourself how anti-American he is.
Opponents of the Ground Zero “mosque” have attacked Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Imam behind it, as an enemy of America. They have isolated a few of Rauf’s statements and reframed them to justify their opposition to his Park51 project.
Is Feisal Abdul Rauf anti-America? I decided to examine a larger sample of Feisal Abdul Rauf’s words, unedited and unfiltered.
I found no evidence to support the conclusion that this man is the radical enemy of America some would have us believe.
Conversely, there is a significant body of evidence that Rauf is a moderate Muslim-American, who values both his religion and “the genius of America” that overcomes “fear and bigotry against newcomers with different religions to welcome the energy of the immigrant.”
On July 21, 2010 Rauf wrote an editorial that started this way:
“We are not the extremists. We are that vast majority of Muslims who stand up against extremism and provide a voice in response to the radical rhetoric. Our mission is to interweave America’s Muslim population into mainstream society. We are a Muslim-American force for promoting the universal values of justice and peaceful coexistence in which all good people believe.“
Why don’t we hear that quote repeated over and over?
Rauf wrote the editorial quoted above as a response to Sarah Palin’s now infamous tweet.
The full text of Rauf’s article can be found can be found here.
There is not a line in it that would support the conclusion that this man is a supporter of radical Muslim terrorists.
In May 2010 Rauf published an opinion piece in the NY Daily News that can be found here. Again, not a shred of evidence support the conclusion that Feisal Abdul Rauf is anything but the kind of peaceful Muslim American Sarah Palin should claim kinship with. After all, peaceful Muslims praying should not stab anyone in the heart.
We might consider why a few quotes, isolated out of context and misconstrued to suit a prescribed narrative, carry more weight for so many of us than the overall body of this man’s words, which consistently convey the same message.
“My colleagues and I are the anti-terrorists. We are the people who want to embolden the vast majority of Muslims who hate terrorism to stand up to the radical rhetoric.”
When will Americans stand up to the rhetoric of our own radicals?