I’ve come across multiple articles in recent days in which Cordoba House critics express outrage at being called “religiously intolerant” or “bigoted” (one example here in the context of an article worth reading, another more strident version here). It’s certainly true that some of the opposition to the Cordoba House comes from a place of religious intolerance and bigotry, but that doesn’t mean that everyone opposed to the idea is religiously intolerant or a bigot. While I may think that their concerns are misguided, a difference of opinion (even about an issue like this) does not a bigot make. In fact, it would be downright irresponsible to hold an entire movement responsible for the actions of a fringe minority.
You can probably tell where this is going.
That’s why, when I see these people saying “Don’t call ME a bigot just because people who share my views might be bigoted!”, I have to wonder . . . am I taking crazy pills? These are the exact same people who would hold the entire religion of Islam responsible for the actions of a radical fringe. I have seen no credible evidence to support the idea that Imam Rauf is some sort of radical; to the contrary, this piece in The New Republic shows a man who admires America. Some quotes from his book, What’s Right With Islam is What’s Right With America (taken from the TNR piece):
- The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution “express the Islamic ideal, which is itself but an expression of the Abrahamic ethic.”
- “The overarching American religion that all Americans live under is ‘Islamic’ in the sense that it is fully compliant with and expresses the Islamic Shariah.”
The second quote requires some explaining. Imam Rauf thinks that Sharia law requires religious pluralism, and that the overarching American religion (with the Constitution as its Bible) holds that as one of it’s central tenets. That doesn’t seem to me like someone in league with al-Qaeda, it seems to me like exactly the type of voice that we should be putting forth to the rest of the world. Both the Bush and the Obama administrations seem to agree.
So yes, I think it is awful to call anyone opposed to the Cordoba House a bigot. But those in opposition who take offense at that label should take a closer look at why they oppose the project in the first place.