From a p.r. standpoint, the Ground Zero mosque controversy has been a tremendous success for Imam Rauf and for Islam. The religion has raised its profile in New York many times over, which was undoubtedly the Imam’s objective. It’s hard to see the move as other than deliberately provocative. As a bonus, the entire secular intelligentsia centered in New York (and beyond) has fecklessly taken his side of the issue.
Study the way the debate has been framed. The debate is about “Freedom of Religion,” with Islam representing Religion.
The boundaries being studied by commentators and politicians are between secularism and Islam. The subliminal contrast is between “God” and “Not God,” with Islam representing God.
Can you see what a propaganda coup this is?
Missing from the discussion entirely are other faiths, including what had once been the dominant faith in America, Christianity. They’re nowhere to be found.
Muslims comprise a small percentage of the American population, but their p.r. footprint is many times larger. From a worldwide perspective, Imam Rauf, once he made the move, put himself into a win-win position. If the move was by chance not opposed, he won by getting away with the bold initiative. If it was opposed, as it’s been, he gains by the attendant publicity. The Islamic “brand” has been strengthened. The brand appears strong. Everyone else appears weak.
Beyond this, the presence of Bin Laden offstage allows the Imam to play good-cop bad-cop. He’s the good Islamicist, and if you don’t believe it, just wait for the next terrorist attack!
The 1961 movie “El Cid” is prescient in its portrayal of Yussuf’s deviousness against the infidel, which he aims to weaken and split.
THE KEY is not to blindly oppose the mosque, but to be as intelligent with the response as is Imam Rauf. Putting a gay bar next to Park 51 isn’t being intelligent. It confirms to the nonsecular billions of the world America’s decadent crassness, and the rightness of Imam Rauf’s (or Bin Laden’s) cause.
One should oppose intelligence with intelligence, ideology with ideology, chess move with chess move. “El Cid” carries stronger magic than the mosque. “El Cid” is liberal AND spiritual, representing Western culture at its best.