Giddy commentators on the left are jumping all over the findings of a newly released TIME magazine poll that shows among other things that many “Americans harbor lingering animosity toward Muslims.” Heavens, how could that be? It’s not as though the worst act of genocide in the nation’s history was perpetrated in the name of Islam. Oh, wait a minute: It was.
But it’s not as though Muslim leaders in the West or organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations didn’t immediately issue statements condemning the acts of the 9/11 terrorists and attempt to distance themselves from this insane brand of Islam. Oh, wait a minute: They didn’t. If anything, CAIR became defensive, sending mouthpieces like the then-ubiquitous Sarah Eltantawi out into the public square to explain, somewhat petulantly, that Islam is a religion of peace and that we should all ignore the man behind the curtain.
Yet the revelation that some misguided souls hold a grudge against members of a religion, no matter how shocking, is not the bread-and-butter finding of this poll. That distinction belongs to statistic revealing that 24 percent of the electorate “mistakenly believe the current occupant of the Oval Office is himself a Muslim.” Well, guess what? That 24 percent has company at the decidedly non-conservative New York Times.
In May of 2008, just as the presidential campaigns were heating up, Edward N. Luttwak published an article in the Times arguing that Barack Obama, at least under Muslim law, is a member of the flock. “In Islam,” Luttwak wrote, “there is no such thing as a half-Muslim. Like all monotheistic religions, Islam is an exclusive faith.
“As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood. It makes no difference that, as Senator Obama has written, his father said he renounced his religion. Likewise, under Muslim law based on the Koran his mother’s Christian background is irrelevant.”
All of which is really quite beside the point. Obama doesn’t think of himself as a Muslim and doesn’t practice the Islamic faith. His conversion may be a crime in Muslim eyes — a worse crime in fact than murder, in Muslim eyes — but no group of his opponents at home is planning to bundle him off to Mecca to be tried for his transgressions.
Which speaks to a larger point. That is that the left in this country will go to any lengths to make the case that those who disagree with them are intolerant or racist. TIME, an echo chamber for the liberal point of view, will commission a poll to underscore the invidiousness — in the world of TIME there can be no other explanation — for many Americans’ opposition to a mosque at Ground Zero.
Yes, some Americans have an irrational distrust of Muslims based on recent historical events, much the way Americans in the 1940s thought ill of the Japanese. We have learned and matured since then. No widescale acts of aggression were waged against Muslims in America after 9/11. No member of the Islamic faith was thrust into an internment camp.
In time, the antipathy of some Americans toward Islam will abate as the scars of 9/11 heal. But that healing can be accelerated by tolerance and compassion (to borrow two of the left’s favorite terms). Tolerance, in this instance, is proactive. It means abandoning pointless and provocative actions like planning to build a mosque in what would have been the shadow of the World Trade Center.
Click Subscribe at the top of the page to have my articles sent directly to your e-mail inbox. Follow me on Twitter or join me at Facebook. You can reach me at [email protected] or by posting a comment below.