Streetwise Professor

September 11, 2010

Pick Your Pinhead

Filed under: History,Military,Politics — The Professor @ 2:02 pm

Demonstrating that his stalwart position on the need to defer to the legal and Constitutional rights of the builders of the Ground Zero Mosque was a matter of deep principle, Obama came out in support of Rev. Terry Jones’s exercising his right to free expression by burning the Koran.  He said this was a purely local matter, the subject of Gainesville, Florida fire ordinances.  He didn’t want to express any opinion on the wisdom of Rev. Jones’s actions.

Just kidding.  Obama actually said:

“If he’s listening, I just hope he understands that what he’s proposing to do is completely contrary to our values … this country has been built on the notions of religious freedom and religious tolerance,” Obama said. “As a very practical matter, as commander (in) chief of the armed forces of the United States, I just want him to understand that this stunt that he is pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women in uniform who are in Iraq, who are in Afghanistan.”

So, here he lectures on “our” values and tolerance, excoriates the wisdom and prudence of Jones’s (since dropped) plans, and avoids any discussion whatsoever of the legality of the act, or Jones’s right to do it.  With the GZ mosque, however, he emphasized the legalisms, and explicitly eschewed any comment on the wisdom of the matter.

In contrast to Obama, Bloomberg was consistent: he focused on the legal and constitutional issues in both cases.  From the other end of the political spectrum, Palin was also consistent: she focused on the wisdom and sensitivity  in each.

When on closely related issues a politician uses flatly inconsistent arguments to justify his/her decisions, it is usually because he or she does not want to acknowledge publicly the real rationale, which is often very consistent across the cases.   What could that rationale be in these matters?  I do not know for certain, of course.  It is immediately obvious, however, that in each case Obama clearly sided with Muslim sensitivities.

The whole Jones thing is farcical.  Look, there are over 300 million people in the US.  In a population of 300 million, there will be a fair number of attention seeking pinheads.  Jones is an attention seeking pinhead.   Such people are best ignored.  The attention lavished on Jones is counterproductive.  It will encourage other pinheads.  It gives a distorted impression of the relevance and representativeness of pinheads.  It especially gives an extremely distorted perception of what the vast majority of Americans think.  It plays to foreign bigotry and prejudices–notably Muslim bigotry and prejudices.

Jones’s foil in this farce, Feisel Rauf, is also a pinhead.  This was on display in an interview on CNN on Wednesday:

I meant it, the danger from the radicals in the Muslim world to our national security, to the national security of our troops. I have a niece who works in the Army and served in Iraq. The concern for American citizens who live and work and travel overseas will increasingly be compromised if the radicals are strengthened. And if we do move, it will strengthen the argument of the radicals to recruit, their ability to recruit, and their increasing aggression and violence against our country.

In other words, we are supposed to appease Muslim radicals.  You know, those people who are unappeasable.  The same people who will view the GZ mosque as a monument to a Muslim triumph, an attack on the American kafirs.  The same people who were killing Americans long before the mosque was ever mooted, and who will continue to try to kill Americans long after the issue is resolved one way or another.

The foregoing quote from the interview has received most of the attention; some interpret as a threat, and that interpretation is not unreasonable.  But that’s not the comment that I found most outrageous. This is:

I am extremely concerned about sensitivity. But I also have a responsibility. If we move from that location, the story will be that the radicals have taken over the discourse. The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack. And I’m less concerned about the radicals in America than I’m concerned about the radicals in the Muslim world.

. . . .

As I mentioned, because if we move, that means the radicals have shaped the discourse. The radicals will shape the discourse on both sides. And those of us who are moderates on both sides — you see Soledad, the battle front is not between Muslims and non-Muslims. The real battle front is between moderates on all sides of all the faith traditions and the radicals on all sides. The radicals actually feed off each other. And in some kind of existential way, need each other. And the more that the radicals are able to control the discourse on one side, it strengthens the radicals on the other side and vice versa. We have to turn this around.

So, to Rauf, the debate over the mosque is between the radicals in the Muslim world on the one hand–and the radicals in the United States on the other.  I guess it’s nice of him to acknowledge that the radicals in the US are less of a threat (though that acknowledgement is decidedly missing from the second quote) but the clear meaning of his remark is that deferring to the overwhelming sentiment of Americans would be making a concession to radicals; that is, Americans who oppose the mosque are radicals.

Sorry, Rauf, but American opposition to the GZM is anything but the obsession of radicals.  It is broad and deep, cutting across virtually all segments of the American public.  With a few notable exceptions, of course, one of whom, unfortunately, occupies the Oval Office.

This slur on the opponents of the mosque is factually wrong and deeply offensive.  It deserves far more attention than it has received.

Rauf is not just offensive, he’s self-admittedly clueless:

O’BRIEN: Right, but given what you know now, would you have said, listen, let’s not do it there? Because it sounds like you’re saying in retrospect you wouldn’t have done it.
RAUF: Well, yes.
O’BRIEN: You would not have done it?
RAUF: If I knew this would happen, this would cause this kind of pain, I wouldn’t have done it.

So here we have someone, who by his own admission, didn’t have the slightest clue about the sensitivities surrounding 9-11.  Who believes that opposition to his initiative is solely the province of “radicals” in the US.

Let’s say the mosque gets built, and Rauf leads it.  Uhm, you think that there’s any doubt that given his self-admitted incomprehension of American views about 9-11, that the mosque and his mouth would become  never ending sources of injuries and insults to deeply held American beliefs and sensibilities?

And let’s further consider the fact that Rauf repeatedly–repeatedly–justifies his actions as necessarily deferential to Muslim radicals, lest they go on a violent rampage.  (How would you know?)  If he truly believes this, every decision he makes about the mosque, and its operation, will be made with an eye–no, two eyes and two ears–on those same radicals.  Even giving him every benefit of the doubt about his sincerity in building bridges, his cravenness towards Muslim radicals, his evident belief that it is imperative to appease them, makes it highly likely that he will be forever susceptible to radical pressure.  And he has announced that to them, in no uncertain terms.  Knowing that, they will threaten him every time he does anything that offends them.  He will bend to their will.  He admits as much.

And if you do doubt his sincerity, well, you know that he can always hide behind the threat of radical violence to justify further sacrileges to the memory of 9-11.

A man who has no understanding of America and Americans whatsoever, and who obsessively appeases Muslim radicals.  Just the man to head a mosque on a site that is sacred to most Americans, no?

Yes, Terry Jones is a pinhead.  But Feisel Rauf is a pinhead too.  And a far more important and dangerous one to boot.

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24 Comments »

  1. It’s a tossup which is more infuriating, the radical vs. radical remark or the bald-faced threat. I’m stuck on the threat. I don’t see his statement to be any different than Ahmadinejad’s warning that if we bombed Iran’s nuclear facilities, he’d send out thousands of suicide bombers throughout the world. The “I don’t want to make them mad” argument is complete bull and pure blackmail.

    Comparing this situation, I go to the time when the U.S. was considering the use of a UAE company to secure Eastern seaboard ports. It was a ridiculously stupid idea to begin with, so when an uproar happened, the company very quietly revoked its bid. (I suspect with U.S. “encouragement.”) That was the way all of this GZM garbage should have been handled, but no, our demagogues showed up at the party and made it worse.

    As for the Koran burner, of course he’s a pinhead. As you state, the reason is consistent with the GZM, it’s just stupid.

    Comment by Howard Roark — September 11, 2010 @ 4:39 pm

  2. I’m all for the mosque, if they build a cathedral and a synagogue in Mecca first.

    Comment by So? — September 12, 2010 @ 12:54 am

  3. So, your point, “so?”, is that USA’s attitude towards the freedom of religion should be the same as that of Saudi Arabia?

    So, it is not enough that the US government has made these Saudi degenerates our “closest ally” and is arming them to the teeth, but now you want USA to learn freedom and democracy from them?!

    Comment by Ostap Bender — September 12, 2010 @ 7:26 am

  4. So? is a strange person, to be honest.

    He is a Stalinist (still is?), but agrees with most of SWP and Co’s ultra-reactionary views (against building mosques, etc). Birds of a feather flock together, perhaps?

    Comment by Sublime Progress — September 12, 2010 @ 11:39 am

  5. I was proposing that this matter is best resolved by means of a reality series involving the imam and the pastor. We could throw in Tila Tequila and New York as side kicks. Since reality TV creators have gone after pin heads en masse, this should appeal to them. Unfortunately the matter got glorified to presidential levels, as seems to be the case with every which matters these days. Kudos to the Obama kool aid 🙂

    Comment by Surya — September 12, 2010 @ 3:09 pm

  6. He is a Stalinist (still is?), but agrees with most of SWP and Co’s ultra-reactionary views (against building mosques, etc).

    Yes, because questioning the wisdom of building the mosque is not just reactionary but ultra-reactionary. Does that label-making machine you’re always using have a turbo button that’s gotten stuck?

    Comment by Tim Newman — September 12, 2010 @ 7:50 pm

  7. Yes, because questioning the wisdom of building the mosque is not just reactionary but ultra-reactionary. Does that label-making machine you’re always using have a turbo button that’s gotten stuck?

    No Tim, it’s because I’m genuine.

    Genuinely puzzled. Distraught. Angry.

    Like for instance, Howard Roarke’s comment:

    I don’t see his statement to be any different than Ahmadinejad’s warning that if we bombed Iran’s nuclear facilities, he’d send out thousands of suicide bombers throughout the world.

    I mean, I honestly don’t get it. WTF are you talking about? Do we live in the same universe? WHAT SWEET SWEET PSYCHEDELIC SUBSTANCE ARE YOU ON I WANT SOME TOO?!?!!

    Comment by Sublime Progress — September 12, 2010 @ 8:05 pm

  8. @S/P. Another identity change, I see. Hey, there’s a therapist who writes on the American Thinker. She calls herself Robin from Berkeley–a neighbor!, and one who is a recovering progressive. I suggest you send her an email; maybe she can help you with your identity issues. She knows your type.

    And I’m not seeing the progress. Progressive, yes, but that’s truly reactionary.

    I would sincerely hope I do not inhabit the same universe as you, but alas, it seems I do.

    As for being a reactionary. You are just rephrasing Rauf’s idiocy. He says radical, you say reactionary. Whatever: that’s what it looks like from the political fringes. I guess the supermajority of Americans are reactionary. I presume you agree.

    See you at the revolution. And remember that the reactionaries are the ones bitterly clinging to their weapons. LOL.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — September 12, 2010 @ 8:14 pm

  9. Ostap,

    You don’t have to be a tolerast to be tolerant. BTW, much of this Iraq hypocricy would have been avoided, had the United States occupied Saudi Arabia instead.

    Comment by So? — September 12, 2010 @ 8:20 pm

  10. Robin is entertaining, but, being real, the stuff she writes is strawman nonsense.

    And yes, most American away from the coasts, are quite reactionary. For instance, half of them believe in a young earth.

    Rauf strikes me as a reasoned, moderate and enlightened person who is being beset on by conservative Limbaugh-worshiping blowhards for not being part of their rabid pack.

    Finally, I do like guns and have never tried to hide the fact here, and haven’t met any discrimination or abuse on that account whatsoever.

    Your impression of the Bay Area seems to be entirely formed by talk show radio.

    Comment by Sublime Progress — September 12, 2010 @ 8:46 pm

  11. No Tim, it’s because I’m genuine.

    Well, with your propensity of slapping labels on anybody and everybody within the first few times of interacting with them, your posts come across less as genuine than something that could have been written by a piece of software loaded with the standard cliches of a 1970s left-wing high school debating society. Your “labelling me as a white Anglo-Saxon racist for criticising the stupidity of the Russian visa application process is a case in point. At the moment, you’re about as genuine as a modern rap song.

    Comment by Tim Newman — September 12, 2010 @ 8:51 pm

  12. I messed up the link in the above post. Here.

    Comment by Tim Newman — September 12, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

  13. No Tim, that was because of your implied attitude; the attitude of a Western chauvinist.

    We, white British people, are rich, and “free”, and therefore superior. Open the doors and honor “British values” – or face our gunboats, punk!

    You, foreign aborigines, are poor, and “unfree”, and therefore inferior. Feel free to lick out boots and asses, in fact do that if you know what’s good for you, but otherwise stay the f- away from us.

    Comment by Sublime Progress — September 12, 2010 @ 9:09 pm

  14. S/? You are so incredibly clueless. Have you been away from the coasts? I’ve lived right down the middle of the country, from Michigan to Chicago to St. Louis to Houston, in rural and urban areas and suburban areas, and I can assure you that beliefs about the “young earth” are held by tiny minorities, nowhere near the 50 percent you claim (or is it more accurate to say “pulled out of your backside”?)

    What’s more, I don’t listen to talk radio, and have visited the Bay Area myriad times. And for crissakes, I’ve been in academia for years . . . you don’t think that has exposed me to the coastal, and particularly Bay Area, mindset far, far, far more than you have been exposed to those benighted inhabitants of the lands “away from the coasts”? Tell me, where do you get YOUR information about the Americans that live there?

    Re guns, at least you’ll have a fighting chance.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — September 12, 2010 @ 9:15 pm

  15. No Tim, that was because of your implied attitude; the attitude of a Western chauvinist.

    Again with the labels! That machine of yours must be running hot, eh? And no, there was no implied attitude. If you inferred one, then that is likely to be because you are on the hunt for any perceived attitudes which you can then slap big labels on and avoid addressing the issue at hand. I write pretty clearly, and rarely try to conceal a hidden meaning behind my actual words. The Russian visa application process is universally recognised to be bloody awful, pointing this out in the context of a Russian bid to host the world cup does not make me an imperial racist. If you’re going to resort to calling everyone a racist whenever you hear something you don’t like, you’re soon going to find yourself outwith the realms of polite company.

    Comment by Tim Newman — September 12, 2010 @ 9:22 pm

  16. …and I can assure you that beliefs about the “young earth” are held by tiny minorities

    Dude, argue with the opinion polls, not me… (the latest one says 44%)

    You seem to believe that the Bay Area is some kind of People’s Republic / leftist dictatorship. Obviously, while it’s certainly far more liberal than most places, you do frequently see activists for conservative causes: pro-life; pro-Israel; Republican Party, etc.

    Comment by Sublime Progress — September 12, 2010 @ 9:29 pm

  17. @Newman,

    Western chauvinism is my extension of what N. Trubetzkoy called “Romano-Germanic chauvinism”. Read here.

    Second, the reason I called you out is because you did not make any call for Britain to ease up ITS visa procedures for non-Western countries.

    Comment by Sublime Progress — September 12, 2010 @ 9:36 pm

  18. Western chauvinism is my extension of what N. Trubetzkoy called “Romano-Germanic chauvinism”. Read here.

    Yes, I know what you meant. I was calling it bullshit, not misunderstanding it.

    Second, the reason I called you out is because you did not make any call for Britain to ease up ITS visa procedures for non-Western countries.

    That’s because Britain’s visa rules were not under discussion. As has been pointed out to you mulitple times, the discussion of another country is permitted without the author having to write droves on the situation in his own country. And as somebody married to a Russian who cannot obtain a British passport whilst the UK passport office seemingly hands them out to anyone who turns up, I dearly wish the UK would make it easier for Russians to obtain a visa and passport through marriage. But that’s all irrelevant. Russia’s visa laws are appalling by any standards, let alone for a country attempting to hold a major international event, and that is the case regardless of what I think about Britain’s visa rules. For the umpteenth time, you’re engaging in whataboutism to avoid acknowledging the bleedin’ obvious.

    Comment by Tim Newman — September 12, 2010 @ 9:47 pm

  19. BTW, @SWP,
    Believe it or not (probably not but whatever) but my single most “radicalizing” influence is the Internet, more precisely, the writings of neocons, chauvinists, Russophobes, Islamophobes, global warming deniers, etc, that I find here.
    In real life, I really couldn’t care less.

    @Tim,
    OK, fair enough. But you complain too much about the bureaucracy. The form doesn’t mean much. It’s not as if they’re even going to check up on any of it. That’s a world away from where you’re flat out denied in, as in Britain.

    Comment by Sublime Progress — September 12, 2010 @ 10:04 pm

  20. “So?” wrote: “You don’t have to be a tolerast to be tolerant. BTW, much of this Iraq hypocricy would have been avoided, had the United States occupied Saudi Arabia instead.

    I have another radical and unusual idea for you: what if the United States DIDN’T occupy Saudi Arabia instead? What if the United States DIDN’T occupy Iraq? What if the United States DIDN’T rape Yugoslavia? What if the United States DIDN’T invade Panama City?

    Where in the UN Charter or the US Constitution does it say that the United States is obligated to bring death and lawlessness to other countries?

    I know the idea of USA acting like a responsible, law-abiding and peaceful member of the international community goes against almost all special interest groups that control the Democratic and Republican Parties, but familiarize yourself with the Libertarian Party and its views, especially as expressed by the Cato Institute:

    http://www.cato.org/foreign-policy-national-security

    Comment by Ostap Bender — September 13, 2010 @ 3:57 am

  21. Well well well, here is one in the eye for Sublime Progress:

    New Mosque Project Sparks Controversy In Moscow

    MOSCOW — People in a southeastern Moscow district have begun a campaign to stop the construction of a new mosque, RFE/RL’s Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

    http://www.rferl.org/content/New_Mosque_Project_Sparks_Controversy_In_Moscow/2158271.html

    All those wonderfully progressive Russians – NOT!!

    Comment by Andrew — September 17, 2010 @ 3:37 am

  22. While I condemn the reactionary Muscovites who are against that mosque, I triple condemn the hypocrite fucks like you who condemn it in Russia because you hate it while cheering on bigotry and discrimination in the West.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — September 17, 2010 @ 5:22 am

  23. Oh, poor Sublime _______(insert todays word), you got a little upset there did you?

    When did I cheer on bigotry and discrimination in the west?

    Face it retard, Russians are pretty much the most bigoted and racist people on the planet when taken as a whole.

    The pity is there are many who are not, but they are subsumed in a vile nation that would make Hitler proud.

    Comment by Andrew — September 20, 2010 @ 7:38 am

  24. I bet that if Russia banned the construction of a new mosque within 2 miles of Beslan, Pushkin Square, or the Nord-Ost tragedy sites, The Professor and La Russophobka would start foaming at their mouths at Russian “racism” and “bigotry”.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — September 23, 2010 @ 11:46 pm

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