This weekend, my home town will be the site of an extraordinary event. Let me beg everyone who is able to make the pilgrimage to Ground Zero on the ninth anniversary of the Islamist mass-murder attack on our country. It is there that thousands of citizens will gather at 3 p.m. at Park Place (between Church and West Broadway) to register their outrage at the attempt by foreign-funded, terrorist-friendly Muslims to build a triumphalist mosque at the site of an Islamist slaughter, replacing a building that was damaged by one of the planes hijacked by 19 orthodox Muslims. (Nineteen is a mystical number in Islamic theology — as significant for them as twelve is for Christians — which seems to be why Osama bin Laden recruited precisely that many terrorists).
The archbishop of New York has compared the controversy over the Ground Zero mosque to that which raged in the 1990s over the Carmelite convent at Auschwitz — and gently asked the mosque-builders to look for another, less inflammatory site, just as Pope John Paul II moved the convent away from the death camp. I am glad Archbishop Timothy Dolan weighed in to make this comparison, and appreciate his courage. In most of the West, Catholic leaders are twisting the Faith into knots to accommodate the most outrageous demands of imperialist Islam. For instance, in North Africa and France, Muslims who wish to convert to Catholicism — and Islam imposes the death penalty for apostasy, enforced in many countries — have found that some priests and bishops are unwilling to baptize them.
Bishops throughout Europe are so desperate to maintain their multiculturalist bona fides that they tacitly support the ongoing influx of orthodox Muslims into their countries and echo the false charges of racism against those who fear the imposition of Islamic law. The Anglican archbishop of Canterbury made himself infamous by supporting the use of Sharia in British courts, but Catholic bishops haven’t been much better. They would rather leave the next generation of Christians to face a burgeoning, chauvinistic Islamic majority than risk opprobrium today telling the truth: Islam is intolerant. It is proudly so, and its own holy book is refreshingly candid about the choices that unbelievers should face: conversion, subjugation, or death. Muslims who believe in religious pluralism and a free society are bad Muslims — and good for them!
We are rightly ashamed of the atrocities committed by the Spanish and even the Roman inquisition, the torture and persecution of heretics, and the sinful mistreatment of Jews that Church authorities countenanced, on and off, for centuries. The Second Vatican Council renounced (rather belatedly, it’s true) the right of Catholics to restrict the religious freedom of others, and John Paul performed an act of public penance for these sins. And yet we hear these old crimes repeated by “new atheists,” dissenting Catholics, and other enemies of the Church, as if they had been committed not in the 16th century but during the Bush Administration and John Paul’s pontificate.
The racist anti-Semitism of the Nazis, while it attracted many individual Catholics into its ranks, was firmly condemned and widely resisted by the Church. Indeed, in moving the convent away from Auschwitz, John Paul was bending over backward to show sensitivity for the millions of Jewish victims of the Nazis — a movement led by apostate Catholics who hated the Church as much as Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky hated the synagogue. Auschwitz was not an atrocity committed by faithful Catholics, in the name of the Faith, in accordance with principles widely accepted by the leaders of the Church. It was a sickening criminal enterprise on the part of hell-bound neopagans, half of them sunk in occultism. Nevertheless, because Nazi anti-Semitism emerged from Christian Europe, and had some causal roots in Christian anti-Judaism, John Paul was right to move the convent; it was the Christian thing to do.
The 9/11 attacks, by contrast, were conducted by Muslims practicing the tactic of suicide bombing — which is widely accepted by leaders of orthodox Islam . . . for instance, by the sponsors of the Ground Zero mosque, who have over and over again refused to denounce the terror tactics of Hamas. Just last week, when Hamas shot dead four civilians (including a pregnant woman), Ground Zero mosque founder Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf would not condemn the attack. This is no surprise; Rauf’s close ally, the leading Islamic “civil rights” organization in America, is the Council on American-Islamic Relations. CAIR was named by the U.S. government as an un-indicted co-conspirator in a massive scheme to smuggle money to Hamas — which proudly conducts suicide attacks, just like those on 9/11, against civilians in Israel. Now these groups, which have no problem with murdering civilians who get in their way, want to follow the Muslim tradition of building enormous, triumphalist mosques on the sites of great Islamic victories. It is the Muslim thing to do.
And if we let them build it, 9/11 really will have been the victory that they think it was. They will smell our weakness and fear, sneer at us, and move on to the next and greater outrage. Enabling such arrogance does not amount to turning the other cheek, accepting a minor slight out of love for peace; arguably, that’s what John Paul did in moving the Auschwitz convent. No, supporting Islamic expansion in the West is an act of moral cowardice, which wins people praise as “tolerant” and cosmopolitan, for which the next generation will pay the price. And our children will curse us for it.