Two prominent liberal commentators have come out against the Ground Zero mosque project. Christopher Hitchens, (who has criticized some arguments used by some mosque opponents) on Monday attacked Rauf's "sinister belief that the United States was partially responsible for the assault on the World Trade Center and his refusal to take a position on the racist Hamas dictatorship in Gaza."
The more he reads through Rauf's statements, Hitchens wrote, the more alarming they sound. After Iran's ruling mullahs hijacked last year's election, Rauf advised President Obama to "say his administration respects many of the guiding principles of the 1979 revolution," including the idea of Vilayet-i-faqih, which means establishing the rule of law.
But Rauf neglected to explain that Vilayet i-faqih is a term coined by Ayatollah Khomeini to describe the idea that Iranian society is under the permanent guardianship of the mullahs.
"Under this dispensation, 'the will of the people' is a meaningless expression, because 'the people' are the wards and children of the clergy," Hitchens wrote. This effectively gives the Iranian clergy the authority to dictate election results.
According to Hitchens, it is a mistake to suggest that the issue of building the Ground Zero mosque is solely one of religious tolerance:
"As Western Europe has already found to its cost, local Muslim leaders have a habit, once they feel strong enough, of making demands of the most intolerant kind. Sometimes it will be calls for censorship of anything 'offensive' to Islam. Sometimes it will be demands for sexual segregation in schools and swimming pools. The script is becoming a very familiar one. And those who make such demands are of course usually quite careful to avoid any association with violence. They merely hint that, if their demands are not taken seriously, there just might be a tiny smidgen of violence from some other unnamed quarter."
As for "the gorgeous mosaic of religious pluralism, it's easy enough to find mosque Web sites and DVDs that peddle the most disgusting attacks on Jews, Hindus, Christians, unbelievers and other Muslims - to say nothing of insane diatribes about women and homosexuals," Hitchens added.
That is why "the fake term Islamophobia is so dangerous. It insinuates that any reservations about Islam must ipso facto be 'phobic.' A phobia is an irrational fear or dislike. Islamic preaching very often manifests precisely this feature, which is why suspicion of it is by no means irrational."
Columnist Nat Hentoff objected to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's call for an investigation into the funding received by mosque opponents:
"If one of her sleuths knocks on my door, this opponent will readily state that I need no outside funding as a reporter who is deeply investigating the motivation of Imam Rauf's choice of this site of mass murder for the mosque. I will add that, of course, all American Muslims have their First Amendment right to exercise their freedom of religion in their place of worship. There have been other mosques in New York City built without opposition."
Hentoff criticized Rauf's refusal to call Hamas a terrorist organization and his no-comment response to Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahar's endorsement of the mosque's location. The columnist noted that Rauf, a supporter of sharia, has participated in State Department tours of Arab Middle Eastern countries during the George W. Bush and Obama administrations.
"Does our State Department include sharia as being within our rule of law?" Hentoff asked.