To judge from e-mails, comments on Facebook and so forth, some of you are worried that the discussion about the GMZ is becoming too whacked-out, too obsessive, and dangerously incendiary.
No, it's quite healthy, I figure. These questions about Islam--what it is, who's a moderate, whether there are moderates--have been subterranean for too long. That's unhealthy.
The mosque is forcing a lot of people to subject their firm but privately-held views, whether well-founded or bigoted, to public scrutiny. That's not necessarily healthy, mind you--I too am balefully watching the nutcases come out of their hidey-holes--but it's generally a good thing. It was definitely going to happen sooner or later.
There's been a stifling veil of political correctness drawn over this subject for fear of exciting extremists--on both sides, mind you. But ordinary people sense that for what it is: flimflam and an insult to their intelligence. If the emotion generated by the mosque prompts this kind of debate, and if it happens, no coincidence, before an election, that's what democracy is about.
So, to Conor Friedersdorf's latest at the Dish. I agree with you, Conor, that Imam Feisal should not be judged a radical simply because he has attended conferences where radicals were present. Were you to judge me by the opinions of people with whom I'm loosely associated--my list of Facebook friends, for example--you'd conclude that I was (serially), a crypto-Islamist, a profound bigot, a conspiracy theorist, a Turkish nationalist, and a partisan of the Animal Liberation Front. I talk to a lot of people with whom I profoundly disagree. I figure that even if I don't change their minds today, some of it might sink in drop by drop. Political opinions tend to mature over a matter of years, not minutes. I've even been known to change my mind after exposure to an opposing point of view, albeit quite a bit later, after a face-saving interval.
The flap over Ann Coulter's appearance at Homocon suggests the same question. I agree with her that giving a speech at Homocon does not amount to furnishing your apartment with lucite chairs and adding a splash of Mediterranean Walnut to the transitional spaces in your walls. So you're right about that, Conor. We can agree about that.
So, Conor, would you agree with me about this? It's time to hear from Imam Feisal himself. I'm not impressed that he's left the entire nation to read the tea-leaves and the entrails. I'm sick of hearing from Park 51's adolescent flack on Twitter. If Feisal wants to build bridges, he'd best come back from Malaysia and do some building.