Jewish World Review August 18, 2010 / 8 Elul, 5770
Lack of Foresight Let Mosque Controversy Balloon
By Jonah Goldberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The ground zero mosque controversy is one of the stupidest debates of our time. I don't mean the substance of the debate (though there's no shortage of stupidity on that front either). I mean that we are having it at all.
The CIA usually defends its existence by pointing out that we never hear about its successes, only its failures. The bombs that don't go off don't make headlines. Politics works the same way. Good politicians instinctively see down the road and around the corner. Great politicians do this not just with political headaches but with weighty affairs as well. We call such foresight statesmanship.
With the ground zero mosque, we have gotten the exact opposite. The supposedly pragmatic political wise men have been blinded by ideology or incompetence and have failed to see what was so obviously around the corner. A big honking Islamic center built to capitalize on 9/11, in a building that was damaged on 9/11? What could go wrong?
It's as if they've wanted to turn a dumb idea into an emotional and unwinnable national controversy.
Let's start with the incandescent idiocy of
Bloomberg is not only the mayor. He's also a billionaire with massive sway in the city's media, finance and cultural institutions. Moreover, the Big Apple is a
The notion that Bloomberg couldn't have quietly stopped this in
But instead of quietly extinguishing a controversy, Bloomberg said it was as important a "test of the separation of church and state as we may see in our lifetime."
He also insists that opponents should be "ashamed" of their bigotry, even though he expects "special sensitivity" from the mosque's backers. Apparently, it's only shameful to think ground zero requires "special sensitivity" if you oppose the mosque. Bloomberg apparently needs a tutor to pass his own church-state test.
Which brings us to President Obama (who himself could have quietly intervened months ago) and what may be his most embarrassing blunder yet. At a
"He felt he had a responsibility to speak," said
Well, if his real intent was to remain agnostic, he should fire his speechwriter immediately.
But of course that wasn't his intent. He wanted to seem heroically principled. But when he was hit with an entirely foreseeable backlash (according to one poll, nearly 70 percent of Americans oppose the mosque), he once again led with his glass jaw and, in effect, told everybody they were too dimwitted to grasp the brilliant nuance of his remarks.
This was the opposite of statesmanship. By elevating an already stupid idea and a poisonous debate, he forced everyone to take a side on a polarizing issue (including vulnerable Democrats like
And it all could have been avoided with some foresight and a few phone calls.
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