Daniel Gordis has a rather repellent column up in the Jerusalem Post. It purports to be about the Park 51 community center, but it actually barely talks about it. Rather, its focus is on the need of Americans to know, with clarion certainty and no distractions, that we are in a potentially endless, apocalyptic war, with Muslims (yes, yes, not all Muslims are terrorists. But this observation, he writes, "only goes so far."). To the extent the Cordoba Initiative comes up, it seems to be that any indulgence to any Muslim, anywhere, risks distracting us from this steely steadfastness we'll need to pull through.
As Tim F. once noted, the possibility that Americans might forget that Muslim terrorists attacked us on 9/11 "seems vanishingly unlikely when at any given time a Republican is running for office somewhere." But more fundamentally, what this article is, more or less, is an unapologetic paean to pure fear. It says that America's noted "gentility" (which, I imagine, is like France's noted courtesy. I love America and lots of things about it, but "gentility" is hardly among our better-known qualities) will be the end of us. For all its macho rhetoric about how we need to be strong and unified, it is cowardly and weak. For all the talk about how the terrorists wish to destroy us and our liberties (and, no doubt, they do), it seeks to do much of their job for them, by turning our robust, vibrant, and free society into a paranoid fortress. I fly pretty often, and no, US air travel is not "abominably unpleasant". It isn't, it doesn't have to be, and really, if that's the best you got, your siege mentality needs work. We have stood resilient for years against this threat, precisely by not making our state a ghastly imitator of bigoted, oppressive regimes worldwide; precisely by not deciding that their discriminatory hatred is not a sin to fight, but a model to emulate.
We do need to be both the "land of the free" and the "home of the brave". But Daniel Gordis is not brave. He is weak. He is cowardly. He would have America panic and treat the Muslim community writ large as presumptive enemies, when what distinguishes America from so many countries around the world right now is the relative lack of homegrown Muslim radicalism. We've preserved that lofty status because we have no yet wavered from our belief that America is for all Americans -- that we are all equals here. Now, some folks, like Mr. Gordis, seek to cut and run from our constitutional commitments. There is no bravery in that.