By lex, on August 4th, 2010
Dorothy Rabinowitz deftly eviscerates the pious legions of self-proclaimed moral superiority:
Immediately after the suspect in the attempted car bombing near Times Square was revealed to be Faisal Shahzad, of Pakistani origin, Mayor Bloomberg addressed the public. In admonishing tones—a Bloomberg trademark invariably suggestive of a school principal who knows exactly what to expect of the incorrigibles it is his unhappy fate to oversee—the mayor delivered a warning. There would be no toleration of “any bias or backlash against Pakistani or Muslim New Yorkers.”
That there has been a conspicuous lack of any such behavior on the part of New Yorkers or Americans elsewhere from the 9/11 attacks to the present seems not to have impressed Mr. Bloomberg. Nor has it caused any moderation in the unvarying note of indignation the mayor brings to these warnings. It’s reasonable to raise a proper caution. It’s quite something else to do it as though addressing a suspect rabble.
Her proximate cause is the controversy surrounding the Cordoba House, an “interfaith” learning shelter and Islamic mosque intended to overlook 9/11′s Ground Zero site. Such a thing would have been unthinkable in 2002 or 2003, and the Bloombergs of the world would have been ridden out of town on a rail at the very hint of support for it. A few years later, it has become the default position for the soi disant elites who would seek to tutor the unwashed masses on American values. No facts have changed in the intervening years, merely the attitudes required to consider oneself superior.
For my own part, it is not so much that I resent the prospective development of the Cordoba House, or even its location: Regardless of how the project is seen in the world of political Islam – it is sure to be seen as a victory over a declining West – we are better than that, and we decline to think in those terms. Our civilizational posture should never be one of fearful rejection but rather quiet confidence, a character we have every objective right to display.
But is still permissible in this society to become queasy at the ease with which a passion for individual liberty gradually mutates, step by step, into passionate libertinism. The amoral use the heightened sensitivities of the high minded as a weapon with which to shock the sensibilities of those who obtusely cling to their bourgeois values. We used to be able to count on a certain deference to manners and good taste to restrain such excesses. Now we cannot, and the evidence of boorish ill will and tastelessness is all around us. The Cordoba House, to my mind, is merely another such example. They have every right to build their mosque nearly atop the ashes of almost 3000 murdered American citizens. I simply wish that they would not.
There is a difference between tolerance and approbation, and this is still a free country where even Joe Sixpack has the right to his opinion. Those who seek to hector the rest of us would do best to remain mindful of those facts.