Yet Pamela Geller, who writes the Atlas Shrugs blog, and Newt Gingrich, the Speaker of the House from 1995-1999, are united by a common cause: opposition to the mosque to be built near Ground Zero in downtown Manhattan.
Together, the two have united a movement of American citizens who oppose building a mosque two blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks.
Geller argues that based on "common sense," a mosque near Ground Zero is a "slap in the face" and a monument to the religion whose religious texts were used to justify 9/11. Gingrich also argues that the mosque would be seen as a monument of victory to radical Islamic extremists
Neither Geller nor Gingrich speak Arabic. Nor do they have familiarity with insurgent communications or Arab media. So it makes sense they would miss a critical detail that makes this assertion fall flat on its face.
Islamic insurgent groups are not making the case that a mosque near ground zero is a victory monument. It is not happening. Neither Geller nor Gingrich point to a single case where this claim has actually been made.
This makes sense because radical Islam perceives itself as the victim under threat. There is no huge victory in the perpetually self-defeating world of radicalism. If there were, the need to be radical would diminish, and the radical's personal identity along with it.
The groups do consider opposition to the mosque as yet another attack by America on Islam. But they and the mainstream Arab press have expressed far more outrage at the planned Qur'an burning to take place at a Florida church this September 11th.
Geller and Gingrich's world of trophy mosques is a complete, absolute fantasy.
Geller is a paranoid reactionary who was mobilized in the wake of September 11th. She is a mobilized citizen, an opinion leader on par with opinion leaders in any other social movement. But Gingrich is a former leader in the legislative branch of the United States government. He has access to the most intelligent and well informed minds. As a leader, his responsibility is to access those minds. The American people have every right to question, but a leader's job is to look for answers on their behalf.
So here are the answers:
No, the mosque is not seen as a victory monument by Sunni insurgent groups. In fact, one of those groups, Jund Allah, bombed a mosque in Iran with Muslim worshippers inside not two months ago. Also, if the mosque is so blatant a monument, why would it be so difficult to positively prove it?
No, the values of Islam are not the same as those of al-Qaeda. The Takfiri school of thought is a tiny stem of an entire tree of Qur'anic interpretation which ignores thousands of years of jurisprudence and development of the religion. To group Manhattan-based Muslims with al-Qaeda ideologically is like blaming Christianity for invading Iraq.
Leaders are shepherds, not sheep. Gingrich need not support the mosque to be a leader. But he does need to make arguments which are based in well-reasoned fact-supported arguments. The American people want a genuine discussion of this issue. Ignoring this call is tantamount to an abdication of leadership.