Bill Clinton: Park 51

Controversy could have been avoided by dedication to Muslim victims of 9/11.


Former U.S. President Bill Clinton speaks before the announcement of a commitment pledge at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York September 22, 2010.                 

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

President Bill Clinton has a unique genius, an ability to look at situations and clarify, understand, and explain them beautifully.  This is a part of his unique and overwhelming political charisma, and the most recent fruit of this special quality of his is his analysis of the Park 51 project, known to opponents as the Ground Zero Mosque and by its original name, the Cordoba House project.

In a three minute Youtube video, conducted by Citizentube, Clinton answered a “call-in” video question regarding the Park 51 mosque.  Clinton began by describing his “almost radical view on the 1st Amendment,” saying “I believe people should be free to practice their faith.”

He explained the facts of the Imam Rauf’s plans to build a mosque close to Ground Zero, and acknowledged the tremendous sensitivity of victims of the 9/11 attacks and tragedy, and also acknowledged the fact that the repercussions of 9/11 continue to this day with continued military action.

On the legal issues surrounding the case he made a concise and extremely powerful argument that the decision regarding the mosque rests squarely with the local government in the vicinity of the mosque, and noted the fact that New York authorities have granted permission to Imam Rauf to build his community center.

Clinton shows a grasp of what escapes most Americans, that (1) Al Qaeda purports to speak for Muslims and purports to be doing its Islamic duty, and implicitly acknowledged (2) that Islam and other Muslims do not accept that Al Qaeda speaks for them.

What is so telling is that Clinton showed more wisdom regarding the Park 51 project than its own proponents, saying that “much, maybe even most of the controversy of this decision could have been avoided–and perhaps still can be–if the people who want to build the center  were to simply say “we are dedicating this center to all the Muslims who were killed on 9/11.”

Clinton pointed out that he had not heard anyone talk about that issue, and said “we all forget” that a lot of Muslims were killed on 9/11.

“If they were to do that, they would be sending several important signals–they would be saying, ‘not all Muslims are terrorists, most of us are far from it,’ ‘we died too, we share your pain, we are not insensitive to it,’ and ‘we recognize that Muslims were killed… or murdered.’

“We are dedicating this Islamic center to the memory of the people who were killed on 9/11, who share our faith.”

If they did this, Clinton explained, many of the objections raised against the project would likely just wipe away.

He suggested that the center give the names of the Muslim victims, and say how many there were, suggesting that that fact would likely surprise many Americans, saying that many Americans still don’t know that a substantial number of Muslims were killed on 9/11.


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