Sarah Palin has called on "peace-seeking Muslims" to "refudiate" plans by the The Cordoba Initiative, a Muslim organization, to build a mosque and community center near the site of Ground Zero. After someone alerted her to the fact that "refudiate" isn't actually a word, she deleted the original tweet and sent out two more: "Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real," and, "Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing."
Let's put aside the issue of "refudiation" for a moment; the larger issue here is the intent of the Cordoba Initiative, which is trying to build the mosque. I know the people who run the initiative; they are, for lack of a better term, "peace-seeking Muslims." I spoke at a program co-sponsored by Cordoba last year, and I came to understand that the organization is interested mainly in battling extremism within Islam, and in building bridges to non-Muslim faiths. It seems to me that its mission makes Cordoba an appropriate fit for Ground Zero. One of the ways to prevent future Ground Zeroes is to encourage moderation within Islam, and to treat Muslim moderates differently than we treat Muslim extremists. The campaign against this mosque treats all Muslims as perpetrators. This is a terrible mistake, for moral and strategic reasons. I'm afraid that Sarah Palin, if she were ever to become President, would help create what Muslim extremists have so far unsuccesssfully sought to provoke: an all-out clash of civilizations.