-- The "Tour de Faim" ("Tower of Hunger"), the tallest tower of cake in the world.
"[Former Republican Senator Rick] Santorum compared the ground zero mosque to a minister who wants to builds a church near the location where the Rev. Martin Luther King was killed but preaches racial separation and the notion that King brought his death upon himself."
This is an improvement from the flawed analogies used thus far (i.e., the KKK shrine at a former black Baptist church; or a Shinto shrine at Pearl Harbor). And, because it is an improvement, it helps to begin to clarify the problem of incoherence at the heart of the opposition to the Ground Zero Mosque (GZM).
Let us use Santorum's analogy to palpate that incoherence: What the analogy shows is that opposition is not being formally and explicitly articulated against that hypothetical minister's religion (in that case, it would be a professed Christianity), but only against that minister's extremism precisely as contrasted with the Christianity he professes.
Opposition to the GZM thus has two faces:
1) the formal explicit opposition to the putative extremism of this particular Imam Rauf
2) the informal implicit opposition to Islam itself.
The public opponents to the GZM couch their opposition in terms that imply they oppose the mosque on the grounds that it is merely Islamic, that it represents Islam (with the corollary implication that Islam itself, and not some minority offshoot of "extremism" which, as George Bush used to preach -- to a mainstream choir of nearly the entire West -- was directly responsible for the 911 attacks), but formally they never come out and say this. Formally and publicly, the opponents to the GZM remain ostensibly opposed not to Islam per se, but to Raufism.
The rhetorical slack is then taken up by the "civilians" of the still inchoate anti-Islam movement, mostly in the Blogosphere, to put the two faces of the opposition together into the one coherent stance of opposition to Islam itself. Over the past month or so as this issue has gained steam and traction, the character of that rhetorical contribution has become evident in various discussion forums, comments fields, and chat rooms. A more typical and emblematic example than this recent comments thread on Jihad Watch (currently over 130 comments and still growing), where such "civilians" are spontaneously expressing their radical viewpoint on this issue without any sense of the cognitive dissonance their coherently radical stance (i.e., anti-Islam first and foremost and only parenthetically anti-Raufism) arouses when contrasted with the incoherent stances of their quasi-official representatives, would be difficult to find.
These "civilians", either out of wishful thinking or out of savvy discernment, however, demonstrate through their commentary that they have received (or think they have received) the message telegraphed between the lines -- the message, namely, that their quasi-official public representatives of opposition to the GZM in fact oppose it merely because it is Islamic, and oppose the builders merely because they are Muslims: for those facts should be sufficient to oppose it.
But is that message really being telegraphed between the lines? For, if that telegraph is true, there is no reason not to oppose any mosque anywhere in the West, and in fact powerful reasons to oppose them. But Spencer is not opposed to mosques in the West (so long, that is, as they do not show signs of "Raufism" -- i.e., smoking guns of "extremism"). If someone is not opposed to mosques generally in the West, then they cannot logically be opposed to a non-"Raufist" (that is, a non-"extremist") mosque built at or near Ground Zero.
Having one's cake and eating it too is not a solid ground on which to build a lasting movement. This tendency has been building in the still-inchoate anti-Islam movement for the past decade after 911, and so far we still have the same incoherency, by now a towering incoherency made of cake, a twin tower of inconsistency that will not need any Muslims to fall of its own unstable weight.
Another incoherency here is clarified (unintentionally, it seems) by Santorum's remarks as well:
"I don't think Barack Obama would say, 'Well we have religious tolerance, we're going to allow them to do that,'" he said. "That is the wrong way to look at this. This is not whether it's a legal right to do it. People have legal rights to do a lot of things in this country."
While of course our President should have come down against the GZM, simply being opposed to the mosque is not the same thing as legally forbidding the mosque builders from building it. Even if the President, the entire Congress and the Justices of the Supreme Court all publicly professed opposition to the mosque, they could still do nothing legally to prevent the builders from building, short of finding some loopholes in the law (e.g., the declaration of landmark status for the extant building). But finding a loophole in the law in order to succeed in preventing the GZM is not the same thing as making it illegal to build it, and suffers from the same incoherency as the public articulations of opposition: tap-dancing around the Camel in the Room, Islam itself.
In endeavoring to do clarify our opposition to the Ground Zero Mosque as being first and foremost an opposition to Islam itself -- with Imam Rauf and his deceptions and covert beliefs being secondary and tangential because supremely redundant to the mere fact that he is a Muslim who supports Islam -- we would, as a society, begin to articulate a coherent opposition not merely to "extremism", not merely to this one mosque, but to Islam itself and to its concrete institutions.
Will we have to wait another decade before we begin to see forthright, elegant, clear and uncompromising coherence from our quasi-official representatives within the anti-Islam movement? Even that might be, sadly, too much to expect.