Those of us in the "professional left" often lament the timidity and fickleness of our more establishment colleagues. If only they had been more resolute in their self-proclaimed roles as arbiters of truth and reason—the country wouldn’t have fallen for weapons of mass destruction or gone berserk over death panels and deficits. But the furor over the so-called "Ground Zero mosque" should shred whatever faith we have left in the mainstream—not in its integrity, but in its power.
The list of establishment voices who have spoken out—often forcefully—against the plainly bigoted crusade against Park51, a k a the Cordoba House, should be daunting. It includes the editorial pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and (grudgingly) the Wall Street Journal as well as CNN’s Fareed Zakaria (who returned an award from the ADL in protest), NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg, Post columnist Kathleen Parker, the American Jewish Committee, J-Street and Iraq war boosters Christopher Hitchens and Peter Beinart, whose recent Daily Beast columns put him somewhere just slightly to the right of Noam Chomsky. This honor roll even included, for a brief moment, President Obama, who is now twisting himself into knots trying to retract his retraction of his refudiation of the smear.
And yet—all of this pushback has made not one iota of difference. Over 60 percent of Americans still think an Islamic cultural center should not be built on "hallowed ground", and vulnerable Democrats like Harry Reid are caving faster than a Massey-owned mine on the issue, which apparently erases from voters’ minds the mass joblessness that building more mosques would, in small part, ameliorate. There are even talks underway to relocate the center to a less sacred location—somewhere far far away from the strip club, McDonald’s and off-track betting parlor that currently dignify Ground Zero.
Let’s face it: Sarah Palin’s Twitter account won. Even worse, so did the blogger behind the jihad, Pamela Geller, a woman so unhinged that she can’t even get her birther story straight. (She once suggested that Obama was the love child of Malcolm X.) It’s one thing to see the captain of the football team shrink away from a fight with the undersized school bully. It’s quite another to see him stand up for what’s right—and get knocked flat on his sorry ass.