Starting a blog immediately in the wake of the 9-year anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks involves one in all kinds of pretenses; I think it is as good a time to start as any. This starting date, like the blog’s title, helps convey the animus behind the blog.
It isn’t my aim to be a cheerleader for the status-quo, but to acknowledge and further what is best in the Liberal tradition. Much contemporary political theory casts itself as profound where it is merely radical. The conservative Edmund Burke said “A spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper and confined views. People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.” I take this to mean that the hatred of the mundane that characterizes many critics of Liberalism is more-often a product of agitation than of responsible insight, and that those who can imagine a different world rarely imagine what it would be like to live in such a state, or what it would cost to take us there. Some posts will argue that radical critique of Liberalism is valuable; still, radical rejection of it is not.
I note with some irony that I have been spurred to write regularly by the arguments offered in opposition to the establishment of Park51, an Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan, 2 blocks from the World Trade Center. While these arguments have varied in extremity, they have a common feature in being unconcerned with the just treatment of individuals. Anti-Defamation League president Abraham H. Foxman gave a shameful rationale for opposition in a July 30th New York Times article, that “(September 11th victims’ families’) anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted.” Newt Gingrich made the outrageous claim that the Park51 community center is a test of the acquiescence of American elites, and that the Cordoba Initiative chose its name (and the abandoned original name for the center) to evoke not the flourishing of a multi-confessional civilization in Spain in the Middle Ages but the military conquest of Spain by the Arabs in the early 700s.
Of course many came out with their retrospectives on September 11, 2001 yesterday, but this year I’ve thought more about US policies and the developments at home and abroad which have carried us from then to now. This is certainly in part owing to the protest movement around what the media, in its habitual preference for faddish terms over information, calls the “Ground Zero Mosque.” (Park51, previously called Cordoba House, is neither a mosque nor at Ground Zero.) For his foreign policy choices President George W. Bush is most-readily recalled for a certain naïveté or arrogance (if there is a difference), from public statements promising a “Crusade to end terrorism” (Ugh…) to the invasion of Iraq on specious grounds with only vague reconstruction plans. But he has received occasional mention in the news today in light of the current opposition to Park51 on account of the fact that he had no truck with bigotry. He always clearly insisted that Muslims, whether fellow-Americans or abroad, were not the enemy. Part of the aim of this blog is to remind the reader of what went right rather than wrong, and who we have to thank for it. I’ll end my first post with words of appreciation for George W. Bush, who refused to scapegoat a religious group for political gain.
In sum: The Liberal Ironist would like, even at this late date, to see President Bush return to the spotlight to give a speech defending a religious group.