Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cordoba: For the Record...

Some conservative Christians are trying to read a lot into the name of the proposed Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero.

For instance:
The project has long been referred to (by its promoters) as The Cordoba Initiative. Many Americans, who find history boring, have hardly noticed the designation. Possibly it makes them think of dad’s old car, that Chrysler with the “rich Corinthian leather” touted by the late Ricardo Monteban. But really, there is something else going on.
And it’s hiding in plain sight.
You see, Cordoba is an important name to Islamist supremacists because it refers to the caliphate established more than 1,200 years ago in Spain. The Muslims triumphed there over the “infidel” Christians and built a great mosque on the foundation of a Christian cathedral. They were all about symbolism even back then. The proximity of the proposed mosque to Ground Zero has nothing to do with co-existence or bridge building.
Cordoba is code for conquest.
And also this twit, who has a knack for "borrowing" both from the above writer as well as Newt Gingrich:
You say Cordoba, I say Muslim conquest. The storm surrounding the Cordoba mosque in New York City is growing larger. It has many Americans fearful of what our future holds if a Muslim mosque is built two blocks from Ground Zero. Before I really dug deep to research this controversy I was conflicted. On one hand I felt disrespected, as most Americans feel; on the other I felt everyone has the religious right to build where they want to build. However, we aren't talking about a peace-loving religion like Buddhism. We're talking about the very religion that caused our country enormous heartache. It's like putting a Nazi support group next to Auschwitz.
...Don't be fooled into thinking this is a peaceful mosque. If the people pushing for this cause were so peaceful and loving, they would respect our country and respect the Americans who lost their lives on Sept. 11. Why are they pushing so hard to build this mosque when it is clearly causing turmoil? This is a big country, plenty of space to build anywhere you like. But they chose two blocks from Ground Zero? On top of that, they want to call it Cordoba.
Let us wander into history for a moment. The first Cordoba mosque in Spain was built after the Moors, a Muslim people, conquered the Spanish city of Cordoba, which was under the Roman Empire at the time. Now, it seems suspicious that Muslims would like to build a mosque near Ground Zero and call it Cordoba, which symbolizes conquest. It's not a coincidence. This appears to be a well-calculated show put on by those who support this mosque, and it is destructive to the core.
There's only one problem with this argument: when Jews think of Cordoba, as Tablet's Marc Tracy points out, they think of the Golden Age of Spain.
Though it is now to be called Park51—a reference to its address, 45-51 Park Place—its initial name was Cordoba House, and the nonprofit behind it remains the Cordoba Initiative. It’s a reference to the city of Córdoba. But what does southern Spain have to do with southern Manhattan?
Córdoba was the capital of the Islamic caliphate that controlled the Iberian peninsula during the Middle Ages. Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam who runs the Cordoba Initiative with his wife, named his project “after the period between roughly 800 and 1200 CE, when the Cordoba Caliphate ruled much of today’s Spain, and its name reminds us that Muslims created what was, in its era, the most enlightened, pluralistic, and tolerant society on earth,” he wrote in his 2004 book What’s Right With Islam. Rauf is seeking to align himself with those who see the period as the “Golden Age of Spain,” or what’s called the convivencia—“the coexistence”—when members of the three Abrahamic faiths lived side-by-side in peace, prosperity, and astonishing cultural and intellectual creativity.
Tracy goes on to illustrate how Jewish conceptions of Spain have, not surprisingly, usually distorted the actual history to fit their ideology. However there's no question that the popular Jewish vision of the Golden Age, while not perfect, is usually positive.

I don't know much about Imam Rauf. I honestly don't know what his agenda is. (Though I do think it's interesting that people are accusing a Sufi imam of being a jihadist ideologue given that Sufis are about as well-liked by Sunni fundamentalists as Jews.) But to act like the mere use of "Cordoba" is a smoking gun for jihadism just illustrates who really doesn't know their history.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had heard some of this as well, and I'm so glad that people are posting to bebunk these folks who are looking for something - anything - to hang their antiIslamic hatemongering on.