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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Gingrich Park Place disgrace

Until recently, I had a certain amount of respect for Newt Gingrich. I thought him a flawed and abrasive personality, true, but also an interesting and creative policymaker and analyst (as with his interest in space exploration). But I can scarcely believe the crudity and cynicism of Gingrich's stance on the "Ground Zero mosque," as Jacob Sullum describes well here and here.

I can understand people being discomfited or opposed to an Islamic center being located on Park Place in lower Manhattan, even though I don't share that discomfiture or that opposition. But the hysteria, authoritarianism and outright bigotry Gingrich has displayed on this issue is detestable. May he never again wield any more political power than any other fatuous, rabble-rousing, politically impotent talking head.

20 comments:

Gil Weinreich said...

I think Sullum protests too much. Yes, he is correct that in America Muslims have a right to build a mosque, but Americans of good will have a right to be offended by this -- and to protest. They are right to note that Muslims have historically sited their mosques to gain maximum humiliation of their defeated enemies. They are right to question the financing of the mosque and what Wahabi money and ideology might imply about the true purpose of this center; and they are right -- indeed, Gingrich is right -- to see "stealth jihad" as the M.O. of Imam Rauf, who has written a book on "dawa," an Islamic concept for the spread of Islam through centers of power and influence.
Blue-collar workers who desparetly need jobs have banded together to oppose this grossly inappropriate siting. Imam Rauf has every right afforded him by our Constitution; let's hope moral suasion, which is also legal, will cause him to withdraw the salt he is pouring on Americans' wounds.

Kenneth Silber said...

I notice you don't defend the key Gingrich assertion that no mosque should be built there until the Saudis allow churches. What's your view on that?

Kenneth Silber said...

Gil, thinking further about what you wrote, I think we share a concern not to send a signal of weakness to the Muslim world. The difference is I think the uproar over the mosque is what sends that signal, conveying a fear of Muslims and a lack of confidence in our own society and ideals. It's also strategic folly in suggesting that all Muslims are enemies or at least suspect. If this center is some kind of Sufi front for Wahhabism, that would be surprising and unfortunate -- and if it's proven to have real links to terror, there are laws enabling its assets to be confiscated. But as you know, Al Qaeda hates Sufis with a passion, so it seems to me a Sufi center on Park Place (which is btw not in Ground Zero) is very far from a surrender to Al Qaeda.

Gil Weinreich said...

1. You are correct that I do not subscribe to everything Gingrich says, both about the freedom American Muslims should enjoy to build mosques here and the absurdity of link the freedom of Americans to a loosening of Saudi restrictions. I do agree with his overall conclusion -- that a mosque near Ground Zero is innappropriate - just as many commentators have pointed out that a Carmelite monestary by Auschwitz was inappropriate. This brings me to your second note:
2. I didn't say and don't believe that all Muslims are enemies or at least suspect. But Imam Rauf is suspect (see today's WSJ editorial page for the latest examples of this). You also mention "strategic folly" in connection with this, but the reverse is true. America is truly a great country, but those who love it can be honest about its faults: namely, as a young civilization, we are lacking in the area of strategic thinking. Arab and Muslim civilization on the other hand is older and wiser and is very adept at strategic thinking. So where we can't see past the next election, they are focused on the long-term. Despite their economic and educational limitations at present, they have the pride and vision to seek the overthrow of the West and they are making terrific progress. Western Europe is already doomed to Muslim rule. The smart ones will leave before it's too late. In America, they've got a long way still to go, but it doesn't help that our political elites have even had AQ-supporting extremists as guests at the White House. You mention laws enabling the U.S. to confiscate assets; that's a laugh. The FBI actually has this Rauf guy give "sensitivity training" to its agents. The political connected Muslim leaders know hot to get White House invitations and political protection. For decades now U.S. presidents of both parties have maintained friendly relations with Saudis who have funded vile, anti-U.S. maddrassas where al Qaeda has blossomed.
In conclusion, two points: a) our Arab and Muslim enemies are usually smarter than we are, and don't share our naivte. b) not all Arabs and not all Muslims are enemies. The fact that I must point out I believe this is testimony to the debilitating political correctness of our contemporary society.

Phil said...

Gil,

You are one ignorant fool.

Given your "humiliation" accersion, you are suggesting that the American muslims who are looking to build this mosque are responsible for 9-11. No they are not, Al Qaeda was responsible. It is just pure bigotry to suggest that all muslims are responsible. Do we blame all Christian for Timothy McVeigh or do we blame all Catholics for a few pedophiles in their midst? Do you question where the money comes from for all churches and synagoges that are built in America? And all religions look to spread their religion. That is what they do. "Stealth Jihad"?? Complete BS and complete paranoia. Gingrich and you obviously know very little about Iman Rauf, who by the way is actually not building this center. If Rauf was such an enemy why would Bush invite him to speak at the WH after 9-11 and why would the state department send him on missions to help bridge the muslim world with America and why would he speak so elegantly at Daniel Pearl funeral, which put his own life in danger. It is only salt being poured on weak Americans who take offense to an islamic center that is not even on the 9-11 site. Carmelite monestary is not even comparable. Do you know there is already a mosque 4 blocks from the 9-11 site, so should we get rid of that?

The right course of action is to completely support this center. To support moderate islam and to promote religious tollerance.

Gingrich has been a complete buffoon, as usual, on this issue. The guy compares one of the great religious to nazis. He also completely misreads the history of Cordoba. It takes a Yale University student to completely pick apart his reading of the history. See this post on Cordoba, it really puts the whole thing into perspective.

http://gotmedieval.blogspot.com/2010/08/professor-newts-distorted-history.html

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't anyone bother to pay attention to *what kind* of Muslims the mosque serves?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyxVl_ATkIU

I guess knee jerk culture war is just so much more fun and politically profitable. Of course in the war on terror we look completely inane. Winning hearts and minds, I guess not so much.

Phil said...

As per Anonymous,

I would add that that the Sufis, which Rauf is, are hated by Al Qaeda, as they are the most liberal and tolerant in the muslim world. Just in July Al Qaeda bombed a sufi mosque in Pakistan killing 50, so hard to say Iman Rauf or this mosque will in any way support Al Qaeda or muslim extremists. In fact, quite the opposite.

See:

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/terrorism-security/2010/0702/Pakistan-questions-foreign-hand-in-Sufi-shrine-attack-that-kills-50

Eli Brennan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eli Brennan said...

RE: GIl.

"Europe is doomed"... smart folks "will leave"... America lacks strategic vision?

This is hooey. It's a short-sighted politics of resentment, fear, and cowardice. If it made a lick of sense, we'd have already collapsed under the pressures of the Confederacy, the KKK, Jim Crow, the Great Depression, the Soviet Union, Vietnam, 60's counter-culture, etc. etc. We didn't because our country isn't a small minded identity group; it's a Union. Freedom works.

And the Political Correctness Card has had its day. Exaggerated sensitivity, single-minded focus on symbolism, attempted narrowing of the political arena to exclude feared perspectives- these are the markers of PC culture. But now, the identity politics of Imagined Victimhood are (mostly / officially) white Christians. It's no less "debilitating" when one gets a taste for pathetic narcissism oneself than when one's foes do.

This is peculiar opening for liberalism (deliberately small L). It can make the argument for strength, hope, and realism.

America cannot be defeated by shallow hatred or symbolic preening. Some boastful nitwit can't defeat this Nation. Nor can hurt feelings, no matter how righteous the afflicted may be.

Our generous hearts and persistent minds will grind down evil in the next 100 years the way we have over the last 200 years. Our foes are strategically childish- not wise. Even though they may scare the bejeezus out of Certain Types, when offered freedom and prosperity at the cost of reasonable legal constraints... they'll come around. Or they won't, and there will be prison, wars, and ugliness. But our Constitution is to be admired, not slighted as weakness, or foolishness.

I'd LOVE to hear Lincoln's response to this drivel. He probably wouldn't waste the time... but I'm more low-brow, bored, and a little freaked out by the frankly anti-American posture of a pretty sizable sliver of my fellow Americans.

But even they, in their piss-soaked khakis can't bring down Our Nation.

Gil Weinreich said...

Phil says I'm "one ignorant fool." Eli Brennan refers to those with whom he disagrees as wearing "piss-soaked khakis." I'm not sure what that means, but there is no sense in debating those who exhibit such incivility. I stand by my remarks, but disavow the jingoistic ideas falsely imputed to me such as the notion that I hold all Muslims responsible for 9/11.

Eli Brennan said...

Fair enough. I did get carried away I guess. Sorry.

I'm not certain that juvenile chiding is distinctly less civil than grouping "Arab and Muslim civilization" as a totalitarian force, dooming Europe (which right-headed folks should flee).

Of course you can tack on a "not all of them" as quickly as I can tack on a "I'm just joshin'." So I guess there's always a private defense against ethos failures.

I guess I'd default against nominalizing groups like "Arab/Muslim civilization" (imbued with collective, and devious, characteristics) the way you'd shoot for post-playground-tone in prose.

Still, as far as argument goes, there are things in my rant perhaps worth considering:

1. 3 characteristics of debilitating PCism in the clash of civilization rhetoric.
2. a defense of our Constitution as an empirically robust destroyer of evil cults and navigator of tragic times.
3. an indict of supposed 'strategic savvy' as being more a performance of resentment driven identity politics than a serious consideration of relative risks.

I didn't do the cause favors with juvenile rhetoric, but I'm not beyond reason. It reeks of performative desperation to play up a conceit that this Imam represents anything other than a passing interest to our great nation... A playfully stylized response seemed a kind of mirror.

On one side, juvenile fantasies of Ancient Cultural Wars, dressed up in grown up clothes... on the other side, substantive critique in a childish voice?

Gil Weinreich said...

Apology accepted, Eli, and all honor to you for that difficult move. As to your substantive arguments:
1. You seem to think that broad social generations about a civilization cannot be made. That would be news to deToqueville.
2. Our Consitution is one of the true wonders of the world. I asked my kids to read it aloud on July 4. In other words, I love it too. But, let's not kid ourselves. It doesn't destroy "evil cults" --- and our founders knew this very well. Without a moral foundation, our republic will not survive. It is therefore incumbent on us to be vigilant about the moral condition of our society. Opposition to a mosque near an American sacred space, with all the symbolism it entails, reflects well on the moral vitality of Americans (so long as there be no opposition to mosques that do not infringe on our sacred spaces).
3. Civilizations -- even great ones like Greece and Rome --- come and go. A long-term strategic view is worth developing. For its durability alone, Islam deserves respect. American whipersnappers need to learn more about other civilizations, about our own history and what our strengths and weaknesses are, and preserve and protect our heritage. Ground Zero mosque opponents intuitively understand the importance of this, guarding this space from those who would trample on the graves, as it were, of the 3,000 Americans whose shortened lives we still mourn.

Eli Brennan said...

Well put. Wading into discourse after insults requires an inspiring degree of honor as well. Thanks, man.

1. Generalizations:
a. Heck, all nouns generalize. I get that. I'm a realist in the medieval realism/nominalism controversy... so I'm not being precious here. But I wouldn't trade my view of culture for deToqueville's- while he's an astonishing writer, and to be respected, our views of racial and cultural homogeneity have come a long way.
b. Specifically: In arguments where we feel the need to stipulate that we aren't painting with a broad brush, the patterned references to Us/Them, and Our Qualities/Their Tendencies, at best muddy the water and at worst betray something to be wary of. If I went on at length about The Bigotry of The Right or The Islamophobes, I'd wager an eye that you'd sense hastiness/unfairness in such references that would not be salved by a footnote that I don't mean ALL of the Tea Party Types- just a broad tendency among them. I try, with obvious lapses, to avoid not only this kind of prose, but the thinking that generates it.
c. Test Case: I teach at the U. of Minn here in Minneapolis, where we have a very large and vibrant Somali immigrant community. Could I use the generalizations in question in class without breaking the rapport necessary for ethically and intellectually substantial engagement with my students. I've maybe imported an unfair powerful hierarchy (teacher/student)-- but if i had to deal with a cultural moment where similar generalizations about The Irish, Poor White Kids, Oklahomans, Catholics, etc. were sometimes and sometimes not vitriolic... I'd be vigilant.
d. VERY similar topoi have famously been deployed with starkly similar styles of warranting for most suspicious social groups (Catholics, Jews, the Irish, Natives, Women, The Rich, White Elites, etc.) I see us outgrowing these habits

2. The Constitution and Moral Strength:
a. It truly is great that we are United by the Constitution. I'm terrible at this kind of epideictic rhetoric (I've been a Cynic most of my thoughtful life)... but it is inspiring. As radically different as I suspect we are, there it is. I see an analogous reverence from my Muslim students, friends, and colleagues. Usually to rebut this obvious fact I see people dismiss these Americans as Hiding their Secret Plan. This kind of non-falsifiable/circular reasoning strikes me as dangerous in the extreme (that's not an accusation, but a reflection).
b. You're right that I overstated the case that our values wreck cults... more accurate would be to say that a pluralist society that rigorously enforces reciprocal negative liberties MANAGES cultural conflict with UNPRECEDENTED success.
c. A mosque in a building hit by an exploded plain, despite righteous suspicion and pain, seems like astonishing strength to me. Doing the difficult thing, because we know that the 1st Amendment is more important than any symbolism that could be attached strikes me as what my Ma called Integrity. You don't really hold a value unless you'll affirm is when it sucks for you personally, she's say. Imagine hateful radicals streaming to the community center, where Jews, Atheists, Catholics and the like treat them with dignity pass them on the way in, and within the building. I find it hard to empathize with the view that THEY are justly gloating. That's like saying the humiliation of blacks at the lunch counters in the 50s/60s illustrated White Strength. Quite the opposite. Or like saying our bombings in Afghanistan an Iraq are Symbols of our Strength. I supported the latter conflict on pragmatic and strategic grounds DESPITE the ill fit of its inevitable ugliness, not because of it. Abu Ghraib symbolized our weakness to me, not strength. Etc.

Eli Brennan said...

3. Civilizational Strength:
a. I think Islam has survived because of its True Virtues (discipline, learnedness, and- yes- tolerance [Cordoba being an important example] not because of its Acknowledged Atrocities. John Paul II reflected with humility about sinister aspects of the Church's history... intolerance and totalitarian impulses threaten the integrity of the Church. They don't make it strong.
b. I think America has not just survived, but positively assisted humankind, not when we behave aggressively or selfishly, but when we embody the ideals of our Constitution. Not that any nation state will avoid some serious ugliness- but these moments are pragmatic compromises in the face of evil- not aspirations.
c. I'm a believer in intuition too. We've survived largely because of amazing adaptations to unfathomable complexity [my view- but compatible with other kinds of wisdom too]. But i see aggressive jingoism as a cheap thrill, a base appetite. I've fought when i should have turned the other cheek. I've cowered when I should have fought. But the key to the Strength of judgment in these moments is pretty uniformly a matter of whether I was quenching an unruly appetite (for vengeance or, conversely, security) [WEAK] or whether I was holding myself accountable to the regulative ideals i've committed myself to [STRONG].This is a more robust flavor of intuition, in my experience.
d. by analogy: The First Amendment identifies our hopes for our common character... our gut-level dismay at a potentially Cocky Manipulation of these ideals (though that's not the sense I get from the mosque-- such a path in practice would DEVASTATE the cause of American Muslims) should be subordinated to the Higher Selves embodied in our Constitution's First Amendment.

In any case, I'm struck by your patience and civility against the odds, and have appreciated your engaging in reasonable argument MUCH more than i enjoyed the brief outburst of childish strutting i began with... which, I sense, supports my position!

Gil Weinreich said...

Eli, I'm not interested in bashing Muslims. I once traded guitar lessons for Arabic lessons, which has stood me in good stead in many a cab ride over the years. But I am very interested in my countrymen recognizing the threat of militant Islam. If that means my rhetoric pushes the edge, that's a risk I must take. (I once had a friendly conversation with a Sudanese cab driver, a man of very humble origins, who brimming with confidence explained to me how Islam will take over the whole world, including the U.S. These ideas are spread far and wide in Islam, and should concern us; there are plenty of jihadi recruits out there.)
You criticize those who "dismiss these Americans as Hiding their Secret Plan." You got me all wrong. I'm troubled by those who dismiss their fellow Americans who are not hiding their all too open plans.
Hitler wrote all his plans in Mein Kampf, and precious few were the statesmen who took his intensions seriously. So do with Ahmedinejad today; so too with U.S.-based Islamists; so too with Imam Rauf, who blames the U.S. for 9/11; so too my Sudanese taxi driver.
You compare Islam in the Golden Age of Spain favorably to Christianity in the Dark Ages. You're right. So why do people fail to see today an enlightened Christianty compared to a contemporary Islam that is stuck in its own Dark Ages? Interestingly, we're exactly 1,400 years into the history of Islam; the comparable time in Christendom, the late middle ages, was a time of obscurantism and little cultural output, and the 100 Years War of English and French jihadis.
I'd like to end on a note of agreement. I was as as appalled by Abu Graib as you were. Patriotic Americans who sought to downplay that episode in their support of the Iraq war or general benevolence missed something important. It was not on the level of the My Lai massacre, to be sure, but a sign of the moral dissolution of U.S. society. Which brings me back to the Constitution. It was one of the most inspired documents ever put on paper, and among the most successful; it has helped us weather and successfully get through slavery, secession and Civil War while maintaining and expanding our freedom. But, as our founders understood, it will be of no avail if the moral foundation of society -- which emanates from the moral values of individuals and not a mere legal framework on parchment -- collapses. Supporters of the Ground Zero mosque, it seems to me, have made the mistake of looking at the Constitution as merely an enumeration of rights. In this argument, it seems to be that opponents of the mosque -- who are excercising their rights of free speech and protest, understand what is really at stake here. They know that what al Qaeda was attacking on 9/11 in the name of Islam was the very purpose of the Constitution: our freedom and way of life. There is a contest in this world between two ideologies today (just as in the Cold War), and the Muslim side has superiority in its sense of purpose -- which has disappeared in most of the Western world, remaining in declining strength mainly in the U.S. (and Australia, and somewhat in Canada). Unless we strengthen that sense of purpose, unless our kids read and appreciate that Constitution of ours --- when the global jihad comes, my Sudanese taxi driver plans to help himself to all the horrors he imagines in his fevered ignorance the Quran entitles him to. Do a search on "dhimmi" (a non-Muslim subject of a Sharia government) to see what exactly that has entailed historically.
I welcome any further response you might have, but do not plan any further responses, as I return to my various responsibilities and commitments.

Kenneth Silber said...

Gil, I don't know if Eli's coming back but I wonder which of the following best represents your Sudanese cab driver's thinking these days:

1. "Ah yes, soon we shall have our victory mosque at Ground Zero. Our two-pronged strategy of jihad and stealth jihad is working. May Allah prevent these anti-mosque campaigners from stopping us."

2. "These Sufis are little better than the infidels. I hope this so-called mosque is never built; it's a bastardization of true Islam."

3. "I used to think the U.S. was a country where hard-working Muslims like me could get ahead and practice our religion peacefully. Now I see the militants have a point -- the U.S. hates us all."

There are other possibilities, but the anti-mosque campaign only makes sense if view #1 is widespread, which I tend to doubt.

Eli Brennan said...

Alas, I'll be back-- rss feeding should have a 12 step group. So there will be a wordy liberal trolling around, and hopefully learning a lot. This kind of writing helps my fingers get going for my daily work... and hopefully will help clarify my thinking internally. Feel free to ignore comments- they may be mostly therapeutic.

I quite like Kenneth's framing, driven by conversational icons of different identity positions. It makes sense, and avoids letting our ideological concerns get to out of whack with how people are actually behaving.

I'll try not to drone on again... but will make just a couple concerns clear(ish):

1. Gil is OBVIOUSLY not The Guy who's bent on vilifying people for base reasons. He seems almost incapable of visceral contempt. This was sobering and heartening to me, and should be modeled by hot-heads like myself- and the much more dangerous hot-heads thinking themselves to be Purifiers of the World.

2. I think the Cold War frame... maybe we could call it the Frodo complex... is a cognitive/epistemic risk, though. Giant categories like Us/Them, Civilization/It's Discontents, etc. just aren't subtle enough to be tools of thought apt for these issues.
a. my local muslim community surely has equivalents of the radical cabby, but they are massively drowned out by an Islam that I (hopefully not insensitively) would be more likely to compare with pre-Vatican II Catholicism than 15th century Catholicism... and a LOT of students, especially young women, who are inspiringly modern in a way that doesn't fit on any timeline i can think of.
b. so does Evangelical Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Hippidome, Anarchists, etc. Growing up in Tulsa, it was common to hear Millennialist fantasies from folks while you carry their groceries to the car. Think: Lieutenant General William "My God is Bigger" Boykin- who was speaking in Tulsa at the time if i recall ("Hollah!"). [Though his walk-back (more generously: "recontextualization") of that statement seems plausible enough and welcome].
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_G._Boykin

c. these people are delusional generally. Hitler is a spooky counter-example... but the blood/soil nativism in that case (and the Khmer Rouge, Mussolini, etc) seems to diminish such a risk from a sliver of the population as Arab Muslims. That kind of radicalism would devastate Muslim communities here in the Twin Cities by reversing what is now a unity-of-difference much more inspiring than the older Cordoba.

3. Bless you for an admirable statement on Abu Ghraib.

4. I see Kenneth's perspective #3 as the greatest strategic threat to America in a world where I'm underestimating the challenge of radical Islam. A world where I can't give my Muslim students/friends/acquaintances a clear, rational, dispositive warrant for the existence and preferability of America's signature tolerant pluralism is a world that would terrify me.

5. I think that world, where Pam Geller(S) ruin the sweet thing we have going with their venom, is just barely more likely than sharia replacing our constitution. It's a narcissistic fantasy from unreasonable minds, not an immanent risk.

all the best.
eli

Eli Brennan said...

Alas, I'll be back-- rss feeding should have a 12 step group. So there will be a wordy liberal trolling around, and hopefully learning a lot. This kind of writing helps my fingers get going for my daily work... and hopefully will help clarify my thinking internally. Feel free to ignore comments- they may be mostly therapeutic.

I quite like Kenneth's framing, driven by conversational icons of different identity positions. It makes sense, and avoids letting our ideological concerns get to out of whack with how people are actually behaving.

I'll try not to drone on again... but will make just a couple concerns clear(ish):

1. Gil is OBVIOUSLY not The Guy who's bent on vilifying people for base reasons. He seems almost incapable of visceral contempt. This was sobering and heartening to me, and should be modeled by hot-heads like myself- and the much more dangerous hot-heads thinking themselves to be Purifiers of the World.

2. I think the Cold War frame... maybe we could call it the Frodo complex... is a cognitive/epistemic risk, though. Giant categories like Us/Them, Civilization/It's Discontents, etc. just aren't subtle enough to be tools of thought apt for these issues.
a. my local muslim community surely has equivalents of the radical cabby, but they are massively drowned out by an Islam that I (hopefully not insensitively) would be more likely to compare with pre-Vatican II Catholicism than 15th century Catholicism... and a LOT of students, especially young women, who are inspiringly modern in a way that doesn't fit on any timeline i can think of.
b. so does Evangelical Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Hippidome, Anarchists, etc. Growing up in Tulsa, it was common to hear Millennialist fantasies from folks while you carry their groceries to the car. Think: Lieutenant General William "My God is Bigger" Boykin- who was speaking in Tulsa at the time if i recall ("Hollah!"). [Though his walk-back (more generously: "recontextualization") of that statement seems plausible enough and welcome].
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_G._Boykin

c. these people are delusional generally. Hitler is a spooky counter-example... but the blood/soil nativism in that case (and the Khmer Rouge, Mussolini, etc) seems to diminish such a risk from a sliver of the population as Arab Muslims. That kind of radicalism would devastate Muslim communities here in the Twin Cities by reversing what is now a unity-of-difference much more inspiring than the older Cordoba.

Eli Brennan said...

3. Bless you for an admirable statement on Abu Ghraib.

4. I see Kenneth's perspective #3 as the greatest strategic threat to America in a world where I'm underestimating the challenge of radical Islam. A world where I can't give my Muslim students/friends/acquaintances a clear, rational, dispositive warrant for the existence and preferability of America's signature tolerant pluralism is a world that would terrify me.

5. I think that world, where Pam Geller(S) ruin the sweet thing we have going with their venom, is just barely more likely than sharia replacing our constitution. It's a narcissistic fantasy from unreasonable minds, not an immanent risk.

all the best.
eli

Gil Weinreich said...

Ken, the historic norm among ethnic groups in America, when facing discrimination, was not your choice #3. Rather, in the face of bigotry and prejudice, it was to bend over backwards to show what good Americans they are. I don't condone discrimination, but it is a healthy reaction for any immigrant group to seek the good graces of the native-born population. Certainly my immigrant father and (on my mom's side) grandparents were careful to show their respect in this way and did not keep score about all the many slights against their ethnic group.
Much, horrible bloodshed has been been committed in the name of Islam. Where have been the protests, Ken? Where have thousands of Muslims rallied to say "not in my name." Granted, in most countries, they'd be in big trouble with their authoritarian rulers. But in the land of freedom, such a gesture would be a widely appreciated act of patriotism.

I just moments ago read an opinion piece by the father of Daniel Pearl, and I think he explains well why a large majority of Americans are discomfited by the Ground Zero mosque. Among other reasons, he cites the lack of a clear distance between U.S. Muslim leaders and violent jihad:
http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-EdContributors/Article.aspx?id=186290