Is the Cordoba House a foreign policy issue?

As an addendum to today’s discussion about Park51 controversy, I want to bring in part of an article by Dinesh D’Souza currently on Forbes’ website.

Obama’s foreign policy is no less strange. He supports a $100 million mosque scheduled to be built near the site where terrorists in the name of Islam brought down the World Trade Center. Obama’s rationale, that “our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable,” seems utterly irrelevant to the issue of why the proposed Cordoba House should be constructed at Ground Zero.

It seems ridiculous to contend that the current debate about the so-called Ground Zero mosque has nothing to do with religious freedom. Beyond unfounded fears of the community center becoming a terrorist training base, the opposition to the project is based on Islamophobia. Given that the planners have the legal right to build the community center there, the idea that the center is somehow an homage to the terrorists who perpetrated 9/11 flies in the face of religious tolerance and acceptance of different faiths.

Later in the article, the author writes

One more anomaly:

A few months ago nasa Chief Charles Bolden announced that from now on the primary mission of America’s space agency would be to improve relations with the Muslim world. Come again? Bolden said he got the word directly from the President. “He wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science and math and engineering.” Bolden added that the International Space Station was a model for nasa’s future, since it was not just a U.S. operation but included the Russians and the Chinese. Obama’s redirection of the agency caused consternation among former astronauts like Neil Armstrong and John Glenn, and even among the President’s supporters: Most people think of nasa’s job as one of landing on the moon and Mars and exploring other faraway destinations. Sure, we are for Islamic self-esteem, but what on earth was Obama up to here?

D’Souza attributes Obama’s actions as the consequences of his father’s anticolonialism, specifically mentioning that the president does not believe in the idea of the American as a unique class of human. With the ideal of The American epitomized in astronauts conquering the final frontier in the name of the US (and Russia and China?), D’Souza sets up a distinct contrast between Americans and Muslims. To the author, it seems that these two categories can’t possibly overlap or coexist. Why? The article doesn’t say. But the fact that this is an article for a respected magazine worries me. Worries about taxing the rich to aid the poor are grouped in with worries about working with Muslims – all of it speaks to a fear of being left out of society in favor of those previously ignored. Though the author is from India and doesn’t mention an economic background, I wonder why the thought of Obama working with different groups of people, as NASA did in its heyday, is so scary.

You can read the whole article here: