Always Room for More Mosque

Islam and Afghanistan are the issues of the day on The New York Times opinion pages. The newspaper pats the president on the back for explicitly warning against “linking all followers of Islam to terrorists,” but admonishes him when he backed off his remarks a bit. Instead, the Times writes, everyone “of conscience” should “push back hard.”

Perhaps more interesting is the op-ed by TNI author William Dalrymple. He says President Obama’s “eloquent” speech and then “apparent retreat” is “just one of many paradoxes at the heart” of the controversy that illustrate Americans’ “dangerously inadequate understanding” regarding Islam, mistakenly seeing it “as a single, terrifying monolith.” Dalrymple points out the differences between the “mystical” Sufism (the form of Islam the Cordoba House imam preaches) and the “violent” Wahhabism. He says that Sufism can be “a uniquely valuable bridge between East and West.” The author then discusses the history of Sufism and its clash with the Taliban, including his personal observations in Pakistan, ending with a call to embrace Sufis as “vital allies” against extremists.

Not to be outdone, the Washington Post chimes in on the mosque debate as well. Like the Times, the DC newspaper wags its finger at President Obama’s clarification after his “clear” and “principled” stand the day before. The Post’s columnists agree: Eugene Robinson is disappointed with the political “panderers” and Roger Cohen is let down that President Obama “flinched” in the face of “false analogy contests.”

In a separate editorial, the paper highlights Pakistan’s growing crisis after the ruinous floods that have swept across the country. After trying to induce more aid by noting the strategic implications of the disaster, the Post says “the stronger reason to do the right thing” is the humanitarian aspect.

The Wall Street Journal also can’t resist running commentary on the mosque situation. Columnist Bret Stephens says there is a “fundamental problem with too many self-described moderate Muslims,” one example being the Christmas Day bomber-linked Imam Anwar al-Awlaki who had been praised years ago as a moderate by NBC and the New York Times.

And the Journal has a long editorial on Japan, now that it seems China has eclipsed The Land of the Rising Sun as the number two economic power. The editors say it is “worth pondering the reasons for,” and “the implications” of, Japan’s decline, which they take to mean that America should return to the Reagan-era economic policies “that revived the U.S. after the last Great Recession.”