"Let no one say that I have said nothing new: the arrangement of the material is new." Blaise Pascal

September 3, 2010 at 7:22am

From the Department of Bad Historical Analogies

This is the penultimate paragraph of today’s otherwise thoughtful editorial in the New York Times, “Mistrust and the Mosque”:

As the site of America’s bloodiest terrorist attack, New York had a great chance to lead by example. Too bad other places are ahead of us. Muslims hold daily prayer services in a chapel in the Pentagon, a place also hallowed by 9/11 dead. The country often has had the wisdom to choose graciousness and reconciliation over triumphalism, as is plain from the many monuments to Confederate soldiers in northern states, including the battlefield at Gettysburg.

I think I understand the sentiment here of loving peace over conflict, which is praiseworthy. But if I’m following this right, we have a comparison being made here between American Muslims totally unconnected to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Confederate soldiers very much connected to the horrors of Civil War conflict and the defense of slavery.

Which—again, if I’m following this—totally undercuts the editorial’s absolutely correct insistence that (despite what a dismaying number of New Yorkers and Americans believe) “Muslim” does not mean “terrorist” or “terrorist sympathizer.”