It was a thought-provoking question. It was debated for hours and hours at Joe's Bar and Grille and Gun Club; they came to no satisfactory conclusion. What would you have said if you were Daisy Khan?
Cowsnofsky felt sorry for her. Her husband, the notorious Ground Zero Mosque Imam, Feisal Abdul Rouf, was somewhere in Southeast Asia greeting heads of states and spreading Good Will as Barack Obama's special emissary to America's new friends and allies in the President's war on Israel, ignorance and the Tea Party. Daisy had been left behind to paper over all the stupid things the Imam had said over the last dozen years. And there she was—by her own estimation—a plain old ordinary American hausfrau like Marion Cunningham or the Beaver's mummy; what was her name, Mrs. Cleaver. Or maybe like Ma Kettle; yeah, like Ma Kettle. That would explain all the talk about circling the wagons.
They were pioneers under attack-that's what they were. The firestorm that had grown up around their plans for the Ground Zero Mosque had only strengthened their supporters, said Daisy. "None of them have caved. They are circling the wagons around us," she said. "They know they could be next."
Next? Was that an Apache with a scalping knife lurking in the brush? It could be! What would Davy Crockett have done? He would have circled the wagons. Sure. If you want to be a good old plain American, you have to speak good old plain American. The Republicans were after them and so were the Tea Partiers and maybe the Iroquois and the Big Feet. It was time to circle the wagons. It sounds good.
The Imam had wanted to do a little healing, start a dialogue, build a few bridges; open a Grand Mosque on Ground Zero; that's all. It was as American as apple pie. Maybe he should have waited till the apples were ripe.
Daisy Khan was dismayed by what happened. "This whole thing turned into the opposite of what we have envisioned," she said.
"And just what was it they envisioned?" asked Ranch House.
"I reckon, they expected us to roll over and play dead," said Big Galoot.
"Well, I guess they reckoned without Pamela Geller," said the Professor.
"And without the victims of 9/11," chipped in Ranch House.
The Professor cast a shrewd eye round the bar. "We were all victims of 9/11," he said.
There were a lot of grim faces. These were men, who had fought in a half-dozen wars. Some of them had sons and daughters, who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were Americans not the sheltered wienies, who hacked up anti-American vitriol on MSNBC or in The New York Times.
"Amen," said a dozen voices.
"It wasn't Osama bin Laden who brought down the World Trade Center," said the Professor. "And it wasn't Mohammad Atta or Marwan al-Shehhi. And it wasn't al-Qaeda or Hezbollah or the Taliban. And it wasn't that little man in Teheran. It was Islam."
"Amen," said Cowsnofsky.
The Professor adjusted his spectacles, opened his Qur'an.
"Qur'an 47:4," he said, "So, when you clash with the unbelieving infidels in battle (fight Jihad in Allah's Cause), smite their necks until you overpower them, killing and wounding many of them. At length, when you have thoroughly subdued them, bind them firmly, making (them) captives. Thereafter either generosity or ransom them (based upon what benefits Islam), until the war lays down its burdens. Thus are you commanded by Allah to continue carrying out Jihad against the unbelieving infidels until they submit to Islam."
"So the war continues," said Ranch House.
"Until we are brought low," added the Professor.
"But what about the Muslims that were killed on 9/11?" said Patagonia Bob. "Don't they count?"
"Muslims have been killing Muslims since Muhammad crept out of the desert and it doesn't seem to have caused any great loss of conscience," said the Professor.
"They're like the Kilkenny cats," said Cowsnofsky.
The Professor tuned on his laptop, did a quick search. It didn't take long. "Al-Qaeda killed 49 Muslims—mostly Sunni—and wounded more than 160 others in a series of bombings in Baghdad back in April," he said.
"I thought al-Qaeda was Sunni?" said Ranch House.
"The hand of Allah works in mysterious ways His violence to provoke," mused the Professor.
"Chris Matthews of MSNBC says there is no such thing as al-Qaeda," said Patagonia Bob. "That it's a myth used to fire up the right wing."
The Professor looked up from his laptop. "Here's something," he said. "Dateline: Somalia. A suicide bomber accompanied by a gang of al-Shabab gunmen attacked a hotel in downtown Mogadishu. They killed 32 people including six members of Parliament, five security guards, an 11-year-old shoeshine boy and a woman selling tea in front of the hotel."
"You kill one person, it's like killing everybody in the world," said Ranch House.
"Do you think Barack Obama believes that?" asked Cowsnofsky.
"Has anybody asked Ms. Khan to explain these killings?" asked Guenther.
"No," said the Professor. "She says this is a healing moment. 'We have,' she said. He paused to make sure he had the quote right. "'We have to educate them on being able to distinguish between us and on the issue of Islamophobia.'"
Well, there it was—Islamophobia! And they were all guilty. They had harbored ill thoughts about Islam. They might as well have been Copts in Egypt, Assyrians in Iraq, Sikhs in Kashmir, Indonesian maids in Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, or Christian and animists in Sudan.
"Well, there was that drunk guy that went into the al-Iman Mosque and peed on their prayer rugs," Heathcliffe said apologetically.
"Yeah, and he swore at them and called them terrorists," Birdsong said, uncomfortably.
"Now their prayer rugs are ruined and they can't pray," lamented Otis O. Otis.
"It was a genuine hate crime," Heathcliffe said, sadly. "The New York Times said so."
"I've never heard of a worse case of Islamophobia," Prester John admitted mournfully.
"That man should be strung up," Rooster said uncomfortably.
"Oh, Good Heavens!" cried the Professor. "Get a grip on yourselves!" He opened the discoverthenetworks page on his laptop. "Any of you ever hear of Siraj Wahhaj?"
"Siraj who?" said Heathcliffe.
"Siraj Wahhaj," said the Professor. "He's been teaching at the al-Iman School. "He was named as a possible co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and later testified as a character witness for Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahmen, when the blind Sheikh was tried and convicted for masterminding the terrorist attack in '99. This fine fellow was also involved in the notorious Minnesota airport Muslim prayer-in."
There was a minute of silence. Siraj Wahhaj! Peeing on a prayer rug was nothing compared to blowing up the World Trade Center!
Cowsnofsky let his breath out slowly. "We ought to invite Ms. Daisy Khan to Ladies Night at the bar," he suggested. "I think we could show her that a healthy skepticism of Islam was not Islamophobia, but was in keeping with our cherished freedom of religion."
"Sure, and we could educate her so she could tell the difference between a fellow with a urinary condition and a guy with a bomb!" Heathcliffe said excitedly.
"Gosh!" smiled the Professor. "The Lady and the Islamophobe—do you think she will come?"
There was a long silence.
"Hey! How about that A-Rod?" Guenther asked.