Since 9/11, Western "experts" have said repeatedly that Muslim leaders who fit Rauf's description should be sought out and empowered to fight the rising tide of extremism. In truth, such figures abound in Muslim lands, even if their work goes unnoticed by armchair pundits elsewhere. Their cause is not helped when someone like Rauf finds himself being excoriated for some perceived reluctance to condemn Hamas and accused of being an extremist himself. If anything, this browbeating of a moderate Muslim empowers the narrative promoted by al-Qaeda: that the West loathes everything about Islam and will stop at nothing to destroy it.
Rauf and Khan have said Park51 - envisaged as a 15-story structure, including a mosque, cultural center and auditorium - will promote greater interfaith dialogue. The furor over the project only underlines how desperately it is needed.
I'm also really proud of our mayor: