For American liberals, that two out of three Americans oppose the construction of an Islamic center on its current cite occasions no second thoughts. To the contrary, it likely confirms a view of the American people as dangerous yahoos. In fact, it probably confirms the liberal view that the war on terror is less a war against radical Islamists than a more general battle between moderates and extremists of all varieties.

Yesterday at the Council, Imam Rauf made this explicit. “The real battlefront, the real battle that we must wage together today,” he said, “is not between Muslims and non-Muslims. It is between moderates of all faith traditions against the extremists of all faith traditions.”…

So where the Council on Foreign Relations may see in Imam Rauf the model of moderation, Americans may wonder whether a leader who cannot see what is uniquely threatening about Islamic extremism is the most effective spokesman for Muslim moderation. Maybe too his more troubling statements can be explained in context. But there sure are a lot of them, from his charge that the United States was an “accessory” to the September 11 attacks to his more recent declaration that we must build his center for “national security” reasons—or else.