The terrorists may have won today.
And I'm not talking about al Qaida, Hamas or the Taliban.
This terrorist group is a small one -- a band of fewer than half a hundred Pentecostal (or evangelical . . . or whatever they consider themselves) extremists in Gainesville, Fla., hell-bent on propagating an ideology of hatred and mayhem. Yet, the Dove World Outreach Center has shown itself adept at using a novel tactic, terror by proxy, to bring a superpower to its knees and -- perhaps -- force the "Ground Zero Mosque" far away from Ground Zero in New York City.
MSNBC has some breaking details:
The pastor planning to burn Qurans on the Sept. 11 anniversary said Thursday that he had called off the event after being given assurances that the Muslim group seeking to build an Islamic center near the World Trade Center site would move the project.IT REALLY doesn't matter now whether the New York mosque moves, as Jones contends it will, or whether nothing happens, as the mosque sources insist. The die has been cast, and the strange bedfellows of Christian extremism and Muslim extremism have been united in a symbiotic relationship that serves to get each what it wants -- at the expense of us all.
"We would consider that a sign from God," the Rev. Terry Jones told reporters.
But sources close to the imam behind the New York mosque denied any deal had been struck.
And Sharif Al-Gamal, owner of the building where the mosque and cultural center would be housed, told NBC News that there had had no discussions with Jones.
Jones insisted, however, that he had spoken to the imam, and "I have his word that he will move the mosque to a different location."
Jones also said he would travel to New York on Saturday to meet with officials of the mosque project.
President Barack Obama earlier implored Jones to call off his Quran-burning "stunt," saying it would jeopardize U.S. troops abroad.
Obama told ABC's "Good Morning America" in an interview aired Thursday that he hopes the Jones listens to "those better angels."
"If he's listening, I hope he understands that what he's proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans," the president said. "That this country has been built on the notion of freedom and religious tolerance."
"And as a very practical matter, I just want him to understand that this stunt that he is talking about pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women who are in uniform," Obama said.
Jones, leader of a small church with about 30 members in Gainesville, is planning to burn copies of the Islamic holy book on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
"Look, this is a recruitment bonanza for al-Qaida," Obama said of the planned burning. "You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan." The president also said Jones' plan, if carried out, could serve as an incentive for terrorist-minded individuals "to blow themselves up" to kill others.
Jones had said that a call from the Pentagon, State Department or White House might make him reconsider his plan.
On Thursday, Jones said Pentagon chief Robert Gates had called him to urge he back off.
Obama has gotten caught up in the burgeoning controversy surrounding the practice of Islam in America, saying at one point that he believed that Muslims had a right to build a mosque near the site of the Sept. 11 terror attacks in New York City.
Earlier, several members of his administration, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, had denounced the Quran-burning plan.
And it's all perfectly legal and, in the Gainesville case, apparently protected by the First Amendment. As John Adams said more than two centuries ago, "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
Little did Adams know that -- at least in this case -- the immoral and irreligious people who threaten to extort the rest of us to Kingdom Come would do so in the name of God, in a "terror by proxy" arrangement.
Here's how it works: You threaten to do something as outlandish -- and constitutionally protected -- as burning a bunch of Qurans, knowing full well how egregious and offensive the act is and what it will provoke extremists on the Muslim side to do to Americans. And you think, "Well, that's good. The homo-loving, socialist, Godless liberals deserve whatever happens to them."
And being something of a death-dealer and death-lover yourself, you figure that if you get martyred in the process . . . you're a martyr! That's worth at least 7,500 bonus points in the heavenly sweepstakes.
On the other hand, if the heat gets a little too hot in the run-up to Götterdämmerung, you still holding lots of high cards. You still have the ability to extort something pretty good out of everybody.
You can crack the "Ground Zero mosque" more thoroughly than Humpty Dumpty after he fell off that wall. And all Glenn Beck's horses' asses and all Fox News' men . . . will be eating your dust.
If that doesn't work out, there's always Plan A. And we know it.
And every nutwagon in America is copying down the winning game plan.