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Michael Maccoby
Scholar

Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby is an anthropologist and psychoanalyst globally recognized as an expert on leadership. He is the author of The Leaders We Need, And What Makes Us Follow.

Rejecting the politics of fear

Q: President Obama weighed in on the issue of the mosque at Ground Zero prompting grumbles that the gesture was unnecessary and politically damaging. Meanwhile the imam at the center of the controversy -- Feisal Abdul Rauf -- has been largely invisible, lecturing for the State Department in Bahrain and, according to his wife, unavailable until next month. What do leaders need to know about perfecting the timing of weighing in on a crisis?

The attack on plans to build a Muslim community center is another attempt to frighten Americans. Lacking any creative policies for a nation recovering from an economic crisis, leaders who oppose the Obama administration have adopted a policy of fear to gain power. There were the supposed "death panels" as part of the attack on health-care legislation. There are the dire warnings that the president is a socialist and/or a secret Muslim. Whether it is about illegal immigrants, terrorism or the deficit, the message is "be afraid".

The controversy about a community center with prayer space near Ground Zero is a fake issue, an excuse to ratchet up fear. There is already a mosque nearby. And Faisal Abdul Rauf is a humanistic Muslim who preaches that the best of the Muslim tradition is consistent with America's values of liberty and justice for all. We should recognize that all religions have their extremists who preach hatred and leaders who preach brotherhood.

The crisis that cries out for leadership is not about the mosque in Manhattan. It is about confronting the fear that can paralyze this country or turn fear of the future into impotent anger. We need leaders who affirm the American tradition of religious freedom and celebrate the policies this government has taken to save our auto industry, regulate financial services, stimulate the economy and provide health-care to millions of Americans.

By Michael Maccoby

 |  August 24, 2010; 12:11 PM ET
Category:  Crisis leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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This editorial is spot-on. Bin Laden and Al-Quaeda are real threats and the Afghanistani Taliban are his accomplices. We need leaders who can separate fantasy from reality and effectively relay this information to the American people. Fear was used to sell us a war in Iraq based on unfounded speculations. We have paid dearly in American lives (more lost in Iraq than in the Manhattan 9-11 attack) and will be paying for this war for the next generation. This includes monies spent as well as opportunities to improve life here that were missed.

Given the fearmongering on the right is the next logical step going to be 21st century internment camps for America's 7 million Muslims? Will communities that have suffered the abuse of their children by the Catholic Church be able to cite sensitivity for the victims that as a reason to not permit new churches? If we want to claim the moral high ground of being inclusive to people of all faiths, we need to be true to the ideals of our founders.

Posted by: MK61 | August 26, 2010 7:26 AM
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"The Islamic cleric who wants to build a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero once claimed in a jaw-dropping speech that the United States has killed more innocent civilians than al Qaeda."

And you disagree?

Posted by: chaos1 | August 25, 2010 11:21 AM
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Rejecting the politics of fear?
What does fear have to do with it?

They will gather and conduct the business of their networks and cells with or without this center.

We just don't want them rubbing our faces in it every day for all eternity.

Hey Mustafa! You want to build the community? You want to uplift your fellow man? You want to build intercultural trust and awareness?
Why don’t you take all that money and build a multicultural, nondenominational outreach center in Queens? Teach Life Skills, Job skills, Health and wellness.
Why not? Because that is not what you are after. Is It?

Posted by: rexreddy | August 25, 2010 10:17 AM
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It is time for those fascists, extremists right wingers and their allies the Neocons and Tea party conservatives to realise that American Muslims are not asking to build a drug warehouse or a brothel but a place for worship and where others non Muslims are invited to celebrate diversity, promote mutual respect and accept tolerance.
It is an insult to every US citizen to be dicated to by a non significant minority where to pray and where to build a religious temple even though it is not against the law.
It is within the right of every US citizen to practise his religious rights without intimidation, harassement or threats and I do not need to remind these idiots and ignorant what the constitution has to say on this exact point.
These American Muslims are not guilty of any crime and deserve to be treated with respect like any other US citizens and to be left in peace getting on with their lives and if anyone see any legal reason for them not to have their Mosque being built, let them contact the local authorities and inform them about the objections for these US citizens to fulfill what the constitution has given them as a right.

Posted by: 1Nouri | August 25, 2010 8:48 AM
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Pssst... New Yorkers don't care.

Outside of the Fox newsroom and the "pro-constitution {wink, wink}" Tea Party it doesn't matter.

Posted by: MHawke | August 25, 2010 8:43 AM
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There is no expiration date on 9/11 nor will we "get over it", which some politicians and journalists are starting to carp. It is regrettable that so many, allegedly educated people, have sided with the muslims to build this mosque. Like Mr. Maccoby, there is an attempt to silence those opposed as "racists", "Islamaphobes", "political fear"...what ever sticks on the wall as they throw it. They fail to understand the pain, grief, outrage, that continues to this day, what the Muslims perpetrated on that date, in addition to the attacks on our embassies, USS Cole, the Marine Barracks in Beruit, Berg with his head being cut off, London Bus and Subways blown up, Bali Dance Hall blown up...and the list goes on. Islam is a ideology of HATE and DOMINANCE. That is an attack on our LIBERTY and FREEDOM. We will not forgive or forget muslim treachery, lies, and false statements of a "peaceful and loving' religion...they, muslims, are Evil. Period.

Posted by: ward5354 | August 24, 2010 10:46 PM
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"There were the supposed "death panels" as part of the attack on health-care legislation. There are the dire warnings that the president is a socialist and/or a secret Muslim. Whether it is about illegal immigrants, terrorism or the deficit, the message is "be afraid"."
-----------------------------------------
So is this about the mosque/center, or is it about attacking the Republicans?

Posted by: rohit57 | August 24, 2010 4:10 PM
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This guy must be smoking something from the 60s.

The Islamic cleric who wants to build a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero once claimed in a jaw-dropping speech that the United States has killed more innocent civilians than al Qaeda.

"We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims," Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said in 2005.

Now who is ratcheting up fear.

As a crisis leadership scholar, you should read the Qur'an and study Sharia law before you say "And Faisal Abdul Rauf is a humanistic Muslim who preaches that the best of the Muslim tradition is consistent with America's values of liberty and justice for all."


Posted by: tonyjm | August 24, 2010 2:28 PM
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It's amazing how brainwashed liberals are. Yeah the economy has really turned around since Obama was president. Yeah muslims are really sweet and innocent. Hijacking planes and killing thousands of people, beating women, and murdering gays is totally normal. Every religion does it. Nothing to be worried about at all.

Posted by: peterg73 | August 24, 2010 1:28 PM
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