Once again Hitchens has swung a left hook which has landed neatly on the jaw of the surrender-monkeys. Tolerance. Hmm. Is that something only Americans are supposed to show? Is there a double or triple standard in the offing? It seems that way.
It's probably not fair for me to follow Hitchens on this argument. He's got a much higher standard for religious orthodoxy than I do, which is why he rejects it altogether. Very little of it stands to his reason. In one way, that's the best way to make sense of all religious claims, fortunately Imam Rauf is hoisted on his own petard. Without regard to whether religious tolerance is a two way street, Hitchens shows that whether you tolerate him or not, Rauf is a fundamentalist. Hitchens quotes Rauf's advice to Obama.
He should say his administration respects many of the guiding principles of the 1979 revolution—to establish a government that expresses the will of the people; a just government, based on the idea of Vilayet-i-faquih, that establishes the rule of law.
Coyly untranslated here (perhaps for "outreach" purposes), Vilayet-i-faquih is the special term promulgated by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to describe the idea that all of Iranian society is under the permanent stewardship (sometimes rendered as guardianship) of the mullahs. Under this dispensation, "the will of the people" is a meaningless expression, because "the people" are the wards and children of the clergy. It is the justification for a clerical supreme leader, whose rule is impervious to elections and who can pick and choose the candidates and, if it comes to that, the results. It is extremely controversial within Shiite Islam. (Grand Ayatollah Sistani in Iraq, for example, does not endorse it.) As for those numerous Iranians who are not Shiites, it reminds them yet again that they are not considered to be real citizens of the Islamic Republic.
I do not find myself reassured by the fact that Imam Rauf publicly endorses the most extreme and repressive version of Muslim theocracy. The letterhead of the statement, incidentally, describes him as the Cordoba Initiative's "Founder and Visionary." Why does that not delight me, either?
So where it counts as far as I'm concerned, Rauf is an Islamist. An Islamist with the unmigitgated gall to suggest Obama should be one as well. End of debate.