New York Times columnist Ross Douthat condescendingly frames the Ground Zero mosque controversy as the clash between the two Americas: one cosmopolitan and tolerant, welcoming the GMZ, and the other less sophisticated and more likely to regard the mosque as an affront to the memory of September 11.
Former member of the Dutch parliament and critic of Islam, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who by no means can be made to fit into Douthat’s provincial American mold, frames it as the clash between two civilizations:
“What do the controversies around the proposed mosque near Ground Zero, the eviction of American missionaries from Morocco earlier this year, the minaret ban in Switzerland last year, and the recent burka ban in France have in common? All four are framed in the Western media as issues of religious tolerance. But that is not their essence. Fundamentally, they are all symptoms of what the late Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington called the "Clash of Civilizations," particularly the clash between Islam and the West.
The West's universalist pretensions are increasingly bringing it into conflict with the other civilizations, most seriously with Islam and China. Thus the survival of the West depends on Americans, Europeans and other Westerners reaffirming their shared civilization as unique—and uniting to defend it against challenges from non-Western civilizations.”
Hirsi Ali—a genuine citizen of the world—realizes that there are more serious issues at stake than the supposed intolerance of American citizens.