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Newt Gingrich: America Should Be More Like Saudi Arabia

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich became the latest conservative pundit to weigh in on the so-called Ground Zero Mosque story, and his argument is perhaps the most illogical of all:

There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over.

(…)

Those Islamists and their apologists who argue for “religious toleration” are arrogantly dishonest. They ignore the fact that more than 100 mosques already exist in New York City. Meanwhile, there are no churches or synagogues in all of Saudi Arabia. In fact no Christian or Jew can even enter Mecca.

And they lecture us about tolerance.

If the people behind the Cordoba House were serious about religious toleration, they would be imploring the Saudis, as fellow Muslims, to immediately open up Mecca to all and immediately announce their intention to allow non-Muslim houses of worship in the Kingdom.   They should be asked by the news media if they would be willing to lead such a campaign.

Yes, you read that right,  because Saudi Arabia (which happens to be an American ally) is a religiously repressive regime, American Muslims should be prevented from using the property which they own to create a community center which happens to include a mosque. Saudi Arabia is also a country where women are not allowed to drive and where alcohol, tobacco, and pork are banned. Is Gingrich suggesting that we adopt those practices as well ?

What’s somewhat ironic, or perhaps hypocritical, about all of this is that elsewhere on his site, Gingrich talks about religious liberty:

Religious liberty in America is under assault.

(…)

people of faith have been systematically marginalized in America

(…)

It is hard to imagine an America more at odds with the vision of the founding fathers than one where expressions of faith are penalized by the government.

I guess those sentiments don’t apply to Muslims in Gingrich’s mind, or at least not to Muslims who want to use their property as they see fit. Not until they are able to somehow influence an authoritarian religious state half a world away to change their laws.

Its easy to just chalk this up to Gingrich being Gingrich, but it’s part of a pattern. Sarah Palin has already come out with her own bizarrely argued anti-mosque screed, and a group calling itself the National Republican Trust has been trying to air an ad that can only be described as disgusting:

There’s a lot of emotion behind this issue, but there’s also an underlying current of anti-Muslim bigotry and Newt Gingrich just tossed gasoline on that fire.

Update: I removed the link to Sarah Palin’s Facebook post on the “Ground Zero” Mosque because it appears to have been deleted from her Facebook page some time within the last hour. The Google Cache still lives though.

Update 2: The Facebook post has been restored, so I’ve reinstated the link in the text of the post above.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Seems Newt’s position is more Political then Religious, same as the Musk location.
    This is seen as a badge of Victory.

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  2. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    The one point that everyone seems to overlook is that, when it comes to Islam, there is no separation of religion from politics, or from any other aspect of life for that matter. Islam is not just a religion, it’s a culture, a legal framework (Shariah law is based on the Koran) and, probably most important, a way of life. So prohibiting the construction of a mosque is much more than religious intolerance. For anyone who doubts this, just look at the encroachment of Islam in the UK. It too started with just a mosque.

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  3. Alex Knapp says:

    I feel like it’s once again worth pointing out that the mosque is going to be located a half-mile from Ground Zero. Not actually at Ground Zero. Not that that would make a difference, as this country was founded on religious freedom, but still….

    @Patrick – Newt Gingrich, among other Republican leaders, consistently state that the United States is a Christian nation whose laws should be based on Christian principles. How is that different from Muslims who want laws to be based on Islamic principles? As for the U.K., last time I looked it was still a Parliamentary Democracy. However, it’s worth pointing out that the Eccelesiatical Courts of the Church of England are still a part of their government, whereas there’s no such counterpart for Islam there. Would you advocate that the government disband its support for the Ecclesiastical Courts? I know I would.

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  4. Franklin says:

    The one point that everyone seems to overlook is that, when it comes to Islam, there is no separation of religion from politics, or from any other aspect of life for that matter.

    Not everywhere – not in Turkey, not in Syria, to mention a couple places.

    /Not to mention what Alex said.
    //But continue on in your ignorance, I wouldn’t want to interrupt your bliss.

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  5. rewinn says:

    We should support and help mainstream moderate Muslims by encouraging them to be part of our community. And that means visiting their community center same as Christians, Mormons, Jews, whatevers.

    Newt wants to drive Muslims out of the American mainstream, which is not only wrong … but stupid.

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  6. PD Shaw says:

    What exactly do opponents of the Mosque want to do? I went to the website and as far as I can tell they want to raise money and pull their hair and gnash their teeth about it.

    I can’t imagine what could be done to stop the building without violating the First Amendment or the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

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  7. Tano says:

    ‘What exactly do opponents of the Mosque want to do?”

    Good question.

    ‘as far as I can tell they want to raise money”

    Good answer.

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  8. Robert C. says:

    “The one point that everyone seems to overlook is that, when it comes to Islam, there is no separation of religion from politics, or from any other aspect of life for that matter. Islam is not just a religion, it’s a culture…”

    Hmm..sounds like Zionism and like Evangelical Christianity….

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  9. Steve Plunk says:

    Christianity does play a role in American society and politics but not to the degree Islam does in most Arab societies. It could be argued they are not nearly as destructive either. Islam is certainly less tolerant of competing religions and has shown itself in the last few decades as being a catalyst for extremism and violence. Does that mean we should throw them out? Of course not. It does mean we should ask them to respect other religions, to stop funding overseas terror organizations, to abandon some of the more controversial religious practices (we made the Mormons do it), and to be Americans as much as Muslims.

    What do opponents of the mosque want to accomplish? How about educate people about what’s going on and perhaps get it built elsewhere. Why would they even want to build it where they are building it if it offends people? Seems like the ‘religion of peace’ would rather compromise and get along better. Face it, this is a bad PR move and now it’s become a battle of wills.

    Islam has a proven record of demanding tolerance while not granting it. That hypocrisy enough for me to oppose this mosque’s location and force the conversation about whether it is compatible with modern western civilization.

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  10. rewinn says:

    “Islam has a proven record of demanding tolerance while not granting it.”

    Uhm, no. There are Islamo-freak-a-zoids, same as there are Christian-Freak-a-zoids. Look at the Holocaust and tell me why Christians are allowed to build churches? Because the freaks are not the religion.

    If you drive out the moderates, you’ll drive them to the freaks. And that does no-one any good.

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  11. reid says:

    “Yes, you read that right, because Saudi Arabia (which happens to be an American ally) is a religiously repressive regime, American Muslims should be prevented from using the property which they own to create a community center which happens to include a mosque.”

    Yeah, that’ll learn ‘em! I’ve never liked Gingrich; I thought he was a nasty person, but at least intelligent and a little bit moderate. But this is a new low for him. Sign of the times….

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  12. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    If you do not think Islam is dangerous to America and our freedom, you are ignorant of the history of Islam. Background work will help understand how it is the practice of Muslims to build a Mosque on the site of a victory. If you do not think there is a purpose behind the location besides the one they claim (remember in Islam it is OK to lie to nonbelievers). In spite of what some idiots want to claim here Zionists or Christians did not fly planes into buildings and with the exception of one incident in Kansas City, all terrorist attacks on this country have been by Muslims. Not Jews, not Hindus, not Buddists, Muslims. Muslims from various differenent nations. I think some of you secretly long to beat your wives.

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  13. Michael Reynolds says:

    ZR3:

    I very much doubt you know anything of significance on the history of Islam.

    Members of which religion have killed the most Americans? Christians, by far — British, Mexicans, Confederates, Spaniards and Germans.

    Runner up? Communists, who are at least nominally, atheists. Though you could sort of lump them (North Koreans, Chinese and Vietnamese) in as Buddhists if you wanted to use the very broad brush you use on Muslims.

    Next up? Shintoists. The Japanese.

    After that? I’m probably missing an obvious candidate, but my guess is that animists — American Indians — might be next.

    Then Muslims.

    Interestingly, we never defined Christianity, Buddhism or Shinto as enemy religions. We always differentiated between the religion and the faction, between for example, the King of England, and the Anglican Church despite the fact that the king is the actual head of the church. We always differentiated between communist and Buddhist, and even for the most part between Shinto and the Japanese Imperialists. After all, we reinstated the Emperor of Japan.

    We’ve never defined a religion as a national enemy, although of course major elements in our country surely saw the Roman Catholic church in that light.

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  14. sam says:

    @Plunk

    “What do opponents of the mosque want to accomplish?”

    My guess is the opponents don’t really want anything, since it’s generally the case that when someone is in the throes of a freakout, especially one with religious overtones, there’s more interest in the orgasmic component of the experience than anything that might actually, you know, be accomplished.

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  15. wr says:

    ZR sez: “terrorist attacks on this country have been by Muslims”

    Because the bombings of black churches in the South and other organized violence committed by Southern whites in and out of the Klan with the specific political goal of keeping African-Americans from taking their rightful place as equals in society aren’t terrorist acts to Zels. I guess he thinks of their perpetrators as freedom fighters.

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  16. Gerry W. says:

    What is ironic is that Newt and others want religious displays on public property, and bible teachings in the schools. And if you allow religion, then you have to allow Islam and all that comes with it.

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  17. If Newt Gingrich wants to import Saudi Arabian law into the United States, doesn’t that mean he wants Sharia law? Isn’t that what all those crazy Christian-cons say is happening constantly?

    And what exactly is the punishment for adultery in Saudi Arabia? Maybe someone ask Newt if he wants that imported.

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  18. anjin-san says:

    @ Plunk

    Humm. Islam encourages violence? Well, we all know Americans are not violent. We certainly don’t have high murder and gun violence rates in this country. And we never killed what, a million or so Vietnamese during the war there. (Vietnamese peasants were a huge threat to America). Certainly no innocents died during the “shock and awe” bombing of Iraq. Nope, its a fact – Muslims are violent and bad, we peaceful and good. It’s just that simple.

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  19. Dantheman says:

    Gerry,

    “What is ironic is that Newt and others want religious displays on public property, and bible teachings in the schools. And if you allow religion, then you have to allow Islam and all that comes with it.”

    Not really. Most of the same people who want religious displays also say that America is a Christian nation. So they’re totally fine with only Christian displays being in public, and telling the adherents of other religions to STFU.

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  20. rewinn says:

    @Michael Reynolds

    That’s a nice quick essay (Christians/Atheists/Shintoist etc). Do you have it posted anywhere so I can point friends to it?

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  21. floyd says:

    Micheal;
    Don’t get a big head , your “quick essay” won’t stand scrutiny.

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  22. anjin-san says:

    Don’t get a big head , your “quick essay” won’t stand scrutiny

    Yet you do not seem able to provide said scrutiny. What a shocker…

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  23. [...] doesn’t just mean free exercise of Roman Catholicism, the faith of mosque critic Newt Gingrich, or Lutheranism, the denomination of Michelle Bachmann, another critic. It counts for Muslims, [...]

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  24. [...] nine years since there was a successful terrorist attack on American soil. But yet, here it is in Manhattan, Staten Island, Florida, California, and, now, [...]

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  25. [...] off in a direction that makes it clear that, on this issue, he is more in line with Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich than any Libertarian (or libertarian): This proposed building of a mosque on hallowed ground is an [...]

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  26. [...] off in a direction that makes it clear that, on this issue, he is more in line with Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich than any Libertarian (or libertarian): This proposed building of a mosque on hallowed ground is an [...]

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