Is The GOP Anti-Islamic ? No, But They Are Playing With Fire

The GOP is playing a dangerous game with the anti-Islamic rhetoric that it seems to be courting these days.

Ben Smith has a piece at Politico today that is bound to cause some on the right to get quite upset, but he raises a question worth considering, is the Republican Party becoming home to an ideology that includes, at it’s core, a distrust of anything Islamic:

The harsh Republican response to President Barack Obama’s defense of a mosque near ground zero marks a dramatic shift in the party’s posture toward Islam — from a once active courtship of Muslim voters to a very public tolerance after Sept. 11 to an openly aired sense of mistrust.

Republican leaders have largely abandoned former President George W. Bush’s post-Sept. 11 rhetorical embrace of American Muslims and his insistence — always controversial inside the party — that Islam is a religion of peace. This weekend, former Bush aides were among the very few Republicans siding with Obama, as many of the party’s leaders have moved toward more vocal denunciations of Islam’s role in violence abroad and suspicion of its place at home.

The shift plays to a hostility toward Islam among many Republican voters, and it fits with traditional Republican attacks on Democratic weakness on security policy.

“Bush went against the grain of his own constituency,” said Allen Roth, a political aide to conservative billionaire Ron Lauder and, independently, a key organizer of the fight against the mosque. “This is part of an underlying set of security issues that could play a significant role in the elections this November.”

Obama’s remarks provide a clear, national focus for the simmering question of Islam in American life, and Republicans showed every sign Saturday of beginning to capitalize on it, with Republican candidates in New York and Florida seeking to inject the issue into local races as Democrats largely held their silence.

That stance in the GOP — both in terms of political strategy and policy views — appears to be carrying the day. Most of the potential Republican presidential hopefuls, led by Sarah Palin, came out sharply against the mosque.

Indeed, the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” has become a national issue thanks largely to the fact that Republicans like Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and Rudy Giuliani have chosen to speak out against it, in some cases, like Gingrich, using rhetoric that is clearly aimed not at the specifics of putting a mosque in Lower Manhattan:

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.

If this is solely about a “mosque” being built at “Ground Zero,” by Muslim-Americans, then what is the purpose of people like Gingrich pointing out the fact that there is not enough religious liberty in Riyadh or Mecca ? That’s akin to arguing that we shouldn’t allow Catholics to construct churches until Vatican City lets Hugh Hefner open a Playboy club next door to St. Peter’s Basilica. It ‘s a complete non sequiter, but it reveals what’s really going on in Gingrich’s mind. For him and people like him, this clearly isn’t just about one building on Park Place in New York City, it’s about a holy war against an entire religion (or, in Newt’s case, it’s more likely about using rhetoric that he thinks will help in an anticipated Presidential campaign).

And, Gingrich isn’t alone, as I’ve noted before, the anti-mosque fight isn’t limited to Manhattan. Similar protests have cropped up in Staten Island, Florida, California, Wisconsin, or Tennessee. The rhetoric that has been employed in those protests mirrors that of the likes of Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, reinforced at various times by Fox News hosts like Sean Hannity, conservative “pro-family” organizations, and so-called “men of God.” All of these sources are constantly conveying the message, either explicitly or implicitly, that every Muslim in the world holds the same extremist, murderous ideology as Osama bin Laden and others who would do us harm.

As the Politico article notes, this seems to be a trend inside the GOP as well:

New York’s beleaguered Republicans, seeing an opening, have seized and driven the mosque issue, and Roth and other mainstream figures have worked to insulate it from more radical anti-Islamic voices, like blogger Pamela Geller, who might marginalize the cause.

Leading New York Republicans acknowledge a shift from the Bush years, but say Muslim leaders, not Republicans, are to blame.

“George Bush made every attempt to reach out,” said Rep. Pete King, a leading critic of the mosque project. “The Muslim community did not reciprocate, did not respond. After Sept. 11, some of them became entrenched and really didn’t know how to cope.

“Somehow the leadership in the community does not impel them forward to be more part of the community. That’s my reading of it,” said King, who also noted that sensitivities involving the site are far deeper, and more real, than many are willing to recognize beyond the boundaries of New York.

Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles Burlingame was the pilot of the jetliner that crashed into the Pentagon and who serves on the board of Keep America Safe, agreed that there is an emotional component but rejected the notion that the mosque issue is a “feelings” concept instead of part of a larger debate about different cultures and how the U.S. should engage with Muslim culture within the country.

“I do ascribe to the ‘clash of civilizations’ theory now,” said Burlingame, who has been among the main voices questioning the funding behind the proposed mosque, and the intents of Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam behind it. She said, as she did after Obama’s speech, that many Muslims have practiced peacefully in the U.S. before and after the attacks, but that Rauf has made statements supporting radical elements of Islam, and that the location was chosen to be provocative.

She criticized those, mostly led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who are defending the project under freedom of religion, saying, “That’s a Western concept.”

Well Ms. Burlingame, since we live in a Western country, and indeed a country that owes its very existence to people who left Europe because of religious persecution and intolerance, isn’t it advisable that we follow Western traditions of religious tolerance, not to mention our own First Amendment ?

Smith’s article has become the latest contretemps on the right, with many accusing Smith, without merit I think, of essentially saying that all Republicans hate Muslims.

Melissa Clouthier, for example, strongly rejects even the suggestion that religious intolerance has anything to do with the “Ground Zero Mosque” issue:

Americans are fighting and dying in Afghanistan and Iraq for Islam-believing people. In America, I challenge a lefty loon to find examples of attacks on Muslim people. Good luck with that. Now the reverse, Muslim on Christian or soldier or black or Jew or women or gay violence? That, you can find.

Americans respect religious freedom, but unlike stupid DC bubble boys, they recognize that we’re at war with an ideology that is murderous, hate-filled and grounded in ISLAM. It is not like the guys who blew up the World Trade Center lived in a world devoid of ideology. They had beliefs that animated and motivated them.

And we are still at war.

At war with whom, though ?

The last time I checked we were in Afghanistan to destroy al Qaeda and to depose the Taliban for their willingness to give refuge to the people who carried out the worst mass murder in American history. In Iraq, we went to war to depose a leader that our President at the time contended was a threat to our national interests. Saying we’re at war with an ideology doesn’t really square with the facts on the ground, and it ignores the fact that you can’t destroy an ideology with guns.

More importantly, though, whether or not it really is an ideology we’re “at war” with, there’s one thing that’s fairly clear — we are not at war with the entire Muslim world. The fact that one faction of Islam attacked us does not mean that we can, or should, ascribe their beliefs to the rest of the adherents of their faith in this manner:

Likewise, the Ground Zero Mosque builders also have an ideology and beliefs that animate their words and actions. It is not like this building has no meaning to them. And because the building means something to them, it matters to freedom-loving Americans. You do not hand an enemy a victory out of some blind devotion to an ideal the enemy not only does not believe, but hates and would destroy if the enemy was successful.

Melissa is a Twitter friend, and I respect her opinion, but I think there’s no small degree of projection going on here. Outside of Sean Hannity’s rantings, there’s no evidence to suggest that the people behind the mosque project are building this mosque to poke a finger in the eye of the American people. In fact, their own mission statement says the exact opposite:

New York deserves its reputation as a peerless center of arts, culture and ideas. Park51 honors and furthers that tradition, envisioning a community center for all of us, bringing the best of the world to New York City, and New York City’s energy, diversity and aspirations to the world. Park51 will become a model for future institutions, with its inclusive focus, outstanding facilities and dedication to social needs. To realize this mission, Park51 will:

* Uphold respect for the diversity of expression and ideas between all people
* Cultivate and embrace neighborly relations between all New Yorkers, fostering a spirit of civic participation and an awareness of common needs and opportunities
* Encourage open discussion and dialogue on issues of relevance to New Yorkers, Americans and the international reality of our interconnected planet
* Revive the historic Muslim tradition of education, engagement and service, becoming a resource for empowerment and advancement
* Connect New York’s communities to global ideas and trends
* Commit to social justice, dignified human development and spiritual growth for all
* Pursue the development of American Muslim identities, engaging New York’s many and diverse Muslim communities and promoting empowerment and compassion for all
* Build partnerships and relationships with key actors and institutions who share our values, to address shared needs and solve common problems
* Establish a state-of-the-art green facility that will serve as a model and inspiration for sustainable space, helping to advance sustainable living in urban contexts
* Empower our communities with the skills and knowledge they need to advance in their various life stages
* Provide financial assistance for those in need, offering subsidies for our programming and scholarships to reach new audiences and further our vision

Hardly a statement of religious triumphalism is it ? Perhaps we would all do ourselves well to actually listen to what the people we oppose are saying, instead of to what people with agendas and ideologies claim they are saying.

Melissa goes on:

Americans are not anti-Islam, but maybe they should be. They live and work with Muslims peacefully. They are pleased that Muslim women and children are getting educated and freed from the evil of totalitarian domination. They are happy that Saddam Hussein isn’t around to torture, kill and bury whole communities for some sadistic reason.

And the GOP is no more anti-Islam than the American people–which is to say they aren’t. They are being rational, though. They understand what’s happening in New York and finally, they’re fighting back against the political taboos–willing to stand and be outraged at the outrageous.

This is true for the most part, but as Smith’s article points out, the predominant rhetoric from leading Republicans right now is decidedly anti-Islamic, or at least decidedly against the idea that there is such a thing as a moderate Muslim. For the most part, I think that this is little more than a manifestation of the fact that politicians like Gingrich and Palin have taken notice of the fact that this rhetoric works and have decided to use opposition to the “Ground Zero Mosque” as a wedge issue. Do they really believe it ? Well, the cynical side of me says probably not, but they think it works politically, so they’re running with it.

In doing so, however, they are playing with fire.

When you see those same arguments popping up not just in reference to this mosque, but mosques around the country, it does make one wonder if there isn’t something more sinister going on beneath the surface. Whatever you think of a mosque at 51 Park Place, those arguments are irrelevant when you’re talking about Murfreesboro, Tennessee or Sheboygan, Wisconsin, or when rhetoric like this manifests itself 3,000 miles away from the site of the September 11th attacks:

The pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, just across a cul-de-sac from the site of the mosque, said the two religions “mix like oil and water” and predicted a “confrontational atmosphere” if the project moves forward.

“The Islamic foothold is not strong here, and we really don’t want to see their influence spread,” said Pastor Bill Rench.

“There is a concern with all the rumors you hear about sleeper cells and all that. Are we supposed to be complacent just because these people say it’s a religion of peace? Many others have said the same thing,” he said.

Leaders of the Islamic center were surprised by the level of criticism, especially from a few religious groups, saying their current makeshift mosque and Islamic community center have been in town for more than a decade and members always have felt welcome.

“Our children go to the same schools their children go to. We shop at the same stores where they shop,” said Mahmoud Harmoush, the imam of the Islamic center and an instructor at Cal State San Bernardino’s World Languages and Literatures Department.

“All of a sudden our neighbors wake up and they’re opposed to us building the Islamic center there, the mosque. I hope it’s a small group,” he said.

I hope so as well, because an America that is hostile to Islam as a whole is not going to have very much success convincing the rest of the Islamic world, or the world in general, that we’re really only concerned about the radicals who want to kill us.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Islam, Religion, US Politics, , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Is The GOP Anti-Islamic?

    Yes.

  2. Ken says:

    Wedge issues and scapegoating work. Always have, always will.

  3. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Portion of comment in violation of site policies deleted.

    Republicans do not favor building a Mosque near the site of 9/11 for the same reason we do not have an amusement part at Gettysburg. New York City can decide if Muslims can build a base for terrorism near the site of their greatest victory.

    Portion of comment in violation of site policies deleted.

    There are over 100 mosques in New York City. I doubt there is a critical need for another one yet they insist this is bridge building. Evidently 70 percent of Americans do not think the place they want to build it is appropriate. Once again you and your Muslim buddy in the White House are on the wrong side of things. Wait until November to see what the rest of American thinks of this. If Muslims want to be friends, they would build it elsewhere. What part of that do you not understand?

    Portion of comment in violation of site policies deleted.

    EDITOR’S NOTE: You’re free to make political arguments that we disagree with. You’re not free to call site authors or other commenters names or issue calls for violence against American citizens.

  4. Once again, will OTB PLEASE stop ZRII from spewing his anti-muslim rhetoric here?

  5. Tommy V says:

    I honestly cannot think of a single good-faith reason why Muslims would want to build a mosque right next to ground zero. If it takes a rather esoteric defense, and is over the passionate objections of the majority, then how can one argue it’s meant as a goodwill gesture to that majority?

    Nothing good will come from this.

    We should discourage them as much as we can from building this on that site. I suspect such discouragement will not work. Why? Because the site is the very point of the mosque.

    On a side note, I have to say, I am pretty surprised by the silence from America Muslims. Surely our patriotic muslim countrymen see what a bad idea this is. Why are they so quiet?

  6. I honestly cannot think of a single good-faith reason why Muslims would want to build a mosque right next to ground zero

    Finding an appropriate piece of real estate in a city where such can be scarce?

  7. steve says:

    Stormy- OTB has almost had the tradition of having one far out troll-like character making wildly over the top statements. Just think of it as entertainment if you actually read the comments. Most of us do not read them.

    Steve

  8. Brett says:

    Melissa is a Twitter friend, and I respect her opinion,

    You shouldn’t. Her opinion is a piece of worthless, xenophobic bigotry in which she more or less labels all muslims as part of “The Enemy”*. Even worse, she has the absolutely irritating, disgusting victimhood mentality, complete with lack of sympathy and concern trolling about how “it’s not our fault, it’s the mean mohammedans who won’t respect our attempts to bring them freedom!”.

    * By the way, can’t you just hear that Cold War itch among these types of conservatives being satisfied? I think on some level, they’ve found purpose again, when they were left adrift philosophically after the fall of the “Enemy” in the form of Communism. Islam is the new enemy for them, the new Satan in their simplistic, stupid dualistic ideology.

    I honestly cannot think of a single good-faith reason why Muslims would want to build a mosque right next to ground zero.

    Do you think open lots in Manhatten are a dime a dozen? It’s their property, and they’ve already lined everything up for construction.

    Besides, as Doug pointed out, there’s nowhere that’s acceptable to the lunatic Right. They’re protesting them around the country.

    Well, the cynical side of me says probably not, but they think it works politically, so they’re running with it.

    Of course they are. Both Newt and Palin are notoriously shameless about fanning the flames of hatred for political advantage.

  9. It’s an easy semantic distinction. Islam = So? Jihadism = enemy of everything western civilization stands for. It would be nice if the former could clearly divorce itself from the latter. Until then, all we can ask of ourselves is to distinquish between the two. Why is this so hard?

    http://libertyatstake.blogspot.com/
    “Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive”

  10. OTB has almost had the tradition of having one far out troll-like character making wildly over the top statements.
    I’m aware of that, but this is unfortunately starting to change from ‘random nut on the internet’ to a widespread and organized movement of relgiious persecution. At some point we have to stop humoring Juror #10.

  11. bob says:

    Some of us obviously have better and calibrated BS detectors and don’t fall for the BS the supporters spout. You need toi get your detector recalbrated. Bob

  12. matt says:
  13. tom p says:

    >>And the GOP is no more anti-Islam than the American people–which is to say they aren’t. >>They are being rational, though. They understand what’s happening in New York and >>finally, they’re fighting back against the political taboos–willing to stand and be outraged at >>the outrageous.

    to which, DM says:
    >This is true for the most part, but as Smith’s article points out, the predominant rhetoric from >leading Republicans right now is decidedly anti-Islamic, or at least decidedly against the >idea that there is such a thing as a moderate Muslim.

    C’mon Doug, name me one Republican (in office) (or running for office) who is denouncing the rhetoric that is coming from “leading Republicans right now”… (and no, silence does not count, it has to be an out and out denunciation)

    Just one. I got $25 for their campaign. If you can name him/her. (and I will gladly give it to such a principled politicion)

  14. Tommy V says:

    >> I honestly cannot think of a single good-faith reason why Muslims would want to build a mosque right next to ground zero

    >>Finding an appropriate piece of real estate in a city where such can be scarce?

    I’m not sure I buy that as a “good faith reason”. Would they really be willing to hurt and offend so many people in what is supposed to be an “outreach” program just because they thought this was the least expensive real estate in an expensive market? Money doesn’t seem to be a huge problem for them.

    If you’re right, it’s very good news. If scarce real estate is the issue that can be solved to everyone’s satisfaction. I hope you’re right and that’s all it is. We’ll certainly find out if this is true by how they respond to the Governor’s efforts to help find them a new location for the Mosque/community center somewhere else in Manhattan.

    In the meantime, I would encourage those who enthusiastically endorse this mosque to ask themselves how much of their endorsement is really about how much they despise those opposed to it rather than an honest belief that it’s just a really good idea to build that particular type of building right there.

  15. Alex Knapp says:

    Tommy, it’s over a half-mile from the WTC. Not “right next door.” A HALF-MILE.

  16. M says:

    I Keep hearing the question asked, “Why would they [Muslims] want to build a mosque “on” the 9-11 site”? First, the site is a couple of blocks from ground zero. Second, there has been a mosque 2 blocks from ground zero since way before Sept. 11th. Does the mosques that are there, and has been before the twin towers were built be moved? Oh, I bet many of you didn’t even know there was a mosque already there. Listening to pundits and talking heads, will never allow you to see the complete picture. Emotional arguments almost always suck!

  17. M says:

    I Keep hearing the question asked, “Why would they [Muslims] want to build a mosque “on” the 9-11 site”? First, the site is, will be, a couple of blocks from ground zero. Second, there has been a mosque 2 blocks from ground zero since way before Sept. 11th. Does the mosque that is there now, and has been there before the twin towers were built be moved? Oh, I bet many of you didn’t even know there was a mosque already there. Listening to pundits and talking heads, will never allow you to see the complete picture. Emotional arguments almost always suck!

  18. M says:

    I Keep hearing the question asked, “Why would they [Muslims] want to build a mosque “on” the 9-11 site”? First, the site is, will be, a couple of blocks from ground zero. Second, there has been a mosque 2 blocks from ground zero since way before Sept. 11th. Does the mosque that is there now, and has been there before the twin towers were built need to be moved? Oh, I bet many of you didn’t even know there was a mosque already there. Listening to pundits and talking heads, will never allow you to see the complete picture. Emotional arguments almost always suck!

  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    These “Are Republicans really . . . ” fill in the blanks, questions are just obtuse.

    Yes, the GOP is anti-Muslim. Yes, the GOP is anti-gay. Yes, the GOP is anti-Hispanic. Yes, the GOP is anti-black.

    Yes, the GOP has welcomed every creep and nutsack in the country into the party and turned a blind eye to the hate that festers at the core of the party because so long as “decent” Republicans get a tax break they will tolerate anything.

    Literally anything. Money trumps all.

    Oh, sure, the handful of Joyners will make weak mewling noises of protest, but in the end their votes and their money will go to the party that panders to race-baiters and haters because they don’t really give much of a sh-t about anything that isn’t a dollar bill.

  20. cysusa says:

    I am an Independent and I do not think this mosque is a good idea. I encourage people to please read about the Imam behind the mosque, he has said some very provocative things and he will not denounce Hamas as a terrorist organization. That’s not a hard thing to do given their history and their charter. Instead Imam Rauf has said terrorism is a complex issue – no, it’s really not. He has said Bin Laden was made in America – no, he was not. Whatever one thinks of foreign policy, nothing supported the hijacking of four planes and the deaths of thousands of people. The legal right for the mosque to be built is not in question, legally they have the right. The Park 51 group (formally known as Cordoba House) has said their purpose is to build bridges. They have demanded sensitivity and tolerance yet they are not showing the same to the many who object to their plans. If the purpose is to promote understanding and better relations, then the mosque/community center would serve that purpose no matter its location. Since the public reaction has made Park 51 aware of the still raw wounds of their neighbors and the nation, why insist on this spot? Why not take the Governor up on his offer to find another location? It’s not only non-Muslims who have objected. There have been Muslims who have expressed their dismay over the proposed mosque, saying themselves that it is unthoughtful and ill-advised. Two outspoken voices have been Raheel Raza and Tarek Fatah. With 68% of Americans and a majority of New Yorkers against the idea (52%), it’s clear that this issue crosses party lines. A drill down of the polls show this crosses racial and religious lines as well. The mosque did not become a national issue because of voices from the GOP. The mosque has been a national issue since the day it was announced to those who follow the news. It’s easy to say that anyone who objects or has concerns is intolerant, backward or a Republican. That line of thought is intellectually and factually flawed.

  21. Tommy V says:

    Alex, I’ve seen overhead shots. It’s pretty darn close. From my understanding the proposed site was hit by piece wreckage from 9/11.

    I remember as a kid trying to explain to someone that I just offended or whose feelings I hurt that they were wrong to feel that way and the problem was with them and not what I did. As an adult I instead take responsibility for my actions.

    Instead of trying to convince the vast majority of people that their feelings are either ridiculous, ignorant, or full of vile and bigotry, perhaps it might be a better idea just to build it somewhere else? If outreach to those people really is the goal?

    Just saying.

    And again, I see far more hate generated towards Republicans in these discussions than I have ever seen aimed ay Muslims. Seriously, it’s not even close! The irony is pretty overwhelming.

  22. Instead of trying to convince the vast majority of people that their feelings are either ridiculous, ignorant, or full of vile and bigotry, perhaps it might be a better idea just to build it somewhere else?

    cysusa in the 1950s:

    Instead of trying to convince that vast majority of people that their feelings are either ridculous, ignorant, or full of vile and bigotry, perhaps it might be a better idea for black homeowners to just move to other neighborhoods?

  23. Herb says:

    “Do they really believe it ? Well, the cynical side of me says probably not, but they think it works politically, so they’re running with it.”

    Republicans seem to do that a lot. Look at how the birther fires are stoked. Look at the Tea Parties, who convinced themselves they’re this new “revolutionary movement” that just so happens to hew so closely to the Grand Old Party line. Sarah Palin? Did they really think she had the goods for the VP slot? No, but they thought it would work politically, so they ran with it. Good strategy….guaranteed success for sure.

  24. Tommy V says:

    Stormy Dragon,

    Do you really, honestly feel that is an apt comparison? Really? You simply don’t see why anyone could possibly have any legitimate reason why this would upset them? That it is simply hateful bigotry and nothing more? It’s the same reasoning as segregation?

    Man, I just don’t know what to say to that. You’re obviously welcome to your opinion, but if that’s where you’re coming from I just don’t see having enough shared values to even have a discussion. There’s no reason to believe we would get anywhere.

    But it does reinforce a suspicion I have. Again, I would encourage those who enthusiastically endorse this mosque to ask themselves how much of their endorsement is really about how much they despise those opposed to it rather than an honest belief that it’s just a really good idea to build that particular type of building right there.

    It’s worth saying again, I see far more hate generated towards Republicans in these discussions than I have ever seen aimed at Muslims.

  25. Do you really, honestly feel that is an apt comparison? Really? You simply don’t see why anyone could possibly have any legitimate reason why this would upset them? That it is simply hateful bigotry and nothing more? It’s the same reasoning as segregation?

    Yes, the people advocating the segregation of Muslims today are exactly the same as the people advocating the segregation of blacks 50 years ago. Both groups have an irrational fear of a minority group in the community and want to use coercion (if not outright force) to control the minority.

    And it’s not, as you indicate, just “this mosque”. These people are opposed to all mosques anywhere in the US.

  26. Brummagem Joe says:

    Gingrich, Palin et al are simply doing what they always do, create political capital by appealing to the strains of fear, nativism, ignorance and bigotry that permeate American society. This is just the latest version of a phenomena that put out signs in the late 19th century saying no Irish, Jews or Black need apply, or barred the entrance of Jewish refugees from Germany in the thirties. This is the currency in which rabble rousers on the right deal. We’ve seen it over the election of the first black president, in their attitude to hispanics and immigration reform. I’ve no doubt it will work to a limited degree because the leadership of the GOP has essentially abdicated their responsibility to lead. Those on the moderate right should be reminding people of what America stands for but I doubt they will apart from a few like Mike Bloomberg.

  27. Herb says:

    “It’s worth saying again, I see far more hate generated towards Republicans in these discussions than I have ever seen aimed at Muslims.”

    That’s a very revealing statement, almost as if you believe the natural order has been upended. “Why are all these people hating on Republicans when they should be hating on Muslims?”

    Well, Tommy, it depends on what they do. If a Muslim wants to blow himself up as part of some terrorist plot…yeah, I’m gonna hate on him. If he wants to build a community center on property he owns….then, I’m gonna defend his right to do so. (PS. A defense is different than an endorsement.)

    If Republicans want to uphold their stated devotion to property rights, freedom of religion, and personal freedom, then I’ll defend them. But if they want to pander to the basest instincts of bigots….then I’m gonna hate on them.

  28. john personna says:

    I’m not angry with Republicans. I’m just shocked that they don’t get it. We Americans are about freedom. It’s trivial that “freedom” does not mean “what I want, all the time.” It sometimes means what other people want.

    But then, sadly, this does go back to 9/11. With things like warrantless wiretaps, extraordinary rendition, and even torture, we started saying that our fears justified overthrowing our values.

    That’s what I hear now from Mosque foes. It isn’t so much that they hate. It’s that they fear. Actual risks don’t justify that at all. That’s sad, and as I’ve said it sometimes makes me think we are a nation of cowards, inflating our fears and abandoning our values.

  29. Tommy V says:

    “It’s worth saying again, I see far more hate generated towards Republicans in these discussions than I have ever seen aimed at Muslims.”

    That’s a very revealing statement, almost as if you believe the natural order has been upended. “Why are all these people hating on Republicans when they should be hating on Muslims?”

    Good God, man, what are you talking about? Your need to see what you want to see is astounding. It’s almost comical. You accuse us of being filled with hate and I point out that the hate I see is actually coming from you, and your response is to accuse me of saying, “Aha! You think I should hate them and not you!”

    Some of you are just not rational, I am really sorry to say. You have a vision of how you see the world and you’re just going to budge from it.

    Either that or you’re playing games and the idea is to force me to defend myself from outrageous charges to pull the discussion off topic. The substance of what I said has been ignored. i don’y know if that is an oversight or a tactic.

    But much like the mosque itself, I sense a distinct lack of good faith.

  30. Herb says:

    Tommy, correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the substance of your remarks have to do with you not understanding why they would build the community center there?

    “I honestly cannot think of a single good-faith reason why Muslims would want to build a mosque right next to ground zero”

    1) You realize it’s not a mosque. You realize it’s not “right next” to ground zero. You realize that mischaracterizing things is NOT “good faith.”

    2) You can’t think of a good-faith reason why they’d build there? They have the property deed. What more do you want?

  31. anjin-san says:

    > It’s that they fear.

    And here you have cut to the heart of the matter. Frightened people are easily manipulated. It’s instructive that the leaders of the GOP continually stoke the fires of fear.

  32. john personna says:

    And here you have cut to the heart of the matter. Frightened people are easily manipulated. It’s instructive that the leaders of the GOP continually stoke the fires of fear.

    When Bush was running v. Kerry, and Kerry got a bump in the polls, I said to my Republican friend “time to bump the terror threat level.” The look I got back was comical, like how could I have made that connection? The threat level was bumped, two days later, of course.

  33. John Burgess says:

    When the NYC mosque first became an issue, I figured that while the group certainly had every right to build the mosque, it might not have been the wisest choice of location. People do have the right to not exercise their rights, after all.

    But then, the ground changed. Rather than a matter of poor choice of location, it became an issue of whether Islam was the enemy, whether this was a ‘triumphalist’ gesture, whether it was a thumb in the eye of all those affected by 9/11.

    Now, with that change in ground, I think the would-be builders of the center need to stay on course. To do otherwise would be to accept the allegations of bad faith, to acknowledge that ‘the problem is Islam’.

    Sure, the whole thing could have been avoided if the builders had picked another, more distant site. But that’s not what happened. Instead, the issue became one of bad faith arguments against them.

    It’s not solely Republicans or Conservatives who are against this center; there are plenty of Democrats and Liberals, too. The Conservatives–now including many Libertarians–are, however, trying to make political hay out of the issues. There are copious bad-faith and bigoted arguments being launched from that side of the political divides. As a conservative, that bothers me, bothers me a lot. There are conservatives up for election this fall who will not be getting my vote as a consequence. Bigotry, though a big part of American history, is not an American value, at least not for me.

  34. Tommy V says:

    Herb:

    Yes, your general characterization of my comments are correct. Choosing that location creates nothing but trouble. It’s provocative and (obviously) divisive. It does not help relations with the Muslim community and the rest of America. If outreach was the purpose, they failed miserably.

    They have the legal right to build it, assuming all legal hurdles have been conquered, but for a community constantly asking for sensitivity, it might be a good idea to show some in return. I have absolutely no problem with Americans using their free speech to discourage this project and stating clearly that this hinders, rather than helps, muslim-nonmuslim relations.

    As to your complaints:

    1) Sorry for calling the “place of worship and cultural center” a mosque. It seems to me a semantic argument and avoiding the substance, but if it’s terms you’re worried about we can call it a “place of worship and community center” instead. It has also been widely disseminated as a mosque by even the most ardent supporting publications so you may find it harder than you would like to get the world to use the language you would like to see. (If you look back to older articles and older defenses of the project, it was actually very clearly defined as mosque/cultural center. Only recently has it been changed to a “place of worship” instead).

    2) Claiming that they’re only building it there because that’s where they “happen” to have the deed seems another avoidance of the issue. They purchased that deed. If you would rather me say, “if outreach is the purpose, then there were much better places to have purchased a deed with the intent of building a place of worship and community center” then I’ll say that. But again, this seems to be semantics.

    3) As stated above, the exact location of the place of worship and community center is available on the internet. You can see exactly how close it from overhead. It was close enough to take plane wreckage from 9/11.

    You may think these are serious concerns, but I am unable to go there with you. You seem to be suggesting that if we just change the language it’s less offensive. I don’t buy that one bit.

    I wanted to dispute the argument that the only reason one could oppose this project is bigotry. I can see you guys will not budge on this, and that you need to believe this for your own reasons. You refuse to see any legitimacy in the complaint whatsoever.

    I don’t get it, though obviously I have some theories.

    Either way, I said my peace and I genuinely hope you have a better sense of why most of us are disturbed by this project, but unfortunately I don’t get the impression that you do.

  35. Ben says:

    “Man, I just don’t know what to say to that. You’re obviously welcome to your opinion, but if
    that’s where you’re coming from I just don’t see having enough shared values to even
    have a discussion. There’s no reason to believe we would get anywhere.”

    Maybe we don’t have shared values. Ours are based on the Constitution, 400 years of a society founded on a basis religious tolerance, and not prejudging a billion or so people based upon the actions of an extremely small virulent minority group.

    “But it does reinforce a suspicion I have. Again, I would encourage those who
    enthusiastically endorse this mosque to ask themselves how much of their endorsement
    is really about how much they despise those opposed to it rather than an honest belief
    that it’s just a really good idea to build that particular type of building right there.
    It’s worth saying again, I see far more hate generated towards Republicans in these
    discussions than I have ever seen aimed at Muslims.”

    First of all, “enthusiastically endorse” is a strawman. No one here has said that they “enthusiastically endorse” this. But we support the property owner’s right to do with it as they see fit within the confines of the law. And we think that those who are hysterically protesting against this (AND MOSQUES ALL AROUND THE COUNTRY RIGHT NOW) are revealing themselves for their true agenda, and it isn’t pretty.

    And please get over your persecution complex. No one has been calling the Republicans “bent on our destruction”, “ideologically committed to killing all non-believers”, nor are anyone protesting Republicans’ ability to open any sort of office, center or gathering-place, anywhere in the country. All of these things, the Republicans have done toward Muslims.

  36. Herb says:

    “They have the legal right to build it, assuming all legal hurdles have been conquered, but for a community constantly asking for sensitivity, it might be a good idea to show some in return.”

    Fair enough. But consider that the builders of the Cordoba House are not obligated to be “sensitive.” They are obligated only to follow the laws of the land and to act in their self-interest. Making up an obligation and then slamming them for not fulfilling it? That’s lame.

    (Follow up point: Are you prepared to argue in this mode when it comes to Wal-Mart? That if a Wal-Mart is legally entitled to open a store in a certain community that maybe they shouldn’t because of the residents’ feelings? Is that really the low standard you’d like to apply to these matters?)

    As for the legitimacy of the opposition, as an atheist who thinks even the Dalai Lama is a charlatan, I personally think it’s a waste of space. But I’m not a stake holder in the property, and to make matters even more complicated, I’m a firm believer in religious freedom (not just for me either!).

    It’s called principle. What principle are you operating on?

  37. Rick Almeida says:

    I was in briefly NYC just the Sunday before last, and since the PATH station where we entered the city is right at the WTC site, after spending a few moments there I decided to walk to the proposed “mosque” site.

    As others have mentioned, it’s pretty far – about half a mile. The surrounding landscape is typical lower Manhattan, a little bit of everything, including strip clubs.

    I would like to hear any opponent of this Islamic center make an estimate of how close to the WTC site is sufficiently far to salve your oh-so-tender feelings.

  38. mantis says:

    I have absolutely no problem with Americans using their free speech to discourage this project and stating clearly that this hinders, rather than helps, muslim-nonmuslim relations.

    Too bad those Americans’ idea of Muslim/Non-Muslim relations all rely on bullets and bombs.

    Sorry for calling the “place of worship and cultural center” a mosque. It seems to me a semantic argument and avoiding the substance, but if it’s terms you’re worried about we can call it a “place of worship and community center” instead.

    Translation: I would love to be accurate, but that does really fit into my propaganda. Sorry.

    The project is quite similar to the YMCA or Jewish Community Center. Those are both religious organizations that build community centers with a variety of facilities. In this case, the planned center includes a 500-seat auditorium, theater, performing arts center, fitness center, swimming pool, basketball court, childcare services, art exhibitions, bookstore, culinary school, and a food court.

    So my question for you is this, do you call the YMCA a church? Do you call a Jewish Community Center a synagogue? Would you call for either of those organizations to abandon plans to build in the US?

    I wanted to dispute the argument that the only reason one could oppose this project is bigotry

    You failed.

    I can see you guys will not budge on this, and that you need to believe this for your own reasons.

    Key reason: reality.

    You refuse to see any legitimacy in the complaint whatsoever.

    There is none.

    Either way, I said my peace and I genuinely hope you have a better sense of why most of us are disturbed by this project, but unfortunately I don’t get the impression that you do.

    Oh, we do.

  39. davod says:

    On the guest list to listen to Obama’s courageous support of properfty rights and religion.were these three::

    “Ingrid Mattson, the head of a Muslim Brotherhood satellite organization, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), that was identified by the Justice Department as an unindicted coconspirator in a terrorism financing case (and was proved, in fact, to have sent money to Hamas);

    Salam al-Marayati, a self-described supporter of Hezbollah (and one Steve Emerson aptly describes as an anti-anti-terrorist); and

    Dalia Mogahed, an apologist for sharia’s subjugation of women who has embraced ISNA, CAIR and other Islamist groups in her role as an Obama appointee to the President’s Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.”

    ( From Obama’s Ground Zero Mosque by Frank Gaffney Aug 13th 2010 http://bigpeace.com/fgaffney/2010/08/13/obamas-ground-zero-mosque/#idc-container )

  40. Loonesta says:

    The party of ‘Family Values’ & ‘Take Back Our Country’ forgets that those phrases originated with the Ku Klux Klan. This overblown incident is just another symptom of their deep-rooted Eliminationist desires.

  41. davod says:

    Background information on Imam Rauf is available by reading Alyssa A. Lappen’s May 14, 2010 “The Ground Zero Mosque Developer: Muslim Brotherhood Roots, Radical Dreams ”

    ( http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/the-ground-zero-mosque-developer-muslim-brotherhood-roots-radical-dreams/?singlepage=true )

  42. cinesimon says:

    So I assume, then, that all those right winger christian supremacists praying for the president’s death should also not be allowed to worship where they choose – in fact on land they own, and already have a church on?

  43. Juneau: says:

    From the bulleted list:

    “Commit to social justice, dignified human development and spiritual growth for all”

    So…. suddenly, they’re going to denounce sharia law in this mosque? They’re going to denounce Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations? They’re going to denounce the dehumanization of women which is currently preached in Islam? Genital mutilation of little girls, honor killings, and jihad (all of which are practiced in muslim communities here in the US)? Sure they are.

    You who defend this under the guise of freedom of religion are not fooling anyone. You certainly are not fooling the 70% of Americans who disagree with the plans to build a mosque in that location, and who know that this issue has nothing to do with freedom of religion.

  44. Juneau: says:

    @ cinesimon

    “So I assume, then, that all those right winger christian supremacists praying for the president’s death should also not be allowed to worship where they choose – in fact on land they own, and already have a church on?”

    First of all, the supremacists you reference adhere to a national SOCIALIST philosohpy, so they are actually not “right wing.”

    Secondly, if this is your position ( i.e a straight neutrality regardless of circumstances) then I’m sure you would support a white supremacist “church” being built in, say, Birmingham Alabama, just around a corner where a similar group had burned a black church down in the 60’s?

    Everyone with even a modicum of common sense knows that such a building would be vigorously condemned and opposed as being a provocation and an affront to the sensibilities – for the same obvious reasons.

  45. Juneau: says:

    It’s very interesting how willing the liberals here are to divorce Islam as a whole from the violence that Islamic terrorists have imprinted into the psyche of most Americans. What makes it so interesting is the almost total reluctance of Muslim Imams to do the same.

    Since the supporters here of building the mosque are so adamant that the vast majority of Muslims are against violence, perhaps some of you can share links and references where Muslim preachers have publicly condemned 9/11 and other Islamic terrorist attacks?

  46. Herb says:

    “It’s very interesting how willing the liberals here are to divorce Islam as a whole from the violence that Islamic terrorists have imprinted into the psyche of most Americans.”

    It’s not just liberals. It’s non-extremist, non-terrorist Muslims, too. (And yes, they exist. I know a few.)

    There are, however, a few groups who would like the world to think of terrorism when they think of Muslims. Among them are Muslim terrorists and American right-wingers like you.

    “Since the supporters here of building the mosque are so adamant that the vast majority of Muslims are against violence, perhaps some of you can share links and references where Muslim preachers have publicly condemned 9/11 and other Islamic terrorist attacks?”

    How about using the Google and educating yourself? Test your hypothesis yourself. Don’t expect other people to do it for you.

  47. anjin-san says:

    > perhaps some of you can share links and references where Muslim preachers have publicly condemned 9/11 and other Islamic terrorist attacks

    http://groups.colgate.edu/aarislam/response.htm

    That took me all of 2 seconds on Google

  48. mantis says:

    I love the ahistorical, mind-numbingly stupid logic of wingnuts.

    White supremacists = Nazis = Socialists = Liberals, therefore white supremacists are liberals! QED, bitches.

    I mean seriously, how do you type with a straightjacket on?

  49. matt says:

    Juneau : Here you go again..

    http://www.muhajabah.com/otherscondemn.php

    Notice many Muslim imams condemning terrorist attacks. L2read and search for facts a little..

    I’d like to point out that Hamas was democratically elected as.. oh hell you don’t care so it’s not worth my time to explain that not all “brown people” are the same..

  50. anjin-san says:

    Another Rant ‘n Run from Juneau…

  51. Juneau: says:

    @ anjin

    “Another Rant ‘n Run from Juneau…”

    Look at the time stamp on my post, and do the math. It was the middle of the night and, trust me, you couldn’t make me run if your credibility depended on it.

    As it is again the middle of the night, I will look at the links provided by herb and matt (which by the way, were most certainly not hanging out there on google like plums on the bottom branch of the tree), and see what they have to say. A cursory glance reveals that there indeed appear to be a large number of quotes condemning terrorism. How many of those are actually imams as opposed to western Islamic Studies scholars remains to be seen.

    @ mantis

    “I love the ahistorical, mind-numbingly stupid logic of wingnuts.”

    Ahem. Simply put, you have no idea what the hell you’re talking about. NAZI = National SOCIALIST German Workers Party ( or NSDAP ). You know, as in the National WORKERS Party here in the USA, or the Democratic SOCIALISTS Party here in the USA? Mind-numbingly stupid indeed.

    And finally, as card-carrying members of the liberal echo chamber here on OTB, all three of you found ONE point that you think – repeat think – you can refute, and ignore the other three points made in my posts. So why don’t I follow up on the links kindly provided to me by Herb and Matt, and why don’t Herb and Matt, and you anjin, show me where imams have publicly condemned sharia law and the resultant honor killings, clitoral circumcision (mutilation) on little girls, and stoning of women who have been the VICTIMS of rape.

    Later…

  52. mantis says:

    Sorry, dimwit, but I’ve got to go to WORK and then later maybe I’ll be on some SOCIAL networking sites, so I guess I’m just a NAZI.

    You can’t be for real. Must be a spoof. No one is that stupid.

  53. anjin-san says:

    Juneau…. More Faux outrage over Sharia law and violent Muslims? How many children have died by gunfire in the good ol’ U.S.A. this year? How many women were beaten or raped by men who were drinking? Are you calling for the return of prohabition?

    Show me where Palin an Newt have called for stricter gun control. Show me where they have called for us to put our own house in order before we spend too much time worrying about what is happening halfway across the world.

  54. anjin-san says:

    Juneau… perhaps you can show us where you have been calling for the Catholic Church to put its house in order over the abuse of children by priests. Or where they have done anything beyond cosmetic damage control to actually deal with the problem. In fact, the church has actively covered the problem up. Perhaps you can direct me to links that document the fury over this from the right…

  55. jp says:

    Nazism was destroyed as an ideology pretty effectively with guns. As was the ideology of the Japanese militarists.