If you've been following the "Ground zero mosque" story, you know that this weekend a group of anti-mosque demonstrators in New York City came close to assaulting a black man wearing a white cap. The mob had (mistakenly, it turned out) assumed the individual was a Muslim (video). The demonstration two blocks from Ground Zero came a full week after Obama appeared to have taken a stand on the mosque controversy, only to backtrack the very next day; after former DNC chair Howard Dean called the mosque "a real affront to people who lost their lives" and urged that the builders of the facility put their plans on hold. While Democrats waffled, right wing demagogue Sarah Palin rallied people to "refudiate" (sic) the "mosque". At this point, as many as 70% of Americans have been persuaded that the absurdly labeled "Ground Zero mosque" should not be built -- absurd because the planned building is not, in fact, a mosque, but a "a sort of Muslim YMCA with a pool and a prayer room." And it's not located at Ground Zero, but two city blocks up.
To be sure, a few lights have shone in the midst of the dim landscape that is America's political and media establishment. For example, after the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) made a strong statement opposing the mosque, journalist Fareed Zakaria returned a $10,000 prize that had been awarded to him by ADL back in 2005.
Another rare shinning exemplar is Congressman Ron Paul. Following is a portion of Ron Paul's statement on the mosque that was posted on his website on August 20:
...The fact that so much attention has been given the mosque debate, raises the question of just why and driven by whom?I think we would have to go back almost a decade to find a more courageous statement of principle by an elected American politician of either party. By standing up for universal human rights in the face of strong political opposition, Ron Paul reminds us what leadership looks like.
In my opinion it has come from the neo-conservatives who demand continual war in the Middle East and Central Asia and are compelled to constantly justify it.
They never miss a chance to use hatred toward Muslims to rally support for the ill conceived preventative wars. A select quote from soldiers from in Afghanistan and Iraq expressing concern over the mosque is pure propaganda and an affront to their bravery and sacrifice.
The claim is that we are in the Middle East to protect our liberties is misleading. To continue this charade, millions of Muslims are indicted and we are obligated to rescue them from their religious and political leaders. And, we’re supposed to believe that abusing our liberties here at home and pursuing unconstitutional wars overseas will solve our problems.
The nineteen suicide bombers didn’t come from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iran. Fifteen came from our ally Saudi Arabia, a country that harbors strong American resentment, yet we invade and occupy Iraq where no al Qaeda existed prior to 9/11.
Many fellow conservatives say they understand the property rights and 1st Amendment issues and don’t want a legal ban on building the mosque. They just want everybody to be “sensitive” and force, through public pressure, cancellation of the mosque construction.
This sentiment seems to confirm that Islam itself is to be made the issue, and radical religious Islamic views were the only reasons for 9/11. If it became known that 9/11 resulted in part from a desire to retaliate against what many Muslims saw as American aggression and occupation, the need to demonize Islam would be difficult if not impossible.
There is no doubt that a small portion of radical, angry Islamists do want to kill us but the question remains, what exactly motivates this hatred?
If Islam is further discredited by making the building of the mosque the issue, then the false justification for our wars in the Middle East will continue to be acceptable.
The justification to ban the mosque is no more rational than banning a soccer field in the same place because all the suicide bombers loved to play soccer....
The House Speaker is now treading on a slippery slope by demanding a Congressional investigation to find out just who is funding the mosque—a bold rejection of property rights, 1st Amendment rights, and the Rule of Law—in order to look tough against Islam.
This is all about hate and Islamaphobia.
We now have an epidemic of “sunshine patriots” on both the right and the left who are all for freedom, as long as there’s no controversy and nobody is offended.
Political demagoguery rules when truth and liberty are ignored.
Despite the election of President Obama, on issue after issue, demagogues on the right have grown stronger. This hasn't happened, as some claim, merely on account of the president's race. In my view, the demagogues have enjoyed success largely because the leadership of the party in power has hesitated time and again to take up unpopular but principled positions on any significant issues -- and stand by them. The people in charge today in Washington D.C. are not leaders, but poll-taking jellyfish.