...Now the big target in 2010 is mosques. Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich - both likely presidential candidates for 2012 - have hopped on the bandwagon that opposes the construction of a community center in lower Manhattan by a Muslim group... by Bob Bobster
The hysteria surrounding the "Ground Zero Mosque" that really cannot be seen from Ground Zero has nothing to do with some impending Islamic fundamentalist quest to impose Sharia Law in America. It has everything to do with a toxic patriotism fueled by evangelical political activism in this country.
Few know how this "controversy" was manufactured, how the Islamic cultural center became a political football or tool for exploiting fear of Muslims among Americans. And, at this point, one might think it doesn't really matter: the right wing assault on Muslims' private property rights continues unabashedly even though there should be no discussion at all and those behind the project should just take their project somewhere else.
The latest developments in sheer paranoia and outright xenophobia include anti-Obama author and Jerusalem bureau chief of the right-wing website WorldNetDaily.com Aaron Klein's interview with Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar on his WABC radio show on Sunday. Klein was able to get Al-Zahar to say Muslims "have to build the mosque, as you are allowed to build the church and Israelis are building their holy places"we have to build everywhere." And, this touched off an eruption of echoes among conservative media as the leader's position was immediately connected to Obama through headlines suggesting Hamas backs Obama--the impetus being if Hamas supports Obama we should all fear his support for the mosque in the same way we feared Obama's association to Bill Ayers during the election.
Newt Gingrich appeared on "Fox & Friends" to say, "The folks who want to build this mosque -- who are really radical Islamists who want to triumphally prove that they can build a mosque right next to a place where 3,000 Americans were killed by radical Islamists -- those folks don't have any interest in reaching out to the community. They're trying to make a case about supremacy. That's why they won't go anywhere else, that's why they won't accept any other offer."
Gingrich went a step further comparing Muslims to Nazis:
"And I think we ought to be honest about the fact that we have a right -- and this happens all the time in America. You know, Nazis don't have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington. We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor. There's no reason for us to accept a mosque next to the World Trade Center."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid publicly stated "build the mosque somewhere else" seemingly adopting his Republican opponent Sharron Angle's position that one must "say no to the mosque at Ground Zero" or "side with President Obama" and be "against the families of 9/11 victims."
Finally, there was Don Lemon on CNN expressing, as Glenn Greenwald writes, "the crux of the "mosque' opposition":
Lemon: Don't you think it's a bit different considering what happened on 9/11? And the people have said there's a need for it in Lower Manhattan, so that's why it's being built there. What about 10, 20 blocks . . . Midtown Manhattan, considering the circumstances behind this? That's not understandable?
Patel: In America, we don't tell people based on their race or religion or ethnicity that they are free in this place, but not in that place --
Lemon: [interrupting] I understand that, but there's always context, Mr. Patel . . . this is an extraordinary circumstance. You understand that this is very heated. Many people lost their loved ones on 9/11 --
Patel: Including Muslim Americans who lost their loved ones. . . .
Lemon: Consider the context here. That's what I'm talking about.
Patel:I have to tell you that this seems a little like telling black people 50 years ago:you can sit anywhere on the bus you like - just not in the front.
Lemon:I think that's apples and oranges -I don't think that black people were behind a Terrorist plot to kill people and drive planes into a building.That's a completely different circumstance.