I am not a fan of long headlines, but given the recent controversy surrounding the Cordoba House building a Muslim cultural center and Mosque near the World Trade Center site I consider the responsible thing in this situation to completely and accurately frame the issue in the headline before the article begins.
Headlines from esteemed journalistic institutions, including CNN,The Washington Post,New York Daily News, and, of course, Fox News, use the phrase "Ground Zero Mosque." That terminology is misleading, as the facility is neither just a mosque nor is it right at "Ground Zero."
The conservative outrage over the Muslim cultural center seems especially deranged considering their apparent recent rediscovery of the US Constitution, you know, the one they overlooked during much of the Bush presidency.
As any grade school student knows, the First Amendment of the Constitution grants all citizens the right to freedom of religion.
Recently, fear-monger Sarah Palin was forced to acknowledge this point as she "challenged" President Obama from her Facebook page.
"Mr. President, should they or should they not build a mosque steps away from where radical Islamists killed 3000 people? Please tell us your position. Weall know that they have the right to do it, but should they? And, no, this is not above your pay grade..." (Emphasis mine.)
Unfortunately, it appears thatSarah's mind can only intake small bits of information at a time. She again equated the distance between the Cordoba House and the World Trade Center site to be "steps" not blocks.
Surprisingly, Palin and her fellow GOP Tea Partiers are silent on the issue of the not one, but count them two"Ground Zero Strip Clubs."
Misdirection as a Profession
American conservatives have moved from being a force for ideology, which is perfectly legitimate, to a force for deception and misdirection. Taking a page from Goebbels' playbook, the Republican Party and their right-wing supporters realized that if you say a lie over and over again then the population will begin to believe it.
Recent lies repeated by the right in the past 18 months are that President Obama wasn't born in the US, that the President is a Muslim, and that the Health Care Reform Bill contained "death panels," whatever were supposed to be.
Guess what? It worked. According to CNN/Opinion Research Poll, a full 27 percent of Americans believe that Obama was either definitely or probably born in another country, one in ten Americans believe he's a Muslim, and nearly half of Americans bought into the "death panel" nonsense.
It's working this time too, with all polls on the subject showing that over 60 percent of Americans don't want the "mosque" to be built.
The right, it seems, can't get their own principals straight. Are they for the Constitution, or are they against it? If they're for it, then they would presumably also be also for the First Amendment.
Perhaps they pick and choose which parts of the Constitution they support. Maybe in their minds religions freedom only applies to Christians. Or it's a right for everyone, but just not in this particular case.
Are conservatives for small government or big brother? After hearing about the evils of big government my entire life from the Republican Party, and now from the Tea Party as well, why would they want the President of the United States to intervene in a local matter?
There are literally hundreds of mosques in New York alone. Do they really want the Presidentto step in and be held accountable if each and every mosque in the country shouldbe built?
I used to think that Republicans were for small, local government. Apparently that's not the case; both New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and the local community board. The conservatives want the federal government to overrule the decisions made by small local governments.
Bloomberg, a former Democrat, former Republican, and now independent is one of the only sane voices in politics to speak out.
"I happen to think this is a very appropriate place for somebody who wants to build a mosque," Bloomberg said, "because it tells the world that America, and New York City, which is what I'm responsible for, really believes in what we preach."
Right Wing Objectives
What's the end game for Republicans in this matter? President Obama and Congressional Democrats can't support an idea that is unconstitutional, or that alienates the approximately six million American Muslims. This allows the right to paint Democrats as being pro-Islam.
What's wrong with being pro-Islam? Well, the conservatives are painting all of Islam as being anti-American; an "either you're with us or you're against' us mentality.
In many conservative columns, blogs, and commentaries, the right are demonizing Muslims as they make their point.
Over the course of the conservative-cooked-up-controversy, members of the GOP and prominent conservative leaders like Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and others have demonized Muslim Americans, likening them to the radical Islamic militant terrorists who carried out attacks against the United States.
Gingrich's article even went as far as to liken the building of the Cordoba House to destroying a church and replacing it with a Mosque; he raised the issue of honor killings, and made a particular point of tying in Sharia. In fact, he mentions it 27 times. Sharia is a sacred Islamic law also known as "God's Law.
If all that defamation and misrepresentation sounds like the way that racists and bigots incite hatred, that's because it is. Thomas Robb, the National Director for the Knights of the Klu Klux Klan, wrote a post on his blog that strikingly similar to Gingrich's. It hits all of the same points.
It is not a coincidence that the KKK and the GOP/Tea Party are hitting the same message when it comes to the "Ground Zero Mosque" controversy. The issue was manufactured by the political right in this country to incite hatred towards Muslims, which would intern cause contempt for Democrats who support them, and lead to GOP victories at the polls.
Islam Is No More or Less Evil Than Christianity
The sad part is that it's not even true. Like the majority of American Christians or Jews, American Muslims are peaceful and don't completely follow the laws of their religion; they pick and choose. That comes as no surprise, most religious laws are ridiculously cruel, antiquated, and in many cases illegal.
Biblical law is no exception to this rule. There are a number of laws commanded by God in the Bible that are not just downright evil, but are also illegal in 21stcentury America.
These are laws, such as, selling a daughter as a sex slave (Exodus 21:7-11), giving burnt human offerings to God (Judges 11:29-40), murdering women who are not virgins on their wedding night (Deuteronomy 22:20-21), and, my favorite, the stoning to death of boys who don't obey their parents (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).
America is at war, and it's not with the Taliban or Al Qaeda. The battle is between American citizens and radical right-wing extremists who are willing to gleefully lie to obtain their one and only objective: to rule the United States.
They're trying to take over the country the same way the Nazi's took over Germany through hate filled propaganda and paranoid rhetoric.
The only recourse is to loudly and publicly decry their fallacies and ask questions of your own to make it evident to all that the conservative position isn't rational. So, here is mine:
Dear Conservatives, I have this very serious question, and I want a very serious answer: Why is it okay to have a nude bar called "The Pussycat Lounge" three blocks away from Ground Zero, but not a mosque two blocks away; and is okay for me to murder anyone who curses their mother and father myself, as sanctioned in Leviticus 20:9, or should I call the big government to do it for me?
Founder of "The Rev. Rob Times," (www.revrob.com) Rev. Robert A. Vinciguerra has been a longtime student of journalism. From Phoenix, Arizona.