The decision to build this mosque so close to Ground Zero is deeply troubling, as is the president’s decision to endorse it. The American people certainly don’t support it.
The fact that someone has the right to do something doesn’t necessarily make it the right thing to do. That is the essence of tolerance, peace and understanding. This is not an issue of law, whether religious freedom or local zoning. This is a basic issue of respect for a tragic moment in our history.
I need a conservative to explain this to me. The organization has no ties to Al-Qaeda. The organization has no ties to Islamic radicals at all. In fact, the leader of the organization was tapped by George W Bush to be an ambassador of moderation to the Islamic world. Unlike a place like Auschwitz or Treblinka, the dead of Ground Zero were not a special religious or ethnic group — the Towers were targeted because they were symbols of American and, to a lesser extent, Western secular power. The dead were deemed worthy of murder because they were American. And Muslims died in the towers alongside their fellow Americans. So why is a Muslim community center two blocks from Ground Zero insensitive?
It is not, of course, unless you are a bigot. Only a bigot or a monster playing to bigots would argue that the mere fact of a shared religious label would justify treating the center in question as if it was an outpost of Al-Qaeda. There is no other reason, at all. It is bigotry, plain and pure and simple and it has become the primary plank of the Republican Party. They have replaced the Southern Strategy with the Muslim Strategy and may God have mercy on their souls.
I cannot understand how anyone with an ounce of decency would support these people. Whatever your feelings about the size of government, or economic theory, or immigration or any other normal political issue, supporting the GOP means supporting the worst kind of bigotry. The Boehners and Gingirches and Palins, the leaders of the Republican Party, are deliberately trying to equate all Muslims with terrorists. There si no excuse for it and it represents a horrible attack on American foreign policy and an even worse attack on American values. This kind of bigotry strikes at the heart of American ideals. it is as corrosive as acid and as deadly as poison.
In the 1960s, Nixon and Atwater had the chance to drive racists out of the mainstream of American politics. The Democrats had finally driven them out of their party, and the GOP had never been hospitable territory to them. But to their everlasting shame, Nixon and Atwater invited them into the GOP with open arms. In 2001, George W Bush had the same choice with anti-Muslim bigots. In his finest moment, Bush turned them away.
Now the leaders of the GOP seek to emulate Nixon instead of Bush. Voting for the GOP is voting to empower the worst sort of bigotry, a kind of pre-Enlightenment tribalism and bloodlust that our Founders explicitly rejected. We have a chance to strangle this particular version of establishment bigotry in its crib — but only if people of conscience explicitly reject the GOP.