A mock-up of the proposed Islamic community center two blocks north of Ground Zero.
Did you know that she-pundit Laura Ingraham actually kind of gave her blessing to the project that has now become known, especially in her circles, as the “Ground Zero mosque,” and less than a year ago at that?
This is just one of many startling and yet unsurprising points that New York Times columnist Frank Rich makes about the real reasons behind the (largely) conservative kerfuffle over the proposed Islamic community center project in downtown Manhattan. Another is that the hubbub has more to do with election-year maneuvering than actual outrage—but that doesn’t mean that its effects aren’t very real, both at home and abroad. —KA
Frank Rich in The New York Times:
You’d think that American hawks invested in the Afghanistan “surge” would not act against their own professed interests. But they couldn’t stop themselves from placing cynical domestic politics over country. The ginned-up rage over the “ground zero mosque” was not motivated by a serious desire to protect America from the real threat of terrorists lurking at home and abroad — a threat this furor has in all likelihood exacerbated — but by the potential short-term rewards of winning votes by pandering to fear during an election season.
[...] After 9/11, President Bush praised Islam as a religion of peace and asked for tolerance for Muslims not necessarily because he was a humanitarian or knew much about Islam but because national security demanded it. An America at war with Islam plays right into Al Qaeda’s recruitment spiel. This month’s incessant and indiscriminate orgy of Muslim-bashing is a national security disaster for that reason — Osama bin Laden’s “next video script has just written itself,” as the former F.B.I. terrorist interrogator Ali Soufan put it — but not just for that reason. America’s Muslim partners, those our troops are fighting and dying for, are collateral damage. If the cleric behind Park51 — a man who has participated in events with Condoleezza Rice and Karen Hughes, for heaven’s sake — is labeled a closet terrorist sympathizer and a Nazi by some of the loudest and most powerful conservative voices in America, which Muslims are not?