Newt Gingrich has weighed in on the Ground Zero mosque issue, and (I'm sure this comes as no surprise) it turns out that he's against the building of that mosque. His reasoning? He argues that since there isn't freedom of religion in Saudi Arabia, we shouldn't have freedom of religion in New York City either:
...There are no churches or synagogues in all of Saudi Arabia. In fact no Christian or Jew can even enter Mecca...If the people behind the Cordoba House were serious about religious toleration, they would be imploring the Saudis, as fellow Muslims, to immediately open up Mecca to all and immediately announce their intention to allow non-Muslim houses of worship in the Kingdom.I think it is fair to say that if you follow the convoluted logic behind that argument, you have a bright future ahead of you as an upstanding member of the conservative movement. I wish I were making all of this up, because it shows just how wacko the wacko right really has become, and it also shows to what degree hatred has become part of mainstream American politics.
Meanwhile, Yahoo News has published a story on the rise in protests against the erection of mosques everywhere, not just New York City. The article refers to "the site of a mosque in Columbia, Tennessee, that had been burned down and vandalized with painted swastikas in 2008."
"The local tiny Muslim community was in a state of shock because most of them were born in America and had lived very happily in the small community," he says. "People say, 'Go back home,' and they say, 'Where do we go? This is our home.' "
The painting of swastikas as part of the vandalism summarizes pretty well what is going on here. The headline for the Yahoo article reads, "Anti-mosque protests on the rise, say Muslim advocates." Now imagine if the headline had read, "Anti-synagogue protests on the rise, say Jewish advocates." It's funny what sounds like a horrible expression of bigotry suddenly becomes acceptable to a certain element in our society once they aim their bigotry at a different religious group.
The article also reports that
Of course, opponents of mosques do not consider themselves bigots, and many are genuinely concerned that mosques may help produce homegrown terrorists.
Of course, few people care to label themselves as bigots--just as few apologists for torture by the US ever actually use the word "torture" to describe what they advocate. Labels are like that. But the whole "terrorist" connection is rather interesting. I have cited, in earlier blog postings, the example of Christian-based terrorism in Mexico that is derived from the teachings of an American evangelist named John Eldredge. Of course, Eldredge disavows any responsibility for how his teachings are being used, but the point is that these terrorists are using Christianity to justify their violence--just as those who commit acts of terrorism in the name of Islam use the Muslim religion to justify their own violence. Interestingly enough, you don't hear too many of the Islamophobes using the example of Eldredge to justify the prevention of churches being built.
And speaking of terrorism, a right wing terrorist just the other day got into a shootout with the California Highway Patrol. He is said to have been "angry with "the way Congress was railroading through all these left-wing agenda items, and as a result "he traveled to San Francisco and planned to attack two nonprofit groups there 'to start a revolution'".
But I somehow don't expect that Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin will have much to say about that.