MOST BIG-NAME CORDOBA HOUSE FOES ARE NOT BIGOTS
No, really, they aren't -- or at least they're not anti-Arab or anti-Muslim bigots. Palin? Gingrich? Giuliani? They're not bigots -- they're deeply cynical Republican opportunists. If anything, they're anti-Democratic bigots. They don't give a damn about Islam one way or the other, except insofar as matters involving Islam can be used to damage domestic political enemies. So now they have a wedge issue in sight that benefits themselves and their party, and they're going to milk it for everything it's worth -- the state of America's relations with the Muslim world be damned.
Here's Rick Lazio, GOP candidate for governor of New York, reacting to the vote by the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission to allow construction to proceed:
"Today is just one more step in the ongoing public dialogue about the questionable backers of the Cordoba Mosque at Ground Zero. I want to first thank the Anti-Defamation League for lending their voice to this effort to shed light on the financial backing of this Cordoba Mosque. I have also appreciated the shared sentiments from New York's leaders Governor George Pataki, Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Representative Peter King, the Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Committee. More importantly this effort is grateful for the support of Deborah Burlingame, Co-founder, 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America and Tim Brown, founder of TheBravest.com and 9/11 first responder.
"Andrew Cuomo has remained silent on the matter of an investigating the finances of this project, as he was silent on whether to have the trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed In lower Manhattan. In the absence of leadership from Andrew Cuomo I will continue to ask the questions about this project that need to be answered to insure the public safety of New Yorkers."
(Emphasis added.) Lazio obsesses over the Democratic gubernatorial candidate and almost forgets that he should pretend his opposition is based on public safety concerns. And he's typical. Most of the other opponents are just a bit more capable of concealing their intent.
So while I appreciate Jeffrey Goldberg for pointing out that Osama bin Laden would vehemently oppose Cordoba House, regarding it as unforgivably accommodating of the West, I don't see the point of drawing attention to U.S. critics' apparent ignorance. Ignorance isn't driving this controversy -- what's driving this controversy is a win-at-all-costs cynicism that's tearing the country apart. Our politics is dominated by a political party that regards scorched earth as standard operating procedure; these people will make a wedge issue out of anything, regardless of the possible consequences. That's the issue we need to be talking about when we talk about Cordoba House.
(Goldberg, Lazio via Memeorandum.)
UPDATE Or, as Roy Edroso says:
Though I can be convinced that these people are actual bigots, the way they zip from one kind of racial appeal to another like paparazzi chasing a celebrity suggests that they don't have any feelings about any particular race, but are just eager to jump on any opportunity to energize the white yahoo vote, which is their most reliable constituency.