America has lots of problems, from fighting two wars to high unemployment to anemic economic growth. Our friends on the right, however, seem to think we don't have enough problems and are working like gangbusters to transform more than a billion people around the world into our sworn enemies. As the New York Times reports, the anti-Ground Zero Mosque hysteria has gone nationwide:
In Murfreesboro, Tenn., Republican candidates have denounced plans for a large Muslim center proposed near a subdivision, and hundreds of protesters have turned out for a march and a county meeting.
In late June, in Temecula, Calif., members of a local Tea Party group took dogs and picket signs to Friday prayers at a mosque that is seeking to build a new worship center on a vacant lot nearby.
In Sheboygan, Wis., a few Christian ministers led a noisy fight against a Muslim group that sought permission to open a mosque in a former health food store bought by a Muslim doctor.
Gee, it's funny how quickly the supposedly anti-government Tea Party wants the government to suppress peoples' right to freely express their religion, no? It's almost like they're selective in their outrages against state power! Whoda thunk it!
These local skirmishes make clear that there is now widespread debate about whether the best way to uphold America’s democratic values is to allow Muslims the same religious freedom enjoyed by other Americans, or to pull away the welcome mat from a faith seen as a singular threat.
The cool thing about wingnuttery is that it gets more extreme all the time. Repealing the Fourteenth Amendment is old hat at this point -- now it's time to repeal the First Amendment too! Do you think if more Muslims were gun owners they'd start a campaign to repeal the Second Amendment as well? Now that would be interesting to see!
But they have not gone unanswered. In each community, interfaith groups led by Protestant ministers, Catholic priests, rabbis and clergy members of other faiths have defended the mosques. Often, they have been slower to organize than the mosque opponents, but their numbers have usually been larger.
Well, it's nice to see that we haven't completely succumbed to stupidity in this country. As the Economist notes, one reason America has had fewer home-grown jihad a-holes over the years is because it's significantly more tolerant of immigrants than many European countries. But that could change if more Americans listen to the insane rantings of serial adulterer Newt Gingrich and former half-term governor Moose Eater:
Mr Gingrich also objects to the centre’s name. Imam Feisal says he chose “Cordoba” in recollection of a time when the rest of Europe had sunk into the Dark Ages but Muslims, Jews and Christians created an oasis of art, culture and science. Mr Gingrich sees only a “deliberate insult”, a reminder of a period when Muslim conquerors ruled Spain. Like Mr bin Laden, Mr Gingrich is apparently still relitigating the victories and defeats of religious wars fought in Europe and the Middle East centuries ago. He should rejoin the modern world, before he does real harm.
Newt, for the record, has always been totally insane, especially on matters of foreign policy. I'll never forget Gingrich's 2006 appearance on on Meet the Press, where Tim Russert asked him if having 130,000 of our troops stuck in Iraq had reduced our ability to deal effectively with Iran and North Korea. “Only in our minds,” Gingrich replied. Huzzah, let's invade everyone!
But seriously, of all the bad things the modern GOP stands for, I think its desire to reignite the Crusades may be the worst. I'm not sure what could possibly motivate such a desire, since the Crusades didn't go especially well for either the Europeans nor Muslim nations they invaded. Perhaps Newt thinks invading Iran will bring Jesus back to Earth, thus freeing him to be Raptured away while the rest of the world burns.
But even this doesn't make much sense, since the Bible has had some pretty bad things to say about adulterers. Maybe Newt thinks that the "it's-OK-if-you're-a-Republican" thing applies to the afterlife as well.
Or maybe he's just insane. Allah help us all.