I don't see how DFA could avoid breaking with Dr. Dean's position on the construction of an Islamic community center in downtown NYC. But Dr. Dean does have a point:
The grassroots political organization founded by Howard Dean after the 2004 presidential election has made a dramatic break with the former DNC chairman over the construction of an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero.
Democracy for America, a million-plus member organization that is active on a host of legislative fronts, formally endorsed the controversial Cordoba House on Thursday, one day after its founding figure called for the project to be built elsewhere.
In a letter sent to members, the group's executive director, Arshad Hasan, weaves together his personal history with a detailed explanation of the project's lofty and noble objectives. In a direct but diplomatic touch, he addresses Dean's opposition only by explaining that "well-intentioned" Democrats are "getting caught up" in the anti-mosque hysteria. "It's not helping," writes Hasan.
[L]et's be clear, the subject of the highest profile Muslim structure, 51 Park in New York City, will have a basketball court and a culinary school. Two floors will have a prayer room. The other eleven will host movie nights, performances, group dinners, etc -- it's basically a Muslim YMCA, open to everyone. These moderate Muslims are doing everything we could ask of them. They're trying to build a bridge in the communities they live in, trying to show the world that Muslims are cool and interesting and diverse, and proving that being a Muslim does not equal being a terrorist.
But they're being thrown under the bus by our elected leaders, egged on by some of the ugliest elements of the right-wing. Well-intentioned leaders of the Democratic Party are getting caught up in the fray as well, some of them seeking to find common ground with an implacable opposition. It's not helping.
This isn't just a Manhattan problem. Right now, there is opposition to mosques in Staten Island, Brooklyn, Southern California, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Illinois, and dozens of other locations across our nation. Where would they move? If public pressure can be brought to bear to take down the most high-profile Muslim community center in liberal NYC, then these other places don't even have a chance, Ground Zero connection or not.
Frankly, this isn't about Ground Zero. This is about America. This is about freedom. This is about people and there seems to be no place that Muslim people can go without being harassed.
The harassment has to stop, and that starts with you and me.