Sunday, August 22, 2010

When political points become cheap

Deplorable behavior in Washington (D.C.) is not something that raises our eyebrows. But there comes a point when the incoherence of our politicians is stunning and it makes me want to sit down on the couch and ponder how we got to this point.

This conversation between CNN's Anderson Cooper and Louis Gohmert (R-TX) demonstrates what happens when a politician tries to scare the American people, but forgets to have reality on his side.

Stuff like this interview happens all the time of course, but we have an issue boiling right now that goes beyond what I would consider Washington's typical pettiness.

Constructing an Islamic community center (much like a YMCA, but including a Mosque also) in the place of a former Burlington Coat Factory several blocks from Ground Zero in Manhattan is not an affront to our national identity. Anyone who questions whether this group of Muslims has the right to build this center need only encounter our Constitution. But many people who believe this group has the right to build, don't think the group actually should. In fact, the statistics are astounding.

In my opinion, not only does the group have the right, but also this "Mosque" would be a boon to Muslim-U.S. relations. I propose that we ought to be encouraging this particular construction project. As Fareed Zakaria has argued, this Islamic center is something that is meant to build ties between America and moderate portions of Islam. Which, in case it's not obvious, is something we very much need.

The attempts of some Christian extremists (or political conservatives--call them what you will) to undermine the building of this Islamic center is election-year politics at it's worst. Salon has outlined a timeline demonstrating how members of the opposition have gone from tacitly supporting the project to viciously opposing it (with Nazi references included). It's all about making this an emotional wedge issue to pick up votes.

Don't mind the shouting.

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