Yesterday evening, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich announced on his website opposition to the Park51 community center -- the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque." According to Gingrich, "There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over."
In May, the Community Board of Lower Manhattan unanimously approved the joint venture between the American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative. Contrary to Gingrich's accusation of an "aggressive" Islamic takeover, submitting plans for board approval was an act of good faith. According to Ro Sheffe, one of the board members, "They own the land, and their plans don't have any zoning changes. They came to us for our opinions and to let us know their plans. It was purely voluntary on their part."
Gingrich sees no difference between moderate Muslims devoted to outreach and public understanding and the hijackers who crashed planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. "Those Islamists and their apologists who argue for 'religious toleration' are arrogantly dishonest," he wrote. "They ignore the fact that more than 100 mosques already exist in New York City. Meanwhile, there are no churches or synagogues in all of Saudi Arabia."
One might ask Gingrich how many mosques are permissible in New York City. He appears to suggest 100 is too many. Perhaps we should bulldoze them all. In his fervor over preventing the construction of a new mosque, he's advocating the very religious intolerance he denounces from abroad. Similarly, the complex is not being built on Ground Zero. It's two blocks away. That, it seems, is too close. Perhaps the former Speaker could suggest a more permissible distance for a house of worship. Would Brooklyn be more appropriate? Surely, though, families of 9/11 victims live in Brooklyn. They live all across the United States. Maybe the Saudis are onto something.
"America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization," Gingrich continued. "Sadly, too many of our elites are the willing apologists for those who would destroy them if they could."
According to Daisy Kahn of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, "We decided we wanted to look at the legacy of 9/11 and do something positive" in order to "reverse the trend of extremism and the kind of ideology that the extremists are spreading." In other words, exactly the sort of thing conservatives have been calling for Muslims to do for nine years.
"No mosque. No self deception. No surrender."
Al Qaeda couldn't have put it better themselves.
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