The game the right and their corporate media enablers are playing goes like this. "We support religious freedom but these nasty Muslims are not being sensitive to the feelings of the 911 survivors.
But there's another sensitivity that the media, which are blasting this trumped up issue totally out of proportion, are totally ignoring. The conversations we have in the US are open to view by the rest of the world, including the billion plus Muslims and the billions of additional humans who are TRULY TOLERANT of religions. Those people are seeing the American people, who they've always tolerated and appreciated, in spite of noxious US military actions and foreign policies.
That affection the world has had for the US is one of the USA's primary sources of what Joseph Nye has called "soft power." When we lose soft power we lose support of allies in military ventures... as we have in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we lose soft power we lose ground in terms of the desirability of made in America products. Our balance of trade got worse last month.
When we show thinly veiled intolerance for Islam we are doing what George Bush his enablers did when they invaded Iraq-- giving huge marketing weapons to Al Qaeda and every other anti-American, anti-Western terrorist organization on the planet. Now, they can point to the poll that shows 69% of Americans are opposing the building of a Mosque in New York. They can point to the news coverage which remarks that all accross America, local communities are opposing the building of Mosques. They can point to potential political candidate Newt Gingrich as opposing building of any mosques in the US. And who are they pointing these behaviors out to? Potential suicide bombers, recruits for terrorist actions, financial contributors to terrorist organizations.
This is not a huge leap to make. Mark Halperin of Time Magazine, wrote an article suggesting that even though this is clearly a potent wedge issue that could be effective for Republicans, they should not use it. Why? He explains,
"a national political fight conducted on the terms we have seen in the past few days will lead to a chain reaction at home and abroad that will have one winner -- the very extreme and violent jihadists we all can claim as our true enemy."
Halperin also points out that misinformation on this issue is rife. The Islamic center, is not even a full mosque. It is being built two blocks from ground zero, not on ground zero. I keep asking, how far away from Ground Zero is acceptable. If opponents say two blocks away is not good enough, they could say "not in the state that the 911 attack occurred in" or, "not in the state next door to where the 911 attack occurred."
I don't see this as just a political ploy. I see it as a continuation of extreme advocacy, in the name of righteousness and what's good for America, of policy that puts the US at dramatically increased risk and danger, which is incredibly damaging to the dregs of good will that have survived the Bush administration Christian and Jewish fundamentalism and intolerance against Islam, against Palestinians, against the fantasy of Iranian nuclear threat...
And this issue would not be adding gushers of fuel to the fire if the corporate media were not fanning the flames, working the story. Why can't they see that this story may be a short term viewer builder but long term, this is going to lead to much greater hate for America, increased terrorism and worsening balance of trade?
The world we live is no longer so simple, so small that we can speak to one group and assume another group will now know what we've said. It hasn't been for a long time. Yet this is how the opponents of the Cordoba building, which is not being built on Ground Zero, are acting. They need to come out of their caves and wake up to the reality that their small, bigoted response does not stand the smell test, when they claim failed Muslim "sensitivity." On the contrary, their own sensitivity to the threat to America is the problem.
From my perspective, the opposition to the mosque is ALL about bigotry and intolerance. I think the rest of the world sees it that way too. It's hard to accept that the 69% of Americans who oppose the building of the mosque don't see the intolerance factor. It's easier to believe that they don't get the soft power and terrorism inflaming and supporting aspects. Hopefully articles like Halperin's and mine will help-- at least to give Democrat candidates who feel they are on the ropes on this media whipped-up conflagration a defense-- that opposition to the Cordoba Center is bad for America and multiple ways. .