It is obvious to many Americans who believe strongly in our Constitutional values that the Republican attempt to use the "New York Mosque" as an electoral issue is a direct assault on the constitutional protection for freedom of religion -- one of the most fundamental principles that lie at the foundation of our country.
It is also obvious that this is yet one more in a string of attempts by mainstream Republican leaders to win elections by dividing Americans against each other. The attack on Democrats who support the right of Muslim Americans to build a place of worship two blocks from Ground Zero in New York lies squarely in the tradition of the Republican "southern strategy" that fanned the fires of racial resentment and scapegoated black "welfare queens." And of course it's hot on the heels of Republican attempts to whip up fear of gay Americans and their right to marry, or depicting Latino Americans as encouraging pregnant Hispanic mothers to sneak across the border in order to "drop anchor babies" to guarantee American citizenship.
Present-era Republicans have completely abandoned the principles of Abraham Lincoln and the founders of their party. They live instead in the shadow of Strom Thurmond and Jim DeMint.
But what is not so obvious is that every time a Republican "leader" attacks the notion that a Muslim mosque should be built two blocks from Ground Zero, they are endangering Americans' national security.
Perhaps they haven't noticed that America is still involved -- at one level or the other -- in two ground wars in Muslim countries that General Petraeus has correctly defined as battles for the hearts and minds of their Muslim citizens. Perhaps they forget the long struggle to prevent young Muslim men and women from becoming suicide bombers and fundamentalist extremists that endanger our country.
Every time one of them attacks mainstream Islam in the United States by saying that it would defile "sacred ground" for Muslims to build a house of worship near Ground Zero, they legitimize the claims of Osama Bin Laden to young, impressionable Muslims across the world.
What do they think Muslims around the world hear when they say it would "defile sacred ground" for them to worship within two blocks of a sacred American site? They hear contempt and disrespect.
Former Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich said, "You know, Nazis don't have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington.... There's no reason for us to accept a mosque next to the World Trade Center."
One big difference: All Muslims did not attack the United States that September day. A small group of radical Muslim terrorists attacked the United States. And they attacked all Americans -- including Muslim Americans -- many of whom died at Ground Zero. Chicago's Irish-American Mayor Daley was infuriated when a bunch of young "patriots" marched on a Chicago-area mosque after 9/11. He put it clearly when he said, does it make everyone who is Irish a terrorists because of the IRA?
It's Al Qaeda that wants Muslims around the world to believe that the United States is at war with all of Islam -- not just a few radical extremists. But when people like Gingrich say things like he did, Muslims hear just the opposite -- that American leaders believe we are at war with all of Islam -- that Muslims are just like Nazis.
These people might as well sign up to work for the Bin Laden propaganda ministry. Their outrageous pandering to fear does direct damage to the national security of the United States.
And it doesn't matter that this is a fabricated issue. There is already a mosque four blocks from Ground Zero. Does it defile sacred ground more to have a new one two blocks from Ground Zero? How absurd.
It doesn't even matter that, over the long haul, the Republican strategy of insulting and writing off an ever-growing list of minorities will eventually consign the party to electoral irrelevancy. After a while, once you've written off enough minorities, you've written off the majority.
The bottom line is this: the Republicans who want to use this issue -- and fear of Muslims in general -- in order to get votes are betraying America's national interest for their personal short-term political gain. Let me put it as delicately as I can: They are pond scum.
If there were not already enough reasons for everyone to go vote in November, we cannot allow the Republican attempts to sow fear and divide America to be successful.
Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the recent book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on Amazon.com.
Follow Robert Creamer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/rbcreamer