Conservative leaders issued a series of statements today to try to resolve the growing tensions over the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” planned for lower Manhattan.
“We’re being cast as opponents of religious freedom,” said blogger Pamela Geller, “and that’s not fair. We’re just saying that this is a highly sensitive matter and a very important place for us. We’re all about freedom. And to prove it, we propose that the location of the Ground Zero mosque should be dedicated, instead, to a Museum of Danish Mohammed Cartoons. We were very pro-freedom when those cartoons were published, and we think it would be appropriate if the site were to serve as a memorial to that watershed moment in the history of freedom.”
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin agreed, noting that “Americans felt stabbed in the back when Daneland refudiated the First Amendment.” In a followup post on her Facebook page, ex-governor Palin added, “Mohammed Cartoon Museum wd be a reduff to the terrorists—religious freedom is great, but people need to respect each other’s sensitivities too. Why can’t the Islams understand that?”
Former House speaker and leading conservative intellectual Newt Gingrich weighed in, saying that President Obama’s defense of the mosque was “a betrayal of American traditions and an affront to the Constitution.” “This is a test of the timidity, passivity, and historic ignorance of American elites,” Gingrich said, echoing remarks he had made earlier. “The original plans for the site were, as I have pointed out, a deliberate insult to Americans. Obama’s endorsement of this outrage is not only ignorant but anti-American. There’s no way a great American president like George Washington would have given his approval to a bunch of swarthy unbelievers who wanted to build a house of worship on American soil. The Mohammed Cartoon Museum, by contrast, is a way for us to acknowledge Islam without having a mosque shoved down our throats.”
New York Times columnist Ross Douthat seconded Gingrich, writing that “the Museum of Danish Mohammed Cartoons would be the perfect vehicle to foster Muslim-American assimilation. The American experiment has always been about assimilating different ethnic and cultural traditions to the Anglo-Saxon mainstream. I went to Harvard, so when I tell you that the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was crucial to the swift assimilation of Asian immigrants, or that the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924 gave time for immigrants to assimilate by keeping them out of the country, you can trust me. If they are going to move out of the pluribus and into the unum, American Muslims need leaders whose antennas are sensitive enough to recognize that the quest for inter-religious dialogue is ill served by throwing up a high-profile mosque two blocks from the site of a mass murder committed in the name of Islam. They need leaders who will build the Museum of Danish Mohammed Cartoons as a monument to Western ideals of freedom of expression.”
Political analyst Roger Simon noted that the Ground Zero Mosque debate had become a “disaster” for Obama, “who clearly does not understand how the Presidency works.” “Fundamental principles are like cards,” Simon suggested in a recent Politico column. “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run. And if Obama has any hope of running again in 2012, he’ll run straight to the Museum of Danish Mohammed Cartoons for the dedication ceremony.”