Friday, August 20, 2010

The Mosque Myth Continues

Opponents- or those who pose as opponents- of construction of Cordoba House in lower Manhattan must find ways to denigrate Islam, Muslims, and supporters of the project.

And of course Rush Limbaugh is in the forefront, claiming on August 18:

Don't think otherwise. They're trying to make it look like the people in opposition to this are a fringe group. And even the latest polling data, 63% oppose this. 9/11families oppose it. Many of the first responders in New York oppose it. And Nancy Pelosi wants all those people investigated. Now, the imam is an envoy of the State Department. He's touring the Middle East representing us, sent there by the State Department, Obama.

Whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi actually wants "all those people investigated," no one could know- except God, of course, with whom Rush periodically confuses himself. But clearly she never said such a thing, hewing in an interview with Politico to the position of the Interfaith Alliance:

I support the statement made by the Interfaith Alliance, that ‘We agree with the ADL that there is a need for transparency about who is funding the effort to build this Islamic center. At the same time, we should also ask who is funding the attacks against the construction of the center.

The California Democrat believes the public should know who is funding the effort to build the Islamic center and who is funding its opponents. Limbaugh's charge, therefore, is not only incomplete but also a gross distortion of Pelosi's position. It is also a lie, if in fact Limbaugh understands the meaning of "investigate," a typical definition of which is "conduct an inquiry or investigation of." Representative Pelosi has advocated an investigation of no group or individual, merely urging that the names of the individuals funding both sides of the controversy be revealed.

The cleverness of the Republican Party head cannot be overestimated, however. He maintains "Now, the imam is an envoy of the State Department. He's touring the Middle East representing us, sent there by the State Department, Obama."

That is, almost unbelievably given it is from Limbaugh, true. Feisal Abdul Rauf is being sent to the Middle East by the Obama State Department, according to the Murdoch-owned conservative tabloid New York Post. However, as The Huffington Post notes

Feisal Abdul Rauf was dispatched on speaking tours by the past State Department on multiple occasions to help promote tolerance and religious diversity in the Arab and Muslim world. In 2007, he went to Morocco, the UAE, Qatar and Egypt on such missions, a State Department official confirmed to the Huffington Post.

In 2007, if memory serves, George W. Bush, a Republican who publicly differentiated between radical Islam and Islam, was President. Pointing that out, however, would undermine the right's campaign to link the proposed worship center (termed "mosque") with Barack Obama, whom one is to suspect is a Muslim.

The effort to link Nancy Pelosi with this unpopular project is of more than academic interest. Conservative Republicans such as Limbaugh are not about to differentiate ideologically among the House Speaker, President Obama, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. To much of the GOP, they're all the same, all part of the conspiracy to shred the Constitution and, above all, to destroy the America the right wing believes it is destined to shape in its own image.

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