Enough GOP demagoguery on NYC mosque

I hope I’m not speaking too soon, but I’m glad Hawai’i Republicans — especially U.S. Rep. Charles Djou, Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona and state chairman Jonah Ka’auwai — haven’t joined in the GOP’s Muslim bashing over plans to build a mosque near the 9/11 ground zero in New York City.

After President Barack Obama supported the right of American Muslims to practice their religion just like anybody else, Republican congressional candidates around the country rolled out what AP called a “boilerplate attack” accusing Obama of being insensitive to the families of the 9/11 victims, who are divided on the issue.

It’s the worst kind of political pandering that refuses to recognize a difference between law-abiding American Muslims and radical terrorists — just as some in our country once refused to differentiate Japanese Americans from those who bombed Pearl Harbor.

Some of the most incendiary rhetoric has come from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has said among other things: ”There should be no mosque near ground zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. … America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization.”

Is he seriously suggesting that we should live under the rules of the Saudi constitution rather than the U.S. Constitution and that it’s going to destroy our civilization to practice the religious freedom our country was founded on?

If the Republicans say it’s an issue of sensitivity, why not apply that to what comes out of their mouths?

I certainly don’t expect Hawai’i Republicans to leap to Obama’s defense on the issue — even top Democrats have kept their distance — but I hope they continue to respect our state’s religious diversity and refrain from joining in the demagoguery.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg hit it right when he said that freedom of religion applies to all: “We would betray our values — and play into our enemies’ hands — if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else.”

For a cool-headed look at some of issues in the mosque controversy, see this AP fact check.

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18 Comments on “Enough GOP demagoguery on NYC mosque”

  1. charles Says:

    It’s a partisan wedge issue that is meant to divide rather than unite. It’s no different than the immigration fiasco in Arizona.

    The modus operandi seems to be that when a controversy erupts, polling is done, and if the numbers work in your favor, you attack.

    Whether it’s legal, constitutional, ethical, moral, etc., is irrelevant.

    Pandering to base instincts becomes the norm rather than the exception.

  2. Earl of Sandwich Says:

    Dave, I also hope this drivel doesn’t make its way here – with the rest of the race intolerance rearing its ugly head in the election season, we don’t need more.

    When I look at the so-called Republicans, the tea partiers, and the ultra-conservatives, it saddens me to see the extent to which they feed into ignorance, intolerance, and greed. It also, quite frankly, scares me that they are contributing to the creation of a society that will be severely divided. Not only stirring up the easily deluded masses and using them as tools for their own gain, but causing a commensurate reaction by the other side, dividing people even further.

    I wish everyone would take a deep breath and count to ten….

  3. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Ye Gods & Little Fishes!! And the people to my Far Right are going to have to choose between Sarah Palin & Newt Gingrich for their 2012 Presidential nominee?!?!

    It must be like being given the choice of pancreatic cancer or Alzheimer’s!

    For many of us here in Hawai`i, the biggest religious threats are the Ms, the RCs & the Big Box Churches of the Flop & Flail in determining social justice policies. I expect that the last two are quite influential in most other parts of the country as well.

    David – why are so many people – leaders & regular Americans – keeping silent on this? Mahalo for stepping up.

  4. Jim Loomis Says:

    What else is new? The Republican Party has disgraced itself over and over again since Obama was elected. Absolutely shameful.

  5. ppcc Says:

    from Earl of Sandwich:
    “Dave, I also hope this drivel doesn’t make its way here – with the rest of the race intolerance rearing its ugly head in the election season, we don’t need more…”
    ===========================

    We already have this here with Mufi’s campaign flyer and speeches to Hawaii’s voters with the not so subtle message; “haole go home”

    Also regarding the failed Civil unions bill in Hawaii, Arakaki and the rest of his religious supporters against CU, INCLUDING Lingle, that homosexuals have something wrong with them and that homosexuality is a DISEASE that would harm all children in school, affect their health insurance rates, affect their incomes, etc.

  6. Kolea Says:

    Thanks, Dave for being a voice of reason on this. The AP Fact Check site is useful. Here is some polling data on the attitude of New Yorkers:

    http://maristpoll.marist.edu/wp-content/misc/nycpolls/c100728/Bloomberg_RV/Construction_of_Mosque_Near_World_Trade_Center_Site.htm

    People talk quite easily about how New Yorkers think about this, but the data is pretty interesting. Majority opinion in the other boroughs: Queens, Brooklynn, the Bronx is strongly against the construction of the Muslim center.

    But in Manhattan, where the attack actually happened, where the center would be located and a more likely site for any future attacks by Islamist terrorists than the other boroughs, in Manhattan, a majority SUPPORTS construction of the Islamic center, 53-31!

    The right to freedom of religion is so fundamental that it should not require majority support for its exercise. But looking at the Manhattan polling data, makes me love New York all the more. A world class city!

  7. Richard Gozinya Says:

    My NY friends said they will respect the opinions of Hawaii folks regarding the mosque when Hawaii folks start respecting their opinions vis-a-vis sovereignty issues.

    OK, that sounded rough but the point was made, at least to me. The point being that it’s a whole lot easier to take the high and noble road when you are far, far away from the site of conflict.

    So I guess fundamentally, it’s whether this is a local or national issue. My NY friends say it’s local. Hmmm….don’t know.

  8. Michael Says:

    I say give Peace a chance.
    Show that America can forgive
    as the Japanese have forgiven
    Americans.

    I also say becarefull when the Mosque
    is built, the walls have ears.

  9. Kolea Says:

    Except, Richard, it appears that those closest to the site, i.e., the people of Manhattan, are NOT opposed to the construction of the mosque. Thereby “taking the high and noble road” despite being close to “the site of conflict.”

    Or, maybe not “despite” being close. Maybe BECAUSE they saw firsthand the violence, they understand it is a mistake to give into fear and anger. And that it is important to isolate the extremists who carried out the attack, rather than declare all Muslims the enemy.

  10. Michael Says:

    “It must be like being given the choice of pancreatic cancer or Alzheimer’s!”
    Tell that to Patrick Swayze or Ronald Reagan.
    No one has that choice! It happens.

    hanneman being Half German/Samoan should heed his own words. Ha’ole means breath no or no breath.
    When the Native Hawaiians saw how pale Caucasians looked as if pale, no color, or No Breath. White.
    Haole in true meaning is foreigner later on to become a word used by People Of Hawaii to show White Caucasians. In truth any one not Native Hawaiian is a foreigner to Hawaii. How you use the word can be offensive or not.

    One worries about Arizona should worry about Hawaii.
    Philipines is slowly becoming a country that has many Muslims and many are associated with Taliban. Easy to get a work permit or visa to Hawaii. Taliban pays cash to those unemployed and many Filipinos take it.

    Just my 2 cents. Actually 4.

  11. Richard Gozinya Says:

    Kolea~
    Point taken but….really…the distance from Manhattan to the other boroughs is pretty short. I think you are relying on a poll statistic that has no real validity. It’s like the guys in makiki say “no” but the guys in Kapahulu say “yes”.

    Michael~
    Ho, know what I cannot figgah? Da Cook guys, de no mo’ sunscreen and stuffs li’ dat. Soes, I figgah de get plenny tan already, eh? Soes, waz up wit da “pale skin” kine stuffs? Try ride da boat for 2 years an see wat chu look li’.

  12. shaftalley Says:

    my concern about the whole mosque controversy is that the “cordoba house” as the locals refer to it may become a conduit or staging area for US Gov’t. imperialistic national intelligence agencies,including the FBI.it looks like the imam for the ground zero mosque,imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is an”asset” for the FBI.he has collaborated with the FBI and helped them with “counter-terrorism” efforts.he was recruited and cultivated by the bush jr. regime to enlighten federal police-state agents on Islam among other things.he has been “approved” by the gov’t. war mongers as an “american-style” Islamic. we wouldn’t even be having this controversy about a “Ground-Zero Mosque” if the US Gov’t. didn’t muscle-in on the middle-east in the last 50 years or so.US Gov’t. foreign policy caused the WTC and pentagon attacks.i wish the Imam well,and hope he keeps the law-enforcement machine out of the cordoba house.and as far as i know,the Obama regime and all the Obamunnists are still committing genocide in Iraq,Pakistan,Afghanistan,Israel,Palestine and still getting our own troops in harms way. it looks like intolerance,ignorance is Bi-Partisan.

  13. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha Richard Gozinya ~
    You asked whether this is a local or national issue. Initially, when the religious organization was working on zoning and other permits, this was strictly local jurisdiction.

    Yet once The Great Dividers turned up the volume it became a national responsibility.

    This is a fundamental principle of our collective national charter – freedom of religion. It rests at the core of our social contract. Are we witnessing FREEDOM ON THE MARCH at this time?

    The extremist right wing position is horrific. Yet what’s new? This pattern of dividing and fueling fear has served them well. Too many moderate Republicans fair to show courage … it is unacceptable how many Democrats have cowered.

    This is not our proudest moment.

    We like to believe that America is both a compassionate and tolerant nation. Thank god! If true, this is what distinguishes us from so many. Yet accepting this nobel title requires both sacrifice and courage.

    Will you succumb to fear? Or will we lose this opportunity to demonstrate our collective greatness?

    I know what side of history I want to be on this one. Mahalo to David for his leadership!

    A*L*O*H*A

  14. Scott Goold Says:

    sorry … typo “fair = fail”

    Too many moderate Republicans fail to show courage … it is unacceptable how many Democrats have cowered.

  15. Michael Says:

    Richard Gozinya Says:

    Michael~
    “Ho, know what I cannot figgah? Da Cook guys, de no mo’ sunscreen and stuffs li’ dat. Soes, I figgah de get plenny tan already, eh? Soes, waz up wit da “pale skin” kine stuffs? Try ride da boat for 2 years an see wat chu look li’.”

    Trying to talk Pidgin, no offense taken.

  16. Kolea Says:

    Dave,

    I wonder if we can broaden your critique of the “GOP demagoguery” just a bit? This issue would neveer have gotten as far as it did without the Fox News and Clear Channel talk radio network ALSO engaged in demagoguery.

    Now that Fox News has OPENLY given $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, are we still bond to pretend they are a legitimate “news” outlet?

    In my dealings with reporters over the years, I have found they often refused to sign petitions, join a political party or give campaign contributions. If that was the ethical standard, what now with Fox?

  17. Michael Says:

    Richard Gozinya Says:

    August 19, 2010 at 1:44 pm
    “My NY friends said they will respect the opinions of Hawaii folks regarding the mosque when Hawaii folks start respecting their opinions vis-a-vis sovereignty issues.

    OK, that sounded rough but the point was made, at least to me. The point being that it’s a whole lot easier to take the high and noble road when you are far, far away from the site of conflict.

    So I guess fundamentally, it’s whether this is a local or national issue. My NY friends say it’s local. Hmmm….don’t know.”

    I guess your friends don’t consider Hawaii part of United States. What affects one State affects others.
    Local issues that is felt by all 50 States.

    What part of New York are you from?
    Now days people can fly from there to here.
    No need to take 2 years on a boat.

  18. David Shapiro Says:

    Kolea,

    I think the ethical standard for journalists you cite is still valid. I’ve personally never joined a political party, signed a political petition or made a campaign contribution since I became a professional journalist, though I disagree with some colleagues who feel we shouldn’t even vote or participate in the PTA. There’s a difference between the commentary writing I do now and the news coverage I used to be responsible for, but there are still standards of fairness and you can’t be both a player and a journalist, IMHO.

    I don’t know from “legitimate” and “illegitimate,” but I’ve always considered Fox to be a “buyers beware” kind of news source and seldom watch because they’re not to my taste. But between the Internet and cable TV, the news is both expanding and fracturing and you’ve got to do more shopping around for information if you want to be informed, which means kind of being your own news editor in terms of judging the value and credibility of news and information. The Hawaii Reporter has a very conservative bent and some of the better local blogs lean strongly liberal, but all of them fill in blanks left by the contraction of the major media and have some good information you won’t get anywhere else. You just have to practice “buyers beware” in filtering the ideology from the information — even if you share the ideology.


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