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Tilting at Windmills

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August 11, 2010

IF FEISAL ABDUL RAUF WAS FINE BEFORE, HE'S FINE NOW.... New York imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, best known as the man who hopes to build the Cordoba House in lower Manhattan, has been asked by the State Department to travel to the Middle East to assist with the government's diplomatic agenda in the region. Specifically, Rauf would talk about the ways in which Muslim Americans enjoy the same rights and respect that other Americans enjoy.

Congressional Republicans seem to be going out of their way to prove a point about undermining these American ideals.

"It is unacceptable that US taxpayers are being forced to fund Feisal Abdul Rauf's trip to the Middle East," say Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) of Florida and Peter King (R) of New York in a statement issued Tuesday. "This radical is a terrible choice to be one of the faces or our country overseas. The USA should be using public diplomacy programs to combat extremism," they add, "not to endorse it."

"This radical"? Adam Serwer notes the key detail here: the State Department has "a long-term relationship" with Rauf -- which included the Bush administration sending him on a similar tour.

Oddly, Republicans didn't complain when the Bush/Cheney State Department partnered with "this radical" to help with our diplomatic efforts in the Middle East. This isn't complicated -- if Bush considered Feisal Abdul Rauf a valuable American voice and representative, there's no reason for the GOP to freak out now.

I'm reminded again of Jeffrey Goldberg's item from last week: "I know Feisal Abdul Rauf; I've spoken with him at a public discussion at the 96th street mosque in New York about interfaith cooperation. He represents what Bin Laden fears most: a Muslim who believes that it is possible to remain true to the values of Islam and, at the same time, to be a loyal citizen of a Western, non-Muslim country."

The sooner Republicans stop looking at a moderate imam, committed to fighting radicalism, as an enemy, the sooner they'll stop inadvertently helping the goals of terrorists.

It'd be awfully nice if mainstream American imams could go to the Middle East with a positive message about freedom and respect in the U.S., and not have to struggle to make excuses for the right.

Steve Benen 4:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (18)

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Comments

What in the world makes you think that there's anything inadvertent about Republicans helping the goals of terrorists? Of course it's intentional; encouraging irrational paralytic fear wins elections for Republicans.

Posted by: R. Johnston on August 11, 2010 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

George W. Bush and the officials in the Bush/Cheney State Department should speak up and defend Feisal Abdul Rauf against the misinformed conservatives who are attacking him. This would be the honest and decent thing to do.

Posted by: Tired Liberal on August 11, 2010 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Let's all remember, 'they hate us for our freedoms'. The fact that large numbers of Americans might deny those same freedoms to them has absolutely nothing with it.

Posted by: thorin-1 on August 11, 2010 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Sue them and name the Bush administration as witnesses.

Posted by: Vokoban on August 11, 2010 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

God, there are times when I hate being an American. Now, with this furor over the Islamic Community Center near Ground Zero, is one of them.

Americans can be so fucking stupid, it is just embarassing!

Posted by: Sam Simple on August 11, 2010 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

There's nothing inadvertent about it. This is who Republicans are now.

Posted by: Jose Hipants on August 11, 2010 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

there's no reason for the GOP to freak out now.

Sure there is. This is Obama not Bush. IOKIYAR.
Everything is a freak out now. Freak out is what they do, it's all they do.

Posted by: ckelly on August 11, 2010 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

"the sooner Republicans stop looking at a moderate imam as an enemy, the sooner they'll stop inadvertently helping the goals of terrorists."

The sooner lefties (and righties) stop couching their "arguments" in these terms - action X helps the terrorists/makes America less safe - the saner the idiots, politicians and media schmucks in this country will become.

"You're helping the tewwowists!!" "No, you're the tewworist wover!"

I get the goal here is to score points in the next news cycle, and concern for policy or wars or innocent civilians comes after that, but maybe we could do it without the demogoguery.

Posted by: flubber on August 11, 2010 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm reminded of Jeffrey Goldberg's item from last week: "Feisal Abdul Rauf [...] He represents what Bin Laden fears most

Jeffrey Goldberg, has written about the Saddam's WMDs, Saddam's ties to al Qaeda, the threat of Hezbollah, and his current one about the "Point of No Return" for bombing Iran.

I continue to be amazed that people can write lines like "but that's what Osama bin Laden would want you to do!" without falling over laughing.

Posted by: flubber on August 11, 2010 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Although Peter King is a minor and unimportant politician who will never achieve anything beyond putting in the years needed to get his pension, I don't believe there is a scumbag more vile among the Republicans. For all his smarmy preaching about "extremists", King has no principled objection to terrorist murder. In fact, he's a huge fan, so long as the murderers are pale and freckled.

Posted by: Mrs Tilton on August 11, 2010 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Good point Mrs Tilton. It is amazing that Rep King is allowed to repeatedly make inflammatory and bigoted statements about Islam in the name of fighting terrorism without being asked about his own support for the IRA.

Posted by: tanstaafl on August 11, 2010 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

I believe this is another moment the Dems need to seize. The Con Men have demonized the whole Muslim World as though they are the enenmy. A big portion of the Public has bought into it. We need to remind the Public that the 9/11 terroists were criminals and a "fringe" element of the Muslim World. Sort of like "our" fringe element. The similarities are striking.

Posted by: fillphil on August 11, 2010 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

I normally don't write stuff like this, but I am so goddamned tired of these dregs of society, these effing bigots, these borderline anti-American traitors -- in other words, I'm sick to death of the bullshit that emanates moment-by-moment from Republicans.

Posted by: June on August 11, 2010 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

It's f*cking nuts. The only thing worse than the GOP proudly waving their We're-Proud-to-be-Bigots flag is that the dems are forced to recognize that they can't step up and do the right thing because too many people in this country are ignorant bigots. It's just depressing. All this ridiculous anti-Muslim/Islam crap has to stop NOW.

We are a country founded on the principles of religious freedom. That means EVERYONE, even those whose religions seem weird and/or scary and foreign to you. You don't get to pick and choose.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on August 12, 2010 at 12:49 AM | PERMALINK

It's all about generalizations and sterotypes. This is how the gop operates.

Posted by: flyonthewall on August 12, 2010 at 6:21 AM | PERMALINK

Pakistan is largely mired in the 5th Century.

America is largely mired in the 19th Century.

Posted by: DAY on August 12, 2010 at 7:38 AM | PERMALINK

"...The USA should be using public diplomacy programs to combat extremism," they add, "not to endorse it."

Hmm. Hopefully, the USA does *not* endorse Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's and Peter King's extremism.

Posted by: josef on August 12, 2010 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

Separate Church and state. We do not need to fund state religions of other countries on any level here or overseas and sensitivity to the majority would be to find an alternative site

Posted by: Bill on August 16, 2010 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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