Posted by: mutantpoodle | August 19, 2010

Oh, Howard…

Howard Dean – last seen bloviating ignorantly about the Ground Zero Mosque Park51 Community Center, isn’t backing down. Instead, he gives us this wisdom:

This Center may be intended as a bridge or a healing gesture but it will not be perceived that way unless a dialogue with a real attempt to understand each other happens. That means the builders have to be willing to go beyond what is their right and be willing to talk about feelings whether the feelings are “justified” or not. No doubt the Republic will survive if this center is built on its current site or not. But I think this is a missed opportunity to try to have an open discussion about why this is a big deal because it is a big deal to a lot of Americans who are not just right wing politicians pushing the hate button again. I think those people need to be heard respectfully whether they are right or whether they are wrong.

This has nothing to do with the right to build and unlike same sex marriage or the civil rights movement it is not about equal protection under the law. The rights of the builders are not in dispute. This is about ending the poisonous atmosphere engendered by fear and hate, and in order to do that there has to be genuine listening, hearing and willingness to compromise on both sides.

First, it’s not clear exactly whose “feelings” are hurt. There have been, by my count, a few actual 9/11 victims who have spoken out against Park51, but most of the sturm and drang seems to be coming from people who, when they’re not trying to defend New York City’s most sacred ground from being defiled by moderate Muslims, are busy comparing New Yorkers unfavorably with all those real ‘mericans in small towns which vote Republican. On the other hand, Ted Olson, who actually did lose a loved one on 9/11, is unequivocal in his support of Park51. Maybe he doesn’t count, since his wife was on the plane that hit the Pentagon.

Second, this IS mostly “right wing politicians pushing the hate button again.” It’s a big deal to a lot of Americans because (a) they think it’s a mosque (it’s not, although it will have worship space) and (b) they think it’s being built on Ground Zero (it’s not). Salon has a handy timeline of this “controversy” here.

Finally, the way you end “the poisonous atmosphere engendered by fear and hate” isn’t to succumb to fear and hate.  It’s to address it in the open with truth.

I realize that it’s only fair that if the media is going to pay attention to a disgraced former Republican House Speaker from over a decade ago that they might also pay attention to a flamed-out Democratic presidential candidate from six years ago, but it would be nice if, instead, they simply talked to people who actually knew something about the subject at hand.

The people who aren’t listening in this back and forth aren’t the folks behind Park51. It’s the anti-Muslim bigots who have ginned up this kerfuffle. Sometimes, you have to ignore ill-informed bigots. Now is one of those times.

I’m not holding my breath.

NOTE: Typos corrected.


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