Profiles in Cowardice

Glenn Greenwald nails it about Howard Dean’s radio interview yesterday, in which he told WABC’s David Goodman that Cordoba House, the Islamic community center planned for construction two blocks from Ground Zero, is “a real affront to people who lost their lives” on 9/11:

Certain things are disappointing and surprising even for the most hardened cynics.  Hearing Howard Dean — the former liberal standard-bearer — join Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin [in opposing the community center] is definitely one of them[.]

Here is the complete transcript, via Jed Lewison at Daily Kos:

GOODMAN: Governor, what’s your position on the controversy surrounding the mosque near Ground Zero?

DEAN: I’ve got to believe there has to be a compromise here. This isn’t about the rights of Muslims to have a worship…or Jews or Christians or anybody else to have a place to worship, or anyplace, or Ground Zero. This is something that we ought to be able to work out with people of good faith, and we have to understand that it is a real affront to people who lost their lives, including Muslims. That site doesn’t belong to any particular religion, it belongs to all Americans, and all faiths, so I think a good, reasonable compromise could be worked out without violating the principle that people ought to be able to worship as they see fit.

GOODMAN: You’re calling for a compromise, so are you calling for the mosque to be moved?

DEAN: Well, I think another site would be a better idea, again, but I’d look to do that with the cooperation of the people who are trying to build the mosque. I believe that the people who are trying to build the mosque are trying to do something that’s good, but there’s no point in starting off and trying to do something that’s good if it’s going to meet with an enormous resistance from a lot of folks.

This is a very difficult, delicate religious, and cultural issue. I think it’s great to have mosques in American cities. There’s a growing number of American Muslims. I think most of those Muslims are moderate and I hope that they’ll have an influence on Islam throughout the world because Islam is really back in the 12th century in some of these countries like Iran and Afghanistan where they are stoning people to death and that can be fixed, but the way it’s fixed is not by pushing Muslims away but by embracing them, and having them become just like every other American, Americans who happen to be Muslims.

So the way you do that is to integrate people into the fabric of the United States which is I think what this congregation wants to do. But I do think we ought to work out a compromise so that everybody is accommodated by this.

Peter Beinart has a scathing piece at The Daily Beast on the Democrats’ craven cowardice on an issue that’s supposed to fundamentally set them apart from Republicans and the right:

[Pres. Obama’s] initial statement in support of the mosque was laudable; his subsequent efforts to deny that that’s what he meant have been pathetic. Yes, the polling is bad; standing up for a religious minority being made to feel like a pariah in its own land might cost Obama a few approval points. So what. Core convictions are worth losing approval points over. At least that’s what Obama believed in 2002.At best, the Democrats have been cowards. With the exception of Jerrold Nadler, the great (and normally voluble) liberals in the New York congressional delegation have kept their mouths shut. Harry Reid has actually come out against the mosque. We’re supposed to believe, we savvy, pragmatic liberals, that the Democrats fleeing the anti-Muslim stampede are mere opportunists, not actual bigots. I guess we’ll have to take their word for it. A few years back, you’ll remember, Democrats rushed to demagogue a company from Dubai that bought the rights to manage some American seaports. Evidently that was just opportunism too. In the end, it doesn’t much matter what it’s in your heart if you lack the backbone to express it. That was the rap against Democrats in the Clinton and Bush eras and evidently, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

So let’s stop sneering when Dick Morris comes on TV. The behavior of today’s Democratic pols must have made him proud. And it’s time for New Yorkers to stop talking haughtily about the prejudices of flyover country. According to Fox, 30 percent of Americans support building the mosque near Ground Zero. In New York City, according to Marist, it’s 34 percent. That, evidently, is the margin of blue state decency. Turns out that when push comes to shove, folks in the Big Apple are about as concerned about the rights of Muslims as folks in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Who says we’re a nation divided, that we can’t find common ground? Almost a decade later, we’ve finally done it: The memory of September 11 has brought us together again.

There is far too much additional analysis around this issue than I want to put into one post, and as it continues to evolve there will be even more. I will continue to pass on what I think are the most notable commentaries and developments.

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