At a White House dinner honoring Iftar (the first meal permitted during Ramadan), President Obama reversed previous statements by Robert Gibbs claiming the Ground Zero Mosque was a local decision, and fully embraced the project before a group of Muslims. Frank Gaffney reports at Big Peace:
As the AP reported, “President Barack Obama on Friday forcefully endorsed building a mosque near Ground Zero saying the country’s founding principles demanded no less. ‘As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country,’ Obama said, weighing in for the first time on a controversy that has riven New York and the nation. ‘That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.’
“Our capacity to show not merely tolerance, but respect to those who are different from us-a way of life that stands in stark contrast to the nihilism of those who attacked us on that September morning, and who continue to plot against us today.”
Gaffney presents a quick rundown on some of the people present at the dinner with ties to Muslim extremist groups. It makes for sobering reading.
The American people are overwhelmingly against the mosque, understanding (as the President does not, apparently) the Islamic practice of constructing mosques to commemorate victories over infidels and symbolize Muslim dominance. The self-proclaimed reconciliation motive of Imam Rauf is not being served by construction of the mosque’ rather, it is aggravating the relationship between Muslims and the American people.
This move puts the mosque (and community center) squarely into the midterm election debate. It is a bit difficult for me to understand the motivation behind this move. Was the President pressured by some of his Muslim friends present at the dinner? Is this a heartfelt statement of principle? Or is this some Alinskyite move, intended to heighten contradictions and “rub raw” (in Alinsky’s words) the emotions of the public for yet-to-be revealed purposes? Certainly, from the standpoint of electoral advantage, it is not a logical move. Perhaps the President really does want a Republican Congress that he can run against in 2012.
Update: Andrew Malcom of the LA Times provides the official text of the President’s address, and the guest list for the dinner. These were no off-the-cuff remarks.
Rick Moran adds:
No one is really surprised at this – especially those of us who understand the overwhelming desire, even need, for liberals to be seen as tolerant and inclusive.
It’s not so much that they actually believe in those values. It’s not important that they believe. It’s that they have a compulsive need to be seen as supporting them, both as a measure of their own self-worth and as a sign to the rest of us that they are our moral superiors.
With 70% of the country opposed to building the mosque, Obama’s support also plays into the great liberal narrative that they are bucking the odds, standing on the battlements waving the bloody shirt of social justice despite the rest of the world being against them. If it sounds like an adolescent’s heroic daydream, you are spot on.
Now, if only those “moderate Muslims” who are building the mosque would take 10 seconds to acknowledge the fact that 9/11 was perpetrated by evil men who also happened to be followers of Islam, that would be a breakthrough. But since Imam Rauf and his crew have failed to dialogue with families of those who lost loved ones on 9/11 and have made statements in the past that places blame for the attack on the US, we won’t get any satisfaction from them.
And note the strawman argument; no one that I know is advocating the notion that Muslims have no right under the Constitution to build the mosque where they please. It has always been the idea that the stated reason for building the mosque flies in the face of the Cordoba Initiative’s actions. That, and the fact that Imam Rauf has some troubling connections to terrorists, and has made statements that would lead one to believe he is no friend of “tolerance and dialogue.”
I hope this statement by the president makes Democrats squirm. Imagine on the campaign trail or in a debate asking the Democratic candidate if he agrees with the president about the mosque? There will be much clearing of throats and hemming and hawing before any kind of an answer to that question is forthcoming.