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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Howard Dean: Mosque Should Move and Liberal Critics Guilty Of Absolutism

Progressive Liberal Howard Dean, former chair of the DCC, added more fuel to the fire in the debate of the Grund Zero mosque by joining critics of the mosque being built so close to the 9/11 Ground Zero site, by saying the planners of the Cordoba House should consider relocating their proposed mosque.

Audio below:

Dean: "We have to understand it is a real affront to people who lost their lives, including Muslims."

Shocked, disappointed and angry, far left progressive Liberals are calling Dean's comments "bizarre", "disappointing", "disheartening", "sad", "repellent".

The reactions are still coming out over Dean's statement, which he reiterated over at Huffington Post to Sam Stein and in a written response to Salon, both showing Dean stands by his initial comments despite the reaction from some of his most ardent supporters.

Huffington Post:

In an interview late Wednesday, former DNC Chair Howard Dean reiterated his belief that the controversial "Ground Zero" mosque should be re-located, arguing that critics of his position were "guilty of" the same type of absolutism on the issue that they've accused Republicans of harboring.

Salon, quoting Dean's written comments:

First of all I am not going to back off. The reaction did surprise me because most of the negative reaction had to do with defending the constitutional rights of the builders of the center. Of course I never attacked those rights, I explicitly supported them as the President also did this week. Nor did I side with the Islamophobic rhetoric of Newt, Palin et al. There are a great many people in this debate talking past each other as is often the case these days.

Here is my case. First, no one who understands the American Constitution can reasonably doubt the right of the builders to build. Secondly, the building site is very close to the site of a violent tragedy that seared the soul of every American including Muslim Americans. Thirdly, the builders of the proposed Islamic Center say they want to help heal the nation and there is a preponderance of evidence that that is true, based not least on the fact that the last administration viewed the leadership of this group as a. pro American bridge to the Muslim world.

Fourth, there are many Americans, about 65 or 70 percent, including many family members of the victims, who have very strong emotional resistance to building on this site. Some of them may have other feelings such as hate, fear, etc. but the vast majority of these people are not right wing hate mongers.

My argument is simple. 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 I personally believe that there are other possible solutions that could result from such a process and that a genuine exploration of those possibilities is something we ought to try.

November is fast approaching and all political pundits and handicappers are warning of a GOP sweep in the House where they have a chance at the 39 seats they need to take control from Pelosi and Democrats and even the Senate shows signs of being competitive, although less likely to change party in power, and Dean, being the former chair of the DCC might just be looking at the realistic possibility of Liberals once again going against the majority of Americans who are against the proposed location of the mosque and suffering more for that inflexible stance in November.

Whatever Dean's reasoning, the left is up in arms over his comments and his refusal to back down and has brought even more attention to the issue.

Mosque headlines for today include, but are not limited to:

In flap over mosque near Ground Zero, conservative writers gaining influence, via Wapo.

Dean Stands By Mosque Remarks, Charges Liberal Critics With Being Inflexible, via Huffpo.

Smart President Fails Test at Ground Zero: Margaret Carlson, via Bloomberg.

Iran cash might fund mosque at Ground Zero, via New York Post.

You can follow the discussions on each headlined story over at Memeorandum.