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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Glenn Beck: A Mighty Farce



During the Beckapalooza "coincidentally" held on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, the self-identified rodeo clown, like a modern Elmer Gantry,  exhorted his followers and America to turn back to God, (when exactly did his worshipers and America turn away from God, may I ask?  This country is still the most religious country of all western democracies, and you'd have to go clear across the Atlantic, past Europe, and land in the Middle East to find another country as devoted to and hysterical about religion.) 

Beck also predicted that miracles would happen, (ZMOG! a flock of Canada geese flew over the throngs, just like they fly overhead everywhere in this country EVERYDAY, but that little fact didn't stop Beck from calling it some sign from God and A MIRACLE!)  The rodeo clown also declaimed  that this day would change America forever.  (Well at that point, I changed the channel and tuned to the Three Stooges, who weren't as funny as Beck, but they did make more sense.)

The next day, on his puppet master's teevee cable nooz station, Beck, glorying in his triumph as America's newest messiah clown and forgetting his own empty words of reconciliation, love, brotherhood, acceptance of our fellow man, and exhortation to "restore honor" to America, he slandered, attacked, and cast aspersions on President Obama and his religion, asserting that the president does not conform to “true” Christian values.  How Christian of him. Excuse me, I should say "how Mormon" of him.  Beck's an converted Mormon. [BTW, Christians do not consider Mormons Christians--Christians refer to Mormons as a "Satanic cult."  How Christian of them.]

Beck  said he regretted that earlier in this year he called President Obama a racist who had a "deep seated hatred of white people," and that he should have pointed out  that the president does not practice Christianity, but rather, "Liberation Theology."

Now I don't know where the voices come from that apparently invade the caverns of this charlatan's oily skull, but whomever he's taking notes from doesn't know a flea's turd about "Liberation Theology." 

The Dean of Yale's School of Divinity and a Jesuit priest and author, who actually, y'know, are educated and know more than what Beck learned in his 5-minute university, destroy Beck's sophomoric statements--statements calculated to further demonize the president and to convince his followers who eagerly buy into Beck's calumny that Mr. Obama is not only not a "true" Christian, but perhaps not a real American:

FROM THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR:

"My individual salvation rests on our collective salvation,” says Obama in one clip Beck showed. Beck jumped on this equation as his most critical evidence that the president is not really a Christian – and by implication, not a loyal American. Then he unloaded.


“It does not. It does not," Beck asserted. "That is not a Christian belief.”



“This is nothing but political rhetoric,” Harold Attridge, dean of the Yale Divinity School said after reading a transcript of Beck's Tuesday show. At best, he adds, Beck has a very narrow view of what constitutes “true” Christianity.


“There are many Americans with many views of Christian faith that align with what the president believes,” Dr. Attridge says, noting that the tradition of individual responsibility to the larger community runs deep in Christian teachings. He notes, for instance, in Matthew 25, Jesus says that what one does to the smallest member of a community, one has done to Christ. In Romans 12, Paul says that we being many are one body in Christ, and the Gospel of John says that we do belong to one another, by the grace of God we have to care for one another. But most important, Attridge says, this is not really about a genuine religious dialogue. “This is political rhetoric designed to stir up anti-Obama sentiments,” he says.

Now read what Rev. James Martin, S.J., Catholic priest and author of 'The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything' has to say about Beck's abusive attack on Mr. Obama and his religion:

FATHER MARTIN writes:

"After his colossal "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington, D.C., Glenn Beck took aim at one of his favorite targets, Barack Obama, but in a novel way. Beck regrets saying a few months ago that President Obama was a "racist." What he should have said, he now realizes, was that he didn't agree with Obama's "theology." And what is Obama's theology, according to Beck? Liberation theology.

Here's Beck's definition of the arcane area of study known as liberation theology:

"I think that it is much more of a theological question that he is a guy who understands the world through liberation theology, which is oppressor and victim....That is a direct opposite of what the gospel is talking about...It's Marxism disguised as religion."


As Ronald Reagan used to say, "There you go again." A few months ago, Beck decided to demolish the idea of "social justice," by telling Christians that if their priests, pastors or ministers use that buzz word on Sundays they should leave their churches. As he may or may not have known, the tenets of "social justice" encourage one not only to help the poor, but also address the conditions that keep them poor. He called that "communist."

That approach didn't work out that well for Beck since so many Christian denominations these days, particularly the Catholic Church, espouse social justice explicitly. So he backed off. But liberation theology? Really?

A little history: Liberation theology began in Latin America in the 1950s and 1960s, and was later developed more systematically by Catholic theologians who reflected on experiences of the poor there. The term was coined by the Rev. Gustavo Gutierrez, a Peruvian priest, in his landmark book A Theology of Liberation, published in 1971. Briefly put, liberation theology (there are many definitions, by the way) is a Gospel-based critique of the world through the eyes of the poor. Contrary to what Beck implies, the liberation theologian doesn't see himself or herself as victim; rather proponents call us to see how the poor are marginalized by society, to work among them, to advocate on their behalf, and to help them advocate for themselves. It has nothing to do with seeing yourself as victim. It is, like all authentic Christian practices, "other-directed."


It also sees the figure of Jesus Christ as the "liberator," who frees people from bondage and slavery of all kinds. So, as he does in the Gospels, Christ not only frees people from sin and illness, Christ also desires to free our fellow human beings from the social structures that keep them impoverished. This is this kind of "liberation" that is held out. Liberation theologians meditate on Gospel stories that show Christ upending the social structures of the day, in order to bring more--uh oh--social justice into the world. Christians are also asked to make, as the saying goes, a "preferential option for the poor."

It's not hard to see what Beck has against "liberation theology." It's the same reason people are often against "social justice." Both ideas ask us to consider the plight of the poor. And that's disturbing. Some liberation theologians even consider the poor to be privileged carriers of God's grace. In his book The True Church and the Poor, Jon Sobrino, a Jesuit theologian wrote, "The poor are accepted as constituting the primary recipients of the Good News and, therefore, as having an inherent capacity of understanding it better than anyone else." That's pretty threatening for any comfortable Christian. For not only do we have to help the poor, not only do we have to advocate on their behalf, we also have to see them as perhaps understanding God better than we do.

But that's not a new idea: It goes back to Jesus. The poor, the sick and the outcast "got" him better than the wealthy did. Perhaps because there was less standing between the poor and God. Less stuff. Maybe that's why Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew, "If you wish to be perfect, sell all you have, and you will have treasure in heaven, and follow me." Like I said, pretty disturbing, then and now. It's hardly "the opposite of the Gospel," as Beck said. The opposite of the Gospel would be to acquire wealth and fail to work on behalf of the poor."

So there it is.  Glenn Beck is a charlatan.  People were fooled by his touchy feely exhortations to be loving, be accepting, love one's neighbor, turn back to God and "restore honor" to America.  The very next day, after his miracle love-fest, this evil, cynical monstrosity impugned the President of the United States' religion,  and suggested that Mr. Obama is not a true Christian.

Mr. Beck, it is none of your clownish business what religion Mr. Obama practices, or if he practices any at all.  It is grossly unAmerican for you to even be talking about it.  But in doing so, you join the ranks of the repressive mullahs in Middle Eastern countries who combine religion and government and seek to eliminate anyone who does not conform to state sanctioned religion.

Beck is no better than the worst of the Taliban.  And the 87,000 people who came to watch this snake-oil salesman perform his cynical act on Saturday should look beyond his hypocritical words and understand what he is up to.  HINT:  It has absolutely nothing to do with America's honor.

Sheria of The Swash Zone has a post up on the Beckapalooza.  Here's the link.

Ross Douthat of the NYTimes on Beck's Mormonism, Evangelicals and politics.  Link here.

Now go read this piece by Tom Junod of Esquire on how corporations, in this case Transocean Deepwater Horizon, cynically used religion to deceive the families of their deceased employees. Link here.

Junod closes the article with this:


"...but also the spectacle of a corporate shill like Glenn Beck calling for national Christian renewal in an event blessed by Rupert Murdoch. The partnership brokered by the Republican party thirty years ago between the unfettered church and the unshackled corporation has paid off in an historic American divide between individuals and the institutions they serve; has paid off in an America whose culture of individual virtue exists in complementary equipoise with its culture of institutional corruption; has paid off in an America where the individuals are better than the institutions they serve, and know it. Fox and its minions address that divide by insisting that the real divide is between believers and non-believers; companies like Transocean by having its executives speak of the Lord at an event that ultimately owes its existence to corporate negligence. But one of these days, Mr. Beck might learn what Mr. Newman is starting to find out."

Monday, August 30, 2010

MORE ON GLENN BECK AND HIS RACIST PAST

THIS blogger will not let Beck get away with his fake exhortations to "restore honor" to America.  America needs no restoration of her honor from a charlatan who willingly used racism to ingratiate himself with his listeners when he was a little known top 40 radio host.  Below is a history of Beck's sorry career as a race baiter and anti-civil rights promoter.

What Americans need to restore are their critical thinking skills and abilities to judge Beck by his behavior and not by the insincere, god-soaked platitudes and pronouncments he so cynically used to sucker the crowds who came to listen to his babblings.

Alexander Zaitchik of the Southern Poverty Law Center relates this about Beck's background: 

"Far from being a civil rights icon, Glenn Beck has built his empire and fame in part by being a master divider along racial lines. Especially since the inauguration of Barack Obama on the eve of his Fox News debut, Beck has emerged as the media's boldest manipulator of white racial anxieties, fears and prejudice. His willingness "to go there" has even earned him grudging respect from hardcore white nationalists who usually have little patience for major media.


Most people are aware by now that more than 100 sponsors have fled Beck's program since his June 2009 claim that President Obama was a racist "with a deep-seated hatred of white people." But this is only the best known event in a 30-year career in broadcasting that has been partly defined by racist humor, racially charged venom, and advocacy for far-right foes of the civil rights movement.

Throughout his career in Top 40 radio, Beck was known for his imitations of "black guy" characters and racist tropes. According to Beck's former colleagues in the late 90s, this included mocking unarmed blacks shot and killed by white police officers. Such was the case of Malik Jones, the victim of a controversial killing that took place in 1997.

"After the shooting, Beck sometimes did a racist shtick," remembers Paul Bass, a former radio host and Beck colleague at a Clear Channel station cluster in New Haven. "Glenn did routines about Jones' grandmother being on crack. Generally he made fun of his family and the loss of life--as joke routines."


Beck's racially tinged tirades did not disappear after he switched formats in 1999. During his first talk radio stint in Tampa, he often referred to the Rev. Jesse Jackson as "the stinking king of the race lords." Most recently, Beck has worked to resuscitate the names of famously anti-civil rights figures from the history of his adopted Mormon faith. He has respectfully played tapes of Ezra Taft Benson, who thought Martin Luther King was a communist agent out to destroy the Mormon Church (and who once wrote the foreward to a book of race hate whose cover illustration featured the severed, bloody head of an African American).



Beck has also implored his viewers to read the "divinely inspired" books of W. Cleon Skousen, another John Birch Society fantasist who believed that the civil rights movement was part of a worldwide Communist (and, later, "New World Order") conspiracy.

The above gives some sense, but barely scratches the surface of, Beck's long and disgraceful record on race. The Fox News host has also played a key role in the conservative attempts to whip up white opposition to Barack Obama by painting the president's health and environmental agendas as Trojan horses for "stealth reparations" for black Americans.

For much of the summer of 2009, Beck ranted about the alleged "black nationalism" of Van Jones, a White House environmental official who resigned last September after what Jones described as conservatives' "vicious smear campaign" against him. Beck also helped lead the racially charged cavalry charges against ACORN and Eric Holder's Justice Department (for its handling of the New Black Panther Party "scandal".)

So, no, Glenn Beck is not the inheritor of Dr. King's mantle. Had the two men been contemporaries, it is a very safe bet that Beck would have excoriated King for being a "progressive cockroach" and an enemy of the Constitution seeking to destroy America by spreading the "virus" of social justice. We know he would have done this because it's the same playbook he uses every day on radio and television. That's just who Glenn Beck is and always has been. It's a fact that all the deranged posturing in the world can't hide, regardless of the date printed on his coveted event permit."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

SMALLER THAN ANTICIPATED CROWD SHOWS FOR BECKAPALOOOZA "I HAVE A SCHEME"


"JUST HOW BIG WERE THE 'THRONGS'?.... By all accounts, turnout at yesterday's far-right rally at the Lincoln Memorial was pretty strong, but that observation tends to lead to another question: how strong was it?







To underscore how tricky this is, consider two reports from McClatchy. One article said "tens of thousands" of people showed up for the rally, while another said "hundreds of thousands." Same news outlet, same day, covering the same story.



No wonder the National Park Service gave up on offering crowd estimates years ago.



As far as I can tell, the only outlet to publish an even vaguely-scientific headcount was CBS News.



An estimated 87,000 people attended a rally organized by talk-radio host and Fox News commentator Glenn Beck Saturday in Washington, according to a crowd estimate commissioned by CBS News.



The company AirPhotosLive.com based the attendance on aerial pictures it took over the rally....AirPhotosLive.com gave its estimate a margin of error of 9,000, meaning between 78,000 and 96,000 people attended the rally. The photos used to make the estimate were taken at noon Saturday, which is when the company estimated was the rally's high point.



I imagine the right will find this number deeply unsatisfying, but a crowd of 87,000 people really isn't that bad. We are, after all, talking about a rally in late August, held by a media personality with declining ratings, which had no clear purpose or rationale.



It's not a tally that should necessarily strike fear in the hearts of the nation, but it's nothing for conservatives to be ashamed of, either. When 87,000 folks show up for an NFL game in Washington, it's considered pretty good turnout. It looks puny up against the numbers for, say, President Obama's inauguration last year, but the president enjoys far more support than a deranged media personality.




The problem, though, is that supporters exaggerated expectations in the wrong direction. Organizers told the National Park Service they expected 300,000 people to attend. The head of Freedom Works, an allied right-wing outfit, said on Friday he expected between 400,000 and 500,000.



One of these days, these folks will learn how to play the expectations game. For now, they're surprisingly bad at it."
—Steve Benen

One of Beck's followers blames gays and affirmative action [Dr. King FAVORED affirmative action, BTW] for his inability to move up the ladder in his job.  Now there's one example of "restoring honor," tothis country.  Blaming minorities for his failures.  Good going Beckerhead.  You'll surely go down in history as the worst of the cynical demagogues and charlatans.  Father Coughlin and Joseph McCarthy are saving a place for you in America's Hall of Shame.
 

 
And finally, typical of a demagogue who says anything to stir up the mob and to appeal to its ignorance and hatreds, Beck walks back his claim that President Obama is a racist and has a deep seated hatred of white people.  We know that Beck is stupid and says whatever idiocy manages to get through the cement that takes up the space between his ears, but now we can read how even he doesn't believe what he says, or at the very least, has to "clarify" his gross insult to President Obama:
 
From ThinkProgress:
 
Yesterday, “rodeo clown” Glenn Beck appeared on XM radio with African-American host Joe Madison. Beck seemed to be visiting the studio when Madison spotted him and asked him to come into the radio booth for an impromptu interview.


Immediately, Madison told Beck “I am so angry with you.” “Oh boy,” Beck responded, “Did I just walk into something I shouldn’t have walked into?” “Yes,” Madison said, pressing him on why he called Obama a racist:

MADISON: He’s not a racist?

BECK: What is he? [...] I’ve talked about this at length, and so I’m going to rehash it all. I’ve already said stupid comment, off the top of head. And I said just the other day, an ignorant comment. Now that I really understand how he grew up, where he grew up, what his influences were — it’s more of a liberation theology, a kind of attitude he has. That I immediately interpreted — because I didn’t understand him. His attitude is more of, like Bill Ayers — that America is an oppressor. And I just disagree with that.

MADISON: You do not believe President Obama is a racist?

BECK: I’ve said this before.


MADISON: A mistake? Was that a mistake?

BECK: Absolutely it was. And I’ve said that before. I misunderstood — this I just said the other day — I misunderstood his philosophy and his theology, which is liberation theology.

MADISON: Which was King’s philosophy. Big time.

BECK: Didn’t know that. I’ll talk to Alveda today about it.

MADISON: Oh, talk to his father. You know who you should talk to? Talk to Walter Fontroy. Rev. Walter Fontroy, who grew up with King. That was his philosophy — it was the theological philosophy of social justice.

BECK: Right. I am not a fan of social justice.

MADISON: That’s where we really part. I’m a big fan of social justice.



 
NOTE TO BECK:  "A man with a small head is like a pin without any, very apt to get into things beyond his depth" —Josh Billings

Friday, August 27, 2010

CONSERVATIVES, CIVIL RIGHTS, AND THE REVEREND MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.



So Glenn Beck of FAUX News is hosting a gathering of conservatives in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC to "Restore Honor" in America; and by "Divine Providence," as Beck so humbly put it, this rally just happened to fall on the 42nd anniversary of The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech. 

But wait.  Beck assured his listeners that he would not stand on the same steps as Dr. King did when he gave that speech over four decades ago.  Instead, Beck will stand a few steps lower from where MLK stood.  Isn't that special?  What humility the man has!  Beck also scolded that liberals and whites don't own MLK and his legacy.

Well if anyone knows about MLK and whom he would have chosen to honor the anniversary of his famous speech, it would be Glenn Beck, the conservatives' champion and loud-mouthed, mewling, puking, grand-standing nincompoop who can't remember what the rally is about, or whom he loathes, fears, and feels inferior to from one moment to the next.

Let's look at the record on how conservatives--Democratic and Republican--honored Dr. King when he was alive, and how they honored his memory when legislation was introduced to make his birthday a national holiday, shall we?  Let's see how much of the truth Beck is trying to distort and misrepresent in his one-man mission to sully Dr. King's memory.  Rick Perlstein, journalist and historian wrote a fine essay on this subject which I quote in part below.  When Dr. King was murdered on April 4, 1968, then President Nixon said:

"a great leader--a man determined that the American Negro should win his rightful place alongside all others in our nation." Even one of King's most beastly political enemies, Mississippi Representative William Colmer, chairman of the House rules committee, honored the president's call to unity by terming the murder "a dastardly act."


Others demurred. South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond wrote his constituents, "[W]e are now witnessing the whirlwind sowed years ago when some preachers and teachers began telling people that each man could be his own judge in his own case." Another, even more prominent conservative said it was just the sort of "great tragedy that began when we began compromising with law and order, and people started choosing which laws they'd break."


That was Ronald Reagan, the governor of California, arguing that King had it coming. King was the man who taught people they could choose which laws they'd break--in his soaring exegesis on St. Thomas Aquinas from that Birmingham jail in 1963: "Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. ... Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong."

That's not what you hear from conservatives today, of course. What you get now are convoluted and fantastical tributes arguing that, properly understood, Martin Luther King was actually one of them--or would have been, had he lived. But, if we are going to have a holiday to [restore] honor..., we might as well honor history. We might as well recover the true story. Conservatives--both Democrats and Republicans--hated King's doctrines. Hating them was one of the litmus tests of conservatism."

(Note:  I hadn't read Perlstein's article when I made that same claim in the comment section below.)

READ MORE OF RICK PERLSTEIN'S ESSAY HERE.

Victor Davis Hanson, a self-identified Democrat, but a CONSERVATIVE Democrat who supported President Bush and Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld had this to say about MLK after he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964:

"For years now, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and his associates have been deliberately undermining the foundations of internal order in this country. With their rabble-rousing demagoguery, they have been cracking the “cake of custom” that holds us together. With their doctrine of “civil disobedience,” they have been teaching hundreds of thousands of Negroes — particularly the adolescents and the children — that it is perfectly alright to break the law and defy constituted authority if you are a Negro-with-a-grievance; in protest against injustice. And they have done more than talk. They have on occasion after occasion, in almost every part of the country, called out their mobs on the streets, promoted “school strikes,” sit-ins, lie-ins, in explicit violation of the law and in explicit defiance of the public authority. They have taught anarchy and chaos by word and deed — and, no doubt, with the best of intentions — and they have found apt pupils everywhere, with intentions not of the best. Sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind."

And more CONSERVATIVE statements on civil rights:

You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘N****r, n****r, n****r.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘n****r’ – that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.” –Lee Atwater, 1981

“I wouldn’t like to see my party assume that it is the role of the Federal Government to enforce integration in schools.”–Barry Goldwater, 1961

“We’re not going to get the Negro vote as a bloc in 1964 and 1968, so we ought to go hunting where the ducks are.” –Barry Goldwater, 1961

“I would have voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” –Ronald Reagan, 1966

“I believe in States’ Rights. I believe we have distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended to be given in the Constitution to that federal establishment.”
–Ronald Reagan, Philadephia, Mississippi, 1980

Dr. King on the liberal/progressive idea of affirmative action:

"In the last years of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life, many mainstream journalists and conservative politicians treated him with fear and derision. In 1967, Life magazine (4/21/67) dubbed King's prophetic anti";war address "demagogic slander" and "a script for Radio Hanoi." Even years later, Ronald Reagan described King as a near";Communist

King was well aware of the arguments used against affirmative action policies. As far back as 1964, he was writing in Why We Can't Wait: "Whenever the issue of compensatory treatment for the Negro is raised, some of our friends recoil in horror. The Negro should be granted equality, they agree; but he should ask nothing more. On the surface, this appears reasonable, but it is not realistic."



King supported affirmative action";type programs because he never confused the dream with American reality. As he put it, "A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro" to compete on a just and equal basis (quoted in Let the Trumpet Sound, by Stephen Oates).

In a 1965 Playboy interview, King compared affirmative action";style policies to the GI Bill: "Within common law we have ample precedents for special compensatory programs.... And you will remember that America adopted a policy of special treatment for her millions of veterans after the war."

In King's teachings, affirmative action approaches were not "reverse discrimination" or "racial preference." King promoted affirmative action not as preference for race over race (or gender over gender), but as a preference for inclusion, for equal oportunity, for real democracy. Nor was King's integration punitive: For him, integration benefited all Americans, male and female, white and non";white alike. And contrary to Gingrich, King insisted that, along with individual efforts, collective problems require collective solutions."

And finally, John McCain.  The nominee of the conservative GOP, whose running mate, Sarah Palin, strongly supported and praised in his recent primary run against his opponent.
"1983: McCain Voted Against Creating Martin Luther King Holiday. McCain voted against the Hall (D-IN) motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill to designate the third Monday of every January as a federal holiday in honor of the late civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. [Vote 289, HR 3706, Motion agreed to 89-77, D 249-13, 8/2/83; CQ 1983]"


"Newt Gingrich said that the Civil Rights act came about because of the "left-wing of the democratic party."

And finally:

"The direct consequence of this courageous action by the Democratic Party [in passing civil rights legislation] was that millions of Southern racists--as well racists elsewhere in the country--abandoned the Democrats at the national level, electing Republican presidents in 7 of the next 10 elections, after Democrats had won 7 of the previous 9 elections.


 In short, the racist elements of the Democratic Party \...were essential elements of the movement conservative base that rose to power in a racial backlash against the advancement of civil rights.

The rising conservative movement already within the GOP was equally characterized by racism."

SOURCE


CHRIS MATTHEWS:







CHARLES BLOW OF THE NEW YORK TIMES:

I HAD A NIGHTMARE:
"The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was already dead when I was born, and yet I idolized him the way most children idolized athletes and pop stars. I had the poster and the T-shirt, I knew the speeches and the places he’d marched.


He was smart and brave, steadfast and unmovable. He was a man consumed by conviction and possessed by the magnificent radiance of the earnestly humble. He was an eloquent speaker and a beautiful writer. He cared more about justice and equality than fame or fortune. He was a beacon of light in a world beset by darkness.

That’s why the nightmarish idea of Glenn Beck (who has called President Obama a racist and compared Obama’s America to "The Planet of the Apes") holding a "Restoring Honor" rally on the 47th anniversary of — and on the same site as — King’s "I Have a Dream" speech, so incensed me. "

BOB HERBERT OF THE NEW YORK TIMES:

America Is Better Than This


America is better than Glenn Beck. For all of his celebrity, Mr. Beck is an ignorant, divisive, pathetic figure. On the anniversary of the great 1963 March on Washington he will stand in the shadows of giants — Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Who do you think is more representative of this nation?

Lincoln: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

King: “Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter.”

Beck: “I think the president is a racist.”

[skip]

Beck is a provocateur who likes to play with matches in the tinderbox of racial and ethnic confrontation. He seems oblivious to the real danger of his execrable behavior. He famously described President Obama as a man “who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.”



He is an integral part of the vicious effort by the Tea Party and other elements of the right wing to portray Mr. Obama as somehow alien, a strange figure who is separate and apart from — outside of — ordinary American life. As the watchdog group Media Matters for America has noted, Beck said of the president, “He chose to use the name, Barack, for a reason, to identify not with America — you don’t take the name Barack to identify with America. You take the name Barack to identify, with what? Your heritage? The heritage, maybe, of your father in Kenya, who is a radical?”

Facts and reality mean nothing to Beck. And there is no road too low for him to slither upon. The Southern Poverty Law Center tells us that in a twist on the civil rights movement, Beck said on the air that he “wouldn’t be surprised if in our lifetime dogs and fire hoses are released or opened on us. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of us get a billy club to the head. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of us go to jail — just like Martin Luther King did — on trumped-up charges. Tough times are coming.”


He makes you want to take a shower.


In Beck’s view, President Obama is driven by a desire to settle “old racial scores” and his ultimate goal is “reparations” for black Americans. Abe Lincoln and Dr. King could only look on aghast at this clown.



This is what Beck is and these are the people Beck has urged to join him [conservatives] on Saturday, Aug. 28, on the 42nd anniversary of the Reverend Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

Beck calls this shame and desecration of Dr. King's memory that he is sponsoring "Restore Honor?"  What honor?  The honor of remembering that the people he champions are the very same who fought hard and long to deny African Americans, and now gays their civil rights? The honor of being one of the most divisive jerks America has ever produced?  What sort of delusional people follow him.  Answer:  People who do not use the intellect they were born with.


What Beck plans for Saturday is in no way "restoring honor" ot America or Dr. King's memory.  What he plans is dishonoring Dr. King and everything every liberal and progressive has worked and died for in promoting civil rights and equality in this country. 

A pox on him and shame on those who support him.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

GOP NATIONAL COMMITTEE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: WHAT GLENN BECK EVENT?




Republican National Committee Communications Director Doug Heye apparently missed all this coverage, telling the Washington Post, “I don’t know about any Glenn Beck event:”



“In general, people coming to Washington, being organized and active is a good thing,” said Doug Heye, a spokesman for Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele. “But I gotta be honest with you – I don’t know about any Glenn Beck event.”

For someone whose job it is to monitor political news coverage, Heye’s ignorance seems dubious, but it is apparently not unique.

“Operatives at virtually every Republican committee in Washington claimed little or no knowledge of the event,” the Post reported.

“They might well have cause to be squeamish,” the Post continued, noting the irony of Beck — who called President Obama a “racist” with “a deep-seated hatred of white people” — holding an event on the anniversary of, and in the same location as, Martin Luther King’s bridge-building “I Have A Dream” speech.

h/t ThinkProgress

UPDATE:

"HuffPost editor Roy Sekoff appeared on "The Ed Show" Thursday night to dissect Fox host Glenn Beck's stunning D.C.-rally promotional video, in which Beck compares the event to the moon landing, the civil rights movement and the rise of Abraham Lincoln.


While guest host Cenk Uygur hammered Beck's shilling for the gold-selling company Goldline, Sekoff picked up on Beck's pitch to "restore America's honor."

"My question is, when did America lose that honor?" Sekoff asked. "Did we lose that honor when we invaded Iraq for nonexistent WMD? Did we lose the honor when we opened Guantanamo, when we allowed extraordinary rendition? Did we lose the honor when we said waterboarding wasn't torture? Or maybe did we lose our honor when Glenn Beck said the President of the United States had a deep-seated hatred for white people?

"Because if it was those things," Sekoff added, "he's a little late to the game."

h/t HuffPost

UPDATE from Yahoo! News:

"(Some Tea Party groups have distributed a conservative-friendly guide to Washington D.C, warning people to avoid the Green and Yellow subway lines, which cover what the guide's authors suggest are sketchy parts of the city. Alas, says Mike Madden at the Washington City Paper, activists who follow this tip would miss the chance to visit the National Archives, where their "beloved Constitution now resides.")


Are people angry about Beck's choice of date and place?


Civil rights groups have expressed outrage. Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, told CBS News it was "insulting" to King's legacy. Rev. Al Sharpton has also organized a Saturday march through Washington, D.C., to commemorate King's speech, an event supported by the NAACP, the National Urban League, and Martin Luther King III. Sharpton says he began planning his event in April, and that it is "not a countermarch to Beck."

How does Beck explain the choice of date?


He's shrugged it off as a coincidence, telling Bill O'Reilly that civil-rights critics have nothing to complain about: "Do white people own the legacy of Abraham Lincoln? I don't think they do, and I don't think black people own the legacy of Martin Luther King." Beck has said "divine providence" led him to select the date.

What do pundits make of it?


If this is "divine providence," says Alexander Zaitchik at AlterNet, then clearly God has a "very dark sense of humor." Beck is "the media's boldest manipulator of white racial anxieties, fears and prejudice." Were King alive today, Beck would likely excoriate him for being a "progressive cockroach." But the Fox News firebrand is right that black people don't own MLK's legacy, says Cynthia Tucker at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Dr. King "belongs to America" — and the Bill of Rights he so passionately believed in guarantees Beck the right to his rally, no matter how "odious" civil rights groups think it is. "


The absurdity of Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally at the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of Dr. King's historic "I Have a Dream" speech is this:   Beck is the darling of  and supported by the same group of people, CONSERVATIVES,  who OPPOSED Dr. King's objectives in that very speech. 




What on earth is wrong with people in not seeing through this charlatan's hijacking--to promote and enrich himself--of the ideals Dr. King defended and that CONSERVATIVES fought against.  It is stomach-turning hypocrisy on Beck's and his followers' part to desecrate Dr. King's memory and the progressive dream he spoke of that day. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

RUSH LIMBAUGH IS A BIG FAT IDIOT

Limbaugh says non-profit organization employees are "lazy idiots" and "rapists in terms of finance and economy"

Robert Egger, the Founder and President of nonprofit DC Central Kitchen, which produces 4,500 meals per day for people who would otherwise go hungry and also provides job training with an almost 100% job placement for 400 unemployed people per year, answers the Hindenberg of Gasbags' stupidity and willingness to incite hatred againsts fellow Americans. 

Mr. Egger does a smashing job of showing what a divisive, hateful, nincompoop Limbaugh truly is.  I guess Limbaugh is popular because there will always be people in this country who need to hate and to blame others for their own inadequacies.  Limbaugh is their guy when it comes to spreading lies about and distrust of their fellow citizens.

 Thank you, Robert Egger, for countering Limbaugh's toxic sewerage:



h/t Democratic Underground



Saturday, August 21, 2010

DOES OUR MILITARY PRACTICE ITS OWN VERSION OF CHRISTIAN "SHARIA?"

A number of troops at a base in Virgina exercised their right to not attend a Christian band's concert and instead of being given their free time in place of attending the concert, they were locked down in their barracks.


It is interesting to listen to the people who warn us of the Islaminization of this country, telling us the Muslims are out there itching to cut off our heads and hands and force the burqa on our women, but when our troops are forced to listen to a band that specializes in Christian music, and then refuse that coercion, that is imposing a favored religion on American citizens--a kind of "sharia" because the troops who do not want to participate are punished.  I understand when one joins the military one gives up certain rights that are enjoyed by our civilian population, but I don't believe being free to practice one's own religion or no religion is one of them.


Just because a majority of Americans are Christians that does not give anyone the authority under any law to force Christianity on people who do not welcome it.  That's what freedom of religion is all about.  Those who wish to practice it are free to do so, and those who do not wish to participate in it are to be left alone and unmolested.


This happened at a US Army base, but  it has happened at other military bases more often than we would like to believe:

Air Force Chaplain Tells of Academy Proselytizing
Published: May 12, 2005


A chaplain at the Air Force Academy has described a "systemic and pervasive" problem of religious proselytizing at the academy and says a religious tolerance program she helped create to deal with the problem was watered down after it was shown to officers, including the major general who is the Air Force's chief chaplain.

Feb. 19) -- The Pentagon has been pushing religious tolerance for decades, but several separate incidents in recent months are reinvigorating advocates who worry that the U.S. military is being controlled by a small but powerful subculture of evangelical Christians.


Last year, former NFL player Terry Bradshaw starred in an official military video that espoused "the importance of faith" in combating post-deployment depression. In January, news broke that a Michigan company had been inscribing coded references to the New Testament on high-powered rifle sights sold to the U.S. military. Weeks later, a giant cross was placed in the center of a newly constructed pagan worship site at Colorado's Air Force Academy, built to accommodate practicing Wiccans.

And those are only the incidents that have gone on within our borders. In May, Harper's Magazine published a 13-page expose that included provocative details on war-zone religiosity in Iraq and Afghanistan.

General Boykin Says Practice Of Islam Not Protected Under First Amendment. 



After being turned away from the Kagan confirmation hearings, retired General William Boykin, in an interview with Christian Zionist Pastor Skip Heitzig, declares the irrelevance of first amendment protections for U.S. Muslims. Boykin ultimately espouses the virtues of spiritual warfare against Islam (in other words, a Christian Jihad). All text below is quoted from audio: http://www.connectiononline.org/


 

RICHMOND, Va. — The Army said Friday it was investigating a claim that dozens of soldiers who refused to attend a Christian band's concert at a Virginia military base were banished to their barracks and told to clean them up.



Fort Eustis spokesman Rick Haverinen told The Associated Press he couldn't comment on the specifics of the investigation. At the Pentagon, Army spokesman Col. Thomas Collins said the military shouldn't impose religious views on soldiers.

"If something like that were to have happened, it would be contrary to Army policy," Collins said.

Pvt. Anthony Smith said he and other soldiers felt pressured to attend the May concert while stationed at the Newport News base, home of the Army's Transportation Corps.

[skip]
Smith said a staff sergeant told 200 men in their barracks they could either attend or remain in their barracks. Eighty to 100 decided not to attend, he said.

"Instead of being released to our personal time, we were locked down," Smith said. "It seemed very much like a punishment."

[skip]

The group's president, Mikey Weinstein, claims Christian-themed events are "ubiquitous" throughout the military, and he credited the soldiers for stepping forward.


"Whenever we see this egregious, unconstitutional religious tyranny our job is to fight it," he said.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH EMBRACED AND PRAISED MUSLIMS WHEN HE WAS PRESIDENT



I just read somewhere on the "internets" that 40% of Americans polled think President Obama is a Muslim.  President Obama is, of course, a Christian.  But even if he were a Muslim, so what?

The following quotes are what a conservative Republican president said about Muslims (they're from a website run by Republican Muslims).  Mr. Bush made more comments on Islam than any other president. (Imagine the outrage from the Right had Mr. Obama made these statements.)

However, now that Mr. Bush is a private citizen, he refuses to comment on the FAUX News-induced firestorm over the Muslim community center.  I call that moral cowardice.

THE STATEMENTS OF GEORGE W. BUSH CONCERNING MUSLIMS AND ISLAM:

•"Here in the United States our Muslim citizens are making many contributions in business, science and law, medicine and education, and in other fields. Muslim members of our Armed Forces and of my administration are serving their fellow Americans with distinction, upholding our nation's ideals of liberty and justice in a world at peace."


Remarks by the President on Eid Al-Fitr
The Islamic Center of Washington, D.C.
December 5, 2002

•"Over the past month, Muslims have fasted, taking no food or water during daylight hours, in order to refocus their minds on faith and redirect their hearts to charity. Muslims worldwide have stretched out a hand of mercy to those in need. Charity tables at which the poor can break their fast line the streets of cities and towns. And gifts of food and clothing and money are distributed to ensure that all share in God's abundance. Muslims often invite members of other families to their evening iftar meals, demonstrating a spirit of tolerance."

Remarks by the President on Eid Al-Fitr
The Islamic Center of Washington, D.C.
December 5, 2002

•"America treasures the relationship we have with our many Muslim friends, and we respect the vibrant faith of Islam which inspires countless individuals to lead lives of honesty, integrity, and morality. This year, may Eid also be a time in which we recognize the values of progress, pluralism, and acceptance that bind us together as a Nation and a global community. By working together to advance mutual understanding, we point the way to a brighter future for all."

Presidential Message Eid al-Fitr
December 5, 2002

•"Islam brings hope and comfort to millions of people in my country, and to more than a billion people worldwide. Ramadan is also an occasion to remember that Islam gave birth to a rich civilization of learning that has benefited mankind."

President's Eid al-Fitr Greeting to Muslims around the World
December 4, 2002

•"Ours is a war not against a religion, not against the Muslim faith. But ours is a war against individuals who absolutely hate what America stands for, and hate the freedom of the Czech Republic. And therefore, we must work together to defend ourselves. And by remaining strong and united and tough, we'll prevail."

Press Conference by President Bush and President Havel of Czech Republic
Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic
November 20, 2002

•"Some of the comments that have been uttered about Islam do not reflect the sentiments of my government or the sentiments of most Americans. Islam, as practiced by the vast majority of people, is a peaceful religion, a religion that respects others. Ours is a country based upon tolerance and we welcome people of all faiths in America."

Remarks by President George W. Bush in a statement to reporters during a meeting with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan
The Oval Office, Washington, DC
November 13, 2002

•"We see in Islam a religion that traces its origins back to God's call on Abraham. We share your belief in God's justice, and your insistence on man's moral responsibility. We thank the many Muslim nations who stand with us against terror. Nations that are often victims of terror, themselves."

President Hosts Iftaar Dinner
Remarks by the President at Iftaar Dinner
State Dining Room

•"Islam is a vibrant faith. Millions of our fellow citizens are Muslim. We respect the faith. We honor its traditions. Our enemy does not. Our enemy doesn't follow the great traditions of Islam. They've hijacked a great religion."

Remarks by President George W. Bush on U.S. Humanitarian Aid to Afghanistan
Presidential Hall, Dwight David Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Washington, D.C.
October 11, 2002

•"Islam is a faith that brings comfort to people. It inspires them to lead lives based on honesty, and justice, and compassion."

Remarks by President George W. Bush on U.S. Humanitarian Aid to Afghanistan
Presidential Hall, Dwight David Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Washington, D.C.
October 11, 2002

•"All Americans must recognize that the face of terror is not the true faith -- face of Islam. Islam is a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. It's a faith that has made brothers and sisters of every race. It's a faith based upon love, not hate."

President George W. Bush Holds Roundtable with Arab and Muslim-American Leaders
Afghanistan Embassy, Washington, D.C.
September 10, 2002

•"If liberty can blossom in the rocky soil of the West Bank and Gaza, it will inspire millions of men and women around the globe who are equally weary of poverty and oppression, equally entitled to the benefits of democratic government. I have a hope for the people of Muslim countries. Your commitments to morality, and learning, and tolerance led to great historical achievements. And those values are alive in the Islamic world today. You have a rich culture, and you share the aspirations of men and women in every culture. Prosperity and freedom and dignity are not just American hopes, or Western hopes. They are universal, human hopes. And even in the violence and turmoil of the Middle East, America believes those hopes have the power to transform lives and nations."

President George W. Bush Calls for New Palestinian Leadership
The Rose Garden, Washington, D.C.
June 24, 2002

"America rejects bigotry. We reject every act of hatred against people of Arab background or Muslim faith America values and welcomes peaceful people of all faiths -- Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and many others. Every faith is practiced and protected here, because we are one country. Every immigrant can be fully and equally American because we're one country. Race and color should not divide us, because America is one country."


President George W. Bush Promotes Compassionate Conservatism
Parkside Hall, San Jose, California
April 30, 2002

When he was the president, George W. Bush was a great friend and supporter of Muslims and Islam.  Now that he is a private citizen, he is strangely silent on the Muslim bashing that leaders of the GOP and hate-radio talkers are engaged in. 
 
Why?  Where is your courage, Mr. President?  You supported them while you were president, but abandon them now?  Why?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

ANOTHER TEA PARTY KOOK SURFACES

and is shown on video railing againt the great American tradition (guaranteed in our Constitution) of welcoming all religions to peacefully coexist in this country.


How boringly predictable.  Give a crazy rightwinger a chance, and he or she will make a damn fool of him/herself. Oh, and BTW, Sarah Palin endorses this nutjob.

His name is Allen West, he's a Tea Party candidate for the House in Florida's 22nd district, who for reasons known only to himself and possibly the squirrels living in his head, finds peaceful coexistance of religions in this country to be the underlying reason for all the horrid things that have happened over the past years . It goes without saying that he's a member of the GOP, and no one has come forward to tell him that he's a ignorant jerk and should dig a hole in a far away valley and live in it for the rest of his disturbed life.  Instead, Sarah Palin, the Titan of Tweets, thinks he's brilliant and is endorsing his candidacy. 



Here's a little more background on this kook:

"West began his political career after resigning from the military following an investigation into his interrogation tactics. In 2003, West was interrogating an Iraqi policeman who was not being cooperative. According to his own testimony during a military hearing, West watched four of his men beat the suspect, and West said he personally threatened to kill the man. According to military prosecutors, West followed up on his threat by taking the man outside and firing a 9mm pistol near his head, in order to make the man believe he would be shot."


Good luck with that, Florida.  I do believe West's candidacy is a symptom of swamp fever.  Florida seems to have an unlimited supply of wackjobs running for political office.
 
 
h/t Think Progress
 
 
Think about what this idiot is saying.  Peaceful coexistance of all religions in this country is a bad thing.  It makes him angry.
 
The Tea Party has jumped the shark.*

*jump the shark:  The precise moment when you know a program, band, actor, politician, or other public figure has taken a turn for the worse, gone downhill, become irreversibly bad, is unredeemable, etc.; the moment you realize decay has set in.

The origin of this phrase comes from a Happy Days episode where the Fonz jumped a shark on waterskis. Thus was labeled the lowest point of the show.

THIS IS AMERICA; THIS IS WHO WE ARE

"I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. Ground zero is, indeed, hallowed ground," the president said in remarks prepared for the annual White House iftar, the sunset meal breaking the day’s fast.



"This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are" . . . . --President Barack Hussein Obama

From the New York Times editorial 8/17/10:

"Newt Gingrich, who has been beating this drum for weeks, accused the president of “pandering to radical Islam” and said the mosque would be a symbol of Muslim “triumphalism.” We were hesitant about repeating those comments here. But the country ignores such cynicism and ugliness at its own peril. Make no mistake, the rest of the world is listening.


Like President George W. Bush before him, President Obama warned against linking all followers of Islam to terrorists. “Al Qaeda’s cause is not Islam — it is a gross distortion of Islam,” he rightly said. It is our tolerance of others, he said, “that quintessentially American creed,” that stands in contrast to the nihilism of those who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001.


[skip]
 
Too many Republican leaders are determined to whip up as much false controversy and anguish as they can, right through November. Some Democrats will cave. We were disturbed on Monday when a spokesman for the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, said that Mr. Reid “thinks that the mosque should be built someplace else.”


Mr. Obama and all people of conscience need to push back hard. Defending all Americans’ right to worship — and their right to build places to worship — is fundamental to who we are.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

THE REAL STORY BEHIND THE PROTESTING OF THE MOSQUE IN NYC: BIGOTRY



Letters from the New York Times:


Reverberations From a Muslim Center

Re “Bloomberg’s Fierce Defense of Muslim Center Has Deep Roots” (front page, Aug. 13):


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg may have lost some popular support but has gained historic stature with his principled and eloquent defense of the right to construct a Muslim community center a few blocks from the site of the World Trade Center.

As a legal matter, there is nothing to debate. If a church or synagogue could be constructed on the site, so may a mosque. Period. The First Amendment means at least that.


As a matter of public policy, the answer is the same. While some political leaders — Newt Gingrich, Rick Lazio and Rudolph W. Giuliani, to name three — may find it convenient to politicize the issue, there is a moral issue that should not be overlooked.

Muslim organizations that refuse to condemn the attack on 9/11 or that seek to minimize or “explain” it deserve the harshest public criticism. But here, there has been no basis for such criticism. Unless we are to treat all Muslims as being somehow complicit in the attack, a guilt-by-association proposition contrary to every principle of fairness, any bar to the construction proceeding would be reprehensible.

Floyd Abrams
New York, Aug. 13, 2010


(The writer, a First Amendment lawyer, has represented The New York Times.)

and...
 
To the Editor:


Don’t be fooled by the claims of those, including the Anti-Defamation League, who say their opposition to the proposed Muslim community center is based on the sensitivity of the site.

Put aside the fact that the building is not at the World Trade Center site but rather two blocks away and not visible from the site. The same people who came to our community board meeting in May saying they didn’t oppose the project — just the location — and would support it if it were anywhere else in New York were back again at our July meeting carrying signs that read: “We won in Staten Island and we’ll win at ground zero. No mosque.”

The opposition to this project is based not on sensitivities but on bigotry, pure and simple.

Michael Connolly
New York, Aug. 11, 2010

(The writer is a resident of Lower Manhattan and serves as co-chairman of the World Trade Center Redevelopment Committee of Community Board 1. )

And to prove Mr. Connolly's point:
 
"On July 14, 2010, Tennessee anti-mosque protesters demonstrated their opposition to the Murfreesboro mosque expansion by a march against the mosque down East Main Street in Murfreesboro. Hundreds of anti-mosque protesters marched in the streets of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, some waving American, Gadsden, and Israeli flags. Some had signs that read “to embrace Islam is to embrace terrorism,” “Never forget – just say no to the Rutherford County Commissioners and the Islamic mosque,” some with signs that listed the commissioners who had supported the mosque."
 
[skip]
 
According to the Associated Baptist Press (ABP), Heartland Baptist Church is “independent,” and Heartland Baptist Church Christian Pastor Dusty Ray led Christian prayers for the anti-mosque march because “My main concern is that our freedoms are being threatened.”
 
(An example of the failure of our educational system.  This unfortunate Christian pastor has no idea that by protesting the building of a mosque in Murfreesboro, he is the one threatening "our freedoms.")
 
And this...

Temecula mosque plan sparks protest
 
A plan to build a mosque in Temecula has divided the southwest Riverside County city where conservative values and freedom of religion are both cherished.


Vocal opponents of the 25,000-square-foot mosque proposed for 4 acres in the city's northeastern corner describe Islam not as a religion, but as a political movement bent on taking over the world and squelching freedom in favor of strict religious law.

Supporters of the project say members of the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley, which wants to build the mosque, are peaceful, law-abiding citizens who deserve the right to worship their God freely.


Temecula, a city of 105,000 with many residents previously from conservative havens in Orange and San Diego counties, is home to a variety of churches, including an independent Baptist congregation whose minister doesn't want the mosque as a next-door neighbor.

PRESIDENT OBAMA PRESERVES, PROTECTS, AND DEFENDS THE CONSTITUTION:

By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG


WASHINGTON — President Obama delivered a strong defense on Friday night of a proposed Muslim community center and mosque near ground zero in Manhattan, using a White House dinner celebrating Ramadan to proclaim that “as a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country.”


“I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. Ground zero is, indeed, hallowed ground,” the president said in remarks prepared for the annual White House iftar, the sunset meal breaking the day’s fast.


But, he continued: “This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are.”

***************************************************


It is clear that the protests against the building of mosques around the country are not based on 9/11 sensitivity issues, but rather a First Admendment, Freedom of Religion issue.  The extremists on the Right who are the first to accuse Mr. Obama of destroying the Constitution are the same  people who wish to assault the very freedoms they are so fearful of losing.  How can they be so blind to their blatant and shameful  bigotry?

UPDATE FROM THINK PROGRESS:

"As the Guardian’s Michael Tomasky notes, the president’s support for the Cordoba House “is going to be demagogued to death in the next few days. The important part is going forward. Hang tough. Stand by the position. Don’t trim sails or add asterisks after Mitch McConnell or Dick Cheney or whomever says whatever hideous thing they’re going to say.”


By supporting the rights of an unpopular religious minority, President Obama is firmly within the bounds of America’s best traditions and values. The same can’t be said of those cultivating fear of Muslims for political gain."