I have watched in disbelief as the "World Trade Center Mosque" became the No. 1 issue in American politics over the past couple of weeks.
To me, the issue is a no-brainer. First of all, it is clearly a matter for state and local government to handle — and as an advocate of constitutional decentralization, I think that’s the end of the story unless you live in New York City.
Beyond that, it is clear that the Muslims in question have every right to build their community center where they want to build it. They have followed the regulatory path required for approval, and received that green light. As a constitutional conservative, that, too, settles the matter for me. Two words are all that are necessary to put this aspect in perspective: property rights.
So, why has this become the No. 1 hot-button issue in the nation? I see two possible answers to that question: conspiracy, and/or political stupidity and banality.
The Case for Conspiracy
Over the decades, I have seen as many stupid issues grab the spotlight as there are repugnant politicians willing to capitalize on them for perceived political gain — from flag burning to, well, the World Trade Center "mosque." These "patriotic" and "social" issues have had one continuous effect — to divert voter anger and activity away from the biggest scandal of the past 60 years.
That scandal is the systematic looting and destruction of the American Republic and economy by the globalist elites that have risen to power over the past 60 years or more. This destruction incorporates issues such as national sovereignty, the military-industrial complex, perpetual war, an unsustainable welfare state, "entitlements," the Federal Reserve, mercantilist trade pacts disguised as "free trade," and much more.
Historians of the future will probably lump all of these issues under the general rubric of "the fall of the American Empire," as in "the fall of the Roman Empire." That dwarfs most of the issues that consume our daily political discourse. And the "mosque" is only the latest silly distraction from what the globalist elites are doing to us.
Is it an accident that this issue has risen to the forefront at the very time that the American public, finally, is concentrating on the paramount issue of our day? When the globalist economic system is falling apart, and public anger at Wall Street bailouts is at a fever pitch?
A conspiracist would have to say, Hell no, it’s no accident. From the latest war of choice to the latest non-issue, it is all intended to keep us diverted from the major issue and scandal of our times.
The Case for Political Stupidity and Banality
To make the case for stupidity and banality, let us look at two politicians — President Obama and Newt Gingrich.
The "mosque" issue was festering, but on the back burner, during the dog days of August. Most people who had strong opinions against its construction took out their anger on Mayor Bloomberg and other New York officials and bureaucracies. For once in their lives, both Democrats and Republicans in Congress became fervid believers in states rights, and used that excuse for straddling or avoiding the issue.
Until President Obama unexpectedly jumped into the fray and made it the top issue in the country, without any need to do that. The most dismayed people in the country were the Democratic politicians who no longer could straddle the issue and were now on the line: Did they agree with their President? As one Democratic Congressman angrily put it (anonymously): "We need a politician in the White House, not a law professor."
Is there a conspiratorial excuse for Obama’s action? If so, it is so murky I cannot follow it. We have to ask, does Obama’s intervention help or hurt the Democrats in November? They were already on the road to expulsion because of the nation’s economic woes. Now they are on the unpopular side of yet another issue.
This is a pattern in the case of Obama. It is actually more than ignorance. It is ideological arrogance combined with political stupidity. From elitist bailouts to health care "reform" the nation didn’t want, to (now) the "mosque," President Obama has put his leftist ideology above the will and desires of the American people. This goes beyond the typical excuse that he is politically "tone-deaf." It is ideological arrogance and disdain for the vast majority of Americans who don’t reside in leftist enclaves like Hyde Park and Cambridge.
My judgment on President Obama: stupidity and arrogance.
Now take Newt Gingrich. As the old vaudeville wife-joke goes, please take him!
He has strong competition, to be sure, but Newt Gingrich has now become the most disgusting Republican candidate for President. That torch has passed from Rudy Giuliani in the last election cycle to Newt in this one.
The signs were apparent a couple of years ago when "God" suddenly made an appearance in Gingrich’s books. That was all the proof we needed that he was running for President. This most "intellectual" of Republican leaders has since become the most banal and self-promoting resident of the fever swamps of the Right. The "mosque" issue was made to order for him. To me the most horrid of his talking points (so many to choose from!) is that we should allow the building of the "mosque" when Saudi Arabia allows Christians to practice their religion in that country. So much for American exceptionalism (the "shining city on a hill" thing), property rights, and the Constitution. America is now going to mirror the policies of one of the most totalitarian and disgusting tyrannies on Earth. Talk about the dumbing down of conservatism!
My judgment on Newt Gingrich (and others like him, of course): repulsive but to-be-expected political dirtballing.
So which is it — conspiracy, or politics as usual? You tell me. Seriously, I would love to hear from LewRockwell.com readers on this matter. At this point, I have to say it’s stupidity and politics as usual, but as such it’s also a vital part of the "bread and circuses" used to distract Americans from the looting and destruction of our country.
P.S. Two Articles for Your Consideration
Politico, in my judgment, has become the most interesting mainstream news source in Washington. Two recent articles in Politico offer intriguing insights into this "mosque" issue.
"Mosque a long shot to be built" is a detailed look — the only one I’ve seen — into the myriad reasons why this project is not likely to be completed. And those reasons have nothing to do with the current public fervor over the issue. In other words, without the public agitation this is an issue that would have died a natural death. So who benefits from making it such a hot-ticket item?
And "Mosque debate strains tea party, GOP" is a similarly incisive look at the Tea Party’s reaction to the "mosque" fracas. To their credit, large segments of the Tea Party (I would guess that these are primarily the Ron Paul elements of the Tea Party) refuse to be distracted by issues like the "mosque" and insist on keeping the spotlight on the economic crisis facing our nation. More power to them — they are the only hopeful sign I see on today’s political landscape.
David Franke [send him mail] one of the founders of the conservative movement in the 1950s and 1960s. He is the author of a dozen books, including Safe Places, The Torture Doctor, and America’s Right Turn.