Several prominent media conservatives have claimed to “favor religious freedom” while qualifying that claim in order to attack the Islamic community center and mosque set to be built two blocks away from Ground Zero, demanding that it be moved elsewhere in New York City.
Media conservatives qualify support for “religious freedom” to attack mosque
Palin: “We're all about religious freedom, but” do it “down the road.” Discussing her opposition to the proposed Islamic community center in downtown Manhattan, Fox News contributor Sarah Palin said:
PALIN: I just think this is just one of the worst decisions that ever has been made that will adversely effect New York City. And those innocent victims, those families of those who were killed in the 9-11 tragedy, it saddens me to think that people don't understand what building this mosque at such hallowed ground really represents. The mosque, fine, we are all about religious tolerance, that's what makes America beautiful and free.
We're all about religious freedom, but to provoke even more heartache and more division in our country, especially there in New York City, by choosing that specific location, to kind of mark territory with this mosque. I think that it's a knife in the collective heart of Americans who say, “Yeah, build the mosque, but down the road.” Build it somewhere else where it's not such a painful reminder to those who certainly care about our national security, will never forget what happened on 9-11, and are committed to never allowing that to happen again. [Fox News' Hannity, 8/4/10]
Gingrich: “I favor religious freedom,” but “there are over 100 mosques in New York City.” Elaborating on his statement on the proposed Islamic community center, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich said:
GINGRICH: Well, I think it's outrageous. Here you have people who have proposed to build a 13-story mosque at the edge of the World Trade Center area at a time, by the way, when the Greek Orthodox church in nine years has not been able to get its church rebuilt. They didn't propose -- they say they're interfaith. They didn't propose, Let's build a mosque, church and synagogue. They said, Let's build a 13-story mosque and a community center, which they initially called the Cordoba House, which is named for a city in Spain where a conquering Muslim army replaced a church with a mosque. I mean, it was a very direct reminder historically that this is all about conquest. This is about who wins.
And I -- I -- I frankly find it very offensive, first of all, that they we're so stupid that they can use that kind of a title and we didn't notice it. Second, that -- you know, there are over 100 mosques in New York City. I favor religious freedom. I'm quite happy if they'd come and said, We want to build a community center near Central Park, we'd like to build a community center near Columbia University. But they didn't. They said right at the edge of a place where, let's be clear, thousands of Americans were killed in an attack by radical Islamists. [Fox News' On the Record, 7/26/10]
Fund: "[L]eaving aside the First Amendment, there are almost no people living in downtown New York." Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund said of the proposal:
FUND: The Muslim faith has a long tradition of planting religious buildings on the sites of victories that they have had in the past.
This is a very awkward place to put such an building, just -- leaving aside the First Amendment, there are almost no people living in downtown New York. Brooklyn, Queens might make sense. There's a large Muslim population there. But why in the world would you put something when there's no one living there? [Hannity, 7/19/10 (accessed via Nexis)]
Sekulow: “I do a lot of freedom of religion cases,” "[b]ut you don't get to build a mosque on a site that's part of Ground Zero." Conservative radio talk-show host for the American Center for Law and Justice's Jay Sekulow stated that his opposition to the Islamic community center “has nothing to do with the First Amendment.” He continued:
SEKULOW: I do a lot of freedom of religion cases. No one is saying a mosque can't be built in New York City. There are plenty of them. But you don't get to build a mosque on a site that's part of ground zero. Why? That would be -- as one of our teams said at the New York Land Commission hearing, that would be like putting at the site of the Arizona and Pearl Harbor a monument for the kamikaze pilots that tried to destroy U.S. troops. You just don't do that. [Hannity, 7/22/10 (accessed via Nexis)]