One of the main lines of attack in the never-ending conservative freak-out over the plan to build an Islamic community center in downtown Manhattan has been attempting to smear the developers of the center -- Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf in particular -- as “radical.” In their usual despicable fashion, conservative media figures have worked hard to blur the line between the terrorists who attacked us on 9-11 and the moderate Muslims who are behind the planned center.
One of the loudest voices in conservatives' fight against the center has been Glenn Beck, who has specifically targeted Imam Rauf with blatant falsehoods and hypocritical attacks in a desperate attempt to smear him as a radical.
Additionally, among other offensive comments, Beck has asked, “after you've killed 3,000 people you're going to now build your mosque?” He's also absurdly labeled the center an “actual danger” and suggested it is an “Allah-tells-me-to-blow-up-America mosque.” Though we -- and many other outlets -- have repeatedly pointed out that Rauf is widely viewed as a moderate and has often denounced the extremists who carry out violent attacks in the name of Islam, Beck and his fellow demagogues continue to push the dishonest attack.
But Beck does not need to take our word for it that Imam Rauf is a moderate who distances himself from radicals -- Rauf told Beck as much while sitting at the same table with him during a 2006 discussion on ABC's Good Morning America.
During the ABC segment, Rauf condemned the extremists who issued death threats against the Pope and political cartoonists, specifically saying that “these reactions are not at all called for by Islamic teaching. The teachings of Islam are very similar to the teachings of Christianity, of loving the one God and loving thy neighbor. These are the two common principles.”
When Diane Sawyer mentioned that Imam Rauf says the radicals are just a “group of people” and “not him,” Beck seemed to agree, saying “sure, sure.” He added, “I believe it's a small portion of Islam that is acting in these ways.”
Beck, for his part, even appeared to gesture to Imam Rauf when he invoked the idea of “good Muslims.” (At about 2:45.)
Beck's response to this -- if he bothers to respond at all -- will likely be that when this segment was filmed, he was unaware of the supposed “radical” beliefs of Rauf. However as we (and Jon Stewart) have pointed out, Rauf's statements about 9-11 that Beck and others have pointed to as evidence of his hatred of America and sympathy for terrorism track very closely with things many conservatives -- including Glenn Beck himself - have said.