Taking a stand against the kind of hateful rhetoric being pushed on the right, the White House announced that President Obama would be making his first visit during his presidency to a U.S. mosque.
As the Washington Post reports:
On Wednesday, the president will visit the Islamic Society of Baltimore, a sprawling community center in the city’s western suburbs that serves thousands of people with a place of worship, a housing complex and schools, according to its website. It is one of the Mid-Atlantic region’s largest Muslim centers and describes itself as aspiring “to be the anchor of a growing Muslim community with diverse backgrounds, democratically governed, relating to one another with inclusiveness and tolerance, and interacting with neighbors in an Islamic exemplary manner.”
The move was meant to signal religious tolerance and cultural understand – so naturally, the conservative movement wasted no time at all losing their minds.
Over at Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller, they floated the laughably bad idea that Obama chose this mosque because of what they claim are its supposed ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. The only group more clueless than the staffers at the Daily Caller, were its readers, who saw this as an opportunity to openly spread Islamophobic hate.
Surprisingly, the readers at Washington Times, a conservative newspaper that often bills itself as more intellectual than typical right-wing news sites, managed to come across even worse. For them, it wasn’t just about Obama’s “ties” to Islam, it was confirmation that Obama is a foreigner. That’s right – a simple visit to an American mosque sent right-wingers into a birther frenzy.
Needless to say, these same conservatives were conspicuously silent when George W. Bush visited an American mosque shortly after 9/11. Just six days after the attacks, anti-Muslim rhetoric was beginning to boil over. Bush, to his credit, tried to stifle that bigotry by personally visiting a mosque to express his support for average American Muslims who had nothing to do with September 11th.
Hours after speaking at the Pentagon, where a hijacked plane was crashed last Tuesday, he visited Washington’s largest Islamic center. There he asked the public to view Arabs and Muslims living in the United States as American patriots, saying that intimidation and harassment of them ”will not stand in America.”
And while he repeated his determination to hunt down and punish those responsible for the terrorist attacks, he added, ”The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam.”
Written just 15 years ago, it’s appalling to see how radical the right has grown in that time. It’s never a good sign when George W. Bush comes across looking too liberal for the modern Republican Party. The candidates who hope to one day sit where he did in the Oval Office have openly expressed a desire to ban Muslims from traveling to the United States, open registries to watch them, begin carpetbombing entire cities in the Middle East, and forbid Muslims from being president.
How radicalized has the Republican Party become? Now just visiting a mosque is considered controversial. That should say it all.
Feature image via Flickr