Last week, the American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative presented plans to build a community center two blocks away from ground zero in New York City that would include “a mosque, performance art center, gym, swimming pool and other public spaces.” The plan has prompted outrage from conservatives and some friends and families of 9/11 victims. Fox News’ Steve Doocy asked if it was a “great insult” while Brian Kilmeade wondered whether it was “almost taunting to put a community center right by the attack perpetrated by a group of extremist Muslims.” Rush Limbaugh suggested it meant that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed may be able to get a “sympathetic jury.”
On Fox and Friends this morning, host Gretchen Carlson called it a “slap in the face” for “this mosque” to be built “right at the same site as where the World Trade Center towers fell down.” Carlson then asked Rep. Peter King (R-NY), “where do you come in on this?” “It is very offensive,” replied King:
KING: I believe it is very offensive and it’s wrong. I don’t believe that legally it can be stopped, however, because of the first amendment. But having said that, you know, the mosque will be there. It will be within walking distance of where so many Americans were killed by radical Muslims. And, obviously we cannot blame all of Islam for what a handful of terrorists did. What bothers me though is since then that so many Muslim leaders have failed to speak out against radical Islam, against the attacks. We had mosques here on Long Island who were actually blaming the attacks on the Jews, the CIA and the FBI. So, that’s why this is particularly offensive.
Though King acknowledged that “we cannot blame all of Islam for what a handful of terrorists did,” he did not appear interested in helping the majority of Muslims separate themselves from extremism. The center will “serve as a major platform for amplifying the silent voice of the majority of Muslims who have nothing to do with extremist ideologies,” Daisy Khan, executive director of the Muslim society, told CNN. “It will counter the extremist momentum.” Khan also noted that “three hundred of the victims were Muslim, that’s 10 percent of the victims.” “We are Americans too. The 9/11 tragedy hurt everybody including the Muslim community,” said Khan.
It’s not surprising, however, that King would conflate extremism with mosques in general. In 2007, he declared, “unfortunately, we have too many mosques in this country.” He has previously claimed that Muslims are “an enemy living among us.” “[Y]ou could say that 80-85 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists,” he said in 2004. In 2009, he suggested that the Department of Homeland Security should target “mosques.”