On Morning Joe earlier today, a pair of leading Republicans — host Joe Scarborough and former Bush strategist Mark McKinnon — blasted the GOP for its xenophobic and unconstitutional stance against American Muslims’ right to build a new Islamic center in lower Manhattan.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has claimed that the new Islamic center project “would be like putting a Nazi sign next to the Holocaust Museum.” Referencing that quote, Scarborough expressed angry disdain at Gingrich’s intolerance. “I don’t know where to begin,” Scarborough said. “To suggest that someone trying to build a tolerance center for moderate Muslims in New York is the equivalent of killing six million Jews is stunning to me.”
McKinnon then chimed in, arguing that the debate surrounding the Cordoba House project is contrary to his party’s principles. “We may get our membership [by the GOP] revoked,” McKinnon joked. “Screw ‘em,” Scarborough responded. McKinnon then said that the GOP’s stance is “reinforcing al Qaeda’s message”:
McKINNON: Usually Republicans are forthright in defending the Constitution. And here we are, reinforcing al Qaeda’s message that we’re at war with Muslims. So we’ve got this issue; then we’ve got the 14th Amendment issue, where Republicans are saying you’re not welcome here, when we were the architects of the 14th Amendment. So, I see a bad pattern where we’re headed as a Republican Party.
McKinnon said he believed President Obama has “done the right thing in stepping forward at this time on this issue.” He added, “Tolerance means tolerating things you don’t like, especially when you don’t like them. … I respect the President for making this move.” Watch it:
Writing in the Washington Post today, former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson — using Bush-era terminology — reinforced McKinnon’s view. “Those who want a president to assert that any mosque would defile the neighborhood near Ground Zero are asking him to undermine the war on terrorism. A war on Islam would make a war on terrorism impossible,” Gerson writes.
This morning, Scarborough remarked that when he first entered Congress in 1994, he was deemed to be some “crazy,” “right wing nut job” for his ideological views. He explained that, while he still holds “the same views,” he is “feeling further and further distant from the people who are running my party.”