One of the most vociferous opponents of the proposed Park 51 Islamic community center and mosque that will be built two blocks from Ground Zero in New York City is Fox News contributor and conservative personality Laura Ingraham. Earlier this month, Ingraham appeared on Good Morning America and told host George Stephanopolous that there’s a “disconnect between how elites” think about the proposed mosque and how the rest of the country thinks about the project. Ingraham complained, “600 feet from where thousands of our fellow Americans were incinerated in the name of political Islam, and we’re supposed to be cheering this?!” She even went as far as to say that the “terrorists have won” because Park 51 is going to be built:
INGRAHAM: There’s a disconnect, George, between the elites and the way they think about this, and, I think most New Yorkers, and most of the country. I know Michael Bloomberg was out there saying, “Well, our values need to be properly represented to the world, and if this mosque isn’t going to be built, what is that going to say? The terrorists win!” Well, I say the terrorists have won with how this has gone down. 600 feet from where thousands of our fellow Americans were incinerated in the name of political Islam, and we’re supposed to be cheering this?!
However, as Salon’s Justin Elliott’s research uncovers, Ingraham wasn’t always fearmongering about the proposed cultural center and mosque. On December 21, 2009, Ingraham hosted Daisy Khan, a co-founder of Park 51 and the wife of its Imam, Abdul Rauf. Despite using the sensational and inaccurate misnomer “Ground Zero Mosque” (Elliott believes it to be the first use of that phrase to describe the center) and raising various questions about her husband, Ingraham is courteous to Khan, does not appear to categorically oppose the existence of a mosque near Ground Zero, and tells her that she “can’t find many people who really have a problem with” the building of the mosque. Ingraham even went as far as to tell Khan, “I like what you’re trying to do”:
INGRAHAM: I can’t find many people who really have a problem with it. [Mayor] Bloomberg is for it. Rabbis are saying they don’t have a problem with it. […] I like what you’re trying to do and Ms. Khan we appreciate it and come on my radio show some time.
KHAN: Yeah, we need the support of people like you seriously.
INGRAHAM: Alright, you take care.
It appears that a campaign of hatred aimed at the mosque — and heavily assisted by the network she contributes to — has changed Ingraham’s mind. Fortunately, there are conservatives who have not joined the Islamaphobic campaign to try to stop Park 51’s construction. This morning, former Bush advisor Mark McKinnon noted that trying to prevent peaceful Muslims from worshiping near the site of Ground Zero will only serve to enforce “al Qaeda’s message” that the West is at war with Islam.