In strongly-worded statement released today, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), a tea party favorite and perennial GOP presidential candidate, strongly condemned his “fellow conservatives” for opposing the proposed Park 51 Islamic community center near Ground Zero. The outcry over the mosque “implies that Islam alone was responsible for the 9/11 attacks,” Paul said, explaining that the rights of minorities must be protected, even when it’s unpopular. Ultimately, Paul argues that the opposition to the mosque “is all about hate and Islamaphobia,” stoked by “neo-conservatives” who “never miss a chance to use hatred toward Muslims to rally support for the ill conceived preventative wars”:
Many fellow conservatives say they understand the property rights and 1st Amendment issues and don’t want a legal ban on building the mosque. They just want everybody to be “sensitive” and force, through public pressure, cancellation of the mosque construction.
This sentiment seems to confirm that Islam itself is to be made the issue, and radical religious Islamic views were the only reasons for 9/11. If it became known that 9/11 resulted in part from a desire to retaliate against what many Muslims saw as American aggression and occupation, the need to demonize Islam would be difficult if not impossible. [...]
It is repeatedly said that 64% of the people, after listening to the political demagogues, don’t want the mosque to be built. What would we do if 75% of the people insist that no more Catholic churches be built in New York City? The point being is that majorities can become oppressors of minority rights as well as individual dictators. Statistics of support is irrelevant when it comes to the purpose of government in a free society—protecting liberty. [...]
This is all about hate and Islamaphobia.
Paul is the first national Republican leader to break with the party and call out the undercurrents of Islamaphobia in the opposition to the mosque. He is also likely to offend some of his own supporters, as many in the tea party movement have come out in strong opposition to the Park 51 project. (HT: Glenn Greenwald)