Former Bush Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell gave a strong endorsement of the proposed Islamic community center near Ground Zero in New York City today, saying, “If you believe in our system…then you can’t make a distinction between two, three, five, and ten block” away from the site of the 9/11 terror attacks. Appearing on ABC’s The View, Powell said “politicians” have stoked the emotional debate, and noted that the opposition to the mosque is part of a wave of “Islamophobia across the country,” citing the opposition to proposed mosques in Tennessee and California:
HOST: Is [the opposition] hurting our troops?
POWELL: I think eventually it will. … And I’m saying to myself, what is wrong with this? and does it make a difference whether it’s two, three, four, five or 10 blocks away? And the answer is, if you believe in our system and if you understand why we can do it at the Pentagon and Walter Reed, then you can’t make a distinction between two, three, five and 10 blocks. I think it should go forward. [...]
General Petraeus is right. There are a billion Muslims who are watching this mosque issue and they’re watching what’s going on in Florida and they’re wondering, has America changed? Is America different? … So I think we’ve got a problem. We’ve got to take a deep breath. And politicians are using this for all kinds of purposes.