By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network
NEW YORK - There have been a lot of aspersions cast about the funding of the "Ground Zero" mosque - raising questions about whether terrorist organizations will be paying for it.
Both Democratic and Republican leaders are questioning the funding and are calling for transparency. So imagine my surprise this morning when I turned on CNN and watched a report which said that no money has been raised for the mosque.
Which raises the question: why are people - including political leaders - raising the alarm about funding sources?
Perhaps the bigger question is this. Why would the imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, who preaches against hate and terrorism, who is involved in interfaith groups in New York City, knowingly accept money from terrorist organizations?
The implication is clear.
If terrorist organizations are funding the Cordoba Center, then it must be a front for terrorism.
Images are conjured of London mosques which serve as terrorism fronts - where terrorism is preached from the pulpit.
But, not only are there no indications that Rauf has any connection to terrorism - he's an outspoken opponent.
Yes, some, but not all, of the 9/11 family members object to the mosques proximity - two blocks away - to Ground Zero (there are 9/11 family members on record as supporting the project). But let's take this into context for a second.
Why are there so many other mosque projects being challenged across the United States.
For example, on Staten Island, a former convent at a Roman Catholic Church was to be converted into a mosque. Was - as in past-tense. Now that deal has been halted. Apparently it's OK for Catholics to pray on that property on Staten Island, but not Muslims.
Or is Staten Island in too close proximity to Ground Zero as well?
The reality is, there is an anti-Muslim undercurrent in the United States. There are people who fear Muslims and Islam. But blocking the establishment of mosques is not going to suddenly make all the Muslims in America go away. It's not going to make terrorists or terrorism go away either.
Fortunately not everyone is caught up in this nonsense. The CNN story included an interview with a Christian minister, Bob Chase, who says he knows Rauf, who has been called on by both the Obama and George W. Bush administrations to be part of State Department delegations to Muslim countries.
Chase says, when the fund raising project begins for the mosque, he will participate. I certainly hope, given the irrational argumentation over this mosque, that doesn't lead to Chase being accused of being a supporter of terrorism.
Meanwhile, New York Gov. David Paterson is offering Rauf state land further away from Ground Zero - his way of calming the waters. Well, unless he sells that land at its fair market value, he's offering to use taxpayer's money to fund a religious institution. If anything surrounding this controversy deserves protest - it is this.
Photo: Robert Huffstutter under Creative Commons license
Host - News Talk Online
Director of News and Programming Paltalk News Networkwww.paltalk.com/pnn Join the News Talk Online on the Paltalk News Network at 5 PM NY time weekdaysTwitter: http://twitter.com/garybaumgartenChat with me: http://gary.superim.me