As The GOP Descends Into Rank Demagoguery

Here is what Tim Pawlenty said about a Muslim center being built a few blocks from Ground Zero:

We shouldn't have images or activities that degrade or disrespect that in any way.

What Pawlenty is saying that the expression of religious faith by American citizens "degrades and disrespects" a site where eleven privileged religious fanatics murdered 3,000 human beings, Christian and Muslim, Jewish and atheist, male and female, American and countless other countries. A local Muslim group asked him to retract or clarify. If he wants to compete with Palin in the primaries, he can do neither:

“Our governor has engaged in collective guilt by saying that all Muslim activities and images anywhere near Ground Zero are degrading and disrespectful,” Taneeza Islam, civil rights director for Minnesota’s chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a statement.

Pawlenty’s spokesman Bruce Gordon said there’s “no misunderstanding” over the governor’s comments, which suggested building a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center attacks was unpatriotic. “The governor's message is clear: New York is a big place. Find a different location for the mosque,” Gordon said in an email.

The obvious, inevitable implication of Pawlenty's statement is that American Muslims bear some collective responsibility for the mass murder on 9/11 – that there is no essential difference between American Muslims eager for interfaith dialogue and the mass murderers of 9/11. This is how we win the war of ideas in the world?

One wonders what's next. When the new tower is built, will Muslims who work there be forbidden to pray? Or shunned because they do? Are Muslims welcome at Ground Zero at all, according to Pawlenty? Are Muslims even welcome in America?

What we're seeing is, to my mind, ominous. It's increasingly clear that the debt hangover of the last decade, combined with the financial crisis and the full and growing impact of China and India on global labor markets may well mean a long, grim, endless employment recession. At the same time, we have an opposition party that believes in torture, pre-emptive war, Greater Israel, and the stigmatization of Muslim-Americans. We have a party that not only has no serious solutions to any of our current problems (what climate change?) but wants to ratchet up the war on Jihadist terror in such a way that will embolden the Islamists, give our enemies a fantastic p.r. gift, conflate all Muslims as potential terrorists and elect a half-term former governor on the basis of her proud ignorance. And then what? Over to you, Mr Netanyahu. A global religious war is on – and coming to your neighborhood soon.

If your alarm bells aren't ringing, they should be. And if you are not increasingly motivated to support the president who alone stands in the way of these ominous portents, then you will have no one to blame when these fear-mongering demagogues get back into power.