A Crazy Wingnut Mistake

Doug Ross, a wingnut blogger, misunderstood a tweet and thought Obama had a U.S. flag removed from Ground Zero because he hates America. Then his stupid mistake was repeated by Malkin and Drudge. Malkin later acknowledged the mistake. Ross did too, sort of. He says his mistake was Obama’s fault for making him think such a delusional accusation could be true.

In justifying his hair-trigger overreaction, Ross linked to a video of Obama standing with his hands clasped during the National Anthem, to prove that Obama hates the flag. A little bit of Googling reveals photos of Bush and other presidents also failing to put their hands over their hearts during the National Anthem. A little more Googling led me to videos of Bush sitting, bored, fiddling with a hand-held American flag and drumming it against his thigh, and a photo of Bush stepping on a floor mat with the U.S. flag printed on it. I also remember (because I’m old enough) Bush Sr. draping a flag over his shoulders like it was a bath towel.

People make gaffs and every president has done things that appear to be disrespectful. These are either due to a deficiency in knowledge about ceremonial etiquette or due to being distracted by other things, like running the country. I can find gaffs committed by Republican presidents and Democratic presidents, but I can’t find swells of lunatic reactions from the left that come close to spreading as quickly as those on the right, or which contain the same amount of murderous and hysterical accusations.

I wish the hateful nonsense would stop, but Republicans are at a low. Their obstructionist tactics almost lead to a government shutdown, their plan to kill Medicare didn’t quite slip by without the people noticing, the birther movement is pretty much dead, Bin Laden was caught and killed on Obama’s watch, and the Republicans can’t seem to produce a leader who excites their base without sounding like a lunatic or a moron. Brace yourselves, folks, for a tidal wave of accusations against Obama that are hateful, racist, and most of all, unbelievable, at least to a thinking person.

Aspects of the Cordoba House Controversy

1) Can it be stopped? Probably not. It would be unconstitutional for the government to stop it. Politicians trying to use legal tricks to block it should stop. On the other hand, people have a right to protest.

2) Is it gloating? No. Even Jeffery Goldberg, rarely a champion for Islamic causes, praises Imam Rauf and assures his readers that Cordoba House would be the antitheses of a victory mosque.

3) But how would you feel about a Japanese shrine near the Arizona or any other hypothetical analogous example? I would support the constitutional right for the structure to be built as long as it complies with existing laws. I would also welcome an effort by a peaceful group to disavow the violence of a group with whom they share an ethnic, religious or national bond. So if a group of Japanese people who condemn the attack on Pearl Harbor chose to build a shrine in the name of peace near the USS Arizona, I would accept it. The location of Cordoba House is not analogous to a shrine ON Ford Island. I would similarly support effort by a German group condemning genocide with a religious center near Auschwitz (not inside one of its buildings).

4) They don’t allow Churches in Saudi Arabia, do they? The United States does not ban religions based on an association between those religions and oppressive nations. We didn’t ban Protestantism during WWII, and we don’t ban Buddhism based on China’s oppression of its various minorities. We don’t respond to oppression throughout the world by enacting it here.

5) We wouldn’t have allowed it in the past! In the past, we threw Japanese Americans in concentration camps while treating German prisoners with more dignity than we did Black American solders.

6) They’re trying to spread Islam throughout the world! If trying to spread a religion throughout the world made that religion evil, Christianity would be a the top of the list.

7) Personal Opinion? I think Cordoba house was a bad idea that will likely instigate violence and delay the very healing that its supporters are trying to encourage. But if those who don’t like it allow it to be build as Constitutional law requires, it will not be a silent acceptance of insult, but a display of allegiance to our Constitution and the religious freedom that it guarantees.