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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Are They Really for Religious Freedom?

by bert


Jeff Wagner on WTMJ-AM Monday joined the teeming mob of pundits opposing a proposed Islamic center called Cordoba House near the Manhattan site of the former World Trade Center towers. His argument used the standard talking points on this issue.


“This isn’t to me a question of religious freedom. Yes, they have a right to put up a mosque,” Wagner said. However, he opposes the building because of where Muslims want to put it, which is about two blocks from the site of one of the two Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. “It is the precise location that makes it controversial.”


Wagner might be sincere. However, I would be more convinced if Wagner, or even his station's fellow pundit Charlie Sykes, had taken a visible stand in a local case involving the construction plans for Muslims.

In other words, why did I not hear his station come to the defense of the Muslims in the Sheboygan area that want to build their mosque there? There the Christians opposing it were basically attacking Islam itself as inherently violent and hostile to the U.S., not opposing the project based on its location.

I know it would be too much to expect the station to actually interview one of the many thoughtful Muslims in this listening area to break down, rather than promote, a prevailing image of Muslims as crazed terrorists. But the Sheboygan issue is a local story that other news outlets not from here have covered. Why didn't Wagner mention it to show he means it when he says Muslims have a right to put up buildings once in a while?

Since I bring up the conservative campaign against Islam and its followers, I cannot resist also pointing out the gaffe Monday by the king of radio talkers, Rush Limbaugh. Rush confused Hindus with the Japanese on Monday while trying to make an anology between the World Trade Center site and Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.


Nobody’s perfect. The slip-up, though, tells us more than Rush wanted us to know about the right-wing's pursuit of a legitimate religion. It’s a sign of ignorance that was lampooned well by The Simpsons in a episode from long ago.

I recall that Chief Wiggum was addressing Krusty the Clown, Homer, and Apu. The chief said something close to “We have the world’s three main religions here, Christian, Jew, and, uh [gesturing toward Apu], miscellaneous.”

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