The Rockford Files

Starting at Ground Zero

Here in Rockford, as across the country, many Tea Party activists spent the latter part of the summer with their eyes figuratively fixed on the former site of the World Trade Center—or, rather, two blocks away.

The controversy over the Ground Zero Mosque generated much sound and fury, but in the end, what did it signify?  Those who should have been most upset over the proposal to erect within shouting distance of the site of the September 11 attack a building to worship the god who inspired the mass murder of 3,000 of their fellow citizens—that is, the denizens of New York City—seemed, on the whole, to have little problem with it (direct relatives of the victims largely excepted).  The imam of Park51 (as the proposed mosque is now known), on the basis of his speeches and remarks about Hamas, sharia, and September 11, can fairly be described as a radical Muslim, but until the GOP needed a hot-button issue to drive voters to the polls in November, Feisal Abdul Rauf’s utterances had largely been ignored, and he had even been praised as a voice of “moderate Islam” and hired by the FBI and the State Department to conduct training sessions on the religion.

In other words, the controversy over the Ground Zero Mosque had all the hallmarks of an election-year distraction, designed to keep voters from remembering that, for the better part of eight years, the Republicans up for election in...

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