And for what stand the Democrats? For shame. For spineless shame.
I won't give up my personal Battle of Ideas, though Beinart thinks we, as a nation, may have already lost the war:
So almost nine years after September 11, we need to confront a few painful truths. First, while the military and counterintelligence aspects of the struggle against al Qaeda will likely last long into the future, the “war of ideas” is over. America has thrown in the towel...
Once upon a time, Republicans were so confident that the vast majority of Muslims preferred freedom to jihad that they believed the U.S. could install democracy in Iraq within months. Now, confronted with a group of Muslim Americans who want to build a cultural center that includes Jews and Christians on the board (how many churches and synagogues do that?), GOP leaders call them terrorists because they don’t share Benjamin Netanyahu’s view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Once upon a time, the “war on terror” was supposed to bring American values to Saudi Arabia. Now Newt Gingrich says we shouldn’t build a mosque in Lower Manhattan until the Saudis build churches and synagogues in Mecca—which is to say, we’re bringing Saudi values to the United States. I wonder how David Petraeus feels about all this. There he is, slogging away in the Hindu Kush, desperately trying to be culturally sensitive, watching GIs get killed because Afghans believe the U.S. is waging a war on Islam, and back home, the super-patriots on Fox News have… declared war on Islam...
Congratulations, Republicans, you’ve safeguarded ground zero against the insidious threat of religious liberty. I’ve always found going there a deeply moving experience, but for the time being, at least, I’ve lost my desire to go. Hallowed ground? After the unforgivable events of the last month, it’s become a little less hallowed for me.And for me. That hole in the ground, and the coming tower to fill it, stands for something. It is a reminder of the atrocity committed against Americans of all faiths and none, by the forces of intolerance and medieval barbarism.
The number of times I have heard "they hate us for our freedom" flowing robotically from the mouths of conservatives is inestimable. Is it the case, then, that the Neo-Republican strategy is to defeat the terrorists by bargaining that freedom away?
Of course not. The real reason is every bit as bad, with the added property of being cynical. The hysteria we see pervading television and print is a mere calculation to rally the base in the worst way. So I ask: is it worth it? To gain the levers of power for handful of years - this? Apparently, they think so.
Will we still be able to describe the first amendment to our children in a few years time - and with a straight face? Or will we qualify that description with the follow up: "well, you can technically worship freely in the United States of America, but if too many people don't like the idea, you should probably go do it somewhere else."
Beinart's take here.