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Charles Krauthammer reacts to the Ground Zero mosque and the Prop. 8 court decision

Sunday, August 8, 2010

HH: Joined now by Washington Post columnist and Fox News all-star, Charles Krauthammer. Charles, a good Friday to you.

CK: Thank you. You, too. Good to have you back.

HH: I’m glad to be back. I want to start with the mosque story, Charles. When I left D.C. in 1988, I was living out in Great Falls. And Manassas was just in the first of its many land use disputes, turning down a shopping center that was too close to the battlefield, then Disney got turned down. Antietam’s had its battles, Gettysburg has turned down a casino that was too close, Valley Forge just last year got rid of a museum that was going to be contiguous that they didn’t like to the battlefield. Why is it so hard for elites to understand Americans are very sensitive to the land uses around Ground Zero?

CK: No, I mean, I find it absolutely astonishing that they’re so, I mean, insensitive in the sense that they have no understanding of what’s going on here. I mean, nobody objects to the building of a mosque. There are a thousand places where everybody would welcome it. But there is something about sacred ground. And I’ll give you another example. This had to do in 1993. Pope John Paul II ordered a group of Carmelite nuns who had established a convent near Auschwitz to leave it. Now the nuns were acting in goodwill. They were praying for the souls of the departed. They had no ill will in their heart. They weren’t…but the fact is the Pope understood that that was not the right place for that. It would…he told them to go to a nearby town, or to go back to, I think there was a place in another part of the country that they had originally come from. And that was because he understood that when there is a sacred ground, you have to respect the feelings of those who feel that they have invested, that they have something deeply invested in it. And this is, and in the case of the Carmelites, there’s no question about their goodwill. When you’re talking about the imam who wants to establish this center, there’s a large question about his goodwill. He was asked if Hamas is a terrorist organization. His answer was I’m not a politician. There’s a lot of debate at the U.N. over what terrorism is. Well, that tells you everything you need to know about this man. He’s trying to establish a statement in New York. It’s not about a bridge, if he wants to build a bridge with a mosque, or an Islamic center. He should do it in a lot of other places, like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, where the…and a lot of places where intolerance of other religions is a way of life.

HH: The chief critic of critics of the mosque of Mayor Bloomberg. And I find it frustrating, and I wonder if you do, Charles, that he engages in serial straw men arguments. He misstates the Constitutional law aspect of it. It is possible to craft a Constitutional approach. You just can’t single out Muslims. You have to say we’re not, we’re going to have a review process for any use, and we’re going to treat all religious facilities the same. But then today, he went on his radio show and dismissed concerns about funding sources, saying, “do you really want every time they pass the basket in your church, and you throw in a buck, they run over and say okay, where do you come from, who are your parents, where did you get this money? It’s a shame that we even have to talk about this.” That, Charles, is such a bad straw argument. What’s it tell you about either his intelligence or his intellectual honesty?

CK: Well, I’ve actually asked that of other people, because I don’t quite understand where all this comes from. It’s political correctness gone amok. And maybe, in the milieu he lives in, in New York, that’s what you have to think and you’re supposed to say or people will treat you with not goodwill at the cocktail parties. I mean, I have no idea, but the arguments are just ridiculous. If the funding is coming from people who are religiously intolerant, it undermines the entire argument for this center, or the pretense that it’s supposed to be a bridge. That’s why it’s important that we should know who is involved in funding it, and to know what the real intents and beliefs of this imam are before we even think of approving it, although I mean, regardless, this is the wrong place for an Islamic center. This was a site where nineteen Muslims acting in the name of Islam, though a perversion of Islam, yes, but nonetheless acting in its name, massacred three thousand people. This is not a place where such an institution ought to be established within…you know, the building at the site where it is was a building through its rood went one of the wheels of one of the planes that went into the World Trade Center.

HH: Yeah.

CK: So it’s sort of intimately involved in the event.

HH: I had a caller this week say that she was emotionally distraught at the prospect of paying a visit to the memorial there in a quiet time, and hearing the call to prayer. And I’ve had other callers concern, and emails’ concern. If this is allowed at 600 feet, what else could be allowed around there?

CK: Well, there’s another thing, is at its, for those people who adhere to the ideology behind the perpetrators of 9/11, for radical Islam around the world, to see a 15 story mosque and Islamic center established, and as you say, for the sound of the call to prayer to be issued over 9/11, is to them a sign of triumph. We attacked, and here in the heart of the great Satan, we are establishing a great monument to our radical ideology, is how they would see it. And I think that’s not a triumph we want to give them.

HH: Robert Gibbs refused to answer questions about this. Do you think the president ought to answer questions? I think we ought to know what he thinks on this.

CK: Well, he dodged it by saying it’s a local event. It’s no more a local event than 9/11 was a local event for New York and Washington.

HH: I agree. Charles, before we run out of time, I also want to talk to you about the Prop. 8 decision, because it’s another example of breathtaking intellectual dishonesty. The opinion’s very long, but it’s a very short opinion, really. It’s I’m changing the law of suspect classification and not telling you. And I wonder if you think this will drive, you wrote in your column in the Post today, Annals Of Executive Overreach, about overreach. But I’m beginning to think that the elites on the coasts are partially responsible for not just the economy, but responsible for 72% in Missouri saying no to Obamacare, that this is going to be who decides elections. I wrote a column about this, this week, that the middle is going to say to the coasts, stop this. You do not run our lives this way. What do you think?

CK: Well, I think this is a replay of the social division and discontent now for three decades over the abortion decision. Ruth Bader Ginsberg, you know, liberal jurist on the Supreme Court, before she became a Supreme Court member, gave a speech in which she said that Roe V. Wade, and remember, she’s a liberal, preempted the sort of change that was already happening on abortion, and prevented a stable resolution of this issue, because it excluded popular will. It became an inherent right, so called, in the Constitution, and you couldn’t affect it. And that’s what’s going to happen here. Everybody understands how the view about gay marriage is understanding, as younger people are more open to it are becoming older, and older people are dying off. In California itself, there was a referendum on this eight years ago, ten years ago, in which gay marriage lost by 62%. Now, it’s 52. We see where all of this is going. And for the idea for judges to preempt this, and remove it entirely from the political arena and from the will of the people expressed either in referendum or through representatives in the legislature, is insane. Yet this happened, and we’ll have a, you know, we’ll have states deciding on their own, as they should, D.C. decides, as Vermont decided to do it through popular expression in the legislatures. That’s fine. We are, the states are the laboratories of democracy. Oregon has assisted suicide, which I oppose. But it’s okay if it’s in one state, and the people have willed it. We will learn from it. But to have one judge rule for the whole country, no state will be able to deny same sex marriage, if his ruling is upheld, which is not how a federal democracy should work.

HH: Charles Krauthammer, always a pleasure. Thank you, Charles.

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