Why does Newt Gingrich want America to be more like Saudi Arabia? 

I haven’t really been following the controversy surrounding that so-called “super mosque” to be built at 9/11’s ground zero in New York City.  Because given Obamacare, the travesty that is the government’s financial sector reform efforts and the three-ring-circus that is the Obama administration’s economic rescue efforts I just can’t find the time to care about it all that much.

But I did find Newt Gingrich’s recent argument against the mosque, made in a posting on his website, to be interesting.  And more than a little objectionable. Specifically this part:

There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over.

So in order to teach Saudi Arabia a lesson, we’re going to lower ourselves to their level? In order to combat religious intolerance in the Muslim world, we’re going to practice religious intolerance here in America?

Talk about counterproductive.

Which isn’t to say that I don’t empathize, to a degree, with those upset with the building of this mosque. Those behind the building of the mosque are being needlessly provocative, and therefore doing more harm to the long-term interests of Muslims in America than good.  

But those protesting the mosque, up to and including Republican/conservative icons like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, are forgetting what it is that makes America great. It’s our freedoms, which include free speech, free assembly, free religion and a host of other liberties that make us so different from the rest of the world. Including places like Saudi Arabia.

Let the mosque be built. Let’s show the rest of the world that we don’t just embrace freedom when the freedom in question is easy but also when it’s hard. We should tolerate speech, even when it’s hateful and bigoted. We should tolerate writing even when it’s inflammatory. And we should tolerate the expression of religion, even when it’s as tactless as building a mosque almost on top of the site where thousands were killed by Islamist extremists.

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Rob Port

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