New York's Mosque Controversy Splits Howard Dean from His Support Group

Howard-Dean-8-23-10.jpgHoward Dean speaks his mind, whether it costs him a Presidential election shot as it did in 2004, or whether it costs him a bushel of supporters' right today.

This time around, the former Democratic National Committee chairman has split with his million-member Democracy for America grassroots political organization on the future location of the controversial Muslim mosque in Lower Manhattan.

Dean feels it should not be allowed to be built at 51 Park Ave.,  two blocks from the horrendous Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the twin World Towers.

Arshad Hasan, executive director of Democracy for America, defends the location.

Dean told The Huffington Post he wouldn't have a (personal) problem if the proposed Islamic cultural center is eventually built,  but thought it would be better to find a compromise location.

Arshad-Hasan-for-8-23-10.jpg"It won't upset me," Dean said, "except I think it is a missed opportunity to show some flexibility.

"I don't believe all this nonsense the right wing is putting out about radicals and all that stuff. I take the congregation at its word that it is a moderate congregation trying to heal the wounds of 9/11. But the best way to heal the wounds is not to have a court battle, but to sit down and try to work things out."

In a letter sent to Democracy for America members, Hasan says "... Moderate Muslims are doing everything we could ask of them.

"They're trying to build a bridge in the communities they live in, trying to show the world that Muslims are cool and interesting and diverse, and proving that being a Muslim does not equal being a terrorist.

"But they're being thrown under the bus by our elected leaders, egged on by some of the ugliest elements of the right-wing.

" Well-intentioned leaders of the Democratic Party are getting caught up in the fray as well, some of them seeking to find common ground with an implacable opposition. It's not helping."

Hasan adds, "This isn't just a Manhattan problem. Right now, there is opposition to mosques in Staten Island, Brooklyn, Southern California, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Illinois, and dozens of other locations across our nation.

"Where would they move? If public pressure can be brought to bear to take down the most high-profile Muslim community center in liberal NYC, then these other places don't even have a chance, Ground Zero connection or not.

"Frankly, this isn't about Ground Zero. This is about America. This is about freedom. This is about people and there seems to be no place that Muslim people can go without being harassed."

We think the Muslim planners of the mosque should have considered the sensibilities of the families and loved ones of the 3,346 victims of the 9/11 tragedy and selected a construction location further away from Ground Zero.

Freedom of religion and speech is guaranteed in this nation by the Constitution.  But good old common sense is not. That's the gist of the problem here.

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