MSNBC: 'Spiritual Father of the Tea Party Ron Paul vs. Mosque Critics'Submitted by Michael Nystrom on Tue, 08/24/2010 - 15:14
Full transcript from MSNBC below: (Sorry about the weird lack of capitalization & copious spelling errors. That's the way it was on the site - likely a voice recognition transcript.)
>>> Good evening from los angeles. i'm lawrence o'donnell in for keith olbermann. the spiritual father of the tea party, congressman ron paul has weighed in on the controversy over the proposed construction of an islamic center with prayer room two blocks from where the towers once stood. in the fifth story tonight mr. paul plainly, powerfully does the following. one, defending the right to build the center there. two, dismantles the so-called sensitivity argument. three, reveals what he thinks is the true motive of the republican mosque opponents. mr. paul issued a statement on his website. the headline, ron paul to sunshine patriots, stop your democratogogy about the nyc mosque. mr. paul has previously drawn republican anger for standing up against the war in iraq, u.s. torture, and infringement on personal liberties in the name of safety, but this time, well, you just have to hear this. quote, the fact that so much attention has been given the mosque debate raise the questions of just why and driven by whom? in my opinion, it has come from the neoconservatives who demand continual war in the middle east and central asia and are compelled to constantly justify it. they never miss a chance to use hatred toward muslims to rally support for the ill-conceived preventive wars. they just want everybody to be sensitive and force through public pressure cancellation of the mosque construction. this sentiment seems to confirm that islam itself is to be made the issue and radical religious islamic views were the only reasons for 9/11. the justification to ban the mosque is no more rational than banning a soccer field in the same place because all the suicide bombers loved to play soccer. defending the controversial use of property should be no more difficult than defending the first amendment principle of defending controversial speech. but many conservatives and liberals do not want to diminish the hatred for islam, the driving emotion that keeps us in the wars in the middle east and central asia. this is all he says about hate and islamphobia. right on queue came the protest against a muslim center. a black man wearing a cap was targeted by protestors and called a coward, someone shouting he must have voted for obama. someone else, quote, we're against the muslims, not each other. the man it turned out was not a muslim. and five years after 9/11, glenn beck now railing against the center on fox news once appeared with the center's iman on abc news and spoke to him in a way suggested he was part of the solution, not part of the problem.
>>Beck: it is important for all of us to look evil in the eye and crush it. radicalized islam is evil. they are -- they're hijacking a beautiful religion. i believe there is a cancer that is radicalized islam, and it must be cut out or it's going to kill all of us, including the good muslims.
>> with us tonight on this issue is msnbc contributor maliselissa harris and professor of politics and african- american studies at princeton university. thanks for joining us tonight, melissa. first, let's start with the phrase glenn beck used. good muslim. we've gone pretty far down the road once we start talking about good muslims instead of talking about people who happen to be muslim who do the good or bad things, haven't we?
>> so let's pause and i'll assign everyone a little reading. everyone should read the book "good muslim bad muslim." it would speak directly to these issues. when i hear good muslim, it resonates with me with a history of similar kinds of terms. good negro, nice girl. both of those terms when they were called good colored folk or nice girls or good women as compared to feminists or civil rights workers, it was a way of suggesting that a person from a group that is an outsider group, when they conform to the interests of the state, are necessarily defined as good. the reason we want to be careful about that is not only as you say that individuals should be judged based on their actions and not on their identity, but also because as soon as you do that, you make it impossible for that person to then act assist a bridge to the very community to which your hoping to speak. so if you call someone, for example, a good negro, it's pretty easy for those in the civil rights movement to say that person is no longer relevant to us. we don't want to work with them in terms of building these bridges. if you label people things like good muslim, by someone who agrees with me, glenn beck, you make it impossible to build the bridge.
>> isn't there a presumption in the cultural see mantics of the phrasing of good muslim or good negro that those people are not noormly good? if you're talking about one that is good, you must specify that, because that's the exception.
>> absolutely. i mean, it's a bit -- it's a bit like suggesting there's an oxymoron there and therefore it's worth pointing out. like a reasonable conservative like ron paul who has been this week.
>> melissa, the ugliest scene from the protest yesterday, the black man wearing a white cap assuming to be a muslim besieged by the mob, what did you stee in that scene?
>> this is emblematic of what occurred in the weeks and months of years after 9/11. overall i think our nation did a generally good job about not sort of creating a set of policies that pushed out our muslim brothers and sisters. there were always these individual acts of hate that occurred, and often these individual acts of hate were against people who were misidentified as muslims. so, for example, people who were seik and people don't know much about the difference between these religious cultures, they were misidentified and victimized by hate speech or hate crime. it's also very scary. it is precisely the option of where i'd hoped we'd be going as a nation after the 2008 election.
>> it seems to have fallen to republican gadfly ron paul to make the clearest, unequivocal statement any politician has made who has spoken on this subject. what do you make of congressman paul's statement, and why is he alone so seemingly fearless in the face of this controversy?
>> i got to say rare is the day where i'm really cheering a ron paul blog, but i got to say i was when i was reading this. i was laughing thinking about the facts that i still carry in my purse a copy of the constitution that ron paul handed to me on a manchester, new hampshire street corner during the 2008 primaries. i'll say that the thing about paul here is that he is doing precisely the opposite of beck. he is calling americans to our highest and best ideals. the point about america's best ideals isn't that we all agree on one set of policies or one idea logical position. it's not that we will all become progressive, but rather that what we agree on is a set of precrepts about how we one another in our social, political and economic world. now, you know, i'm more interested in some issues of legality and justice, and ron paul is more interested in issues fundamentally of liberty. those two -- that concern about justice and about liberty, about equality and freedom, those are the core american principles, and when you call americans back to that instead of appealing to the very lowest common denominators of ethnic anxiety and racial and religious hate, that's when you end up with an american public discourse that can be about ideas, about real policy, and no longer has to be about this sort of fear mongering and stereotyping.
>> melissa harris lacewell, thanks for your time tonight.