Palin on the Ground Zero Mosque vs. the Founding Fathers

Sarah Palin tweeted, “Ground Zero mosque supporters, doesn’t it stab you in the heart as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls. refudiate.”

The tweet was later taken down and replaced with English, though to the same effect. Here is the original, courtesy twitpic.

There are many things wrong with the original tweet. “Refudiate” is, of course, not a word, and a case could be made for making Ms. Palin pay her parents back for all the money they spent on her education.

The phrase ‘stab you in the heart as it does ours’ should be ‘stab you in the heart as it does us’– she has incorrectly switched from a direct object of the transitive verb ‘to stab’ to a possessive modifying heart; in the first parallel phrase, ‘heart’ was the the object of a preposition.

The further errors in the tweet have to do with substance. A tiny fringe cult destroyed the Twin Towers in New York, not Islam in general (a religion of 1.5 billion human beings which could well be the religion of 3 billion human beings by mid-century). A monument to Usama Bin Laden or al-Qaeda would be in poor taste. A mosque, built anywhere in the United States, is not.

The classical Islamic law of war forbids sneak attacks. It forbids the killing of non-combatants. It forbids the killing of women and children. War is a collective duty declared by the duly constituted authorities, not an individual duty, and so not just any Ahmed or Moustafa can wake up in the morning and declare war on, say, Europe. See Khaled Abou El Fadl.

Al-Qaeda cultists reject these principles of Islamic law and they have been roundly condemned for doing so by all the major Muslim authorities– the rector of Al-Azhar Seminary in Egypt, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Iraq, television preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi in Qatar, Tahir al-Qadri in Pakistan, etc., etc., etc.

Finally, forbidding the building of a mosque in New York is inconsistent with the ideals of the Founding Generation of the United States of America, who explicitly mentioned Islam among the cases when they spoke of religious freedom:

‘George Washington asked in a March 24, 1784, letter to his aide Tench Tilghman that some craftsmen be hired for him: “If they are good workmen, they may be of Assia, [sic] Africa, or Europe. They may be Mahometans, [Muslims] Jews, or Christian of any Sect – or they may be Atheists …”

Ben Franklin, the founding father of many important institutions in Philadelphia, a key diplomat and a framer of the US Constitution, wrote in his Autobiography concerning a non-denominational place of public preaching he helped found “so that even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.” Here is the whole quote:

‘And it being found inconvenient to assemble in the open air, subject to its inclemencies, the building of a house to meet in was no sooner propos’d, and persons appointed to receive contributions, but sufficient sums were soon receiv’d to procure the ground and erect the building, which was one hundred feet long and seventy broad, about the size of Westminster Hall; and the work was carried on with such spirit as to be finished in a much shorter time than could have been expected. Both house and ground were vested in trustees, expressly for the use of any preacher of any religious persuasion who might desire to say something to the people at Philadelphia; the design in building not being to accommodate any particular sect, but the inhabitants in general; so that even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service. ‘

Thomas Jefferson wrote in his 1777 Draft of a Bill for Religious Freedom:

‘ that our civil rights have no dependance on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right . . . ‘

As I observed on another occasion, it was Jefferson’s more bigotted opponents in the Virginia legislature who brought up the specter of Muslims and atheists being elected to it in the world Jefferson was trying to create. He was undeterred by such considerations, which should tell us something.

I also once pointed out that John Locke had already advocated civil rights for non-Christians in his Letter on Toleration:

‘ Thus if solemn assemblies, observations of festivals, public worship be permitted to any one sort of professors [believers], all these things ought to be permitted to the Presbyterians, Independents, Anabaptists, Arminians, Quakers, and others, with the same liberty. Nay, if we may openly speak the truth, and as becomes one man to another, neither Pagan nor Mahometan, nor Jew, ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the commonwealth because of his religion. The Gospel commands no such thing. ‘

Here is Jefferson again: “The most sacred of the duties of a government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens.”
– Thomas Jefferson, note in Destutt de Tracy, “Political Economy,” 1816.

Or: “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
– Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82

The US Senate, full of founding fathers, and the Adams government, approved the Treaty with Tripoli (now Libya) of 1797, which included this language:

“As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

The treaty is important for showing the mindset of the fashioners of the American system. ‘

And here is a final point for Ms. Palin and her ilk to consider. The United States was born of a war against the British crown, the state religion of which was the Anglican Church. Those Anglicans who insisted on swearing allegiance to King George III were viewed as the enemy. And, the British custom of ‘establishing’ the Anglican church in many of the colonies, i.e. making it the state religion, was renounced by the revolutionaries. But there was no question that apolitical Anglicans could practice their religion freely, found Anglican (“Episcopalian”) churches anywhere they liked (even in places where the Americans and British had waged fierce battles, like New York), and even go to Britain to arrange for the training of Episcopalian/Anglican priests.

There is more. In 1787, Samuel Provoost was made the Episcopalian bishop of New York. He had been a Whig and a supporter of the Revolution even though an Anglican. In 1789, the US Senate made him its chaplain!

So not only did the Founding Generation not harbor a grudge against the religion of the British Crown (which had tried to crush them), they were perfectly willing to give non-Tory Anglicans high official positions in the new Republic. It would be as though the the current chaplain of the Senate were a former al-Qaeda member who had broken with Bin Laden and declared allegiance to the United States.

That is, the September 11 attacks were not the work of a foreign head of state supported by his state religion. No Muslim government supports al-Qaeda. But even if the attacks had been of that sort, the Founding Generation had already made a key distinction between religious practice and political loyalty, and had granted freedom of religion to non-Tory Anglicans.

Refudiate, Sarah. Refudiate.

67 Responses

    • I concur. I’ve read many post with a similar message, but this one set itself above.

      Thank you, Juan.

    • Palin does not stand for nor does she represent the Tea Party. The Tea Party has members of all faiths and creeds. We are not about a Christian theocracy or imposing fascist views on anyone. We do agree with Jesus when he says love thy neighbor as you do yourself. Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, and Hannity are all Johnny come lately’s who after first bashing the tea party and trivializing it, have discovered that if they don’t try to gain control and redirect it they will be run over. They see it as a wave, that they can catch and ride into office, thinking the wave will only crash on the rocks of a police state. Their attempts will ultimately fail. They will be the ones the wave of freedom crashes on. It’s not a left vs right thing. It’s a restore the Rule of Law thing, and a fiscal responsibility thing. It’s a freedom loving, constitution supporting, movement that states the document that chains this corrupt governments hands does not “live” or bend. It’s about restoring the republic, and seizing power back from greedy corporations and their lobbyists. It is also pride in the greatest experiment in freedom to have ever occurred on earth. PERIOD.

      • Here’s the problem with the Tea Party, Josh. The “Tea Party” is a hodgepodge of different organizations and individuals with no real unified leadership so nobody, including you, can say who does and does not represent them. While you may reject Sarah Palin, the fact remains that she was the keynote speaker at something called the “National Tea Party Convention.” You may also reject Mark Williams, who has publicly insulted Islam and opposed the Cordoba House, but he still runs an organization called the “Tea Party Express.” Plenty of people who self-identify as Tea Party members embrace Palin, Beck, and their ilk, your “refudiation” notwithstanding.

        I’m afraid your complaint reminds me of the pastor of some small Protestant denomination bitterly complaining that the Pope does not represent Christianity. True to a point, but he certainly represents a big chunk of it. So perhaps your particular Tea Party sect does not support Palin, but many do, and plenty of Tea Party groups are publicly opposed to Cordoba House as well. So good for you if your not an anti-Islam bigot, but don’t expect people outside of the Tea Party to give the movement a pass just because you are in it.

      • Josh,

        I like your description of the Tea Party and wish that was the case throughout the country. However, I don’t see it when I read about them or listen to the videos online where they are speaking their mind. They are admirers of Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and others on the far right. Michele Bachmann, who just formed the Tea Party Caucus is definitely pro-corporation, less regulation, small government and has practically re-written the constitution. In fact, none of the three I mention would agree with the factual statements Juan provided in regards to our founding fathers and the Constitution. They want us to believe that this nation is only Christian and want a government based on the Bible and ten commandments.

        This is the first time I’ve ever visited this blog and I have to say it was such a positive experience to see so many intelligent, well-written comments and an author with the insight that Juan Cole has. It will definitely become a regular stop for me.
        How refreshing to find adults discussing things in a civil manner without the childish name-calling and insults.

  1. A semi literate ill informed fog of a mind is a political asset for her. If she actually made some genuine enquiries about the world she might end up better qualified for the job she’s after but would “lose touch” with those whose vote she requires in order to get it.
    She’s doing a pretty good job of reinforcing stereotypes all round if you ask me.

  2. First Dubya and now Palin. The Republicans seem to have hit a rich seam of intellectual prowess.

  3. V.Good :)
    Much funnier though if there wasn’t the ever lingering fear that this woman ( and/or others of her ilk) are influencing USA politics and could one day be President – kinda wipes the smile off your face eh?

    • McVeigh wasn’t a Christianist. More of an anti-government gun nut – a more extreme version of the Tea Party types.

      • Hey, I’m offended by that comment!t! I’m a liberal and a so called “gun nut”. When a criminal breaks into my house in an attempt to rape and kill my family I know my shot gun will prevent that from happening. I’ve had break-ins before and I had to fight them off with a kitchen knife..which didn’t go to well.

      • That’s the point.

        Timothy McVeigh was a self proclaimed Christian, who was rejected by Christians for his terrorist act. His motives, however, were political.

        The 9/11 Hijackers were self proclaimed Muslims, who were reject by Muslims for their terrorist acts. Their motives, however, were political [1].

        [1] “The events of September 11 are but a reaction to the continuous injustice and oppression being practiced against our sons in Palestine, Iraq, Somalia, Southern Sudan and in other places like Kashmir and Assam. It is incumbent on the whole Islamic nation (ummah) to awaken people from their sleep and rush to devise a solution to this disastrous problem that faces mankind today.”
        Osama bin Laden.

        2001 Osama bin Laden’s Video Message. Aljazeera News Broadcast. December 26.

        • Opps. “The 9/11 Hijackers were self proclaimed Muslims, who were rejected by Muslims for their terrorist acts. Their motives, however, were political [1].”

  4. Thank you for being such a voice of sanity that this country desperately needs. As great as this country is, if Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are accepted, without challenge, as the experts of the views of the founders, the United States is doomed, and may end up being like Iran. All these, so called conservative, leaders seem to claim that the “FOUNDERS” who wrote the Constitution intended the United States to be a “Christian Nation” that tolerated no other religions. I fear that people like Sarah Palin seem intent on establishing a Christian Theocracy in the United States to replace a secular democracy.

    • We almost had in the form of televangelist preacher like Pat Robertson if he would have won the presidential elections.

  5. juan cole and robert fisk should be required reading for all those who wish to serve the public.

  6. St Paul’s Church is even closer to Ground Zero than the proposed mosque and Islamic community centre. What is wrong with letting Muslims pray near Ground Zero as Christians have been doing for years? Does Sarah Palin not realise that most of Al Qaeda’s victims have been Muslims and that Muslims would have at least as much reason as Christians to pray for the eternal damnation of Osama bin Laden?

  7. Great piece, Juan. However, the chances of Palin or her band of benighted followers being able to engage with your arguments, or even understand them, is less than zero. One of the characteristics of the Founding Fathers was their desire for harnessing wisdom in a framework of tolerance – the ideals of Enlightenment. Sadly, Palin & Co have no interest in goals such as these, they would struggle to understand why they should – even from their enveloping creed of self-interest. Stupidity and intolerance, cloaked in self-righteousness, are the only apparent characteristics of these people – they have absolutely nothing in common with statesmen or women who strive to make the world a better place for all.

    • While it’s true the tweeters might not be able to engage Professor Cole, there’s always the hope they might try.

  8. “The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it was the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily, the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.”

    — President George Washington to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport Rhode Island (August 21st, 1790).

  9. I second Anthony”s comment. Ignorance of the fact that Islam and the billions that practice it have nothing to do with 9/11 can be overcome by education. The idea of just building a symbol of islam on ground zero might just keep an association that should not exist. It might take generations to dissociate the two and correct the damage done by misinformation. Meanwhile, nothing speaks louder than the education you are generously providing through your posts, books and teaching. Thank you.

  10. Prof Cole come here everyday for your insights. Everyday I think well he out did himself.

    Thanks . When Sarah Palin was first put on the McCain ticket a commenter I believe at Washington Note Pissed off Patricia said “every time Sarah speaks we all feel smarter” Think that about covers it. If the words that come out of Sarah Palins mouth came out of a homely womans mouth she would be long gone.

    Another male commenter at I believe Firedoglake said to other men “no Sarah is not going to have sex with you”

    Muslim Children Gassed at Dayton Mosque After “Obsession” DVD Hits Ohio
    ————————————————————————–

    link to daytondailynews.com

    Zoning panel’s rejection of proposed mosque raises questions
    Is it religious intolerance?

    By Jim DeBrosse

    Staff Writer

    Sunday, January 27, 2008

    SUGARCREEK TWP., Greene County — When the First Baptist Church here advertised a speaker last fall who would tell “the truth about Islam,” Dina Ezzeddine of Kettering assumed it would be an interfaith gathering aimed at dispelling negative publicity about her religion.

    Instead, former Muslim and Christian convert Shahram Parvani told a gathering of 500 people that “Islam is not a religion of peace,” that Muslims “want to control, they want to dominate” and that they spread their religion “by the power of the sword.”
    replyReply
    Leen July 19th, 2010 at 5:58 am
    4

    Prof Cole

    “The US Senate, full of founding fathers, and the Adams government, approved the Treaty with Tripoli (now Libya) of 1797, which included this language:

    “As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

    The treaty is important for showing the mindset of the fashioners of the American system.”

  11. This is one of the finest, most succinct posts I have ever read on your blog.

    Clear, documented, historically and factually accurate, and putting the lie to the Christian dominionism lies being pushed by the far right such as Glenn Beck and Grizzly Mama Palin.

    Of course it will never penetrate the dense skulls of the 24 percent of our population who steep happily in their ignorance out of fear, and well, ignorance. I once spent nearly a life of my youth working with profoundly mentally disabled teens in a state mental hospital. I learned very quickly that a key to understanding them was to come to grips with the fact that they were incapable of understanding their own condition and state. The retarded and mentally damaged do not have the capacity to understand that that is their condition.

    That is where we are with at least a quarter of the populace of America. No amount of clear exposition of fact will penetrate the ignorance and superstition and fear and hysteria of their current state of being.

    Besides, you didn’t boil this down to a tweet, a sound byte, heck, it is not even a one page double spaced executive summary, so much in demand by the current generation of leaders in our society at large; so who in this modern day is going to read it anyway, other than other academic type liberal progressive over-educated elitists?

    Sorry, but if there is anything I am steeped in these days, it is 64 years of weariness with the madness that is culminating in a deep, dark cynicism toward my fellow human beans and this society of ours, which I see devolving into political and social madness more and more every day.

    • there is a huge difference
      my friend

      from those that can’t choose
      to those that can
      and don’t

      willful ignorance

      not one of dantes’
      lower
      bowgies

      but hell it is
      no less

  12. The kind of arguments Prof. Cole has made would only mean something to an intellectual and clearly Palin is not one of those. It’s astounding that even after almost a decade since the 9/11 attacks her comments are of the utmost stupidity and lack any sophistication. I wonder how she would counter the fact that there are quite a few churches that were built in the immediate vicinity of the Alfred P. Murrah building since that day on April 19th, 1995. Or does she somehow have a more nuanced view when it comes to distinctions between good and bad Christians…

  13. One block from ground zero? The location I find on the net is 45 Park Place. That’s not ground zero that’s the financial district, almost Tribeca, or maybe even formally Tribeca (will they have an entry in the film festival?). If you were trying to give a more conservative impression you might claim it is ‘City Hall’ not Tribeca. Seriously everything down there is packed together. A bigger problem is removing more real estate from the tax base. I would not consider it ground zero unless is was part of the old WTC complex or immediately faced it. My personal take is building a mosque in the financial district is more evidence of the decline in the finance business in NYC in general, but that is beside the point.

  14. I agree with you, and I value things like correct apostrophe use, but it was a bit petty to pick on the English in a tweet.

  15. Sarah claimed she could see Russia from her living room.!
    May she can see New York from her badroom window.
    This woman will not pass even an elementry test in world jeography.
    She once thought that Africa is a country. But this ignorant woman is chased constantly by the media as future savior of this country.
    She is paid big money to show up at events, and universities, and she is laughing all her way to the bank.
    Her knowledge of Islam and Mulsims will not exceed an information put in a cheaply written articles or from a visit to Fox news studio.
    I am not a big fan of Obama these days, but she will not come even near to him in may categories.
    Had McCain won,and something happened to him..this woman was next in line to be the US president.
    I am thankful that she and her buddy McCain did not make it..not because I am a great supporter of Obama,but because the danger of having an ignorant woman as the US president.
    She is a show woman and she proved it.

  16. English language talkers, doesn’t it stab you in the tongueas it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful speakers, pls. refudiate.

  17. Yeah, but facts have such a liberal bias!

    Oh, wait. :D

    Haha, great article, I loved it. Too bad conservative lemmings aren’t interested in verifiable evidence, though.

  18. Who and How

    This was such an appropriate way for Sarah The Stupid to provide her wisdomishness on this subject:

    A series of Tweets!

  19. “…..it was Jefferson’s more bigotted opponents…….”

    Er, Juan, it’s “bigoted”, not “bigotted”.

  20. She says that Shakespeare made up words too. It turns out to be partly true: Shakespeare anticipated Sarah Palin’s mastery of English when he created the characters of the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet and Bottom in A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.

  21. Re: Sarah Palin
    How lucky the world is to have a living, breathing, talking, thinking [SIC]. The quitter certainly shows the limits to: “They don’t make them like they used to” – they certainly are and they are getting better at it.
    Wonder if Sarah’s parents can still get a refund on their education expenses?

  22. A good piece, Dr Cole.

    You could also have mentioned Rev Johnathan Boucher who was the tutor to George Washington’s stepson and remained a friend of GW even after the Revolution and Boucher had become Rector of the Epsom parish church back in England – this didn’t produce any hysterical accusations against GW such as have attended those who have come into contact with Anwar al-Awlaqi; and also there was Rev Samuel Seabury (“Letters of a Westchester Farmer”) – another Tory – who post-Revolution became Episcopalian bishop of Connecticut.

  23. Further to my earlier comment, I have discovered that there are four churches that are at least as close to Ground Zero as the proposed mosque and community centre: St Paul’s Chapel, St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, and John Street United Methodist Church.

    Sarah Palin’s more recent tweets describe the proposed mosque as “provocative”. I suppose it is insensitive and provocative in the sense that it is insensitive and provocative for American Airlines and United Airlines to continue having their stock traded only a few blocks from the site where their planes were used to commit mass murder.

    What’s that? United and American were victims of Al Qaeda? It’s absurd to consider their presence as somehow upsetting when the blame for the attacks rests on a small group of fanatics? Maybe it’s a bit similar with ordinary Muslims who want to build a mosque and community centre.

  24. She is so bought and paid for by the Israeli lobby. Everytime I hear this woman speak she is yelping about Israel and how unfair the Jews are being treated (Israel has the right to defend itself from ships loaded with aid).

    You may refudiate this, but I firmly believe President Palin would bomb Iran tomorrow, and kingmaker Bill Kristol knows it.

    • dsmith, you’re absolutely right that Princess Sarah would bomb Iran–in a second–but she’s not bought and paid for by Israelis or Jewish interests, although Israel IS central to her wordlview.

      she a fundamentalist theocrat, as are some other politicians and many other people. They need to protect, support and defend Israel because it’s a key to the Second Coming of Christ.

      for all the Armageddon believers, if Israel were to fall apart it would expose the emptiness and shallowness of their hatred for this world and their desire to bring about the next, even at the possible cost of nuclear war.

      of course, after Israel defeats all those Godless atheists and agents of Satan at Armageddon, Jesus will magically appear and take them all to Heaven, as well as the few chosen Jewish people who’ve been set aside by God.

      of course, this comes as quite a surprise, as well as an annoyance, to Israelis who take a dim view of becoming Christians in accordance to Christian Scripture.

      there are groups of Christian extremists–not necessarily violent–who continually pour money and resources and support into Israel because Israel’s the key to the Rapture and the Second Coming of Jesus. That’s their main, and often only, reason for supporting Israel. Completely separate case from being controlled by Israeli or Jewish economic forces.

      And it’s evident from past comments over the years that Sarah falls into this mindset.

      in psychological terms, it’s pure nihilism in that they’re totally willing to bring about the destruction of this world, which they hate for not conforming to their standards.

      they do this with the self-assurance that (1) Jesus will take them home and (2) THEY are the Chosen Ones.

      • Okami, I wouldn’t put a lot of store in Palin’s religious beliefs. I especially would not place bets on her ability to comprehend biblical prophecy. I strongly believe that, like W, she uses religion as a hook and political tool to woo over the tea baggers and the Pat Robertson followers.

        As for her being bought and paid for by AIPAC, how else would a complete idiot and national no-body gain so much national attention? This is a co-ordinated effort by powerful media forces, Bill Kristol, National Review, Fox News, and all the other usual suspects who despise and demonize all things Islamic.

        These people know a true ball of clay when they see one. They also know that all Palin has to do is keep yelling 9-11, 9-11, 9-11 and she will keep our sheepish fellow Americans in mortal fear for years to come.

  25. Perhaps while were on the topic of language – its use and abuse perhaps we could start to reign in some of the – well, quite sensational and provocative language that has become so commonplace but goes to show that maybe we’re all often guilty of speaking without thinking first.
    A fine example has appeared numerous times in these feedbacks- ‘Ground Zero’ ……..actually the site of the Twin Towers attack . Think about the connotations of this title and how it might sound to people in other countries perhaps which have suffered far worse attacks – catastrophes. What does this phrases use say about how the user views their place in the world?

  26. There is an aspect to Sarah Palin that is rarely looked at. Which is that even though it is obvious that she is lacking in perception capacity, appears to be incapable and uninterested in having a single coherent thought on any issue, and is fundamentally deceitful, she is very popular to a major portion of this country’s population. Which, because political leaders are who they are because they are reflective of a significant group of the population, means that a major portion of our population is lacking in perception capacity, incapable and uninterested in having a single coherent thought, and fundamentally deceitful. Which is a major problem. Because having many citizens in any state is guaranteed to move that state progressively down hill toward perpetual chaos and failure.

    I further suggest this condition doesn’t exist because these people have a genetic defect, or a deprived childhood. It exists because there are very few voices in this country promoting reality; right, left, or center; and the majority of citizens are left wondering around, susceptible to demagogues like Sarah Palin, who I believe is not so dangerous because of her absurd beliefs, more because people like this regularly engage in endeavors that provide problems for the entire country and the world; a la Georgie boy.

  27. Thank you for such a beautiful article, people like you make me proud to be a Muslim American.

  28. Janine’s point is fairly well-said, I think. A few thousand people died at the Twin Towers, yes? That hardly makes it Ground Zero for the “war on terrorism”. If we subscribe to the poorly thought out concept of “war on terrorism” for a moment, surely we can remember that many more thousands of “innocent” civilians have been fire-bombed, bombed, starved, gassed, and killed in various methods, in many regions — from Hiroshima, to Dresden, to Auschwitz, to Rwanda, to the killing fields of Cambodia, to the Iran-Iraq Gulf War, to the starvation camps now standing in Palestine… and the Twin Towers site is but the site of a handful of deaths comparatively.

  29. I think it’s fascinating that Washington mentions atheists as ok in his letter while Locke on the other hand says in his Letter on Toleration that atheists should not be tolerated on the basis that they are liars (in a hat tip to Hobbes’ Leviathan in a way, since atheists would be liars since they have no fear of punishment).

  30. Her job is to distract us from what is really going on behind our backs.
    Quite frankly, she’s doing a brilliant job. Very amusing.

  31. He was the chief mechanic for a famous NASCAR driver, very tall and thin, as country as a haystack and as down home as grits, a leaning stereotype; and when he described a situation as “flusterating ” he hit the ball out of the park.

    I don’t now whether “flusterating”is a localism – centuries old, a mere slip, or a deliberate neologism which fits as happily as Dr. Walter Mitty’s fountain pen fit the medical apparatus (restoring the normal “pocketa-pocketa” from an alarming “pocketa-queek”).

    “Refudiate”, is more like Harding’s “normalcy”.

  32. Juan Cole is like LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL he is very inspirational by producing facts and preaching the truth like no other does in now a days in USA media unless you are paid by the LOBBYIST to shut down some religion, media is completely occupied by the disappointing so called journalist or think tanks who don’t have any factual background to prove or write an article.

  33. I can’t stand Palin, but have you ever wondered if maybe this is someone posing as her since it was taken down? She is a big enough idiot to keep it up there if it truly were her.

  34. “…coin new words.” That is redundant. It should be, “…coin words”

  35. Every time Sarah speaks we all feel smarter. Hope she sets her sights on writing plays like Shakespeare and not running on our country.

  36. […] Juan Cole makes a good find in his rebuttal of Sarah Palin’s ‘refudiate’ tweet in opposition to the building of a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center. He pulled up language from the Treaty of Tripoli which was unanimously ratified by the Senate in 1797 and signed by President John Adams. “As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.” […]

  37. Sarah Palins “refudiate” is a portmanteau of repudiate and refute. In his day, Richard J. Daley entertained us with “insinuendos,” a portmanteau of insinuate and innuendo. (“I resent the insinuendos.”)

    “Portmanteau” was a coinage of Lewis Carroll, who created many odd words in this way: for example, “slithy” combining lithe and slimy, and “mimsy” combining miserable and flimsy. Carroll’s portmanteaus reward us with language to describe slithy Sarah Palin and her mimsy lucubrations, while Palin’s portmanteaus are only good for a belly laugh at her expense. That is because Carroll was a man of great wit and learning, and Palin is an ignoramus whose mind is on vacation while her mouth is working overtime.

  38. […] people like Palin love to refer – made it clear that religious persecution was off limits. Professor Juan Cole from Informed Consent took that fact even further to marvelously point out t….  Check it: And here is a final point for Ms. Palin and her ilk to consider. The United States was […]

  39. Thanks for the comments. An Islamic community center 10 minutes’ walk from the WTC site is no biggie for us New Yorkers. I live 6 minutes’ walk from a 1st floor that serves as a mosque in the East Village, and no one I know ever gives it a second thought. Trig Palin has Down Syndrome. Sarah Palin is retarded.

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