Ground zero mosque opponents are pounding a “drumbeat of hatred” and ignoring the conservative principles of private property and religious freedom, Texas Rep. Ron Paul says.
In an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview, the 2008 GOP presidential hopeful alleged that conservative opponents of the mosque and cultural center two blocks from the World Trade Center site in New York City are blaming all Muslims for the Sept. 11 attacks instead of focusing their ire on al-Qaida, the actual perpetrator.
Paul’s stance has placed him at odds with many Republicans, including his son, Kentucky GOP Senate candidate Rand Paul, who voiced his opposition to the proposed mosque and Islamic center two blocks north of ground zero during a recent Newsmax.TV interview.
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Conservatives are enamored with the idea of having an imperial presence on the world’s stage, with troops stationed around the globe, the elder Paul says.
“They support the war in Afghanistan and Iraq — and actually support plans for intimidating and moving toward war in Iran,” he says. “They have to have a reason for that, and they can’t say it’s for oil or they can’t say it’s to . . . make them all democrats over there.
“You have to have somebody you are willing to hate — you have to have a Hitler to hate.”
Paul believes such advocates are making Muslims that hate target to get Americans to support the wars.
“They have to keep the drumbeat of hate up, so they have to blame the entire religion,” he says. “That’s not everybody . . . that might support or not support building the mosque, because a lot of people just say, ‘That’s bad manners and they shouldn’t do it because they haven’t thought it through.’”
Although Paul disagrees with his son about the mosque, he does not include him in the same category as those who oppose the project because they see Islam as the enemy.
Asked whether concerns about the $100 million project’s getting Iranian funding have merit, Paul says: “We never treat anybody else who is building a church or a mosque to check where actually the money is coming from and what everybody believes in. I mean, if something turns up, you deal with it if they break the law.
“But in religion and freedom of speech, you give people the benefit of the doubt.”
Suggesting that the government look into the project’s funding threatens the First Amendment because it would equal censorship, he says. New York GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio is among those who have urged such an audit.
“I don’t want government coming in and checking on anything like this, and implying . . . that bad people have supported it,” Paul says.
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