Soledad O'Brien's CNN report on mosque confusion offers hope and a stiff belt of caution
BY DAVID HINCKLEY
DAILY NEWS TV CRITIC
Friday, March 25th 2011, 4:00 AM
Unlike the downtown New York mosque controversy, there aren't issues of geography or legacy in Soledad O'Brien's report for CNN.
Soledad O'Brien's new report on the controversy over a proposed Islamic center in Murfreesboro, Tenn., offers an encouraging sip of hope and a stiff belt of caution about how Americans are doing on the tolerance front these days.
It's one of those specials where O'Brien may get criticized for making opponents of the proposed center look bad, because in some cases they do.
That is not, however, O'Brien's fault.
Soon after workers began clearing the site for construction, a suspicious fire damaged some of the equipment.
Shortly thereafter, O'Brien interviewed Realtor Sally Wall, one of the leading campaigners against the mosque.
"I've heard," Wall says, "that they do this everywhere. They start these fires themselves" to look like victims.
O'Brien presses her for any evidence and Wall says, "I don't know if it's true. It's just what I've heard."
It's a classic argument technique, hardly limited to mosque opponents. You float an anonymous, false and ignorant accusation in the hope that 1) some percentage of people who hear it won't know it's false and ignorant and 2) it could therefore help your side win.
And that's the real goal - to win. Truth is irrelevant.
Opponents of the mosque then file a lawsuit to rescind its construction approval, arguing first that Islam isn't really a religion and second that construction of this large mosque would be the first step toward imposing Sharia law on Murfreesboro.
In court, this sounds like a 3-year-old insisting SpongeBob lives in the ocean off Coney Island and refusing to accept any evidence to the contrary. It doesn't help that the lawyer who argues the case for mosque critics wears bright, garish bowties that look like they were borrowed from Clarabelle the Clown.
Other mosque opponents sound more rational, but as several readily admit, their deepest concern is not something tangible. It's fear. They're afraid Muslims are going to subvert and maybe harm them.
The Muslims interviewed by O'Brien note they have lived in Murfreesboro for decades as integrated residents of the community. They say they have felt welcome. They say they consider themselves Americans and honor American law. They note that one of the big selling points of America is freedom to worship as one chooses.
Unlike the downtown New York mosque controversy, there aren't issues of geography or legacy here. Mosque opponents in Murfreesboro know they can only win if they persudade enough other people to share their fears.
That's troubling because even though reason ultimately may prevail in Murfreesboro, O'Brien has tapped into a discussion that in some form is happening in almost every town in America.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/entertain...#ixzz1HbHNVmom
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