Tuesday, Reps. Peter King (R-NY) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) called Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf -- best known for his work with multicultural Cordoba Initiative to build a mosque and community center in Lower Manhattan -- a "radical" and criticized the Obama Administration for including him on a Middle East speaking tour. That tour, which includes stops in Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, is designed by the public diplomacy office to explain to Muslims abroad what it's like to be a Muslim in America.That's right. That hater of Amurika, George W Bush, that appeaser to the evil-doers, George W Bush - HE actually talked to the enemy that wants to kills us all!!
Outside of how getting constantly called a radical by American politicians busy flacking the proposed "Ground Zero mosque" for political purposes might affect Rauf's view of what it's like to be a Muslim in America, there's one other big problem with King's and Ros-Lehtinen's accusation: Rauf already represented America in this way, under the Bush Administration.
If one were to hearken back to the halcyon days of the Bush Administration, one would remember that, when Bush adviser Karen Hughes was appointed Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, the Bush Administration saw improving America's standing among Muslims abroad as a part of its national security strategy. And, as such, Hughes set up listening tours, attended meetings and worked with interfaith groups that -- shocking, by today's Republican standards -- included actual Muslims.Something to remember the next time you hear that he's going on a "tax-payer funded" trip to the middle east to raise funds for the mosque (or whatever).
One of those people was Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.
That's a talking point coming out of the right wing media. And of course, it's completely wrong.
The right-wing media is attacking Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's upcoming State Department trip to the Middle East to "discuss Muslim life in America and religious tolerance," by falsely claiming he will use the trip as a "taxpayer-funded fundraising jaunt" to finance construction of his Islamic cultural center in New York City. In fact, the State Department has made clear that fundraising of any kind is prohibited during the trip, and Rauf has previously participated in this program, first under President Bush.But no point in letting reality get in the way of a good religiously bigoted smear, is it?