Here’s part of Howard Dean’s response to criticism of his position on the Ground Zero Freedom Hating Mosque:
My argument is simple. This Center may be intended as a bridge or a healing gesture but it will not be perceived that way unless a dialogue with a real attempt to understand each other happens. That means the builders have to be willing to go beyond what is their right and be willing to talk about feelings whether the feelings are “justified” or not. No doubt the Republic will survive if this center is built on its current site or not. But I think this is a missed opportunity to try to have an open discussion about why this is a big deal because it is a big deal to a lot of Americans who are not just right wing politicians pushing the hate button again. I think those people need to be heard respectfully whether they are right or whether they are wrong.
This has nothing to do with the right to build and unlike same sex marriage or the civil rights movement it is not about equal protection under the law. The rights of the builders are not in dispute. This is about ending the poisonous atmosphere engendered by fear and hate, and in order to do that there has to be genuine listening, hearing and willingness to compromise on both sides I personally believe that there are other possible solutions that could result from such a process and that a genuine exploration of those possibilities is something we ought to try.
This is stupid in so many ways. First, what “compromise” is necessary on the part of Muslims who want to convert that building? The Imam was on 60 Minutes a few days after 9/11 denouncing radicals, so I doubt that he needs to compromise his position on terrorists who claim to be true Muslims. So the “compromise” must mean that the Imam does whatever his benighted, out-of-town critics want him to do.
Second, and more important, what a great way to encourage stupid, cable-driven nontroversies. Instead of just keeping his fucking mouth shut, Dean treats this whole ginned-up affair like some kind of grassroots, serious protest instead of a lie calculated to inflame. You can’t have “genuine listening” when the whole conversation starts with bullshit: It isn’t just a mosque, you can’t see ground zero from it, and it’s nothing new in that neighborhood. Start there, and you have nothing that needs to be “heard respectfully”.