Newt Gingrich speaks at  Women's National Republican Club in New York

My father died two weeks ago.  He was a devout Catholic, and a former Franciscan brother.  The last week of his life he was really upset  – not about dying, but about that church in Gainesville that’s planning to burn Korans on 9/11.

My dad thought it wasn’t a Christian protest, but an act of Christian supremacy. I said I wouldn’t mind people burning the Korans, as long as they did it with German accents.

My Dad didn’t laugh at that one, either.    But I’ve been thinking of him all week during the furor over construction of the Cordoba house, also known as the ‘Ground Zero Mosque.’

By now you’ve probably heard it’s not actually at Ground Zero; it’s in the old Burlington Coat Factory building, which makes it a deep offense to Americans who care about quality outerwear.   As a patriot, I’m very protective of American coats that were made in China.

And the place isn’t actually a mosque either.    There’s a mosque in it, but it’s a community center, with a theatre, café, meeting rooms, and, I’m sure at some point, a Pinkberry.

Most people who live here in lower Manhattan have no problem with this.    But some of the same politicians who once claimed that 9/11 was all about foreigners hating our freedoms are now furious at those very freedoms.

Recent Catholic convert Newt Gingrich says Muslims are trying to impose their way of life on us;  and that they shouldn’t be able to build the center because there are no churches in Saudi Arabia.      While it’s refreshing to finally hear Newt criticize the Saudi regime, and while it’s worth pointing out that there are Christians and churches all over the middle east – it’s where Christianity was born – he seems to be missing the point.

The fact that there are no churches in Saudi Arabia is exactly why the US should allow the Cordoba house to be built – to prove that we’re not just bragging, but that we really are a free society.     Freedom means being tolerant of things that you might find offensive – other religions, flag burning, even the Jonas Brothers.

In fairness to Newt, he’s been very busy lately protecting the sanctity of his marriage from gay couples.  And presumably the sanctity of his previous two marriages.    They were sacred too, it’s just sometimes Newt gets to wanting some ‘new sacred.’   But he’s wrong to single out Muslims as merely the perpetrators of 9/11.     Muslims died that day, too.   Muslims who, unlike Newt, actually lived in New York City.

Salman Hamdani was a 23 year old ambulance driver who died helping o when the towers collapsed.      His body was found in the rubble, his EMT kit beside him.   So why shouldn’t moderate Muslims have the chance to build their center – and show that the right-wing fundamentalists are no more real Muslims than Timothy Mcveigh was a real Christian?

Back in the late 80s, the Catholic Church sparked an uproar when they wanted to build a convent and erect crosses on the grounds at Auschwitz.     At the time, American conservatives  supported the idea, believing that any faith deserved a chance to redress past sins committed in its name.    Today, those same conservatives seek to deny that reconciliation to Muslims.

Al Queda didn’t’ attack us on 9/11 because they wanted to ‘impose their way of life on us.’     They did it, in part, because they wanted US troops out of Saudi Arabia.  President Bush & Donald Rumsfeld  promptly withdrew our forces, and essentially gave the terrorists exactly what they had asked for.

Al Quadea wants America to hate our own Muslims, and to deny them the freedoms we take for granted.  They want to be able to say ‘look, America hates Islam and their claims of freedom are a lie.’  I say, stop giving these guys what they want.

Barack Obama said the center had a right to be there, then backtracked and said he wasn’t endorsing it.  In other words, it is a good thing, but that depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is.     Harry Reid says they have a right to be there, but they shouldn’t be there; possibly the boldest stand he’s taken since he switched to loafers without tassels.

And I’m not saying the Cordoba House leaders are the greatest guys in the world.    If they were smart, they’d release a statement saying ‘folks, we don’t want enemies; we’re good people,  we’re gonna move 6 blocks over into the old TGI Fridays building in battery park, peace be upon you.”  If they did that, even Newt would have to say “a salaam alaikem.”  But until then, they still have freedom of religion & assembly.

And that means America wins.

I understand why protestors are so shocked by this.  And  I don’t think most politicians actually hate Muslims, but you’ll never lose votes hating on Islam in an election year.      And if I seem to take this personally, it’s because my cousin’s a Muslim.

He’s Egyptian American, and a doctor. He was very close to my dad and 16 years ago, in a previous health scare, he helped save my father’s life.    I called him last week to thank him for all he’d done,  and he said ‘don’t thank me.  I loved him.  Your father was my father.’

And that made me proud to be an American.  I’ve got a Muslim cousin, a Jewish sister in law, an atheist brother and an ex-nun mother.  I don’t get to hate on ANYONE.


  1. Scott in Gainesville
    September 8, 2010

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    I got flustered on Stephanie Miller today and forgot to mention my protest poster that I will carry to the Dove World Outreach Center’s planned burning of Korans on September 11th. I will be the guy with a large picture of Mohammad Salman Hamdani a New York EMT, NYPD Cadet and a medical student who responded to the twin towers to try and help survivors. That will forever place him in the ranks of American heroes. My poster will also contains the words “Thank God for Mohammad Salman Hamdani.”

    I would like to suggest that the Park 51 Islamic Community Center change its name to “Mohammad Salman Hamdani Memorial Community Center”

  2. kathy
    September 8, 2010

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    My condolence on the passing of your father. I have recently found the Steph Miller show where I got a chance to listen to you as the guest host. I don’t know who is funnier, you both make me laugh! The politicians and their crazy way of spinning things around, is designed to have everyone confused and raging with resentment to anyone who isn’t “American”. Their only goal in life is to keep their political jobs no matter what foolish trash they dish out to the american people. It’s a 3 course meal of anger, resentment and a FEAR of “those people”. They fail to see the hypocrisy of their words and the actions that results from those words. You cannot judge the entire religion based on the actions of a few, that inlcudes Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Muslims, Protestants….the list goes on.

  3. Karri Wicka
    September 8, 2010

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    Great blog! You always seem to say what I want to say but can never find a way to say it. I listen to you on Stephanie Miller’s show all the time and just can’t believe how spot on you always are. I really enjoy your views on the bible & religion in general. I attend a Presbyterian Church and am very involve with Presbyterian Women. I am fortunate to find many like minded souls in that organization. If Jesus were here today, you could be his right hand man. 😉

  4. Doug Fredrick
    September 9, 2010

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    Hi, great show and interview this morning. I

    thought you’d might watch this and comment on Afghan story of the young ones mistreated.
    If THIS story was out.
    We’d have no more war.
    We would not support these people.
    This was apparently shot by a Christian minister in Michigan. 2005.
    Here it is. It’s long, but contains crucial info to why we should be very wary of the Military brass.

    Kay Griggs was a Southern divorcee who rented a room to Marine Corps Colonel George Griggs in the late 1980s. She was impressed by his clipped manner, his education, his good looks. Two months later she married him. What she found out about world affairs as George Griggs’ wife was astounding.

    Colonel Griggs was a Marine Corps Chief of Staff, as well as head of NATO’s Psychological Operations. He was also, as Kay realized, entirely mind controlled. Kay became privy to the real workings of the United States military, leadership training, drug-running and weapons sales, and the secret worldwide camps that train professional assassins.

    This interview was conducted by Greg Szymanski of the Investigative Journal radio program.

    Kay Griggs, wife of colonel George Griggs, USMC (retired USMC Commandant): 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps, found her husbands diary, which contains details of homosexual blackmail in the top ranks of the US Marine Corps and names leading politicians and military leaders. Kay Griggss information about the US government also comes from observations and people she met. She exposes initiation rituals, the raping of young men and blackmail and murders to keep people quiet. Much of this, according to Griggs, is related to secret society activity and she names figures like Henry Kissinger and a string of other top government individuals.

  5. Misty
    September 9, 2010

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    Have been listening to you on Stephanie Miller Show…enjoyed your work. This is a right on entry and written with humor and warmth. Well said…

  6. Frederick Haworth
    September 9, 2010

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    It is time to rip time to rip Revelations out of the Bible

    Dear Humans who call themselves Christians,

    If you believe Revelations in the Bible supercedes the teachings of Jesus, you are not a Christian, you are a Revelationist. Your worship a false god and your hatred towards Muslims, Jews and others based upon your belief that Revelations will happen, condemning non Christians to suffer, is anti Christ, anti “God.” From this day forward, after you read this post, if you disagree what I have stated above, and you believe that my soul will be condemned to the “lake of fire,” do me a big favor, read the teachings of Jesus, and after you read what Jesus taught in his sermons, and if you still believe in Revelations to be true: My response to you is, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do…” I have more to say on this subject, but since much is misunderstood about what Christians truly believe, I answer you be stating what is attributed to what Jesus taught, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (NAS, Mark 12:28-31)

    If this is what Jesus taught then of course I believe Muslims and Jews to be my bretheren. I do not consider my self of any particular faith, but like Thomas Jefferson, I am spiritual, and I believe that there a creator. I have through my life met many wonderful Christians, Jews, and Muslims and others of different faiths. One thing I have found in common, is those who pronounced their faith to me, shared their faith openly and in a kind way. Who am I, that I would judge another, but by their behavior. But to condemned others because of the faith of their choosing, to me would be mean and evil.

    So, when reading Revelations, all I want to do is throw up.

  7. Tahd Frentzel
    September 9, 2010

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    Nicely put. I’ve been listening to you cover for Stephanie Miller, and I really admire the way you make your points and are able to articulate reason without being overly dramatic. Plus you hit the nail on the head on the Beatles V. Stones thing. Keep up the most excellent work!


  8. Jeanie
    September 10, 2010

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    I agree with everything you say except the part where you say the Cordoba House people should move 6 blocks away. Why should they? Why should religious extremists win? Why cave in to hate and racism? I say, stand your ground. Would 3 blocks be acceptable to the Christians? 4 blocks? Why should they have any say anyway? What a sad, pathetic country we are if hate and racism and religious extremism win over sense.

  9. Marlene Katzel
    September 10, 2010

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    You compared the mosque to the planned convent at Aucshwitz. There is a comparison. The Inman of the mosque implied that US was responsible for 9/11 and Glemp said that the Jews were responsible for the Nazis. Please read the anti semitic remarks by the head of that comment to see why Jews were concerned. All my grandfather’s family died in Poland during WWll(except 5 very distant cousins).I don’t want anti-semites matter what their religion praying over their souls.
    I believe the Inman has a right to build the Center, but I don’t believe he is building this as a bridge. I have had too many coversations with “moderate”Muslims to believe him.

  10. Marlene Katzel
    September 10, 2010

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    In a highly controversial homily delivered on 26 August, 1989, at the Jasna Góra Monastery in Czêstochowa, Cardinal Glemp accused Jews of complicity in inducing Polish peasants to drink, of propagating communism and collaboration with the Nazis. Jewish tempers flared when he complained of Jewish control over the mass media to foment anti-Polish sentiment.

  11. Marlene Katzel
    September 10, 2010

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    These are the comments at the time of the convent at Aushwitc. Sister Teresa “described the post-war communist regime in Poland as being totally dominated by the Jews who had devastated the country, closed the Churches, and attempted to introduce atheism into Poland.”

    In a highly controversial homily delivered on 26 August, 1989, at the Jasna Góra Monastery in Czêstochowa, Cardinal Glemp accused Jews of complicity in inducing Polish peasants to drink, of propagating communism and collaboration with the Nazis. Jewish tempers flared when he complained of Jewish control over the mass media to foment anti-Polish sentiment.

  12. Frederick Haworth
    September 10, 2010

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    Dear John,

    I accidently sent you a posting without proper editing. Your blog regarding the current religious strife and your father passing, who was wise to the world, moved me deeply. I just lost my sister and she too was a good soul. (She was to me the ideal of “Miss Manners,” and taught me how to read and write before I went to Kindergarten.)


    Frederick Haworth

    P.S. If Einstein were alive today, he would probably say, “I would recommend the Republican Party to anyone.”

  13. Tania Ewing
    September 10, 2010

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    Thank you for a great post John. And many condolences on the death of your Dad. If you are anything to go by, your Dad (and Mom) must be wonderful people, whose values and sense of humor obviously will live on in you.

  14. jane doe
    September 21, 2010

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    You can always hate on the Buddhists – we don’t mind. But most of us would pretty much agree with everything you said here. I know I do.

  15. paulette osborne
    September 25, 2010

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    i remember seeing you perform in the village years ago. you were just starting out. i have followed you off and on since then. then i heard you on stephanie miller and it reignited my interest. you are a beautiful writer and i love that you have taken on politics with a passion. thanks john!! i wish i had known your dad. you were lucky to have had him as a father. pun intended. ; )

    i totally agree with you on this issue. it should not even be an issue!

  16. Amanda
    October 30, 2010

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    I’m so sorry to hear about your father, I lost mine a couple of years ago ;(
    IF only there was more patience with other cultures and interest in learning about them.
    Most of this is due to fear/misunderstanding of the unknown/other cultures. There should be more sharing and communication, or should that be patience and listening.
    Sends hugs and love to your family at this difficult time.

  17. DuncanRhys
    November 15, 2010

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    Condolences on that not getting to hate anyone thing––it is hard having a life so rich and varied that you have to empathize and love all the time; exhausting. I agree that were Korans to be burned it must be done with a German accent and add that if bibles were to be thrown on the pyre the accent should be Roman. Can we reconstruct that? But what of burning?

  18. Danielle
    November 21, 2010

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    Sorry to hear about your Dad. Mine is gone too. I think they would have gotten along well if they had known each other by the things you wrote. Love, Dani

  19. Daniel McIntosh
    January 14, 2011

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    If you get this in time please discuss this concept:
    Stochastic terrorism
    Stochastic terrorism is the use of mass communications to stir up random lone wolves to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable. The stochastic terrorist is the person who uses mass media to broadcast memes that incite unstable people to commit violent acts. The person who plants the bomb or assassinates the public official is not the stochastic terrorist; they are the “missile” set in motion by the stochastic terrorist. The stochastic terrorist is the person who uses mass media as their means of setting those “missiles” in motion.

  20. G
    March 30, 2011

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    John Fugelsang, you added me on twitter then deleted me! I was excited for that one hour. Oh well.

    Good blog though. Good luck in the showbiz.

  21. Vidyut
    June 25, 2011

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    You think beautiful thoughts. Delighted to find your blog.

  22. Jeremy
    August 2, 2011

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    Sorry to hear about your fathers passing. No matter how old our parents are when it is their time, it always feels like it’s too soon and we’re too young to be without them already.

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