Are Ron and Rand Paul on opposite sides of the Cordoba House debate? Rand, running for Senate in Kentucky, has taken the standard GOP line on the project — namely, it’s up to New York officials to decide the project’s fate, but personally he’s against it. And now, in an extremely strongly-worded statement posted to his movement’s website Friday, father Ron ripped into opponents of the Cordoba House project, saying that the rhetoric taking on the plan is clearly “all about hate and Islamaphobia.”
Neither Paul immediately responded to a request for comment on their difference in language. But the Cordoba House appears to be an issue where Rand is very publicly breaking from this father’s dyed-in-the-wool libertarianism, which often leaves the elder Paul standing alone against the GOP establishment.
Last week, Rand’s campaign told TPMDC that that he was among the many politicians on both sides of the aisle who think that building an Islamic cultural center in the old Burlington Coat Factory two blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks on New York is bad idea. Rand even offered his own suggestion about what American Muslims should do with the millions they’d need to spend building the project — namely, not use it to build the Cordoba House.
“While this is a local matter that should be decided by the people of New York, Dr. Paul does not support a mosque being built two blocks from Ground Zero,” Paul spokesperson Gary Howard told me. “In Dr. Paul’s opinion, the Muslim community would better serve the healing process by making a donation to the memorial fund for the victims of September 11th.”
The elder Dr. Paul has harsh words for views like that.
“The outcry over the building of the mosque, near ground zero, implies that Islam alone was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. According to those who are condemning the building of the mosque, the nineteen suicide terrorists on 9/11 spoke for all Muslims,” Ron wrote in a statement to RonPaul.com “This is like blaming all Christians for the wars of aggression and occupation because some Christians supported the neo-conservative’s aggressive wars.”
It is repeatedly said that 64% of the people, after listening to the political demagogues, don’t want the mosque to be built. What would we do if 75% of the people insist that no more Catholic churches be built in New York City? The point being is that majorities can become oppressors of minority rights as well as individual dictators. Statistics of support is irrelevant when it comes to the purpose of government in a free society—protecting liberty.
In a Wednesday interview with the Daily Caller, Rand himself seemed to suggest that the public opposition to the Cordoba House should be heeded by Muslims.
“I think reconciliation is best promoted by — instead of having a multi-million dollar mosque — maybe having a multi-million dollar donation to the memorial site, would be better for all,” Paul told the website.
Ironically, Ron Paul writes that all the opposition to the Cordoba House has been ginned up by the very establishment GOP types Rand took on in the GOP primary. Like his father, Rand has been a vocal opponent of his party’s leadership on issues like the Iraq War and the Patriot Act. (Rand has bailed on plenty of other stuff his father supports on libertarian grounds like, for example, closing Gitmo.)
In his post, Ron suggests that by coming out in opposition to Cordoba House, politicians — including his son? — have chosen to side with the kind of Republicans the Pauls promise to take on when it comes to most other issues.
“The fact that so much attention has been given the mosque debate, raises the question of just why and driven by whom?” Paul writes, adding:
In my opinion it has come from the neo-conservatives who demand continual war in the Middle East and Central Asia and are compelled to constantly justify it.
They never miss a chance to use hatred toward Muslims to rally support for the ill conceived preventative wars. A select quote from soldiers from in Afghanistan and Iraq expressing concern over the mosque is pure propaganda and an affront to their bravery and sacrifice.
Ron Paul’s congressional spokesperson, Rachel Mills, sends in a brief and to-the-point reply to my questions about the split between Rand and his father over Cordoba House.
“Rand Paul is his own man,” she writes.