Crazy Republicans prefer strip clubs to mosques

The row over the so-called Ground Zero mosque rumbles on.

From the Huffington Post:

A new survey from the Democratic-affiliated firm Public Policy Polling finds that more Republicans support constructing a strip club than a mosque near Ground Zero.

Just 4 percent of Republican respondents said they support building a mosque two blocks from the site, whereas 21 percent said they would be fine with a strip club. Forty-nine percent of Democrats said they supported the mosque and 33 for the strip club. Among Independents, it was 34 percent for the mosque and 28 percent for the strip club.

Weird, eh? Can the kooky Republicans get any crazier or more Islamophobic? The HuffPo report contains the following quote from Ibrahim Hooper, from the Council on American-Islamic Relations:

This shows the extent and impact of the recent rise in anti-Islam rhetoric in our society that people would rather have some kind of establishment perpetuating immoral behavior over a house of worship [run] by people who are trying to promote morality and ethics and righteous behavior.

Oh, and for those of you haven't been following this story that closely, and might be wondering why pollsters even posed a "mosque v strip club" question, here's some background from the HuffPo report:

During the debate over whether to build a planned Islamic cultural center near the memorial site, many media outlets noted that the "sacred" ground surrounding the area is home to all sorts of less-than-sacred outlets.

"In a walk of the streets within three blocks of Ground Zero, the Daily News counted 17 pizza shops, 18 bank branches, 11 bars, 10 shoe stores and 17 separate salons where a girl can get her lady parts groomed," reported the paper in August. It also pointed to a strip club called "Pussycat Lounge" just two blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood, as well as a place called "Thunder Lingerie".

On a side note, it is worth pointing out that what is being built near Ground Zero by the Cordoba Initiative is not a "mosque", as I made clear in this piece. But why let little things like FACTS get in the way of prejudice, bigotry and fear-mongering?

 

 

 

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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Jeremy Corbyn's Labour conference speech shows how he's grown

The leader's confident address will have impressed even his fiercest foes. 

It is not just Jeremy Corbyn’s mandate that has been improved by his re-election. The Labour leader’s conference speech was, by some distance, the best he has delivered. He spoke with far greater confidence, clarity and energy than previously. From its self-deprecating opening onwards ("Virgin Trains assure me there are 800 empty seats") we saw a leader improved in almost every respect. 

Even Corbyn’s firecest foes will have found less to take issue with than they may have anticipated. He avoided picking a fight on Trident (unlike last year), delivered his most forceful condemnation of anti-Semitism (“an evil”) and, with the exception of the Iraq war, avoided attacks on New Labour’s record. The video which preceded his arrival, and highlighted achievements from the Blair-Brown years, was another olive branch. But deselection, which Corbyn again refused to denounce, will remain a running sore (MPs alleged that Hillsborough campaigner Sheila Coleman, who introduced Corbyn, is seeking to deselect Louise Ellman and backed the rival TUSC last May).

Corbyn is frequently charged with lacking policies. But his lengthy address contained several new ones: the removal of the cap on council borrowing (allowing an extra 60,000 houses to be built), a ban on arms sales to abusive regimes and an arts pupil premium in every primary school.

On policy, Corbyn frequently resembles Ed Miliband in his more radical moments, unrestrained by Ed Balls and other shadow cabinet members. He promised £500bn of infrastructure investment (spread over a decade with £150bn from the private sector), “a real living wage”, the renationalisation of the railways, rent controls and a ban on zero-hours contracts.

Labour’s greatest divisions are not over policy but rules, strategy and culture. Corbyn’s opponents will charge him with doing far too little to appeal to the unconverted - Conservative voters most of all. But he spoke with greater conviction than before of preparing for a general election (acknowledging that Labour faced an arithmetical “mountain”) and successfully delivered the attack lines he has often shunned.

“Even Theresa May gets it, that people want change,” he said. “That’s why she stood on the steps of Downing Street and talked about the inequalities and burning injustices in today’s Britain. She promised a country: ‘that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us’. But even if she manages to talk the talk, she can’t walk the walk. This isn’t a new government, it’s David Cameron’s government repackaged with progressive slogans but with a new harsh right-wing edge, taking the country backwards and dithering before the historic challenges of Brexit.”

After a second landslide victory, Corbyn is, for now, unassailable. Many MPs, having voted no confidence in him, will never serve on the frontbench. But an increasing number, recognising Corbyn’s immovability, speak once again of seeking to “make it work”. For all the ructions of this summer, Corbyn’s speech will have helped to persuade them that they can.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.