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.

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

Voters are turning against Brexit but the Lib Dems aren't benefiting

Labour's pro-Brexit stance is not preventing it from winning the support of Remainers. Will that change?

More than a year after the UK voted for Brexit, there has been little sign of buyer's remorse. The public, including around a third of Remainers, are largely of the view that the government should "get on with it".

But as real wages are squeezed (owing to the Brexit-linked inflationary spike) there are tentative signs that the mood is changing. In the event of a second referendum, an Opinium/Observer poll found, 47 per cent would vote Remain, compared to 44 per cent for Leave. Support for a repeat vote is also increasing. Forty one per cent of the public now favour a second referendum (with 48 per cent opposed), compared to 33 per cent last December. 

The Liberal Democrats have made halting Brexit their raison d'être. But as public opinion turns, there is no sign they are benefiting. Since the election, Vince Cable's party has yet to exceed single figures in the polls, scoring a lowly 6 per cent in the Opinium survey (down from 7.4 per cent at the election). 

What accounts for this disparity? After their near-extinction in 2015, the Lib Dems remain either toxic or irrelevant to many voters. Labour, by contrast, despite its pro-Brexit stance, has hoovered up Remainers (55 per cent back Jeremy Corbyn's party). 

In some cases, this reflects voters' other priorities. Remainers are prepared to support Labour on account of the party's stances on austerity, housing and education. Corbyn, meanwhile, is a eurosceptic whose internationalism and pro-migration reputation endear him to EU supporters. Other Remainers rewarded Labour MPs who voted against Article 50, rebelling against the leadership's stance. 

But the trend also partly reflects ignorance. By saying little on the subject of Brexit, Corbyn and Labour allowed Remainers to assume the best. Though there is little evidence that voters will abandon Corbyn over his EU stance, the potential exists.

For this reason, the proposal of a new party will continue to recur. By challenging Labour over Brexit, without the toxicity of Lib Dems, it would sharpen the choice before voters. Though it would not win an election, a new party could force Corbyn to soften his stance on Brexit or to offer a second referendum (mirroring Ukip's effect on the Conservatives).

The greatest problem for the project is that it lacks support where it counts: among MPs. For reasons of tribalism and strategy, there is no emergent "Gang of Four" ready to helm a new party. In the absence of a new convulsion, the UK may turn against Brexit without the anti-Brexiteers benefiting. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.