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What's Anthony Weiner's position on Ground Zero mosque?

Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York won plaudits from liberals across the country when he erupted on the House floor last week over GOP opposition to a bill that would help people sickened by 9/11. And Weiner has been widely hailed for his willingness to speak out boldly on issues important to liberals, such as the public option.

But there's one thing Weiner doesn't seem willing to talk about, or at least he hasn't yet: The highly controversial plan for an Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero.

I can't get Weiner's office to say whether he defends plans to build the Islamic center or whether he sides with many Republicans and with the Anti-Defamation League and opposes it. I've been asking for two days now, and his office was promising yesterday to make him available to discuss the issue. But suddenly, his spokesman went quiet and stopped answering calls and emails.

The reticence of some New York politicans on this issue has been astonishing. While Mayor Michael Bloomberg has voiced strong support for plans to build the Islamic Center, others have been circumspect. Senator Chuck Schumer, for instance, has only said through a spokesman that he "doesn't oppose" the plan.

Weiner has positioned himself as something of a national figure, and has won plaudits from liberals nationally for his feisty, confrontational approach to Republicans and his willingness to fight it out on controversial issues. So it seems fair to wonder where the heck he is on the Islamic center.

I sincerely hope he plans to say something about it. And if he does come out strongly in favor of it, I'll be the first to give the man credit. But if he doesn't, maybe we should all stop clapping for him.

UPDATE, 2:58 p.m.: I inexplicably forgot to mention that Weiner harbors mayoral ambitions, which may explain his silence on the issue.

By Greg Sargent  |  August 3, 2010; 2:18 PM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy and national security , House Dems  
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Comments

For goodness' sake, isn't his beautiful bride, Huma Abedin, a Muslim? Or at least, from a Muslim background? I'd expect that experience itself would make him a little more enlightened than many.

Posted by: KathleenHusseininMaine | August 3, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Kathleen, I have no idea what's going on. It's bizarre.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | August 3, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Kathleen,

"Huma M. Abedin (born 1976) is an American aide to United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton[1] who served as traveling chief of staff and "body woman" during Clinton's campaign for the Democratic nomination in the 2008 presidential election.[2][3]

Abedin was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her Indian born father was a Muslim and Middle Eastern scholar who died when she was 17 years old, and her Pakistani born mother is a professor in Saudi Arabia.[1] At the age of two, her family relocated to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Abedin returned to the United States to attend George Washington University.

Huma Abedin began working as an intern for the White House in 1996 and landed an assignment with the First Lady. She currently works for Clinton at the State Department.[4]

She married New York Representative Anthony Weiner on Saturday, July 10, 2010."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huma_Abedin

BUT...that did not stop him from taking a pro-Israel stance on the Turkish flotilla incident.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 3, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

sue, that's right -- I'd forgotten about his flotilla position. very aggressive.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | August 3, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I think Weiner is stuck between a rock & a hard place. If he really has ambitions to run for mayor of NYC, then he's gotta balance this pretty carefully. The City Landmarks Commission declined to protect the building today by 9-0 vote, which clears the path to using the building for the community center. Bloomberg is set to endorse it today. (See Benen post.)

OTOH, he can't favor it too strongly because he will take heat from AIPAC and the relateds.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 3, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

sue, I think that's right. Path of least resistance.

Bloomberg has provided pretty good cover for him on this, but I'm guessing he's still not willing to pay the price of bucking the harder line Dem AIPAC future donors.

Posted by: BGinCHI | August 3, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Why does he have to support or oppose the building itself?

Why can't one just stay out of this private enterprise, while rightfully condemning racist motives if (when) you see them?

You can support the RIGHT to build, without taking a position on the building itself.

That, to me, is an important distinction.

Posted by: JkR- | August 3, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a big fan of Mayor Bloomberg. Actually I think he's been a horrible mayor and he's a total sell-out.

But this is pretty darn cool.

* Mayor Bloomberg delivers stirring affirmation of religious freedom *

The mayor chokes up as he delivers a speech on religious freedom and private property rights in defense of mosque

Excerpt:

“Let us not forget that Muslims were among those murdered on 9/11, and that our Muslim neighbors grieved with us as New Yorkers and as Americans. We would betray our values and play into our enemies' hands if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists, and we should not stand for that.

"For that reason, I believe that this is an important test of the separation of church and state as we may see in our lifetimes, as important a test. And it is critically important that we get it right.

"On Sept. 11, 2001, thousands of first responders heroically rushed to the scene and saved tens of thousands of lives. More than 400 of those first responders did not make it out alive. In rushing into those burning buildings, not one of them asked, 'What God do you pray to?' (Bloomberg's voice cracks here a little as he gets choked up.) 'What beliefs do you hold?'

http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2010/08/03/mayor_bloomberg_on_mosque/index.html

Full speech at the link.

Very admirable Mr. Mayor, very admirable imho.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 3, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

O/T:

Rand Paul on Hannity last night (alternate title, "Just Two D Bags Talkin'").

""They tell me you need to wait to buy a gun," Paul said. "I tell them they need to wait before they pass legislation, read the bills."

"Pretty good line," Hannity said in response."


Yeah, those are the same. And does Paul think the Senate has been doing its business too fast? Maybe he doesn't have cable.

Posted by: BGinCHI | August 3, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

HA! Something I didn't know about Weiner...or Stewart!

"He originally sought to become a television weatherman, but his interests soon turned towards politics and he became very active in student government. Weiner and Jon Stewart, the host of the Comedy Central program The Daily Show, were roommates after college, and Stewart has donated political campaign contributions to Weiner.[5]"

In any event, Weiner is going to follow his mentor Shumer on this one.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 3, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Credit where credit is due, thanks for spotlighting this - you're the only one so far as far as I can tell. Kudos.

Posted by: Mag3 | August 3, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

And FYI, I posted on this topic this morning, but the center will have a 9/11 Memorial and discussions about radical versus moderate Islam:

"""Ms. Khan said classrooms and lecture halls will host discussions aimed at keeping Muslims away from extremism. "There must be a robust debate on the critical issues of radicalization, extremism and terrorism," she said. She envisions the leadership of the center to be young, energetic Muslims "who are very comfortable in their American identity and committed to their Muslim identity.""""

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704905004575405654289175176.html

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 3, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

For Weiner to be against the mosque would be cowardice - and stupidity.

Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam who is in charge of the project, is NOT a radical Muslim. My understanding is that Osama Bin Laden considers imam's like Feisal Abdul Rauf a bigger threat than the west. They fight against Bin Laden and try to bring Islam into the 21st century, and they are in a much better position to do so than all the bombs in the US arsenal combined.

For Weiner to side with Bin Laden and the Republicans... Cowardly. Stupid. Inexcusable.

Posted by: nisleib | August 3, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Who does Rand Paul want to shoot so urgently, that he can not wait for a background check to clear?

Posted by: Liam-still | August 3, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

""Pretty good line," Hannity said in response.""

Says the guy who cheer-led a rush to War. Ouch teh stupit. Was he born without synapses?

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 3, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Liam, like Angle, I assume he wants to shoot himself in the foot. He must have lost all feeling down there by now.

Posted by: BGinCHI | August 3, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Keep an eye on this situation. Has there been much, or any reporting of this on the Networks?

"Five die in Israeli-Lebanese clash"

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2010/0803/breaking36.html

"Tue, Aug 03, 2010

Israeli and Lebanese troops fought a rare cross-border skirmish on Tuesday that killed four Lebanese and a senior Israeli officer in the most serious violence along the frontier since a 2006 war.

The Iranian-and Syrian-backed Hezbollah group, which battled Israel four years ago, took no part in the exchange of fire.

There was also no sign of any extensive Israeli preparations for a large-scale operation; an early indication the clash might not trigger a wider conflict.

Security sources and witnesses said the situation had clamed down but tension was high. Israel's northern military commander said he did not believe the clashes would lead to more violence.

The Lebanese and Israeli armies gave different descriptions of the events leading up to the skirmish, while the UN peacekeeping force stationed in southern Lebanon said it had yet to ascertain the circumstances leading to the bloodshed.

The Lebanese army said an Israeli patrol had crossed the technical line of the border even though UN peacekeepers in the area told it to stop.

"A Lebanese army force then repelled it using rocket propelled grenades. A clash happened in which the enemy forces used machine guns and tank fire targeting army posts and civilian houses," it said.

Major-General Gadi Eisenkot, chief of Israel's northern command, said: "It was a planned ambush by a sniper squad that fired at officers standing next to a position inside our territory."

He said an Israeli tank came under fire from a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG), and when it missed, the tank fired and killed the RPG squad.

UN peacekeepers in Lebanon (UNIFIL) appealed to both sides to exercise "maximum restraint" after the incident. UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti confirmed peacekeepers were in the area before and during the incident.

An emergency meeting of Lebanon's Higher Council for Defence headed by President Michel Suleiman held the Israeli government accountable for the incident and said it would complain to the UN Security Council about the attack.

Israel's shekel currency fell against the dollar due to concern about the incident."

Posted by: Liam-still | August 3, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

There has been a mosque near Ground Zero for decades now.

we didn't hear Anthony Weiner or any other politician having a particular problem with that, now, did we?

So, why would Rep. Weiner have a problem now with a new mosque?

Posted by: grosmec | August 3, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

"The reticence of some New York politicans on this issue has been astonishing. "

About as astonishing as the sun rising in the east. This is a hot potato for any New York politician for screamingly obvious reasons. My guess is that Bloomberg can be brave because he doesn't plan to run for anything again. Schumer and Weiner have to be more careful given the donor bases and electorates they need to continue to deal with. "Don't oppose" is about as far as they feel they can go, and it probably feels like a risky place to be.

Posted by: zimbar | August 3, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Bloomberg's instinct is to side with business and wall street when there is a tension between them and their critics whether that's due to his business background and orientation or his political instincts or a combination. On a variety of issues, though, he does show independence and leadership qualities of the kind we won't often or ever see from Weiner and others who take positions that they know will either appeal to their base or won't hurt them. I don't know that I blame Weiner and others for playing it safe on issues like this but it's not exactly inspiring.

Posted by: wswest | August 3, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Bloomberg's instinct is to side with business and wall street when there is a tension between them and their critics whether that's due to his business background and orientation or his political instincts or a combination. On a variety of issues, though, he does show independence and leadership qualities of the kind we won't often or ever see from Weiner and others who take positions that they know will either appeal to their base or won't hurt them. I don't know that I blame Weiner and others for playing it safe on issues like this but it's not exactly inspiring.

Posted by: wswest | August 3, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Harry Reid on the 14th Amendment hearings:

"The authors of the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed citizenship to all people "born or naturalized in the United States" for a reason. They wished to directly repudiate the Dred Scott decision, which said that citizenship could be granted or denied by political caprice.

They purposely chose an objective standard of citizenship -- birth -- that was not subject to politics. Reconstruction leaders established a firm, sound principle: To be an American citizen, you don't have to please a majority, you just have to be born here.

Then Reid said of Republicans pushing the issue, "They've either taken leave of their senses or their principles."

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 3, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Tea Party backed candidate Ken Buck says no abortion for victims of rape or incest:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/08/gop_senate_candidate_no_aborti.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | August 3, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

@Liam-still: "Who does Rand Paul want to shoot so urgently, that he can not wait for a background check to clear?"

His foot.

He has to shoot himself in the foot, before he sticks it in his mouth. It's a carefully crafted Ayn Randian political campaign.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 3, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

...and a right hook from Greg Sargent on a clearly divisive and petty issue!

That's all you got? He wont answer you phonecalls?

Lame-o

Posted by: Gates9 | August 3, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

ONE QUESTION FOR MUSLIMS: ARE YOU A FOLLOWER OF MUHAMMAD?

GOOGLE: AMERICAN THINKER SHARIA LAW

IS THIS WHAT YOU BELIEVE? DO YOU BELIEVE THERE SHOULD BE NO FREEDOM OF SPEECH WHEN CRITICIZING THE VIOLENT TEACHINGS OF MUHAMMAD?

DO YOU BELIEVE WOMEN SHOULD BE BEATEN BY THEIR HUSBANDS?

DO YOU BELIEVE THAT HOMOSEXUALS SHOULD BE KILLED?

DO YOU BELIEVE THAT ANYONE WHO DENOUNCES ISLAM AND BECOMES A SECULAR PERSON OR CONVERTS TO ANOTHER RELIGION SHOULD BE MURDERED - AS REQUIRED UNDER ISLAMIC LAW, WHICH WAS BASED ON THE TEACHINGS OF MUHAMMAD?

IF YOU BELIEVE THESE THINGS, THEN YOU ARE A FOLLOWER OF MUHAMMAD AND YOU WILL BE ON AN INEVITABLE PATH TO VIOLENCE AND WILL NOT BE ABLE TO SUBSCRIBE THE PRINCIPLES OF FREEDOM - EVER.

IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE TEACHINGS OF MUHAMMAD, THEN YOU MUST DENY ISLAM AND BECOME A SECULAR PERSON OR CONVERT TO A PEACEFUL RELIGION.

Posted by: DAS2 | August 3, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Yes Weiner and Schumer are strong liberals. I like that as a strong liberal. But there is a big but on Israel related issues.

Weiner and Schumer are inseparable from Likud in all practical ways. They curl their lips at Obama's Israel-Palestine efforts including issues on ending Israeli settlement policy.

They do not believe in any political space between Netanyahu policies and the US.
Functionally they will try to veto Obama advances, no matter their denials.

In addition to Weiner's mayoralty ambitions, Sargent should probe the Weiner and Schumer support for Likud.

These two move away from reasoned and reasonable moderates such as J St in contrast to many other Jewish legislators. They are far closer to Eric Cantor than Howard Berman or Dianne Feinstein to name just two.

David Cohen
Washington DC

Posted by: davidcohen1 | August 4, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Whether Mr. Weiner emphatically supports the medical coverage of 9/11 relief and rescue workers and Lower Manhattan residents is completely is in no way related to his position, or lack thereof, on the issue of building a mosque near Ground Zero. That's like asking someone, "Well, I know you really value reforming the VA, but there's equal urgency in understanding how you feel about 'Don't Ask Don't Tell.'"

And Greg, I know you're concerned about how Anthony Weiner feels about the mosque's construction, but before we go any further, I absolutely MUST know how you feel about his position on agricultural subsidies. I swear that this is part of a really coherent cross-issue analysis. Sigh.

Posted by: helicopterwolfhunt | August 4, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Weiner is waiting for AIPAC to tell him what to think.

Posted by: PeteMoylan | August 7, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

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