Thirty-one percent of Republicans, according to the Pew Research Center, believe that President Barack Obama is a Muslim. And more Republicans, 74 percent, than Democrats, 39 percent, oppose the construction of a mosque near ground zero. Thus, goes the argument, opposition to the proposed mosque stems from similar "right-wing" ignorance and Islamophobia.
Why do so many people think Obama is a Muslim? Are they lunatics?
Perhaps people base their assumption about Obama's religion on what they believe Islam says about the matter. In a New York Times op-ed, Edward Luttwak, with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote that Obama "chose to become a Christian." But, Luttwak wrote: "As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood. It makes no difference that, as Senator Obama has written, his father said he renounced his religion. Likewise, under Muslim law based on the Koran his mother's Christian background is irrelevant."
Maybe some follow the lead of Hillary Clinton. When asked on "60 Minutes" whether she believes Obama is a Muslim, then-presidential candidate Clinton said, "Of course not. ... There is no basis for that." She said she goes on "the basis of what he says." But she added, "There is nothing to base that on as far as I know" (emphasis added). She wasn't called anti-Muslim.
Perhaps people believe Obama -- who no longer belongs to a church -- is a Muslim because of his 20-year association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Wright's church publication honored the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan as a man who "truly epitomized greatness."
Or maybe the more people oppose Obama's policies the less they think of him as a person. Discontent breeds negative feelings. After the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, a majority of Americans believed that Germany was behind it. A large plurality of Americans, despite the lack of evidence, believed President Nixon planned the Watergate break-in that brought down his presidency.
Liberals should be sympathetic. They are quite adept at willfully refusing to face facts, if necessary, to support wrongheaded views. Here are some examples:
"The rich don't pay taxes." False. For the 2007 tax year (the latest income tax data year released by the IRS), the top 1 percent of income earners, those making over $410,000 a year, paid 40 percent of all federal income taxes. The top 5 percent, those making about $160,000 a year or more, paid 60 percent of all federal income taxes. Yet according to a 2008 IBD/TIPP poll, only 12 percent of Americans knew what the rich, in fact, paid in taxes. And liberals are likelier to get it wrong.
"The rich exclusively benefited from the Bush tax cuts." MSNBC's insufferable lefty Ed Schultz said: "Ninety-eight percent of you, it (the Bush tax cuts) doesn't even affect you." False. In a recent New York Times editorial, the liberal paper said extending the cuts to the non-rich -- a policy it favors -- would "cost" about $140 billion next year. Extending the cuts to the rich -- a policy it opposes -- would "cost" about $40 billion next year. If the tax cuts only benefit the rich, why would the Treasury "lose" more money from the non-rich than it would "lose" from the rich?
"The Bush tax cuts caused the deficit." CNN's liberal host Fareed Zakaria said, "The Bush tax cuts are the single largest part of the black hole that is the federal budget deficit." False. In 2002, tax revenues were $1.85 trillion. In 2007, revenues had grown to $2.57 trillion -- a 39 percent increase. Unfortunately, outlays increased almost as much. In 2002, outlays were $2.01 trillion. In 2007 -- the last year before the recession and before TARP, the various "stimulus" programs, bailouts and ObamaCare -- outlays were $2.73 trillion, a 36 percent increase.
"Bush had prior knowledge of 9/11." Thirty-five percent of Democrats, according to a 2007 Rasmussen poll, believe President Bush had prior knowledge of 9/11, and 26 percent are "not sure." False. This was investigated years earlier and refuted by the 2004 bipartisan 9/11 Commission Report.
"George W. Bush 'stole' the 2000 election." False. In November 2001, The New York Times wrote: "A comprehensive review of the uncounted Florida ballots from last year's presidential election reveals that George W. Bush would have won even if the United States Supreme Court had allowed the statewide manual recount of the votes that the Florida Supreme Court had ordered to go forward. Contrary to what many partisans of former Vice President Al Gore have charged, the United States Supreme Court did not award an election to Mr. Bush that otherwise would have been won by Mr. Gore."
Mosque opponents can and do distinguish between a right to do something and the appropriateness of doing it. Polls show 60 percent of Americans oppose the mosque near the World Trade Center -- the same percentage that believe the Muslim group has the right to build it.