Time's Mark Halperin: 9/11 Families Need to Be Led Through a Discussion About the Ground Zero Mosque

Time magazine's Mark Halperin engaged in the ultimate condescension Monday morning, arguing that families of 9/11 victims need to be guided by others into the Ground Zero mosque debate.

"For the families of the victims of 9/11, whatever emotions they want to have, I respect and I honor. But somebody needs to lead them through a discussion," Time's senior political analyst lectured on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." He mentioned a meeting that reportedly took place between the mosque's planners and the 9/11 families, which he insisted "needs to happen."

Halperin said the meeting "did not go well," but added it was and is necessary. "As I said before, whether it moves or stays, that discussion must happen. This must be done with reconciliation. And it's got to be led by leaders, not by people like Rick Lazio...and facts," Halperin noted.

The show picked up fresh from where it left off last week, bashing the supposedly inflammatory rhetoric from the right opposing the mosque and sympathizing – while disagreeing – with the families of 9/11 victims over the planned mosque two blocks away from Ground Zero.

Host Joe Scarborough added that reconciliation doesn't necessarily entail moving the mosque. "The leaders of this Islamic cultural center, Mark, have to show reconciliation towards the victims of 9/11," Scarborough responded to Halperin. "That doesn't necessarily mean moving the Islamic center."

"But what it may mean is asking them, say, 'It's not going to move. What can we do, though? What can we put inside of this center that, as a memorial to the memory of your father, or your son, or your daughter? What can we do to help you?'"

Scarborough cried that the situation has already become an international problem, and Halperin warned it could escalate to greater proportions. "If the resolution is not handled well," he remarked, "the signal it could send abroad could put us at war with a billion people forever."

Scarborough argued that moving the mosque now would constitute "giving into the hate speech of Newt Gingrich and people like him."

"To fear the building of this center down there at Ground Zero is to admit America is weak," he asserted. "This is a chapter in our history that we're going to – we as a country, the people associated with this – are going to be ashamed of," he said of the heated debate over the mosque.

A transcript of selected quotes from the show, which ran on August 23 from 6 a.m.-9 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

JOE SCARBOROUGH: To fear the building of this center down there at Ground Zero is to admit America is weak, is to admit that we can't handle the building of a community center which is – somebody said it yesterday, and this is what I thought was all along – it is basically a Muslim version of a 92nd Street ___. That's what this place is going to be.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: It's not just fear, Joe. They're demonizing the Imam. They're demonizing the people who want to do it. They are creating lies to promulgate hatred in this country. This is where we are, all over again.

(...)

SCARBOROUGH: This is a chapter in our history that we're going to – we as a country, the people associated with this – are going to be ashamed of.

(...)

SCARBOROUGH: This is an international situation. ... This is sending a horrific message across the Muslim world.

(...)

MARK HALPERIN: As bad as this is for relations in the United States, the signal that it sends abroad – the debate now is sending a bad signal. If the resolution is not handled well, whether it moves or not, if it's not handled well, the signal it could send abroad could put us at war with a billion people forever.

(...)

SCARBOROUGH: This would not be happening if George W. Bush were President, for two reasons. First of all, a lot of these people on the right wouldn't be trying to sully his name, that's what this is about for a lot of these freaks on the far right. They want to embarrass Barack Obama, because oh gosh, his middle name is Hussein.

(...)

HALPERIN: You gotta confront the people who find it bothersome. Why is it bothersome? Why is it bothersome? If it's not a center that meant to celebrate the violence of 9/11, if it's not a recruitment center, why is it bothersome to anybody? 

(...)

HALPERIN: For the families of the victims of 9/11, whatever emotions they want to have, I respect and I honor. But somebody needs to lead them through a discussion. ... Discussion needs to happen, as I've said before.

(...)

SCARBOROUGH: The leaders of this Islamic cultural center, Mark, have to show reconciliation towards the victims of 9/11.

HALPERIN: And confidence.

SCARBOROUGH: That doesn't necessarily mean moving the Islamic center. But what it may mean is asking them; say "It's not going to move. What can we do, though? What can we put inside of this center that, as a memorial to the memory of your father, or your son, or your daughter? What can we do to help you? There has to be some reconciliation. They can't stiff-arm the 9/11 families.

(...)

BRZEZINSKI: But there's no basis in order to worry that this would be insensitive. There are other things near Ground Zero and at the Pentagon that are similar. ... They have a mosque 12 blocks away from Ground Zero, isn't there one at the Pentagon? Am I wrong?

(...)

SCARBOROUGH: But at this point, if you want to move it up to the Upper West side? ... At this point, I don't know that we can do that. I don't know that we can do that as a country, because it's giving in to the hate speech of Newt Gingrich, and people like him, Rick Lazio who's stoking fear, people down yesterday, trying to beat somebody up because they thought they were a Muslim. We can't give in to that as a country.
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014