CNN's Jack Cafferty Openly Criticizes Mosque Developers

Jack Cafferty, CNN Commentator | NewsBusters.orgOn Thursday's Situation Room, CNN's Jack Cafferty questioned the motives of the planners behind the proposed New York City mosque near Ground Zero: "The developer... has said the proximity of the planned mosque and center is not an issue. Really?...It's simply unrealistic to think you can build a Muslim house of worship two blocks from where this awful thing happened, and not get a negative reaction."

Cafferty raised the mosque controversy during his 5 pm Eastern hour commentary: "Sometimes no answer can be an answer. When asked if a portion of the $100 million needed to build the mosque and Islamic community center near Ground Zero here in New York City might come from either Saudi Arabia or Iran, the developers refused to comment. This only adds to the already heated controversy surrounding this project."

The CNN personality, after noting that "15 of the 19 hijackers responsible for the deaths of nearly 3,000 people, and the destruction of the World Trade Center on September the 11th, came from Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. considers Iran to be a sponsor of terrorism," applauded New York Governor David Paterson's effort to find a compromise over the planned mosque's site, labeling him "one of the few rational voices in the conversation."

Later in the segment, Cafferty, took the same position as his colleague David Gergen, and endorsed one of the main arguments of the opponents of the mosque: "This isn't about freedom of religion. Nobody's suggesting that Muslims can't practice their religion. This is about insensitivity to what happened on 9/11, and an affront to the city and the country." He concluded with "unrealistic" line: "It's simply unrealistic to think you can build a Muslim house of worship two blocks from where this awful thing happened, and not get a negative reaction. But then I think the developers probably already know that."

After asking his "Question of the Hour," Cafferty later read some of his viewers' responses near the end of the hour: three from supporters of the planned mosque and its current site, two from opponents, and one who commented about the point of view of Muslims on the issue. Two of the supporters' replies used Nazi comparisons to describe the opponents:
CAFFERTY: S. in Florida writes, 'Because it's simply wrong for them to give in to the mindless mass hysteria that's being whipped up around this. What we're seeing is basically the "swift-boating" of a major worldwide religion. They didn't start this, and as a life-long Christian, I stand with them in refusing to bow to this idiotic religious persecution. If these bonehead nay-sayers aren't careful, they could easily start another world war. Al Qaeda can retire. Their work is done if this mosque is not built.'

Esther writes, 'The reason I believe they don't want to move the mosque is totally religious. They want to show off what they have done, and where they have conquered. This is a bragging site, not a healing site. If they truly want to help with the healing, then show compassion for the victims of 9/11, and move to a location farther away.'

Wilhelm writes, 'Maybe because they believe in freedom of religion, and they're not going to allow themselves to be bullied. This phony controversy is just an attempt to further demonize an unpopular minority for political gain by the ultra-right wing of American politics. The same thing happened to the Jews in Germany in the 1930s.'

Tony writes, 'I thought it was pretty obvious why the Muslim community doesn't want to build their mosque and Islamic community center in a different location than Ground Zero. Would it have made sense to relocate the flag placed on Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima in 1945?'

Kirsten writes, 'Nazis were Christians, and there's a church less than a mile from Auschwitz! It isn't about sensitivity- it's about bigotry. The proximity to Ground Zero- simply a red herring. If we shut this down, they, the proverbial "they" win by getting us to compromise the very ideals that make this nation great.'

Kenny in Virginia says, 'I work next to a company that is Muslim-owned. The employees' attitudes regarding Islam and America range from ultra-pacifist to ultra-heated. However, to a man, they all think that America is discriminating against them over this mosque. Clearly, the opinions are strong each way. You can extract what you want from the argument, but there's no denying that Islam is a very divisive subject these days.'
The full transcript of Jack Cafferty's commentary, which began 10 minutes into the 5 pm Eastern hour of Thursday's Situation Room:
CAFFERTY: Sometimes no answer can be an answer. When asked if a portion of the $100 million needed to build the mosque and Islamic community center near Ground Zero here in New York City might come from either Saudi Arabia or Iran, the developers refused to comment. This only adds to the already heated controversy surrounding this project.

Remember that 15 of the 19 hijackers responsible for the deaths of nearly 3,000 people, and the destruction of the World Trade Center on September the 11th, came from Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. considers Iran to be a sponsor of terrorism. Nonetheless, New York Governor David Paterson, one of the few rational voices in the conversation, has told CNN that he's still working on trying to find a compromise site for the mosque and Islamic center away from Ground Zero.

The developer, Sharif el-Gamal, has said the proximity of the planned mosque and center is not an issue. Really? If the people behind this project are sincere about community relations, you'd think they'd do something about improving community relations, and talk to Governor Paterson about a compromise.

This isn't about freedom of religion. Nobody's suggesting that Muslims can't practice their religion. This is about insensitivity to what happened on 9/11, and an affront to the city and the country. The murders of 3,000 people were committed by Muslim extremists. That's the reason for the outcry from the families of the victims, from the rescue workers, and from New Yorkers in general- two-thirds of whom are opposed to this thing. It's simply unrealistic to think you can build a Muslim house of worship two blocks from where this awful thing happened, and not get a negative reaction. But then I think the developers probably already know that.

Here's the question: what's the real reason the Muslim community doesn't want to relocate the mosque and Islamic center planned near Ground Zero? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile, post a comment on my blog.
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center