Newsweek's Alter Distorts Gingrich's Ground Zero Mosque Opposition

September 13th, 2010 6:24 PM

You can agree or disagree about former Speak of the House Newt Gingrich's view on the Ground Zero mosque, but is it fair to vilify him with a false characterization of his views?

Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter had a peculiar take on Gingrich's point of view during a Sept. 13 appearance on Fox Business Network's "Imus in the Morning." He expressed his frustrations with the attacks on Islam, as it pertains to public discourse with not only the Ground Zero mosque, but also the idea of people burning Qurans, which has garnered a fair amount of attention from the left-of-center media.

"[I]t's insane," Alter said. "And what are we supposed to have, a war with a billion people? So, this is out of control. And, it's kicked off something pretty ugly."

But one of the lynchpins of his frustration were comments from Gingrich, which Alter took some liberties with his interpretation of the former House Speaker's sentiments.

"And when you have people like Newt Gingrich, I think, my big takeaway from this is that he's just completely destroyed any -- the last shred of legitimacy he had to comment about anything. My favorite line by Gingrich is he said, ‘You know, when Saudi Arabia allows us to build churches and synagogues there, then we'll put mosques in the United States, and until then, other mosques should close, too."

But Gingrich's statement about the mosque referred specifically to the Ground Zero mosque, not all mosques in the United States. He elaborated, "If the people behind the Cordoba House were serious about religious toleration, they would be imploring the Saudis, as fellow Muslims, to immediately open up Mecca to all and immediately announce their intention to allow non-Muslim houses of worship in the Kingdom."