Since Congress is preparing to head into its August recess just as soon as this debt ceiling deal wraps up, how are we, the political news consumers, going to get our kicks for the next month? Hmm. Eh, what the hell, let's start talking about the "Ground Zero" "Mosque" again.
In case you forgot, the American political landscape was dominated all of last summer by a debate over Park51, a proposed Islamic community center several blocks from Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan. Some, like the local zoning board and Mayor Bloomberg, didn't have a problem with this new outfit — which would include restaurants, shopping, a swimming pool, and various prayer rooms — taking over an abandoned Burlington Coat Factory building. Others, however, considered it a training ground for jihadists to plot many more 9/11s everywhere, from the very site where "they" plotted the first one. It was the stupidest story of all time, and mostly just allowed Republicans to rile up their wingnuts before the midterm elections. No one has talked about it in months.
Until now! The New York Times has brought us an update about Park51's progress. It's slow. While a paid staff has been hired and fundraising drives are in the works, the developers "have also embraced what they call a slower, more deliberate and more realistic approach to the project, acknowledging it will take years of hard work to determine what kind of facilities Muslim and non-Muslim visitors want and need, to raise money, and to build public support." That "raising money" part is probably the most important reason for the slow growth of something that costs a lot of money.
Meanwhile, back in Washington, famous comical email ranter Rep. Allen West will be spending his August recess planning a film screening for his Capitol Hill colleagues. It will be a Christian movie about why the "Ground Zero" "Mosque" is evil, and so forth. Via The Hill:
Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) is planning to screen a controversial film on Capitol Hill about attempts to build an Islamic center near Ground Zero in Manhattan.
The film, "Sacrificed Survivors: The Untold Story of the Ground Zero Mosque," was produced by the conservative Christian Action Network (CAN) and has begun to garner criticism from such groups as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).
The 45-minute film is largely focused around a series of interviews conducted with survivors of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and members of their family. The interviews, according to CAN's website, delve into the feelings they experienced last summer when a group proposed building an Islamic center blocks away from where the World Trade Center towers once stood.
Hooray for national politics in August! We smell a welcome annual political tradition in the works, here: First waste a few months inventing a debt ceiling crisis, and then celebrate its resolution with a fresh new National Conversation about the "Ground Zero Mosque." Sound good? Okay, we'll tweak it.
[Image via AP]