I’ve received some pushback on my post defending the decision of NBC and CBS not to run an ad by the National Republican Trust PAC that calls on Americans to oppose the building of a mosque two blocks from the World Trade Center site. The ad claims or strongly implies that the people who want to build the mosque are the people who declared war against us on 9/11, and that they want to build the mosque to celebrate the mass murder that occurred that day.
One reader points out that “the fellow behind the mosque is the same one who declared on or about Sept 30, 2001, that Osama Bin Laden was ‘made in the USA’ and also has stated that the US government and its foreign policies were ‘acccesories’ to the crime/event.” The reader is referring, I believe, to Feisal Abdul Rauf, who indeed made such statements.
The view that U.S. policies towards the Muslim world helped bring about 9/11 is fairly widespread among leftists. It’s a deplorable theory, in my opinion, but those who express it cannot, by virtue of doing so, be said to have declared war on the U.S. or to celebrate 9/11. To the contrary, their premise is that 9/11 was a terrible event. From that premise, they launch their critique of U.S. policy by blaming it for the tragedy at the World Trade Center. It’s a cynical argument, and one that reinforces my desire that Rauf and company not build their mosque at ground zerio, but it’s not a celebration of 9/11.
What we’re seeing with this ad, and with some that preceded it, is the notion that because someone holds a deplorable view, it’s fair to charge them with holding an even more deplorable one. The fallacy is obvious.
Those who commit it are driven in part by an understandable anger. They are also driven, I think, by the desire to make a splash. The stronger an ad, the more likely it will be widely viewed on the internet. And who doesn’t want to be an internet sensation?
But deliberately taking liberties with the facts is always wrong and usually counter-productive. And those who do so certainly have no legitimate beef with networks that refuse to be their vehicle.
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