Related Content: Ron Paul’s NYC Mosque Press Release
Show: Anderson Cooper 360°
Sanjay Gupta: Those are the facts, as we can tell. But there are some who say it simply isn’t for any of us to pass judgment on who should build a mosque, and where they should build it, as long as it’s on private property and no laws are broken. New York Mayor, Mike Bloomberg, he believes that and, apparently, so does Republican Congressman and former presidential candidate, Ron Paul. And he joins us now from Clute, Texas. Thanks for joining us, Congressman.
Ron Paul: Thank you, good to be with you.
Sanjay Gupta: Now, I read your article and you say this whole issue is really an issue of property rights and everything else is “really about hate and Islamaphobia”. But, you know, I want to start by asking: is what happened on September 11, 9 years ago, different; the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil? Are there certain lines to be drawn even when it comes to this property rights issue?
Ron Paul: No, you should draw lines. But I think the lines are being drawn improperly. Al-Qaida was responsible, several hundred Al-Qaida existed at that time. And maybe there are still several hundred more. But that doesn’t mean the whole Muslim religion should be indicted: that is my complaint. I mean, McVeigh probably was a Christian and he bombed the Oklahoma Federal building, but does that mean that a Christian church can’t be built near there and Christianity is blamed? No, I don’t like that broad brush. So yes, the violence was committed by Al-Qaida and they’re bad people and we should do what we can to destroy them. But that doesn’t mean that we should destroy the whole concept of the Muslim religion. And if they can bring this out, whether the mosque is stopped or not, the implication here is that Islam caused 9/11, not a narrow branch of the Al-Qaida. To me, that is crucial because it deals with our foreign policy, it deals with … you know, even in that clip earlier on Madeleine Albright admitted. She said, “Well, if 500,000 people are killed, so be it if that’s what it takes”. So the Muslims have justification for their worries and concerns.
Sanjay Gupta: There is a lot of pain and anguish, I think, from people who are worried about this Islamic center being built. Do you see that point of view at all?
Ron Paul: To worry about it? Well, I worry about it because I’m afraid it stirs up hatred and that’s why I worry about it. And I think they’re off on a tangent. I think the purpose was, too often, to just blame Islam. But there is another Mosque in that area, this is not right where the towers were, this is not too far down the street. But, what about the strip joints? Are these people who are “holier than thou” condemning the strip joints nearby because it defames Ground Zero? So I don’t think that’s any consistency. I think this goal was to blame Islam for 9/11 and I think that is wrong. I don’t think that was the cause. Al-Qaida did it.
Sanjay Gupta: And you talk about the fact that there is a lot of Islamaphobia. I mean, your son, Rand Paul, who’s running for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky, is opposed to this facility being built. Is he Islamaphobic?
Ron Paul: Well, I don’t know what his position is, but he’s certainly not islamaphoic.
Sanjay Gupta: He doesn’t even want the facility being built.
Ron Paul: Well, I don’t know his details and he speaks for himself and he has a different position, but I sure wouldn’t put him in that category. No, but I think the emotions are high and people are lining up on each side.
Sanjay Gupta: The reason I ask, Congressman, is because in your article you talk about the fact that this really is a property rights issue. But you believe that a lot of the extraneous issues are due to hate speech and do to Islamaphobia. Which is why I asked the question specifically about your son. I know you’re not speaking for him, but I wondered if you’d put him in that same category?
Ron Paul: Well no, I don’t put everybody who is a candidate in that same category that might have a reason. You have to ask him for his reason. But no, everybody who’s opposing it doesn’t even understand the foreign policy or why we’re in Iraq and Afghanistan. They don’t have this understanding, they don’t want to see the connection. My goal is to make the connection for people to understand what’s going on and why Al-Qaida has become so militant and hateful toward us and why painting Islam with a broad brush makes our problems worse because we’re not narrowing down on the real cause and those who perpetuated 9/11. And if we don’t get to that, we can’t solve this problem.
Sanjay Gupta: Well, let me just ask politically, and not a belabor this point specifically about your son, but he has said that President Obama was wrong to weigh in on this controversy, that he is “a liberal elitist who believes that he knows what’s best”. That’s your son’s quote. Even the president seemed to be on the same side on this particular issue. Do you have a reaction to your son’s comment on that?
Ron Paul: No. I think you have to ask him about it.
Sanjay Gupta: Alright, alright. We’ll try and talk to him about it as well. But I just wondered if at Thanksgiving dinner you were going to get together and talk about it and give us a little peek behind the curtain there. Obviously there’s a lot of talk about particularly with this before…
Ron Paul: Well, you’re doing sort of what they’ve been doing on this whole debate: trying to stir up trouble.
Sanjay Gupta: Right. Well, I think it’s a fair question. It’s father and son having pretty diametrically opposed viewpoints on this. I did want to ask you another question.
Ron Paul: I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s fair. I don’t think they’re diametrically opposed. I haven’t discussed it with him so I just don’t believe they’re diametrically opposed.
Sanjay Gupta: Well, alright. Fair enough. You believe that this Islamic center should be built and he doesn’t. But before I let you go, I did want to ask you about…
Ron Paul: But that isn’t even my point. I am totally unconcerned about whether it’s built or not build. I’m concerned about why it has become the issue. That’s what I’m concerned about. I’m afraid you’re didn’t quite get my point.
Sanjay Gupta: Do you think it should be built?
Ron Paul: I don’t care whether it’s built or not built. Everybody says it’s private property and they should be able to do what they want to do. Once again, the point I’m making is not to blame Islam for 9/11, you have to blame only Al-Qaida. That is a completely different story than all these innuendoes that you’re bringing up, I don’t think that’s part of the question. You have to narrow it in because it has to do with our foreign policy and that’s what I’m dealing with; the foreign policy. The foreign policy is crucial because that’s why we have perpetual war. And I think this is all connected, not in a way that is conspiratorial, but in a way that it is almost like people slip into this. It’s really easy for people to get to hating Islam.
To me, that’s equivalent to hating Christians because Timothy McVeigh was a Christian, and that I don’t like, nobody should like it, nobody should like this being painted with a broad brush. It was done to the Jews before and I don’t like it. I like to stick to the facts, I like to talk about the foreign policy and how it’s related.
The sideshow which is what I call this, is just there to stir things up and prevent us from dealing with the real problems, and that is our interventionist foreign policy that gets us too much involved overseas, too many people die on both side and we’re totally bankrupt and we have to address that. We have to get away from: “Are we going to support the building of the mosque?” and that was sort of the innuendos when you bring up with the question about my son. I mean, you’re missing the whole point when you think that is the crucial question. The crucial question is our foreign policy. That’s what I want the people to think about.
Sanjay Gupta: Alright, it’s a well written article, Congressman. I enjoyed reading it. People at home should give it a read as well. We like to stick to the facts…