REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL, (R) TEXAS: Thank you. Good to be with you.
GUPTA: Now, I read your article. You say this whole issue is really an issue about property rights and everything else is, quote, “really about hate in Islamophobia.
But, you know, I want to start by asking, is what happened on September 11th, nine 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?
PAUL: No, you should draw lines, but I think the lines are being drawn improperly. Al Qaeda was responsible. Several hundred al Qaeda existed at that time and maybe there are still several hundred more.
Bu that doesn’t mean the whole Muslim religion should be indicted that was my complaint. I mean, McVeigh probably was a Christian, and he bombed the Oklahoma Federal Building. But does mean that a Christian church can’t be built near there, and Christianity is to blame?
I don’t like that broad brush. So yes, the violence was committed by al Qaeda 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 Qaeda. To me, that is crucial, because it deals with our foreign policy, it deals with — even in that clip earlier on, Madeleine Albright admitted, she said, well, 500,000 people are killed so be it if that’s what it takes. So the Muslim have justification for, you know, their worries and concerns.
GUPTA: Do you — I mean, there’s a lot of pain and anguish I think from people who are worried about this — this Islamic center being built here. Do you see that point of view at all?
PAUL: To worry about it? Well, I worry about it because I’m afraid it stirs up hatred. That’s why I worry about it. I mean, there’s — and I think they’re off on a tangent.
I think the purpose was too often to just blame Islam, but there are other mosques in that area. This is not on — you know, right where the towers were. This is over — not too far down the street, but what about the strip joints?
Are these people who are holier than though condemning the strip joints nearby because it defames Ground Zero? I don’t think that’s the 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 Qaeda did it.
GUPTA: And you talk about the fact that a lot of the Islamophobia. I mean, your son, Rand Paul is running for U.S. Senate in Kentucky is opposed to this facility being built. Is he Islamophobic?
PAUL: Well, I don’t know what his position is, but he’s certainly not Islamophobic. I don’t know his details, he speaks for himself. He has a different position, but I wouldn’t put him in that category, no. But I think the emotions are high, and people —
GUPTA: I mean, the reason —
PAUL: — are lining up on each side.
GUPTA: The reason I asked, Congressman, because in your article you talked about the fact that this really is a property rights issue, but you believe a lot of the extraneous issues are due to hate speech and due to Islamophobia, which is why I asked the question specifically about your son. I know you’re not speaking for him, but I wonder if you put him in that same category.
PAUL: I don’t put everybody who’s a candidate in that same category that might have a reason for. You would 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 Qaeda 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, those who perpetuated 9/11. If we don’t get to that, we can’t solve this problem.
GUPTA: Let me just ask politically, not to belabor this point, specifically about your son, but he had said President Obama was wrong to weigh-in on this controversy, and he’s, quote, “a liberal elitist who believes that he knows what’s best.” That’s your son’s quote.
You and the president seem to be on the same side of this particular issue. Do you have a reaction to your son’s comment on that?
PAUL: I think you have to ask him about it.
GUPTA: All right, well, we’ll try to talk to him about it as well, but I just wondered if thanksgiving dinner — you were going to talk about it, give us a little peak behind the curtain there. Obviously, there’s a lot to talk about particularly with this — PAUL: Well, you’re doing what they’ve been doing on this whole debate, trying to stir up trouble.
GUPTA: Well, you know, I think it’s a fair question, and it’s father and son having, you know, pretty diametrically opposed view points on this. I did want to ask you another question about –
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 can’t believe they’re diametrically opposed.
GUPTA: Well, all right, fair enough. You believe that the Islamic center should be built and he doesn’t, but before I let you go, I did want to ask you about —
PAUL: That isn’t even my point. I am totally unconcerned about whether it’s built or not built. I’m concerned about why this has become an issue. That’s what I’m concerned about. I’m afraid you didn’t quite get my point.
GUPTA: Do you think it should be built?
PAUL: It is saying that — I don’t care whether it’s built or not built. Everybody says it’s private property, they should be able to do what they want to do. They printed that. Once again, the point I’m making is not to blame Islam for 9/11. You have to blame only al Qaeda.
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 in, because it has to do with our foreign policy. That’s what I’m dealing with is the foreign policy.
The foreign policy is crucial because that’s why we have perpetual war. That’s why — and I think this is all connected. Not in a way that is conspiratorial, but in a way that is almost — people slip into this.
It’s real easy for people to get to hating Islam, but they — to me, that’s equivalent to hating Christians because Timothy McVeigh was a Christian, that I don’t like, 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 side show, 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 intervention is foreign policy, that gets us too much involved overseas, too many people die on both sides.
And we’re totally — we have to address that, we have to get away from, are we going to support the building of the mosque is it that was sort of your innuendo when you bring the question up with my son. 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 people to think of.
GUPTA: All right, it’s a well-written article, Congressman, I enjoyed reading it. People at home should read it. We like to stick to the facts as well. Congressman Ron Paul, thanks so much.