Pawlenty’s pious hypocrisy

Gov. Tim Pawlenty should apologize for his anti-Islamic comment.

Tim Pawlenty, MinnesotaâÄôs governor, is crossing the nation in search for a presidential nomination, and heâÄôs been trying to prove to the conservative base that he is, indeed, a conservative. In other words, heâÄôs been pandering, and by far his most objectionable cause célèbre was his opposition to a proposed mosque and Islamic community center on private property near Ground Zero, which he claimed would “degrade” and “disrespect” a “hallowed” and “sacred” ground. The anti-Islamic statement deserves apology from Pawlenty, but first we think he should look over the speech that helped place him in the conservativeâÄôs sightline for a potential 2012 presidential candidate. ItâÄôs February 2009 and our governor is about to lecture on American conservatism at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. He steps to the podium to Canned HeatâÄôs “LetâÄôs Work Together” and goes on to say something profound about religious freedom in the United States. HereâÄôs a passage: “The freedom-of-religion protections in the U.S. Constitution were designed to protect people of faith from government, not government from people of faith,” he says to righteous applause. “[Faith] is what our country was founded on, it is what a majority of Americans believe in, and it should be at the forefront and center of our values, our principles, our issues and the way that we model ourselves as we go forward in this conservative movement.” Any such movement shouldnâÄôt have much to say about a proposed place of worship on private property, save invitation. If Pawlenty is going to in any capacity lead this conservative base, he should first try to root out the hypocrisy of its values âÄî not to mention his own. An apology to Muslims is the right place to start.