ASHLAND, Va. — Rep. Eric Cantor, one of the highest-ranking Jewish lawmakers, says Muslims building a community center in lower Manhattan are “insensitive” and “not interested in healing or bringing people together.”
Cantor told POLITICO in an interview here in his central Virginia district that he does not understand why organizers are pushing so hard to build a Islamic community center blocks from where radicals killed thousands of Americans.
“Everyone accepts the fact that radical jihadists were the ones that perpetrated this crime — leave out the state sponsorship — everyone knows the reasons those individuals boarded those planes that morning was because they felt their religion — Islam allowed them to do it, or their version of Islam,” Cantor said.
If they wanted to build a mosque somewhere else, Cantor said he’d be in favor of it.
“But think about it,” he said. “Why would you want as an imam why would you want to put a cultural center right there if it’s meant to heal people when right away it’s caused such a national uproar? That is in and of itself evident of the fact that they’re not interested in healing or bringing people together. They’re interested in posing their view. That’s what so insensitive about it.”
Cantor’s comments are the most detailed he’s offered thus far on the controversy that has quickly dominated an otherwise slow August news cycle. Early on, he told National Review that building the mosque in lower Manhattan was the height of insensitivity.
Cantor, who is the only Jewish Republican in the House, added President Barack Obama's comments about the mosque didn’t help, and "continued to grow the frustration of the American people."
"What in the world is the president weighing in on that and then contradicting himself within 24 hours on the thing, then doing it again the third time," Cantor said. "Why is he commenting on that when people are really concerned about the inaction or inability for Washington to do anything with this economy."
But Cantor was also tried to tamp down the larger controversy, saying there are more important things to worry about.
“All these other things that are coming up, the mosque being the latest, I mean, I just don’t think – I haven’t seen polling to back this up – I don’t think really looking at that right now,” he said. “It’s about jobs.”