Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick cited the words of George W. Bush on Wednesday as he showed support for a proposed mosque near the ground zero terror site.
The Democrat noted the Republican president argued after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that the terrorists responsible should not be confused with peaceful practitioners of Islam.
Patrick said during his monthly appearance on WTKK-FM, "The sooner we separate the peaceful teaching of Islam from the behavior of terrorists, the better for all of us."
A New York City panel voted Tuesday to deny landmark status for the building two blocks from the World Trade Center site that developers want to convert into an Islamic community center and mosque. Mayor Michael Bloomberg supports the decision, but critics believe the building will become a rallying point for those who support the attacks.
The dispute has become a conservative rallying point and the Anti-Defamation League — the nation's most prominent Jewish civil rights group and an advocate of religious freedom — shocked many groups by speaking against the mosque last week.
Without being specific, Patrick cited the sentiments expressed by Bush in the aftermath of 9/11.
Less than a week after the attack, Bush traveled to a Washington mosque, stood with Muslim leaders and said, "The face of terrorist is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace, they represent evil and war."
Patrick's own comments recalled a 2007 controversy after he declared, during a Sept. 11 memorial service, that the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 resulted from "a failure of human understanding."
He added at that time: "It was a mean and nasty and bitter attack on the United States. But it was also about the failure of human beings to understand each other and to learn to love each other. It seems to me that lesson at that morning is something that we must carry with us every day."
Patrick was criticized by then-Republican congressional candidate Jim Ogonowski, whose brother John was captain of one of the planes flown into the World Trade Center.
Ogonowski said the remarks were "completely inappropriate" and suggested the victims may have been somehow responsible for the attack.
Patrick later said, also during an appearance on WTKK, "Let me be clear: I don't think that America bears any fault for the attack on us on 9/11, and I don't think that any of the family members with whom I spoke heard it or saw it that way."