Small Grants for Cultural Preservation Create New Anti-Mosque Hysteria

The good Christians of the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow uncover a new outrage:

According to The Associated Press, the Obama administration plans to spend nearly $6 million in American tax dollars to restore 63 historic and cultural sites around the world, including mosques and minarets in 55 countries. The projects include $76,000 for a 16th century mosque in communist China, $67,000 for a mosque in Pakistan, and numerous others.

A quote from Gary Bauer follows:

…”If anything like that was happening under a Republican or a conservative administration or government, the ACLU would be going nuts [and] all the major newspapers would be writing front page stories about it,” he observes.

“This is unacceptable,” he continues. “The United States taxpayer should not have their hard-earned money going to build mosques and minarets in China, in Pakistan, and other places around the world. It’s unconstitutional, and it needs to stop immediately”

The story has also been picked up by some other conservative websites; WorldNetDaily‘s headline screams that “U.S. paying millions to fund mosques around world”.

The money is being disbursed through the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, which was established by Congress in 2001. The Fund’s annual reports can all be seen here; it has been giving small grants for historic buildings and artefacts, including mosques, since then without provoking any controversy, let alone “the ACLU going nuts” or any “front page stories”. The 2001 report’s preface, by Patricia S. Harrison (the Bush-appointed Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs), explains that

As Congress intended, the Ambassador’s Fund allows us to show another side of America—one that recognizes the contributions of cultures in other countries that enrich us all. Heritage preservation allows us to work closely with our international partners, and to affirm our respect for other cultures as we jointly identify areas in critical need of preservation.

The Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation successfully demonstrates in concrete, visible ways, the U.S. commitment to understanding and preserving the heritage of others. Whether it is the preservation of ancient Islamic manuscripts, a historic monument of importance to a nation, or traditional music or language needed to sustain indigenous groups in modern times, U.S. Ambassadors have identified unique ways in which to achieve what Congress intended.

For reasons best known to itself, OneNewsNow has chosen to illustrate its story with a famous anti-Muslim poster created by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), even though new mosques for Muslim immigrants in Switzerland plays no part in the Ambassadors Fund’s grants:

Perhaps we should be grateful that they didn’t use this alternative SVP poster:

In January 2009, OneNewsNow whipped up a hsyeria around the announcement that the US was planning to fund some archaeological restoration work at the site of Babylon.