Guess how Republican candidates are establishing their patriotic bona fides? By saying the mosque and Islamic center proposed for a site two blocks from Ground Zero is an attack on America! The NY Times' front page article looks at the latest element in the Cordoba House debate—the Anti-Defamation League's opposition to the project—and how it's stoked Republican rhetoric.

Specifically, "In North Carolina, Ilario Pantano, a former Marine and a Republican candidate for Congress, has also campaigned on the issue, and says it is stirring voters in his rural district, some 600 miles away from ground zero. A few days ago, at a roadside pizza shop in the small town of Salemburg, he attacked the proposal before an enthusiastic crowd of hog farmers and military veterans. 'Uniformly, there was disgust and disdain in the room for the idea,' Mr. Pantano said."

Pantano wrote an opinion piece for on the topic as well (FWIW: he once worked at 4WTC):

I was deeply disappointed to learn that the local Manhattan community board and Mayor Bloomberg were complicit in this sell-out of monumental proportions. Were they bought out wholesale by the same folks that could mysteriously produce millions in cash to buy a building and not leave a trace? Or were they simply bullied?

Is Mayor Bloomberg afraid that his namesake building might get turned to match sticks if he offends the wrong crew? After all, they'll kill you for a cartoon.

Bloomberg's public explanation for his mosque support basically covers points about how America and NYC stands for openness and tolerance—Sarah Palin be damned!

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tried to explain why it's such a powerful issue, one that he's been talking about lately, "The World Trade Center is the largest loss of American life on our soil since the Civil War. And we have not rebuilt it, which drives people crazy. And in that setting, we are told, why don’t we have a 13-story mosque and community center?... The average American just thinks this is a political statement. It’s not about religion, and is clearly an aggressive act that is offensive." Which is why it'd be cool if it were in Central Park or by Columbia instead.

And how far is the proposed mosque from Ground Zero? The Huffington Post's Matt Sledge took a walk to see: