Capitol Hill Bureau Chief
Gen. Colin Powell, the retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state under President George W. Bush,
said Thursday that the Islamic community center and mosque planned near Ground Zero in New York City should go forward. Powell made his comments during an appearance on ABC's "The View."
"The terrorists win if we become terrified and . . . change who we are and what we are," Powell said, as he argued that it is crucial for Americans to remain true to the values that set the country apart from the rest of the world.
The retired general said that while he understands the sensitivity of New Yorkers to the mosque's proposed location near the site of the 9/11 attacks, he pointed to a Muslim prayer room in the Pentagon as an example of a place that had also been attacked, but has provided a space for Muslim worship nonetheless. He also pointed to President Bush's outreach to the Muslim community after September 11, when he assured the world that the American war on Islamist extremism is not a war on the Muslim religion.
In addition to the mosque issue, Powell also addressed Florida pastor Terry Jones' plans to burn copies of the Koran on Saturday and warned that Jones' plans could put American troops in harm's way. "If we let Islamophobia go across this country, we put General Petraeus in a very, very bad situation," Powell said of the allied forces commander in Afghanistan.
Finally, Powell blamed what he called "the media industrial complex" for heightening controversy over the mosque, Pastor Jones and recently, Shirley Sherrod, the Department of Agriculture employee who was fired after being misquoted in a speech about black farmers.
"Let's count to 10 before we leap on these things," he said.