For weeks now, we New Yorkers have watched in stunned exasperation as the local flame wars surrounding the inchoate Islamic community center in lower Manhattan, simmering since the news was first made public in December 2009, have erupted into a national conflagration of Teh Stupid. Suddenly, those people who usually have nothing but disgust for this modern Gomorrah (and too much time on their hands) are its moral champions. Clutching New York City, bedbugs and all, to their ample, American flag pin-festooned bosoms, they decry how those awful, moderate “jihadis” are going to turn the World Trade Center neighborhood, not exactly known for its chaste entertainment options and already home to another mosque several blocks up, into another breeding ground for terrorists. What will those dastardly fiends think of next, a chain of “72 Virgins” strip clubs?

It’s painful and infuriating to watch the fearful, ignorant lemmings who scream anti-Muslim slurs at strangers and generally caterwaul about “hallowed ground”, the radius of which seems to grow by the block as the days wear on. Today we learn that they have additional help from an interesting source:

[R]epresentatives of a wholly US government-funded outfit have joined the vociferous opposition to the Park51 or Cordoba House project that critics have dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque.” A leader of this group—which receives $4.3 million a year from the government—has even proclaimed that the community center could be a front for Islamic terrorism. That’s not all: the same agency, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), has been the subject of an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint for allegedly discriminating against Muslim employees.

Irony much? USCIRF’s stated mission is

“to monitor religious freedom around the world and scold countries that aren’t meeting religious freedom obligations outlined by international human rights treaties.”

Yet here they are, sticking a red hot poker in the eye of the Commission’s very purpose. Consistenciness!

Who knew that federal commissions received funding to impose their misguided beliefs on local zoning issues? It’s not bad enough that USCIRF counts John Bolton and other knuckle-dragging, neocon hemorrhoids as members. As usual with these thugs, whenever you overturn over one basking rock, more slither out:

To break this down: the chairman of the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (Leonard Leo) is working closely with a conservative activist (Virginia Thomas) who is a featured speaker at an event being mounted by an outright anti-Islam group.

Yes, that Virginia Thomas. You would think that USCIRF chair –and Heritage Society poobah– Leonard Leo would at least consult with his cohort’s Supreme Court bench-napping husband on that whole Tenth Amendment thing (though he probably prefers the “states’ rights” interpretation) before he starts shooting his mouth off with taxpayer dollars on a thoroughly municipal issue.

Feh. The most infuriating thing of all is that this entire episode is a textbook exercise in cutting off one’s nose to spite the face.

Islamic radicals are seizing on protests against a planned Islamic community center near Manhattan’s Ground Zero and anti-Muslim rhetoric elsewhere as a propaganda opportunity and are stepping up anti-U.S. chatter and threats on their websites.

Seriously, when you’ve lost the conservative Wall Street Journal with your self-defeating batshititude, you’ve ratcheted up the rhetoric too far.

(Note: Perhaps the News Corp.-owned WSJ is seeing the light because of that substantial Saudi financial interest. I think somebody should ask Glenn Beck how he feels about the Fox News’ collaboration with Wahhabist Jamal Khashoggi, cousin of everyone’s favorite international arms dealer, Adnan Khashoggi.)

So my advice to all the flag-wavers and opportunistic politicians who ordinarily wouldn’t give a subway-sized rat’s ass about this town: besides generally shutting the fuck up about how we choose to zone our property, why don’t you take all that moral outrage and federal moolah and put it to good use? You could start by ensuring that the WTC first responder heroes you love to exploit for professional gain actually receive the health care funding they were promised.

New York City can take it from there.