Andy Sullivan, a construction worker and Brooklyn native, has been one of the loudest opponents of Park51, the planned mosque and community center near ground zero. Founder of the 9/11 Hard Hat Pledge -- under which construction workers vow not to work at the mosque site -- Sullivan has been a regular presence on television, known for wearing his signature American flag hard hat and talking tough about radical Muslims.
So it was quite a surprise this month to read that Sullivan has set his sights on a new target: Canadian teen pop superstar Justin Bieber.
Mosque foes recently started a boycott of Bieber after he made comments in support of the mosque project in an interview with Tiger Beat, a teen fan magazine, Sullivan told WYNC earlier this month. Now, his 8-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son have been banned from attending Bieber performances.
"I informed them, 'Hey guys, guess what? Justin Bieber spoke out for the ground zero mosque," Sullivan explained to Salon in an interview. "My little girl took down his poster and said she didn't want to have nothing to do with him anymore. These are my kids. They're living this thing."
Thus far it would seem to be a lesson on what really white people can do to alienate really pissy white people. Except that Bieber didn't really do anything.
The magazine does cover Bieber obsessively ("Justin Bieber Dodges Dating Selena Gomez Question!" and "Did Justin Bieber Grow a Mustache?" are two recent features). But I couldn't find any sign of an interview on Park51. There is, however, a post on the website CelebJihad.com purporting to describe a Tiger Beat interview. It reads in part:
In an interview with Tiger Beat, the pop sensation stressed that freedom of religion is what makes America great, and went on to say that those who oppose the Mosque are motivated by bigotry.
“Muslims should be allowed to build a mosque anywhere they want,” the singer said. “Coming from Canada, I’m not used to this level of intolerance, eh.”
Bieber went on to say that Muslims are “super cool,” Christians are “lame-o-rama,” and that the mosque will help “start a dialogue” with all religions about which Justin Bieber song is the most awesome.
“I was like seven when September 11th went down, and frankly I’m surprised people are still going on about it. Move on, already!”
Celebjihad.com seems to specialize in softcore celebrity porn, but poke around a bit and you find this disclaimer:
CelebJihad.com is a satirical website containing published rumors, speculation, assumptions, opinions, fiction as well as factual information
I was able to reach the proprietor of the site, who confirmed that the Bieber item is in fact a hoax. "[T]he fact that some people take it seriously is hilariously depressing," he said in an e-mail.
It's easy to make fun, and yes, I'm doing just that. And if this were mainly a matter of inconveniencing overexposed pop stars, who cares? Let's hear Ke$ha say something that offends conservatives.
But you see proof every day that there's no sales resistance, no bullshit detector. Even interviewed in places perfectly in tune with his closed-off worldview, Sullivan comes across as one part PTSD to four parts narcissism. But apparently he's a Voice that Matters on this subject, and he'll be able to dine out on it for years. Evidence that he and other anti-Moskers don't know what they're talking about is easily ignored.