Keith Olbermann challenged former DNC chairman and Vermont Governor Howard Dean to explain why Park51, the proposed Muslim community center and mosque, should not be built at its proposed location near Ground Zero.
Dean explained on "Countdown" Thursday that he believes "people trying to build the mosque are trying to do something that's good," but that their efforts are pointless if they're "going to meet with enormous resistance."
Dean called the controversy a chance to have "reasonable dialogue" and suggested that opponents and supporters come together to discuss the issue. Dean compared the divisive debate to the one he faced in Vermont when the state became the first to offer civil unions to same-sex couples.
Olbermann pointed to Dean's remarks and asked why civil unions -- which faced strong opposition -- are worth pursuing, but a mosque is not.
Olbermann: You brought up civil unions, and that brings me to another quote from some of the WABC material. Let me read this again. You said, "There's no point starting off trying to do something that's good if it's going to meet with an enormous resistaance from a lot of folks." Does that not describe your effort to get civil unions and the 50-state strategy or the Obama presidential campaign or health care reform? We can go on forever and say doesn't that describe the American Revolution?
Dean: Yeah, I don't think you intentionally truncated that quote. What I meant to say was if you get further.... Look, these folks have a right to build this and where they're about to build it. I think to focus solely on that and exclude further dialogue is a mistake. Look, will the United States survive whether we build this or not where it's supposed to be built? I think so. But this might be the time where we've got to start setting this stuff aside and listening to each other instead of talking past each other. Look at the Middle East peace process. There are people at the far ends of the spectrum who want to undo the progress. I think this may be a teachable moment. I really do.