Saturday, August 21, 2010
My Last Words On The Islamic Community Center and Mosque Near Ground Zero
Rational Nation USA
The American flag. For two hundred and thirty four years it has represented the union of the original thirteen states grown to fifty. It has flown over a land founded on the principal that every individual has the right to their life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Beyond our Declaration of Independence our founders had the wisdom to draft the document known as our Constitution. A document that insured the right of the individual, and the individual states to retain supremacy over the central government other than as specifically set forth in the Constitution.
Today, as I write what is to be my last word on the proposed Islamic Community Center and Mosque near Ground Zero, I encourage those on both sides of the argument to take a deep breath and those on the hard right turn to our Bill of Rights. Specifically Article 1 which reads in part, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;..."
Given the persecution of certain religious groups by the English government our founders, in order to insure the citizens the right practice whatever religious belief they held, drafted Article 1 of The Bill of Rights. In so doing they guaranteed each individual the right to practice whatever religion they may hold and do so without the fear of government interference.
Our founding principals, embodied in our Constitution and codified into law demand we respect the right of all religions to have a place at the American table. And this we have done. There are over one hundred mosques in New York. Each and every one allowed to practice their faith freely and without intervention or discrimination by the government. Just as the founders of our nation intended.
Of course most Americans, conservative, Libertarian, and progressive alike realize all of this. My purpose for writing it here is simply as a reminder. Precisely because the thought of an Islamic Community Center and Mosque near the hallowed grounds of 911 is repulsive to the majority of Americans, it is now that we must remind ourselves that no matter how repugnant and insensitive it may be, the Imam and developers of Project51 have the constitutionally guaranteed right to build on the proposed sight.
It is time to put politics aside. Time to acknowledge that even though the President has lacked leadership with respect to the insensitivity to the emotions and feeling of the people he is to lead, he is right in his expressed understanding of Article 1 of the Bill of Rights. He is upholding the principals of our republic. In this sense he is showing leadership.
In my attempt to be reasoned and unemotional over this it is likely some of my conservative brethren will be mildly to very upset with me. Should that be the case I accept that. Before going further I would remind my fellow conservatives that have taken up the gauntlet that I have posted several articles concerning Islam and this specific issue. They have generally not been complimentary. For those who may have missed some or all of them you can find them here, here, here, and Bastiatarian put up a particularly good post here.
The national temperature must cool off. As emotional as this issue is it serves no useful purpose when there are those calling for the burning of the Koran on 9/11/10. This shows complete intolerance, as well as ignorance, and does indeed play into the hands of the extreme elements of Islam, namely the Jihadist.
That progressive leftist rag known as The New York Times has an article today discussing the possibility of our rhetoric and actions galvanizing the most extreme elements of Islam and enhancing their recruiting activities. While I am in disagreement with the NY Times more often than not I find validity in some of their arguments below.
Opposition to the center by prominent politicians and other public figures in the United States has been covered extensively by the news media in Muslim countries. At a time of concern about radicalization of young Muslims in the West, it risks adding new fuel to Al Qaeda’s claim that Islam is under attack by the West and must be defended with violence, some specialists on Islamic militancy say.
“I know people in this debate don’t intend it, but there are consequences for these kinds of remarks,” said Brian Fishman, who studies terrorism for the New America Foundation here.
He said that Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric hiding in Yemen who has been linked to several terrorist plots, has been arguing for months in Web speeches and in a new Qaeda magazine that American Muslims face a dark future of ever-worsening discrimination and vilification.
“When the rhetoric is so inflammatory that it serves the interests of a jihadi recruiter like Awlaki, politicians need to be called on it,” Mr. Fishman said.
Evan F. Kohlmann, who tracks militant Web sites at the security consulting firm Flashpoint Global Partners, said supporters of Al Qaeda have seized on the controversy “with glee.” On radical Web forums, he said, the dispute over the Islamic center, which would include space for worship, is lumped together with fringe developments like a Florida pastor’s call for making Sept. 11 “Burn a Koran Day.”
“It’s seen as proof of what Awlaki and others have been saying, that the U.S. is hypocritical and that most Americans are enemies of Islam,” Mr. Kohlmann said. He called the anti-Islam statements spawned by the dispute “disturbing and sad” and said they were feeding anti-American sentiment that could provoke violence.
The reasoning behind these comments are sound. At the very least it should cause pause. The last thing we want to do is play into the hands of the extremists who are already using our more strident opposition to the proposed mosque to inflame Muslim they seek to recruit. Read the rest of the New York Times article here.
It is perfectly acceptable for elected representatives, diplomats, and the President to attempt broad ranging discussions on behalf of the nation that is in majority opposed the the construction near Ground Zero. I repeat near Ground Zero. The fact there are already as many mosques as there are indicates that it is not Islam itself that is being protested. It is the selection of sites. Were the Imam and his fellow developers interested in the process of healing they would consider another site.
Amidst all of the emotion and never ending chatter one voice stood out. Governor Paterson of New York State maintained a voice of reason in attempting to broker a deal that would have included state land as an alternative. While his efforts have failed thus far to gain the desired results the efforts should continue. The President, or his designated representative should seek discussion aimed at a resolution that is wholly acceptably to both sides.
In doing so we assume the high ground. Our nation displays the tolerance it has always possessed and in making the cause for sensitivity towards the families that lost loved ones, and the American people in general, we put the Imam in the position of making a decision showing understanding and sincerity towards an injured people. Or confirming the belief that more and more Americans seem to share that Islam is indeed an intolerant, even violent religion.
If our leaders handle this situation properly, assuming it's not already to late, we could arrive at a viable compromise. If not the Imam, and his religion will be exposed for what many feel they are.
Cross posted to Left Coast Rebel.