Sometimes a person can’t win no matter what he or she does. Speaking out publicly on an issue? You’re butting your nose in where it doesn’t belong. Remaining silent so your name is kept out of it? You are silently consenting to a twisted truth set forth by your political opponents.
Civil rights activists did it. Feminists did it. And now, the President of the United States has done it … and being “hen-pecked” extensively for it.
Barack Obama, who a frightening percentage of Americans believe is Muslim despite significant proof to the contrary, found himself between the proverbial rock and hard place recently with regard to the “Ground Zero Mosque.”
Speaking to Muslims observing the holy month of Ramadan at the White House on Friday, Obama asserted that Muslims have the right to build the planned mosque, citing freedom of religion as a core American value.
Yup, freedom of religion. That goes back to the very same U.S. Constitution that the Tea Partiers pontificate on again and again and again … as it suits their political agenda, of course. That President Obama made the same point, and in a far more legitimate and real life situation then much of the right-wing spinmesiters, must have the Tea Party grinding its collective teeth.
Look at the mess Sarah Palin made of the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. It’s simply disgusting.
“He is ignoring the will of the American public,” former Sen. Rick Santorum, who represented Pennsylvania in the Senate, told Fox News on Friday. The community center would “desecrate the ground of those who were murdered by people who practice the faith, or at least an element of the faith, that is being represented by that mosque.”
“Islam is not just a religion, it is also a political doctrine,” Santorum said.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y. also weighed in, calling the plans for the mosque “insensitive.”
“President Obama is wrong. It is insensitive and uncaring for the Muslim community to build a mosque in the shadow of ground zero,” King told the AP.
What really pisses me off here is that there were rumblings that Obama’s silence on the subject was silent consent … and fed the “see, he really is a terrorist” mentality. Obama had the guts to say that, and most must realize that it would be literally against the law to ban the mosque — but yet he’s made accurate connections to outcries against past constructions of churches and synagogues, and now he’s taking hard-core heat for being “insensitive.”
Obama made it very clear that his remarks on the subject were not based on “the wisdom” of constructing an Islamic community center in the ghostly shadows of the twin towers but merely on the principles of treating all Americans equally “in accordance with the law, regardless of race, regardless of religion.”
I find it refreshing to hear a world leader speak frankly and honestly not just as a political figure but as a regular person.
“As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country,” Obama said.
“That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances,” he said. “This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.”
“Time and again, the American people have demonstrated that we can work through these issues, and stay true to our core values and emerge stronger for it. So it must be and will be today,” Obama said.
And, as New York Daily News columnist Joshua Greenman pointed out, Obama had nothing to win by speaking out here. He did it not for political points, which he will almost certainly not win, but because it was, simply put, the right thing to do.
“There’s little political upside for a president already seen by some as soft on terror, a president whom 1 in 10 Americans insanely believe to be a Muslim, to back the right of this house of worship to locate near the site of the 9/11 attacks,” Greenman wrote.
“He deserves credit for not continuing to sidestep this wrenching question. And for standing on principle,” Greenman wrote.
And as Obama himself emphasized, “Al-Qaeda’s cause is not Islam—it is a gross distortion of Islam.”
People are pretty rabid on this, though.
One commenter on Greenman’s column said that the hostility towards Christians and Jews in Saudi Arabia justified failing to accommodate Muslims in New York.
“Yes, Islam is just another religion Mr. President…. Just like Nazism is a religion,” the commenter wrote. “Do you support a 100 million dollar Nazi shrine near Auschwitz as well?”
Nazism was not a religion—it was a political movement. Islamic terrorism is a political movement.
Grouping the religion of Islam with Nazism is comparing apples to oranges. A more accurate side-by-side study would be to think of Nazism as Christianity run amok, ergo a church built near Auschwitz would be a truer comparison.
And that’s just patently ridiculous.