I don’t generally get into politics on this blog–at least, not the non-literature kind–but I feel compelled to go there this time around primarily because Sarah Palin’s recent Facebook note is too problematic to ignore. Palin’s note is a series of questions to Barack Obama about his recent “endorsement” for the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero in New York. I put “endorsement” in quotes intentionally, because the President never said he was “for” the mosque, nor that he “approved” or “disapproved” or anything of that nature. He simply said, as he rightly should have, that the Muslims have every right to build a mosque on private land. But we’ll get into that with my response to Palin’s questions:
Mr. President, should they or should they not build a mosque steps away from where radical Islamists killed 3000 people? Please tell us your position. We all know that they have the right to do it, but should they? And, no, this is not above your pay grade.
It doesn’t actually matter what he thinks. They have a right to build it. The President can’t deny that. You can’t deny that, Mrs. Palin. Not to mention that the President seems to very clearly support the U.S. Constitution on a foundational level, which means that he, as the head of this country, is likely not interested in playing religious games when the Constitution is so clearly against it. This also explains why he is so careful in his speeches to point out that we are a nation of many faiths (or non-faiths). Why? Because we are. That’s America, kid. That’s the nation we built for ourselves. The day the President starts telling religious people that they shouldn’t do something that is within their legal right to do is the day we start losing that freedom.
If those who wish to build this Ground Zero mosque are sincerely interested in encouraging positive “cross-cultural engagement” and dialogue to show a moderate and tolerant face of Islam, then why haven’t they recognized that the decision to build a mosque at this particular location is doing just the opposite?
They’re building a mosque and Islamic community center, not a terrorist boot camp. They’re not a radical Islamic sect either. They’re just Muslims. The fact that radical Islamic terrorists blew up the towers is irrelevant here. Suggesting that sharing a religion in name is the same thing as sharing the beliefs is laughable. It would be equally ridiculous for me to suggest that just because the Ku Klux Klan and yourself share a religion in name, that you both must therefore share the same beliefs. Whatever crossovers might exist are just as irrelevant as the implied connection.
Mr. President, why aren’t you encouraging the mosque developers to accept Governor Paterson’s generous offer of assistance in finding a new location for the mosque on state land if they move it away from Ground Zero?
Because it’s Manhattan, not the bloody Midwest. If Paterson had an actual alternate site available, he might have suggested it along with offering his assistance. The problem? He likely doesn’t. Why? Because it’s Manhattan. Look at it on Google Maps. There isn’t all that much space left.
Why are they apparently so set on building a mosque steps from what you have described, in agreement with me, as “hallowed ground”?
Because they have a frakking right to. That’s why. The same damned reason you would be so adamant to protect your religious freedoms.
And it’s 600 feet away. That’s not “steps.” That’s a little over 1/10th of a mile away. That’s over two blocks. Close? Sure, but so what? McDonald’s kills people, but you don’t see anyone suggesting that they shouldn’t be allowed to build new restaurants in our cities.
I believe these are legitimate questions to ask.
Not really, Mrs. Palin. Not really. I think Barack Obama summed it up well enough:
“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. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.”
That’s really all that matters politically here.
And for the record, Mrs. Palin, I do think that putting the mosque that close to Ground Zero is in poor taste. But I’m not going to use that as a basis for trying to stop them from doing what they have a right to do. The land they have is private property and they’re allowed to do as they please with it, so long as it is within the law to do so. The fact is that you don’t seem all that interested in protecting freedom; you say that they have the right, but you’re looking for an excuse to take that right away from them. I can see that, and it makes me glad that we don’t live in a world where you’re a heartbeat away from being President. We need politicians who do not waver on or look for ways to get around the Constitution. Barack Obama may not be the best President, but he’s got that going for him. He’s one of those Constitutional types. You’re clearly not.
That is all.