I said I wouldn’t do this. I said I wouldn’t get involved. The debate, however, has now gone from the humorously ludicrous to the mildly absurd, and that is usually my cue to wade into the muck. I would first like to say that I believe the issue of a mosque and Muslim Community Center constructed on private property near the site of the World Trade Center disaster is a debate best left to New Yorkers. They are a unique and tough breed of people, and I believe immensely capable of determining what is and isn’t erected in their city. I think it should be up to you, New York, New York.
What bothers me here, is that the conservative right-wing once again wants public policy determined by personal opinion, and that, if left without debate, can set a dangerous precedent in terms of personal freedom. I firmly believe those hideous rubber Croc shoes should be banned from the light of day, but the Constitution protects horrible fashion sense and questionable foot hygiene, so in the end, my distaste is just that. Poor shoe choice cannot be legislated, and a ticket from the fashion police carries no legitimate legal weight. Now, I hear you saying, “Schmootz, it’s not as simple as that.” Isn’t it? Congressman King (R-NY) said that no one is questioning the legality of the community center; the question is should it be done?
It seems like in today’s political atmosphere, nothing is sacred…especially the Bill of Rights. In an election year, I expect to hear emotional diatribes about guns, God, and gays. Politicians have been sticking it to the gut reaction of their electorate since Caesar tried to push that controversial dagger control bill. The conservative right is quick to quote our founding fathers and just as quick to bastardize their words. I hear talking points made about religious freedom being one sided, and that we will “allow” that New York mosque when churches and synagogues appear in Mecca. Really? That would be a legitimate argument had Mecca and its surroundings any religious freedom. America is the gold standard, remember? It was Ronald Reagan that repeatedly symbolized the United States as that “shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere.” And in his farewell address to the nation, he described that city as, “teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.”
I have heard my own GOP candidate for governor (who wanted to bomb Mecca when he was in the Congress) hold all Muslims accountable for the 9/11 attacks, therefore effectively preventing their right to build a community center in New York. Islam did not attack us. The fanatical sect, Al Qaeda, attacked us. Holding the entire Muslim religion to blame would be like holding Christianity to blame for the Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City and the numerous fatal abortion clinic bombings that were facilitated all in the name of Jesus Christ. I would like to believe they know not what they do, so there has been little outrage for evangelical churches built around those sites.
Come on, let’s call this attempt to block the Muslim community center from construction on holier than thou land for what it is, political grandstanding at its worst. Until I hear great concern over post-WWII Japanese construction of Shinto shrines and Taoist temples in Hawaii, or a consensus to remove the place designated for Muslim worship in the Pentagon, the conservative call to arms comes with a circumspect load. As Constitutional attorney, Ted Olson, told Fox News’ Chris Wallace after the Prop 8 overturn, being offended is not grounds for denial of rights.
So, my conservative compatriots, here is my bottom line. I detest the tactics of your hard right and I abhor your talking heads’ determination to prostitute the anxieties of a financially weakened and weary nation. If ever the question “should you” apply, it is here. Even so, I am an American Liberal, I love my country and my Constitution, and I will continue to fight for your First Amendment rights…and your legal right to prey.