Point of View Columns

To be or not to be…..?

To a contemporary columnist Sarah Palin is the gift that keeps on giving. After the Mama Grizzly exhortations and the views of Russia from her kitchen window, she continues to provide demonstrable indicia of the madness that pervades current sociopolitical discourse. But it is wise to beware.
Most recently, the self-deposed governor of Alaska called upon the Islamic community to “refudiate” (this is not a typographical error) the planned construction of a community center in the proximity of the destroyed World Trade Center in New York City because the initiative was the work of a local Islamic organization. When this truly bizarre mangling of the English language was noted she called upon the beleaguered Islamic organization to “refute” the project. Of course, now Sarah Palin was just misusing the English language instead of masticating upon it.
When this brush with illiteracy was brought to light Ms. Palin’s final response was to point out that Shakespeare also made up words. A statement that is stunning in its presumptuousness and brazen stupidity but noteworthy because it emanates from an individual who is thought by more than a few to be a possible presidential candidate in 2012 and therefore a possible President of the United States in 2013.
As in any sociopolitical discussion, facts are always helpful although perhaps a little awkward for Ms. Palin and her fellow travelers. But in this instance a few words from the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States may be of assistance:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…….
A sage observer will note that this Amendment does not refer to Judaism or Christianity or Buddhism or exclude Islam. The Amendment refers to the free exercise of ALL religions, which presumably includes Islam.
Sarah Palin and the yahoo clan of the right wing of the right wing seem to feel that the Constitution of the United States is a Happy Meal Menu from which delectable portions can be selected and the unpalatable selections can be left on the steam table. The Mama Grizzly in Chief would have us believe, her self-imposed illiteracy notwithstanding, that pressuring Muslims to build a planned community center in some location more pleasing to her and her cohorts does not constitute the prohibition of the free exercise of religion.
Yet Sarah Palin and the right wing of the right wing will bristle at the mere suggestion that the unfettered and unrestrained possession of AK-47’s is not a constitutionally protected right.
And the logical extension of this warped interpretation of the Constitution is that one can pick and choose the rights that should be protected and defended. And, by extension, one can pick and choose whose rights under the Constitution should be protected and defended.
I am not unsympathetic to those who find the construction of an Islamic-sponsored community center in the vicinity of the World Trade Center problematic. I would imagine that there are those who would oppose the construction of a Catholic Church near any school, playground or youth center in light of the epidemic of revelations of child abuse by priests in the Catholic Church. But I cannot support the notion that their discomfort should displace the right of the community to construct such the Islamic center, keeping in mind that the local community board in lower Manhattan supported the construction of this center. And I would think that although community revulsion at the depredations revealed in the Catholic Church is intense and profound, most communities would not oppose the construction of a Catholic Church or Catholic-sponsored community center, regardless of its location.
To date Sarah Palin has gotten a pass on this double standard upon a double standard. And there is yet another issue that has not been addressed as she big foots her way into this community controversy. As noted, the local community board has supported the construction of the referenced Islamic-sponsored community center; presumably, according to Ms. Palin the will of the (local) people should be erased and replaced by the will of the Mama Grizzly Oracle. And if it can happen once, it can happen again.
I believe that at the end of the day the center will be built. I believe that men and women of good will and of all faiths will recognize the goodness and value of this community center. But Sarah Palin and her cohorts in the right wing of the right wing have provided us with a coming attraction of the America that she envisions – an America that is right only and if only if she says so. The coming attraction is frightening. The actual feature is to be avoided at all costs.