It is summertime, but few would suggest that the living is easy. There are also few songs about autumn or winter being any easier, so it will best for us to brace ourselves. Meanwhile, all around us the content of our national character is tested and ascertained daily:
In all of the discussion about the proposed Islamic cultural center (NOT a mosque) in Lower Manhattan, it would appear that the basic and dispositive constitutional point is ignored – purposely, I would imagine. The Constitution of the United States clearly establishes freedom of religion in this country and just as clearly states that government (that would mean federal, state and local) cannot take any steps to limit that freedom. That would seem to be the end of the discussion.
But Minnesota Governor Tim (“smash the government”) Pawlenty claims that this reference to the Constitution is a mere “technicality” and that the feelings of the majority in this country trump the rights of the minority. Former Governor Sarah Palin calls on the Muslim community to “refudiate” (whatever that means) the cultural center because it is offensive.
Of course there are some who find Jews offensive and would wish that there would be no synagogues. There are some who find African Americans offensive and would wish that their children should never go to school with white children. There are some who find Catholics offensive and would close every church, chapel and cathedral if they could. None of these represent the majority of Americans, but those feelings did represent the feelings of loud and large numbers of Americans at different points in time within the past 200 years and it was the Constitution that turned away the venomous slings and errors embodied in these points of view. But now, the Constitution is a “technicality” when it is applied to Muslims.
Of course, the worse part of this entire travesty is the transparent rabble rousing and hatemongering that is going on, without the slightest regard for fact or truth. Fact: there are two mosques close to the 9/11 site. One is 4 blocks away and the other is 12 blocks away. Both have been there before the 9/11 tragedy and have been in continuous operation ever since without the slightest hint of a trace of a glimmer of controversy. Fact: the proposed Islamic center is not a mosque. There is a prayer room planned along with a culinary school, a banquet facility and a basketball court. Could the logical outcome of this travesty be that Muslims be denied a place to pray in any place that the majority finds “offensive”? A useful question to ponder as we peer down the slippery slope slathered with mass hysteria and prejudice.
And finally, Fact: There is a mosque within the Pentagon, another site of attack during 9/11. Many American died at the Pentagon that day so presumably the ground is as “hallowed” as the ground in Lower Manhattan. Yet, there has not been the slightest hint of a trace of a glimmer of controversy. Where fear and hatemongering live, truth and justice find it hard to survive.
A recent poll indicates that 26% of (presumably) adult Americans believe that President Obama is a Muslim. The fact that he is an acknowledged Christian who worships in Christian churches, was married in a Christian ceremony and has had his two daughters baptized as Christians doesn’t seem to matter.
What is not mentioned, but is just as fascinating, is that there is an underlying assumption that President Obama being a Muslim would be a bad thing. And I am reminded that there was a time that even the hint of being associated with Roman Catholicism would doom a political career for all time. Of course, that was over 100 years ago. And, of course, we really haven’t come that far in 100 years after all.
Have a great weekend!