Posted by on August 25, 2010 in Blog
In the midst of countless politically opportunistic statements by elected officials yielding to misguided passions on the Islamic center in lower Manhattan, several officials have admirably resisted the pressures and stood firm on principle in defense of religious freedom and against the demonization of the Muslim community.
Today, we highlight statements by two such elected officials: After reading their statements, please take a moment to call the offices of Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) (202) 224-2152 and Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) (202) 225-2831 and thank them for their principled leadership!
“I had my differences with President George W. Bush, but I believe he showed real leadership after 9-11, when, in the agony and anger that followed, he made it clear that our war was with the terrorists who perverted the teachings of Islam not with Muslims who were faithful to what he called ‘a peaceful religion, a religion that respects others.’ Those who seek to exploit the location of an Islamic Center in New York have forgotten the words of President Bush.
They have also forgotten one of the most fundamental American and constitutional values: our freedom to practice our religion. As President Obama has said, ‘Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country and 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.’
The mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, has given his assent to this center and I support his decision. The politicians like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin who try to divide America with fear and hate over this issue betray the diversity which makes our nation great and the Constitution which they profess to honor. If the freedoms we hold dear and the values which our brave military fights every day to defend are truly in our hearts, we need to speak out against those who divide us and those who attack patriotic and peace-loving Muslim Americans.”
(Listen to additional Durbin remarks)
"Is the controversy over building a mosque near ground zero a grand distraction or a grand opportunity? Or is it, once again, grandiose demagoguery?
It has been said, “Nero fiddled while Rome burned.” Are we not overly preoccupied with this controversy, now being used in various ways by grandstanding politicians? It looks to me like the politicians are “fiddling while the economy burns.”
The debate should have provided the conservative defenders of property rights with a perfect example of how the right to own property also protects the 1st Amendment rights of assembly and religion by supporting the building of the mosque.
Instead, we hear lip service given to the property rights position while demanding that the need to be “sensitive” requires an all-out assault on the building of a mosque, several blocks from “ground zero.”
Just think of what might (not) have happened if the whole issue had been ignored and the national debate stuck with war, peace, and prosperity. There certainly would have been a lot less emotionalism on both sides. The fact that so much attention has been given the mosque debate, raises the question of just why and driven by whom?
In my opinion it has come from the neo-conservatives who demand continual war in the Middle East and Central Asia and are compelled to constantly justify it.
They never miss a chance to use hatred toward Muslims to rally support for the ill conceived preventative wars. A select quote from soldiers from in Afghanistan and Iraq expressing concern over the mosque is pure propaganda and an affront to their bravery and sacrifice.
The claim is that we are in the Middle East to protect our liberties is misleading. To continue this charade, millions of Muslims are indicted and we are obligated to rescue them from their religious and political leaders. And, we’re supposed to believe that abusing our liberties here at home and pursuing unconstitutional wars overseas will solve our problems.
The nineteen suicide bombers didn’t come from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iran. Fifteen came from our ally Saudi Arabia, a country that harbors strong American resentment, yet we invade and occupy Iraq where no al Qaeda existed prior to 9/11.
Many fellow conservatives say they understand the property rights and 1st Amendment issues and don’t want a legal ban on building the mosque. They just want everybody to be “sensitive” and force, through public pressure, cancellation of the mosque construction.
This sentiment seems to confirm that Islam itself is to be made the issue, and radical religious Islamic views were the only reasons for 9/11. If it became known that 9/11 resulted in part from a desire to retaliate against what many Muslims saw as American aggression and occupation, the need to demonize Islam would be difficult if not impossible.
There is no doubt that a small portion of radical, angry Islamists do want to kill us but the question remains, what exactly motivates this hatred?
If Islam is further discredited by making the building of the mosque the issue, then the false justification for our wars in the Middle East will continue to be acceptable.
The justification to ban the mosque is no more rational than banning a soccer field in the same place because all the suicide bombers loved to play soccer.
Conservatives are once again, unfortunately, failing to defend private property rights, a policy we claim to cherish. In addition conservatives missed a chance to challenge the hypocrisy of the left which now claims they defend property rights of Muslims, yet rarely if ever, the property rights of American private businesses.
Defending the controversial use of property should be no more difficult than defending the 1st Amendment principle of defending controversial speech. But many conservatives and liberals do not want to diminish the hatred for Islam–the driving emotion that keeps us in the wars in the Middle East and Central Asia.
It is repeatedly said that 64% of the people, after listening to the political demagogues, don’t want the mosque to be built. What would we do if 75% of the people insist that no more Catholic churches be built in New York City? The point being is that majorities can become oppressors of minority rights as well as individual dictators. Statistics of support is irrelevant when it comes to the purpose of government in a free society—protecting liberty.
The outcry over the building of the mosque, near ground zero, implies that Islam alone was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. According to those who are condemning the building of the mosque, the nineteen suicide terrorists on 9/11 spoke for all Muslims. This is like blaming all Christians for the wars of aggression and occupation because some Christians supported the neo-conservative’s aggressive wars.
The House Speaker is now treading on a slippery slope by demanding a Congressional investigation to find out just who is funding the mosque—a bold rejection of property rights, 1st Amendment rights, and the Rule of Law—in order to look tough against Islam.
This is all about hate and Islamaphobia.
We now have an epidemic of “sunshine patriots” on both the right and the left who are all for freedom, as long as there’s no controversy and nobody is offended.
Political demagoguery rules when truth and liberty are ignored."