My Thoughts on the Mosque
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Every single American should immediately recognize, and adore, the above quote – if you do not, you have failed to honor your first responsibility of citizenship. The first amendment, the cornerstone of the United State’s Constitution’s Bill of Rights, lays out, in no uncertain terms, the core truths that “We the People” hold self-evident. Among these are the key freedoms necessary for a healthy Democracy: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and most pertinent right now, freedom of religion. Particularly the free exercise of religion – the very act of worship. There are no caveats or footnotes, no fine print or “out” clauses; the United States was founded with the express intent of ensuring that no single religion be denied the right to exist, nor any religion be declared more “true” than another.
Today, however, extremist elements of the right wing would have you believe otherwise.
By now, everyone has heard of the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque,” an Islamic religious and community center that has been proposed at a location some block from the site of the rubble of 9/11. The name itself is an abominable label – applied by a blood thirsty arm of the Republican party as a means of triggering a triggering an emotional response of fear, hate, and bigotry against the Islamic faith. To hear the right wing describe the mosque, this center is either a disrespectful gesture against the families and victims of the 9/11 attacks, an outright assault on American “religious values,” or a potential training ground for future terorists.
As others have already pointed out, the Mosque is not at ground zero, it is blocks away in a neighborhood known for its diversity. It is not part of some wildly imaginative fever dream of a plot to attack America, nor is it a thumb of the nose at the families of the victims of 9/11. Most of all, it is definitely not an assault on what some have declared American religious values, because, as the above Constitutional quote points out, America’s only stated religious values are that there are no stated religious values.
The mosque is the purest example of a place designed solely to provide for the “free exercise” of religion that the Constitution explicitly states an intent to protect. It is a center where people of faith can get together to celebrate and honor their God . It is, like the many thousands of churches, temples and synagogues, a place where people can celebrate a common community of love and peace. Just like any other religious center, there will likely be movie nights, lectures, daycare, basketball games, and sleepy children trying to remember their prayers. It is also a place where people of all faiths can come to learn about Islam in the true spirit of intellectual and spiritual curiosity, mutual respect, understanding, and above all, peace. A learning center, where Islamics, and non-Islamics, can come to a better understanding of one another.
In short, the one type of place this world could use a whole lot more of.
But no. Having no national political agenda to put forth, no ideas for forward progression, no vision for the future of our country, have embraced a nightmare from the past and are running screaming through the streets bearing banners exclaiming “The End is Nigh.” The party has allowed itself to be completely taken over by extremist elements that have managed to do something no terrorist could ever hope to accomplish: they have embraced a philosophy of fear and cowardice, abandoning logic to sit by the wayside shaking its head in consternation. Like the Taliban, the right wing now uses terror and outrage as their sole political weapon. And the really sad part? They have somehow managed to convince a large number of their fellow Americans that is the right thing to do. What ever happened to the land of the brave?
But that’s not all. In the midst of this fear mongering, the right has also slipped in a message that, in circumstances that only it is qualified to define, it is perfectly acceptable to set aside “little” things like the First Amendment. Using the psychology of revenge, they have decided, for us, I might add, that opposing the construction of a house of worship, that prohibiting our Constitutional right to free assembly, is an okay thing to do. They would have you believe this is not a religious issue. They are lying. They would have you believe that this is a “sensitivity” issue. They are lying. They may even try to have you believe this is a “national security” issue. They are lying even more. To the right wing, this is about one thing, and one thing only: keeping you afraid.
And they have been very successful.
So much so, that they have even managed to convince some of their their political opponents to cast aside the very ideals our system of government was founded upon – the things that give us our national identity.
Today, Democratic Senator, and majority leader, Harry Reid turned away from the principles of the Constitution he swore to uphold. In an e-mail sent by an aide Reid stepped away from his spine and his Constitutional responsibilities to state that he, too, opposes the construction of the Islamic Mosque and community center. Here’s the relevant part of the statement:
“The First Amendment protects freedom of religion,” Reid spokesman Jim Manley said in a statement. “Sen. Reid respects that but thinks that the mosque should be built someplace else.”
With these words, Harry Reid demonstrated his willingness to be blatantly manipulated by a political rival. Voluntarily forsaking the Constitution, but the people it was intended to serve. And he did so not through any logical objection, or adherence to truth, but for the plain and simple reason that he was afraid that he might not get re-relected. Well, guess what? Perhaps, even now more than ever, he no longer deserves to be re-elected. Personally, I would prefer he resign.
Allow me to present the following:
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”
Mr. Reid should recognize the above. When “We the People” elected him to office, his first official act was to take the Congressional Oath of Office. An oath set forth in the Constitution, required by law, and preserved through centuries of civic evolution and strife. He swore this oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States, against all enemies foreign and domestic,” and ladies and gentlemen, I present that nothing qualifies more as a domestic threat than a group of people flatly stating that the Constitution should be dismantled simply because they are afraid of something they don’t understand.
It’s been said before, and bears repeating here. Democracy is hard. It is a never-ending struggle to put the ideals of the people ahead of personal opinion or political gain. To profess freedom of existence to the very things you may hate the most. In this issue, Mr. Reid’s remarks above show an inherent lack of commitment to the very ideals he swore an oath to uphold. An oath which, like the Constitution from whence it comes, does not contain any caveats, or finely printed “ifs”, “ands,” or “buts.” An oath that dictates the abolition of self in service of the greater good. An oath that does not allow for one to abandon the responsibility of protection of liberty in time of electoral difficulties. An oath that is binding not only to the God you swore allegiance to, but the people you vowed to serve.
In short, Mr. Reid, has failed as a political leader. He is not only a disappointment to the forces of reason, logic, progress, and peace, but also a disgrace to the country. By abandoning the concepts of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” has have proven himself unworthy of the title he bears. The fact that he did this at the behest of a political rival shows an appalling lack of moral courage and raises the question of just who exactly it is that Harry Reid serves. It certainly doesn’t seem to be his constituents, which are by now wondering if they will be able to maintain any faith in him as their representative. It’s a wonder to me how Mr. Reid can have any faith in himself.
Because of these failings, I am suggesting the Mr. Reid do the entire country a favor: that he step down from his position as Majority Leader of the Senate. It is patently obvious that he is no longer speaking for his constituents, ignoring the majority of public opinion, and no longer upholding his oath to the Constitution. These reasons alone are more than enough to show that he is no longer capable of leadership.