This is not an issue I have been particularly sure about how I feel. On one hand we have the issue of propriety; is it appropriate to even plan to build a new Islamic place of worship within any distance of the unprovoked attacks which caused so many deaths. This mosque will do nothing to honour the memories of those killed but nor will it dishonour them. What WOULD insult the memories of those people would be oppression on the grounds of religion and the prevention of the project. It would not serve the interests of anyone to propagate that hypocrisy. I also believe that those who so stridently oppose the idea would not be so up in arms about a church being built there and this is where I stand the issue. On the other we have the question of if it right for us to ‘dictate’ where any religious building can be built regardless of propriety. As it stands, there are already more than 90 in New Yok City alone, and I am certain that if there really is a need for nother mosque (if they are full or beyond renovation or extension) then there are other places to build. You wouldn’t build a strip-club near a school, so why build an Islamic place of worship near a memorial for people who died in an unprovoked act of cowardly and Islam motivated terrorism?
“There’s even polling – by Fox News – showing a majority of Americans agree that Muslims have a right to build the centre, but just as many saying they oppose one being built on the site as planned.” – The Guardian
This surprised me. Normally I take what Fox says and mentally bin the lot. Fox is a nasty right-wing propaganda network, and Murdoch is a rabid fascist with no respect for real impartial journalism. O’Reilly may be worse but, Murdoch put him and his ilk on the air to spout hate and lies. I recommend that people at this point view a series of eight videos on YouTube called Outfoxing Fox.
Are there any reasons why these plans were not just rejected on the spot? These are 3 possibilities;
- Fear of being labelled a racist? (Even though Islam is more of a political ideology than a religion and most certainly NOT a race. I’m sure I do not need to remind people that Islam is prevalent in the former Yugoslavia too. Obama has already been accused of hating white people while other’s have gone as far as to call his nationality into question.)
- Fear of losing political support? (Message to the Teabag-Loony-Fringe, Obama was democratically elected. Deal with it!)
- Fear of backlash? (Remember the hysteria over a few cartoons?)
All three boil down to fear. Yes, Muslims have a legal right to practice their religion and set up a community centre, but there are circumstances in which this is just not appropriate. Obama is absolutely correct to point out that there is no legitimate reason, under the law, to prevent the building of an Islamic community centre in the Lower Manhattan area. Given the nature of the attacks though, I actually feel that NO new religious structures should be built within walking distance of Ground Zero. This would at least rule out that suspicion that any religion is being persecuted over the issue and also that none can be seen to be ‘gloating’ over the issue.
“But let me be clear. As a citizen, and as President, I believe that 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. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are.” Barack Obama – Friday 13th Aug, 2010
On Saturday he was accused of backtracking by refusing to comment on his personal view. He did not give any indication , in his Friday speech, of whether he felt that the plans to build a mosque a few blocks from Ground Zero was wise or not. What he said was that the right of the first amendment, take precedence over the wisdom of such a project, and even over the feelings of the families, and memories, of the dead. However honourable it is to stick to ‘the rules’, blindly following them without consideration of the facts of the issue is unwise. There are certain circumstances in which following the rules will have undesirable consequences. This is one of them. With the Republicans and the likes of Palin and McCain, trying to change those rules in a bizarre attempt to promote Christian supremacy in a country which was founded to be secular.
“I would prefer the president be a little more of a politician and a little less of a college professor,” wrote Martin Frost, a former Texas congressman, in an article for the news website Politico. “While a defensible position, it will not play well in the parts of the country where Democrats need the most help.” – The Telegraph
From this I would take it that Mr Frost would rather the President towed the party line and gave an opinion which would win the votes from the lowest common denominators: an act which I think would have ended up being more harmful to the Democrats in the long run, when it became clear that this was not Obama’s true feelings on the issue. The president has already made it very clear that his personal view is not the issue. The issue is what is right and decent, and in the best interests of those affected by it. The Right have condemned Obama but that’s not exactly a surprise. Victim’s groups have also slammed Mr Obama for making the reference to religious freedom stipulated in the first amendment. He did not ‘back-track’ from Friday’s speech because he did not voice an opinion to back-track on.
“While insisting that the place where the twin towers once stood was indeed “hallowed ground,” Obama said that the proper way to honor it was to apply American values.” – The Independant
The President neither backed nor condemned the building of a mosque near Ground-Zero and bravely stood up for the actual values laid down in the constitution of the United States. Mr Obama deserves a round of applause for not giving in to the rabid Christian proselytisers of the right who would have Christianity made the official religion. It must be remembered that their idea of freedom of religion is limited to Christianity. Secularists and non believers, and those who just disagree with the Right (the 4th Reich?) have been subjected publicly to a viscous and vitriolic character assassination on a massive scale and this needs to stop. Lets forget that it was an Islamic attack, be more general and show some REAL respect to those who were killed. Religious fanaticism was the motivation so therefore no new religious buildings should ever be built there. It needn’t be necessary to legislate this, but should come out of honest human decency.
President Obama’s Speech –