Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Will sanity ever return?

So now the latest brouhaha is about the "mosque" near ground zero. ("Mosque" in inverted quotes because it's not a mosque - it's an interfaith cultural center, primarily designed to promote communication between all faiths. This is a key point that most people - conveniently - are choosing to ignore.)

On Friday, Obama made a statement about preservation of equal rights, and our sacred (!) obligation to respect people's choice of religion. Now - he certainly could have been clearer about what he was saying (considering the need these days to dumb down anything aimed at the pathetic level of intelligence of the masses), but still. He was most definitely not making a comment about the wisdom of placing the center nearby ground zero - he was merely pointing out a truth that, clearly, was inconvenient to many people. On Saturday, he clarified his intent, but of course it was too late by then.

So where do we stand right now (Tuesday)? Well, the Sarah Palins of the world are, of course, gleeful, and making hay of this tempest in a teapot. Sadly, though, many Democrats are also "disagreeing" with Obama. Why? Well, there's an election coming up soon, and they are forced to kowtow to the "will" of their constituents - while they privately agree with Obama's statement, they dare not say so. This two-faced behavior is, at best, disturbing and, at worst, downright disgusting. But that's the reality of the world we live in these days.

So. You interested in my opinion? I don't care - here goes! Of course Obama is correct - freedom of religion is a key component of the commitment that this country has embraced lo these many years. Should the center be built near ground zero? In my humble opinion, it should not matter. But hey - I don't live in NYC, which means that I don't have a good "read" of the way native New Yorkers feel. Perhaps it does hurt enough of them to have the center there. Perhaps many of them simply don't care. Perhaps there's enough of a ground-swell of them to passionately feel that it needs to be there. I simply do not know, and don't pretend that I ever will. Bottom line: This is a local issue, and I am sure that Manhattanites are perfectly capable of handling this on their own. So here's a humble suggestion: Why don't the rest of us just back off, and let them make the decision?

Not a minaret in sight!
Ya know, it's interesting how people will modify their views based on how convenient it is for them. As Robert Wexler (D-FL) said in connection with the Terry Schiavo case some time ago: "In the process, they [Republicans] have decided that the rule of law is only worth respecting if they agree with the results."

And, to take an extreme, silly, funny and hypothetical example (but, I think effectively, points out the idiocy of this): Remember the recent scandal of Catholic priests and pedophilia? Well, I have yet to see anybody protesting the erection (!) of a Catholic church next to a high school... [Credit for this goes to Jon Stewart's show on the Comedy Channel.] Extreme, silly, funny and hypothetical - yes. Does it make its point? Indubitably! But let's get real: How would Muslims feel about the presence of a cathedral at ground zero? Would we even care? Bear in mind that "Muslim" very definitely does not equal the minority of those extremists called al-Qa'ida. (I note, too, another one of those convenient arguments: Many in the anti-Mosque crowd are saying - substitute your own variables for x and y - "How would x feel if a y was built in their country?" This is a specious argument because of one simple fact: We are talking about the U.S., and the U.S. only. Let's not - conveniently! - lose sight of that fact.)

Maybe a European viewpoint will help balance your take on this. Or, how about this? The NYTimes, after all, is both close to the issue - and sane! And, as always, I'd like to hear what you have to say - you know where to click to comment!

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