My position on the following issue might shock some longtime readers. I might offend you. But, it is something I made notes about and thought out. This one is all me. There is no staff member to blame. In fact, the staff disagrees with me on this strongly. Let's get to the point.
The President of the United States was right in stating that Muslims had the right to buy private property and construct a mosque on that property close to the World Trade Center site. The decision that the Muslim group made to do so was one of the most insensitive and politically incorrect decisions of all time. Their decision is an insult to the people who died on September 11th and those who survive them. Words cannot describe the insult. Whatever their motives, they set back the standing of Muslims in America for decades. That is the cold hard truth. The Muslims who want to build the Mosque near the World Trade Center site should have the awareness to back off.
For that reason, it is easy to demand some sort of government action to stop such. But, frankly, the government has no business stopping such. The President of the United States correctly pointed out, albeit in an awkward circumstance, the correctness that government has no business determining which religious group could build a worship center wherever. That is the heart of our freedoms, the freedom of religion and the freedom of people to have their faith.
The Muslims who wish to construct the mosque make clear that they do not condone the terrorist acts of Islamic extremists. They contend that they wish to build their mosque as a place where moderate and sensible Muslims can worship in defiance of those who kill on a whim. That contention does help.
But, there is the reality that is striking. Islam is the only religion that has members who kill those who do not agree. It is hard to get past that. Such is the ultimate test of American ideals. While we believe in freedom of religion, how far does that freedom extend when the widow of a victim says no?
For me, I go back to the constitutional freedom of religion. It is something that makes America what it is. Here, we believe in freedom. And, freedom is a thing that applies to all that are law abiding. If we stray from that and ban this or that religion from building a place or worship, we lose who we are. We become like them. In other words, the terrorists win, they make us like them.
Further, where do we stop? Suppose some Christian church is against interracial marriage, do we ban them from building? On the other side , suppose a church condones gay marriage, since the polls are against that, should we stop them from building a place to worship? The list goes on.
Therefore, if a group of law abiding Muslims with no terrorist ties want to build a place of worship in New York, let them. It is wrongheaded and it is insulting. Those Muslims have not thought things out. But, they have the freedom, like Reagan said, "to be stupid." That is the what we do in America. We are strong enough to let that happen. We cannot allow ourselves to become a people so bitter and afraid that we allow a couple of dozen crazy morons from nine years ago to decide who we allow civil rights to. America is better than that.
Newt Gingrich, a man I much admire, takes a different take. Gingrich says we should allow the building of a mosque near the Trade Center site when Saudi Arabia allows churches. That sounds good. But, it misses one really big point. Saudi Arabia is not America. Let them be religious bigots and live in fear of Christians or Jews. We are the United States of America, we have the strength to believe in freedom for people of all faiths. If they pay their dues, let them build a place of worship. The United States of America is still the last best hope for the world in that we do not fear such. We embrace such. We should never live one moment in fear of the debate of ideas or religions. We are Americans, and no terrorist should take that from us.