Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Pauls And The Lower Manhattan Community Center


People who watch Fox News think this is going up where the World Trade Center towers once stood

Over the weekend, we looked at the hatred, divisiveness and bigotry being drummed up first by Islamophobes like right-wing blogger Pamela Geller and Dutch neo-Nazi Geert Wilders and then by opportunistic diseases like Republican politicians who see it as a way to generate votes from frightened Fox viewers and fans of Hate Talk radio. But while many Republicans and some cowardly type Democrats are saying the Muslim community center (with a prayer room) should move further away from hallowed ground-- where? Staten Island? New Jersey, the Poconos? West Virginia? Lebanon? How far is far enough?-- Freedom of Religion got a boost from an unexpected source yesterday: Ron Paul.

This is a case, as my friend DDay said, where the acorn fell a bit far from the tree. Rand Paul-- named for Ayn, deranged far right author of pulp fiction-- is against what he deceptively calls "a mosque at Ground Zero."
Kentucky Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul says that he opposes developing plans for a mosque to be built in close proximity to "Ground Zero" in New York City.

The Tea Party-backed hopeful shared his take on the matter in an interview with Kentucky-based station WBKO on Monday.

According to the local outlet, Paul signaled his belief that members of the Muslim community would better off to make donations to the memorial site rather than construct a religious center close to where the World Trade Center towers stood prior to September 11, 2001.

That's very different from what Papa Paul is telling his followers. He's been around long enough to know this whole thing is just a bunch of what he calls "grandiose demagoguery."
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.

So, can't he tell that nogoodnik son of his, who'll probably be trying to raise money by denigrating the Florence, KY mosque? And it isn't only Ron Paul who has a clearish understanding-- clear for a John Birch wingnut-- of this non-issue. Look at this spectacular OpEd from Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley:
The debate swirling around the proposed mosque and Muslim community center in lower Manhattan near the World Trade Center site has, for many, tapped into strong emotions of a national trauma that is still raw. But in the churning political and constitutional arguments, one question has not been adequately addressed: what makes a mosque near ground zero offensive?

Nearly everyone in this debate affirms the constitutional right for the mosque's construction. Indeed, that right is a cherished founding principle. As Thomas Jefferson said, "The constitutional freedom of religion [is] the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights." It is no accident that the right to worship in accordance with one's own conscience is enshrined in the First Amendment.

But, many mosque opponents argue, just because it can be built does not mean it should be. They say it would be disrespectful to the memories of those who died on 9/11 to build a Muslim facility near the World Trade Center site. I appreciate the depth of emotions at play, but respectfully suggest that the presence of a mosque is only inappropriate near ground zero if we unfairly associate Muslim Americans with the atrocities of the foreign al-Qaidaterrorists who attacked our nation.

Such an association is a profound error. Muslim Americans are our fellow citizens, not our enemies. Muslim Americans were among the victims who died at the World Trade Center in the 9/11 attacks. Muslim American first responders risked their lives to save their fellow citizens that day. Many of our Muslim neighbors, including thousands of Oregon citizens, serve our country in war zones abroad and our communities at home with dedication and distinction.

Some have also argued that the construction of the mosque would hand a propaganda victory to Osama bin Laden. I think the opposite is true. Al-Qaida justifies its murder by painting America as a nation at war with Islam. Celebrating our freedom of religion and Muslim Americans' place in our communities is a blow to al-Qaida's ideology of hate and division. We strengthen America by distinguishing, clearly and unequivocally, between our al-Qaida enemy and our Muslim neighbors.

President Bush understood the importance of separating the terrorists from over a billion peaceful Muslims around the world whose faith has been used as an excuse by those bent on killing. Speaking at a mosque just six days after the World Trade Center attack, President Bush said, "These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith, and it's important for my fellow Americans to understand that."

I have great respect for the sentiments of the survivors and family members of those who died on 9/11, and understand that some may not regard the situation this way. But our fundamental religious freedom and our national security-- in addition to fairness for our fellow citizens-- will be well served by drawing a bright line between our Muslim friends and neighbors at home, and our al-Qaida enemy abroad.

My pal Roland just got back from two weeks in Maine. He's depressed-- not just because United lost his luggage and not just because all his old friends are out of work, smoking cigarettes, eating crappy food and... well, older. He was astounded that all his friends, everyone in his family and just everyone he met was talking about "the mosque at Ground Zero hallowed ground." Interestingly, it didn't take Roland much effort to explain, that the community center isn't a mosque and certainly isn't being built on the site of the World Trade Center. I wonder why Democrats don't get that message out there. What are they afraid of?

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