I have arrive back home and can now commence a fairly regular writing schedule again. The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. I can only say that I am happy to be spending time with Canine Weapon again (I had only gotten to see him for one day during the last two weeks) and I am even happier to be back in my own bed (Tempurpedic, which I also only saw for one night in the last two weeks). Traveling is fine and vacation was absolutely wonderful. I always cherish the time I get to spend with family, and last week with Mrs. Weapon’s family was awesome. But I am happy to be home and returning to some sort of normalcy. Finally having a good internet connection has led me to see a lot of coverage around the mosque that is planned for a site two blocks from where the WTC buildings were located. It seems that the Republicans are attempting to hammer this subject home as a campaign issue while the Democrats tend to, for the most part, simply blow it off. Personally, I am a little annoyed at the coverage and a little baffled by the outrage.
First we have what is being claimed as a President that is sending mixed signals around the idea.
Speaking Friday night at a White House dinner, the president said, “Muslims have the right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country,” which would apparently be a statement of support for the mosque. Then on Saturday, the President added a bit of clarification to the issue when he stated, “I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That’s what our country is about.” Later that day, a White House spokesman issued a statement saying “the president is not backing off in any way from the comments he made last night.” While Fox News would like to point to this as a President sending mixed signals, I disagree. It appears to me that he feels that it isn’t necessarily the best move that could be made, however he believes that our freedom of religion principles specifically allow for that to happen. I don’t see any conflicting messages there. What I see is a Republican Party attempting to create a Presidential contradiction where it doesn’t exist.
Then we have all the talk about the polling that has gone on around the issue.
The article that I read cited a Fox News poll that showed that 61% of people agree that the group that is building the mosque has the right to do so. I agree that the group has the right to do so. It is a private group building on land that they purchased (for a considerable sum I am sure) in Manhattan. Regardless of what religion they represent, the Constitution at its core is meant to protect their right to do so. The poll also said that 64% of responders believe that it is wrong to build the mosque on that site. For the record I disagree with that. It isn’t being built ON the site of the disaster. It is two blocks away. Are we now supposed to set up some sort of buffer zone around the WTC site? How far away is it acceptable to build a mosque? 10 blocks? 50? Nowhere on the entire island? Should we also work to ban anything having to do with the Muslim religion from a certain radius? Can no muslims walk within a certain radius? Should muslims be banned from working in whatever gets built on the site? Obviously I think that the answer to all of the above is no. It is ridiculous to punish all muslims for the actions of the fundamentalist nut balls that perpetrated 9/11.
Then of course, there are the claims that this is going to be a sticky issue for the upcoming elections.
Fox News had a specific article that did nothing but make the case for how this issue is going to be a major pain for Democrats in the November elections. I say that is nonsense. First, American voters can be angry and vindictive, but they are not generally stupid when it comes to issues like the one at hand. In all but a very small handful of races, the candidates have nothing to do with and no influence over what happens with the mosque. Outside of the state of New York, it isn’t a campaign issue at all. And thus it will not play into voters decisions. Staunch GOP supporters will bitch about the issue, but in the end the people who have it as a major issue in their head were already 100% in the GOP camp. Independents who are struggling to make up their mind on who to vote for won’t care about this outside of New York. Because the candidates that they are scrutinizing don’t have any say or impact on the issue.
And that, for me is a key thing to all of this. The building of this mosque is a LOCAL issue. Period. The people who live in Manhattan are the ones who have a say in what happens in Manhattan. What the rest of us think is, realistically, irrelevant. If the majority of Manhattan natives oppose the mosque, they have the right to protest it, petition their local government representatives to stop the building. Ultimately they have the right to vote those who support the mosque out of office should the officials not adhere to the will of the people they represent. None of us want the people of New York telling us what to do locally, so why is it that we feel we have to tell them what they can do in their own town? Ultimately, the reason that I don’t care about the mosque is because it is a local issue. I don’t live in Manhattan, and I don’t even visit there if I can help it. So I really don’t care what they build there unless it is being forced upon them by outside forces, which I would deem wrong.
What bothers me in this discussion is that it is such a typical appeal to emotion of the sort that has become all to common in today’s political spectrum. The cries that the families of the victims are somehow being punished a second time if we allow the mosque to be built. I hate to break it to the politicos out there, but I would guesstimate that at least half of the families of 9/11 victims are not so shallow that they are heartbroken if the mosque gets built. I would guess that many of them will think it through just like I have, and not allow emotion to rule the day. And let’s be honest, the building of a mosque two blocks away from the site isn’t actually doing any harm to anyone. If people are really letting it bother them in a significant way, I would suggest that the therapy sessions haven’t been completed yet. I don’t say that to be insensitive. I say it because the world as I would like it to be says that hurting someone’s feelings is not a reason to restrict the rights of a group of people. In a world with the Westboro Baptist Church and other hateful groups who hurt the families of victims regularly, we can’t pretend that this time is different.
Many of us have had lengthy discussions here at SUFA about the concept of freedom and liberty. One of the hardest concepts for people to accept is the idea that people should be free to do just about anything that doesn’t infringe on the rights of someone else. And to be clear, there is no right to not have your feelings hurt. The building of this mosque is not infringing on the rights of anyone in any way. It isn’t stopping anyone from life, liberty, property, or the pursuit of happiness. We have also discussed the fact that protection of freedom is especially relevant when we are talking about the unpopular things. We don’t need to protect the rights of people doing popular things. No one wants to usurp their rights. We instead must always work to protect the rights of those who are doing the unpopular things, but who are not infringing on anyone else’s rights. That is what it means to be free. That is what it means to stand for liberty.
While I stated above that I don’t care about this issue because it is a local issue, I also must take the stance that I don’t care about the mosque because it is not infringing on me in any way. It isn’t my land it is being built on. It isn’t my money that is being used to build it. It isn’t in any way infringing on my ability to practice the religion of my choice. Because of all these I simply don’t see where it is any of my business what they are building and where they are building it. Do I like the idea of the mosque being built on that site? Honestly, no. But that doesn’t mean that I oppose it. I think it is foolish and I do think it is a bit of a slap in the face of Americans. But on the other hand, it does say something great about the differences between America and many of the intolerant people of the world. While the building of the mosque might rile a few feathers here right now, it ultimately proves to the world that we are a country of law, not a country ruled by emotion.
The article I mentioned above and got some quotes from is here: FOXNews.com – Administration’s Muddled Response on Mosque Creates New Election Year Debate