Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On being called "Politically Correct"

Those who rant against the building of the Islamic equivalent of a YMCA in lower Manhattan have enjoyed accusing those of us on the other side of "political correctness". In fact, of course, if one side can be fairly accused of being motivated by "political correctness" it would be the ranters. They have repeatedly used sensibility to the feelings of some (not all by a long shot) 2001 terror survivors as their main argument in discouraging free expression among actual residents of lower Manhattan -- who were also terrorized in 2001.

My objection to the use of the term "politically correct" is that, rather than dealing with the core issue of whether or not Muslims in lower Manhattan have every right to speak and worship and assemble as they please*, opponents attack civil libertarians' motives by accusing us of only worrying about ruffling the sensibilities of the Muslims. Hogwash! That is an ad hominem response , in my book. I have Muslim friends. I love and admire them. But I think the beliefs of their religion, as I understand them, are wrong and definitely not the loving faith of the New Testament as I read it. That's why I choose to be a Methodist instead -- though I disagree with some other self-styled Christians about as vehemently. I have no problem telling anyone that.

I believe those who are ranting about the erroneously-labeled "Ground Zero Mosque", have every right* to do so, but are tragically mistaken in doing so. In practical terms their actions are totally counter-productive. I believe their actions are also analogous to calling for Japanese-American internment in WWII, calling for segregation of African-Americans, calling for posting of "No Irish Need Apply" signs, calling for Native-American removal, etc. I believe, eventually, they or their progeny will be embarrassed by their actions and statements. Newt Gingrich, for example, has permanently soiled his own biography with his extremism on this issue.

I hope I would, if it came to it, be willing to die for the ranters' and the Muslims' right as Americans to be royally wrong and believe, preach, worship, assemble*, to their heart's content for their wrongheaded beliefs.

* under the law, of course -- please don't anyone give me another lecture on extraneous issues like zoning.

Editing Note: spelling corrected in title, 8/25/08.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Freedom of Religion, period.

It literally pains me to see so many Americans falling into Bin Laden's trap. I say as gently as I can: however pure the motive, however admirable my friends who do so may be in other ways, that is exactly the fate of those who presume to tell other Americans where and when, within the law, they should worship or where they should build their houses of worship.

I believe that to the tips of my toes.

Those things are just plain noone’s business but the ones involved -- in the present case the Muslim community of lower Manhattan. The families of the Americans killed by terrorists are not involved in those decisions. Neither is the President (as he has said), Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Harry Reid, some song-writer named Rita, or any of the assorted bloggers, professional blatherers on TV and radio, or me.

This is the United States of America. It is not Germany. It is not Israel. It is not Saudi Arabia. Not only do the Americans in question have an absolute right, within the law, to build their community center two blocks away from the site of the attacks that killed Muslims, Christians, Jews, Sihks, Atheists and other AMERICANS in 2001, we should, regardless of our theological beliefs, praise and encourage them in their efforts at bridge-building, as some of the survivors of 2001 are doing. Christian-Americans have NO special claim on the site of those attacks. Bin Laden wanted to kill Americans. He cared nothing about hyphenated prefixes or suffixes. The more variety the better as far as he is concerned. Muslim-Americans were every bit as much a target as any other Americans, and every bit as much victims of it.

The correct American manifesto to Al Qaeda should be:

In America we believe in freedom of religion, period.

And no sons-of-bitches* like low-down, scum-of-the-earth Bin Laden and his murderous box-cutter wielding Kool-aid drinkers can make us back down from that basic principle even if they send a thousand fully-fueled 747s aimed at a thousand American cities.

You egg-sucking-dogs can kill us, but you can not kill our unalienable American rights of free expression of any sublime, mundane, or idiotic idea that we hold dear.

We will take necessary practical precautions, of course. We will submit to shoeless inspections in airports. We will pay whatever taxes are needed to fight you.
But we WILL hunt you down and you WILL submit to American justice. We WILL strike at you without mercy if you resist.


We will NOT shy away from our big cities.
We will NOT alter our core principles.
We will NOT cower in fear.
We will NOT help you recruit extremists by striking at innocents.

We WILL remain steadfast in support of the principles of our Constitution and Bill of Rights come hell or high water.


* I detest overuse of coarse language but, in my opinion, it is entirely appropriate here.