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.
WE WILL NOT BE TERRORIZED INTO THE WAR AGAINST ISLAM THAT YOU WANT SO BADLY.
* I detest overuse of coarse language but, in my opinion, it is entirely appropriate here.