Newsflash everyone: President Obama upholds the Constitution!
This was my response (in my head) when Obama defended the right of a Muslim group to build a mosque and community center in New York City. Speaking to religious leaders at an event celebrating the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, Obama expressed the Constitutional right to freedom of religion, displaying what we hired him to do — the ability to uphold the U.S. Constitution. But just hours later, he has had to “clarify his remarks” (which is newspeak for “eating your words”) by stating that he did not come out in support of the particular project but in the principle of religious freedom.
I actually don’t blame Obama for “clarifying.” With Birthers and Teapartiers (aren’t they in the same group?) still questioning the validity of his birth certificate and his patriotism, Obama has to be clear about what he means, and can not zero in on every local issue as President of a country (we saw what happen with “beergate”). Further, with Republicans seeking to block much of his remaining domestic agenda, the last thing he needs is a passion-filled debate over whether a building should be erected in lower Manhattan. That’s Mayor Bloomberg’s job.
However, this debate over the mosque being built in lower Manhattan, close to the site of the World Trade Center attack, shows the seething anti-Islam sentiment in this country. Many in this country still believe we are at war with Islam and that Muslims are the enemy of U.S. democracy. Another newsflash: We, the United States, are not at war with Islam, nor is there a monolithic, U.S./Christian hating “Islamic world.” Never was and never will be.
Although the terrorists on 9/11 were self-proclaimed Muslims, they were not acting on behalf of the billions of Muslims worldwide. Timothy McVeigh, the mastermind behind the Oklahoma City bombing – the most devastating domestic terrorism incident in the United States prior to 9/11 – was a military veteran and self-proclaimed Christian. He claimed to be avenging the Branch Davidians, the religious group led by David Koresh who was at the center of the Waco incident, yet his actions did not alter the view of the religion or of those individuals who support the tenets of Christianity worldwide, and rightly so.
Religious groups should have the right to erect buildings for worship, and Muslim citizens should not be the exception.