The controversy boils down to the proposal that a mosque be built within a few blocks of Ground Zero. Several voices from the Right, including Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, have argued that that area amounts to hallowed ground and other voices like Dick Morris have raised paranoia that to do so would essentially put a terrorist training facility in the shadow of Ground Zero.
A lot of ink has been spilt on this issue, and I urge everyone to go to Peter David's excellent blog on the subject where he takes Palin to task and essentially calls her position unconstitutional (because it is.) Sleezeball/Republican Newt Gingrich has been making the rounds arguing that no one's saying that they can't build a mosque, just that they can't do it there.
Oh, is that all? Thanks, Newt. I didn't realize that you're actually being pretty reasonab.... HEY! You can't do that, any more than the Jews of the Fairfax district in LA could petition to get all the damn churches out of their sight.
It's really disgusting to see these positions taken by those who are among the first to complain about Christian rights being trampled when the separation of church and state is enforced. It's disgusting to see them equate the entire Muslim religion with Al Queada as if they are the one and the same. That's like saying that there's zero distinction between practicing Christians and active members of the KKK, and if we were to deny Christians their freedom to practice under the defense that rogue elements like the KKK would take advantage, we would be in the wrong.
Worse, we would have destroyed our principles and become the very enemy we claim to fight.
The depths to which the Republican party exploits 9/11 never fails to sicken me. They don't believe in the principles of the Constitution, for if they did, this would not be a debate. They have beliefs that happen to coincide with the Framers, and they hold the Framers words sacred when it comes to things like the Second Amendment. Yet somehow when it comes to Amendments like the First and the Fourteenth Amendment, they manage to find massive amounts of grey areas in the words of the Framers and those who followed in their footsteps.
Those on the right arguing against the establishment of a mosque - be it in the shadow of the former Twin Towers or anywhere else - have no principles. They use fear and rhetoric to inflame the passions of those scared of the terrorist bogeymen and the sad truth is that a lot of people fall for it.
Worse, they're uninformed about the very issues of which they speak - as many pointed out that there has already been a mosque in that very area long before 9/11.
But those pounding on the table are only interested in making more noise and in being more divisive. They're just out to win an argument, even if they don't know what that argument is about. Newt, Sarah, it's not about being right. It's about doing right.
But the real reason I'm writing this is that I want to share this Daily Show segment with all of you. There's a lot of good stuff in there, but for me it was most notable because Jon Stewart draws a comparison between the current cries for sensitivity and the way that many reacted when the NRA was going to hold a rally near Columbine soon after the school shooting there in 1999. He runs clips from a Charlton Heston speech decrying those protests.
In the clip below, the Heston material starts at about 7:20, so if you don't want to sit through all of it, just skip there and watch the rest.
"America must stop this terrible pattern of reaction," Heston says. "When a terrible tragedy occurs, our phones ring, demanding the NRA explain the inexplicable. Why us? Because this story needs a villain. That is not our role in American society and we will not be forced to play it. If you disagree, that's your right. I respect that, but we will not relinquish it, or be silenced about it, or be told 'Do not come here. You are unwelcome in your own land.'"
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Extremist Makeover - Homeland Edition|
Here's the remarkable thing. Jon Stewart admits that in 1999 he probably would have been one of those voices calling for sensitivity. Yet unlike those whom he often demonstrates have changed their positions via old clip demonstrations, he confesses he would have been in the wrong. You never see that from sub-human vermin like Sean Hannity.
"I was wrong and Heston was right!" Stewart mea culpas, "And if you replace 'NRA' with 'Muslim community' and 'Second Amendment' with 'First Amendment,' he's still right."
I too would have been with those shouting at the NRA for sensitivity. And I too would have been wrong. It's a scary thing to realize, but I'm glad that the mirror has been held up this way because I don't to be Sarah Palin, I don't want to be Newt Gingrich and I certainly don't want to be Dick Morris.
The time has come to stop the fear-mongering, and the time has come to stop rewarding those who depend on our worst instincts and prejudices to remain in power.
I now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.