On a drive north today I saw a sign, similar to this picture, that was intended (I think) to hearken us back to the ‘good ol’ days’ of the Bush era. It was a big billboard of the US Constitution, with the words, “Miss Me Yet?” plastered across it. I know the political right likes to call all of us to the “intent of the framers” which means that the courts should make decisions by seeking to understand the mind of those who wrote the laws. The Tea Party favors limited government because the original government was small. Because of this, the right is often crying foul about judges who “legislate from the bench” I understand both of these philosophies, and often agree with them. Judges shouldn’t have the authority to, with the wave of a hand, change laws, and the courts, supreme and otherwise, would do well to wrestle with the principles the original framers had in mind when the wrote the constitution and other laws. These are generally good principles, though they sometimes lead me to different conclusions than my most conservative friends.
Now, though, some Muslims want to build a mosque near “Ground Zero”. Suddenly, the very same kind of people who put up signs implying that we’re in an era of “trashing the constitution” because we’re growing the government, and regulating more things like banks and carbon emissions (or, trying to, at least), are suddenly ready to flush the first amendment down the toilet. That’s the one that defends our national freedom to choose our own religion, express ourselves freely, and assemble peaceably.
If we were talking about a church planning to build near ground zero, and there was opposition based on the nature of the religion, these same people who are flushing the first amendment would be posting it on billboards, petitioning the government for their freedom of religion, and publicly gathering to protest the opposition.
It appears, from my chair, that there’s a big group of Americans willing to selectively choose when the Bill of Rights applies, and to whom. (the left does this too, but that’s another story for another time) The very ones fighting for their rights to keep assualt rifles under their beds don’t seem terribly concerned that someone else’s religious freedoms are being threatened. There’s a word for that: hypocrisy.
Go ahead and say that this could be PR nightmare for Islam that could well backfire, setting them back still further in their attempts to reach out to America. (I agree)
Go ahead and say it’s a bad idea.
Go ahead and say that you disagree with Islam on some very important beliefs. (I certainly do)
But don’t say they don’t have a right to build it, unless of a course, a church doesn’t have a right to build a building either which, of course, it does. It’s ironic that a big protest of this planned mosque is planned on 9/11 at Ground Zero. This means that people will be exercising their first amendment rights to freely assemble, and freely express themselves, for the purpose of declaring that the other part of the first amendment, the freedom to express one’s religion, only applies to certain Americans. How tragic and inconsistent is that?
Christian xenophobia has a long, ugly history, and the group behind the anti-mosque movement is xenophobic to the extreme. I remember, a few years ago, stepping off a train in Austria and walking into the midst of a neo-Nazi rally. Their fear was breeding fear in Austria then, and now the same thing’s happening here. All this makes me grateful for that pesky little bill of rights, and I pray that it will be a long, long time before we flush it down the toilet.
These are my present thoughts, and I welcome your feedback…