Note: haven’t had chance to proofread/edit yet. Will update later.
Since President Obama defended the “Ground Zero” Islamic Community Center, the debate has heated up considerably, mostly thanks to the GOP. My sister got married this weekend so I’ve been busy and only found time to read second hand accounts of this development. Still, a few comments are in order.
First, according to Ben Smith at Politico, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the recruitment chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee said, “It’s [the election] going to be about jobs. But this is just another example: Why isn’t the president spending the time debating about jobs instead of moving into New York?” This seems like an odd talking point considering that most of the Politicians who have been hyping this issue have been from the GOP, i.e. Rep. Peter King, Sarah Palin, and Newt Gingrich, while the Democrats have avoided it because of low public support for the Mosque. In fact, both of the possible GOP candidates for Governor in my home state of NY, Carl Palidino and Rick Lazio, have (from what I can tell) decided to ignore the endless problems facing the state and decide to run solely on this issue (whereas Andrew Cuomo released a whole policy book). True, they’re at least from NYS, but NYS has a tremendous amount of problems facing it, all of which deserve far more discussion than this debate; and, as the GOP themselves have pointed out since Obama’s comments, this is a local (not state or federal) issue.
Next, according to Maggie Haberman also at Politico http://tiny.cc/10r04, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) appearing on Fox News Sunday argued that, “This [the building of the Mosque and the debate around it] is not about the freedom of religion.” Simply put, this argument is absurd. Even those disagreeing have to argue (mistakenly, in my opinion) that the Freedom of Religion clause of the Constitution doesn’t extend to protecting the rights of Muslims near an area that deranged Terrorists who really have nothing to do with actual Islam staged an attack upon. You can’t attempt to repress the free practice of a religion and then say it has nothing to do with religion.
Next, if the opposition is to be accepted we would presumably have to do something about the thirty churches within a mile from the site of the bombing of a Federal building in Oklahoma City by Christian Identity adherent Timothy Mcveigh and his accomplice. As scholars such as Mark Juergensmeyer and countless others have pointed out, the Global Jihadists and the Christian Identity / Reconstruct movements have countless things in common, including: the Orthodox view of their respective religions, and extreme hostility towards moderate and tolerant forms of their religions; their hatred of liberalism, secularism, and western ideas, which they believe are bent on obliterating their religion; their hope that their terrorist attacks will cause their co-religionists to, in large numbers, realize that their religion is under attack by Western values and rise up in mass revolt; and their ultimate objective to force their midevil and erratic beliefs upon large sways of the world’s population in the form of societies being governed by their crazy religious interpretations; to name but a few. Of course, despite this whole debate garnishing way more attention than deserved, nowhere have I seen this precedent brought up…. Nor do I believe that many of the opponents of the Islamic Cultural Center near Ground Zero would have similar concerns about the Churches.
Third, although I am a moderate that is far more Conservative than Liberal (more on this in a future post), I must say that whatever criticisms I and others may have against President Obama, we certainly can’t fault him for lack of leadership. In direct contrast to the last Democrat President, Obama has often gone against public opinion when he felt it missed the larger picture. The GOP likes to paint this as evidence that Prez O is out of touch with the American people, which is true but also (usually) a necessary component of leadership. Being a leader is not giving into every whim of public opinion but rather understanding the larger picture and steering the people in that direction b/c its in their interest even if its politically unwise. Certainly this was demonstrated by FDR first in dealing with the Depression and then with WWII. The same can be said of many other professions. For example, a doctor isn’t going to not telling you your dying or not insist on having surgery you desperately need because he fears it will upset you and you’ll change practices. As a conservative its sad to see that the mainstream Republican party seems incapable of mustering any of this courage.
Fourth, this issue is part of a larger fiasco within the higher levels of the GOP party. (Unfortunately for us Conservatives) What they have seemed to take away from getting clobbered at the polls in 2006 and 2008, is not that they had become too homogeneous and far right to be a successful party nationwide, but rather that they hadn’t drifted far enough to the right during the Bush administration (Newt Gingrich, a man who I have tremendous respect for, took this the farthest when he seemed to conclude that since we failed to bring democracy to the Middle East we should instead adopt the domestic policies of the Middle East Autocrats at least in regards to religious tolerance). The party continues to lack viable leadership, instead being represented by entertainers like Glen Beck and Rush, or Sarah Palin. This would be like the Democrats being portrayed by the views of Rachel Madow and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt). Undoubtedly, the GOP’s radicalization is only likely to increase after the November elections where the Democrats will lose some seats due to their failure to revive the plagued economy fast enough but most Republicans will mistakenly conclude they had won them on their own merits. The only hope for most sensible conservatives is that after the Primary in 2012 our party can gain some sense of normalcy.
To end, I would just like to offer up a poll question (I actually got a couple views I noticed). What is more of a threat to the Constitution: the handful of crazy fringe element American-Muslims (that might exist) who want to institute Shar’ia Law in a Judeo-Christian Nation with a strong tradition in Secularism; or those who have decided that it is necessary to preempt Shar’ia Law by usurping our Constitution in order to safeguard it from Shar’ia Law?