Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Sen. Reid Opposes Mosque in Lower Manhattan
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has become the most prominent Democrat to oppose the construction of a mosque and Islamic center in lower Manhattan two blocks from Ground Zero. A spokesperson for Reid said Monday, "The First Amendment protects freedom of religion. Senator Reid respects that, but thinks that the mosque should be built someplace else." Reid’s comments come at a time when he is facing a tough reelection battle in Nevada with tea party favorite Sharron Angle. Here in New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg continues to be a vocal supporter of the Islamic center. On Monday, Bloomberg said it would be "a sad day for America" if the rising criticism killed the proposal. Meanwhile, Lawrence Wilkerson, the former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, has said the effort to block the mosque could harm US relations overseas. Wilkerson told Media Matters, "The impact on our military people would be injurious if we say 'no.' It would put another instrument in the hands of those who want to exploit the fear that Americans are at war with Islam and not the radical elements within it."
This is a shameful, cowardly position taken by Harry Reid. His opposition to the building of the mosque puts him in the company of un-patriotic Americans like Newt Gingrich who have opposed basic First Amendment rights for the Muslims who want to build their Mosque on private property a few blocks from ground zero. The Fist Amendment says;
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
James Madison wrote this amendment. He was a Presbyterian who lived in Virginia, a state that was dominated during colonial times by the state religion of Virginia, the Church of England also known as the Anglican Church. This church is now known in America as the Episcopal church.
Specifically the First Amendment was put in place so believers could build religious institutions and practice their chosen faith without interference of the government. It was put in place to protect minority religions as the Presbyterians were in 1776.
Patriotism is not simply waving a flag or supporting our troops. More fundamentally patriotism is supporting the values and principles embedded in our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. Republican New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it well;
"The government has no right whatsoever to deny that right - and if it were tried, the courts would almost certainly strike it down as a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question - should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here. This nation was founded on the principle that the government must never choose between religions, or favor one over another."
Newt Gingrich said "there should be no mosque near Ground Zero if there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia". This is both intellectually dishonest and incredibly unpatriotic. We live in America. Does Newt Gingrich want America to be as intolerant as Saudi Arabia? If so let him live somewhere else. He has the right to speak his opinion here but what he is speaking is in opposition to both the law and the moral values of this country
Our values and our constitution are what makes America a better country than Saudi Arabia. They are our greatness. They make America a unique beacon in the world. This is incredibly important in the "War on Terrorism" that we are now fighting. Hypocrisy is a valuable tool that can and will be used by our terrorist enemies. Gingrich knows this but he is cynically playing to peoples fears and bigotry for the political benefit of the Republican party. He is sacrificing and attacking American values, our national interest and our constitution for his narrow political agenda. This is fundamentally evil. It is wrong. It is un-American.
How could Harry Reid join forces with Gingrich and this crowd of politicians who are unwilling to stand up for America?. Reid, a Mormon, should and does know better. He is in a tough Senate race in Nevada and he is taking this cowardly position cynically to gain votes. This is shameful. By doing this he has forfeited his moral right to lead the Democratic party in the Senate. He should step aside.
The issue of the placement of this mosque is a test of true American patriotism. America was founded as a place of religious freedom. Do we really believe in our constitution and our values or do we simply only believe in them when they serve our own, selfish, narrow interest. As a Christian American I stand with America and our constitution. As a patriot you cannot have one without the other.
John H. Armwood