I don’t agree with it. I think it myopic in that it ignores Imam Rauf’s questionable associations and even more questionable statements. And the idea that the mosque is being built to foster dialogue and understanding is only believed by liberals and little children.
But it took the courage of one’s convictions to take such a hugely unpopular stance, putting the constitutional argument fairly well while reminding us the cost of following that document sometimes.
But let me be clear: as a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are. The writ of our Founders must endure.
We must never forget those who we lost so tragically on 9/11, and we must always honor those who have led our response to that attack – from the firefighters who charged up smoke-filled staircases, to our troops who are serving in Afghanistan today. And let us always remember who we are fighting against, and what we are fighting for. Our enemies respect no freedom of religion. Al Qaeda’s cause is not Islam – it is a gross distortion of Islam. These are not religious leaders – these are terrorists who murder innocent men, women and children. In fact, al Qaeda has killed more Muslims than people of any other religion – and that list of victims includes innocent Muslims who were killed on 9/11.
“The writ of the Founders must endure” is an excellent statement. I only wish the president could see his way clear to honoring that statement in other areas of the constitution.
In the abstract, I don’t think al-Qaeda supporting Muslims would receive quite the support from the left if they were the ones trying to build a mosque overlooking Ground Zero. But the more I read about this fellow Rauf makes me ask my liberal friends if they know who they are getting in bed with when they so viciously attack those who are opposed to building the mosque. I don’t trust people who say one thing in one language, and another thing in another language as Imam Rauf has done repeatedly. He has also been silent in the face of extraordinary statements by his colleagues in Malaysia about suicide bombings, Hamas, and hatred of the US. He has blamed the US for 9/11, defended Palestinian terrorism, refused to disavow Hamas’s goal of eliminating the state of Israel, and attended at least one conference with known terrorist sympathizers.
This guy is about as moderate a Muslim as Rush Limbaugh is a moderate conservative.
Regardless, I like our presidents to stand up for what they believe even when it isn’t popular. That’s why I despised Clinton so and cut George W a little slack. It is such a rare commodity these days in America - this kind of Profile in Courage - that it should be acknowledged and praised when it shows up.
Obama will be hammered for it - also part of American politics. Some of it will be sincere, some of the criticism will be calculated to draw political blood. Any way you look at it, Obama surely knew what to expect which makes his statement all the more praiseworthy.