Sunday, August 15, 2010

Thank You, Mr. President

Let me start this piece by acknowledging I can never be even close to subjective when we're talking 9/11/01.

That morning, I watched on live TV as a civilian jetliner made a near-direct impact on my father's office floor of the World Trade Center. I spent the next two hours staring at the TV wondering whether he was alive or dead (he was fine, as he had walked out of his building as glass, steel, and other debris was peppering the ground from the other tower).

I should also add that I spent the rest of the day wondering how to feel about the fact that nothing other than luck had kept me off of Flight 93 -- I asked Priceline for a flight from Newark to SFO on that morning, and they assigned me to another one. Maybe the odds for that weren't as dramatic as Russian Roulette, but it still had me shaken up for quite some time thereafter.

Okay, so now that I've got that out of the way, here's my opinion on what the President recently said regarding the freedom of a religious group to build a facility near Ground Zero - President Obama is absolutely, 100% right about what he said.

This country's settlement by Europeans, and its eventual Founding Documents, are all heavily rooted in the principle of religious freedom.

In fact, it's right there in our beloved First Amendment that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

With that in mind, I think it's preposterous to think that any level of government in this great nation should get into the business of dictating where certain religions should be able to set up shop, provided those religious institutions are abiding by the various local laws that would govern any other religion.

I am nauseated by Ward Churchill's proposition that my dad is a "little Eichmann" or by the imam in the news who has called the U.S. an "accessory" to 9/11 because of its past foreign policy decisions.

The only thing that nauseates me more, though, is the idea that any individual or cabal should be able to determine whether those people have the right to say those offensive things.

To me, the only questions that should surround the Islamic Center in Lower Manhattan revolve around property rights and religious freedom. On both those counts, I think this is a pretty clear-cut issue, and I think the President was right to stand by his principles with his remarks on Friday.


C R Krieger said...

I agree and just posted same at my own blog, having taken two weeks to get around to doing it.  Slow, not confused by the issue.

Regards  —  Cliff

Renee said...

Thank you, I thought I was the only one who thought this way.

I just thought it was a personal insensitivity because I didn't watch a single moment of it. I slept through 9/11, and when I heard of the news (phone call) I didn't watch TV because my classes at Massachusetts School of Law weren't canceled so I had to review and go to class.

Mary said...

Personally, I think you're missing the entire point. It's not about their right to build a center. It's about what "is right" and some basic level of sensitivity.

No government entity should stand in the way of their right to build the Mosque. But if they had any sense or one iota of sensitivity they would build it elsewhere.

A large majority of American's don't think its the appropriate place. That is completely different from the question of whether it's a technically "legal" place to build.

We're only 9 short years from the attacks. Nuns wanted to build a convent near Auschwitz some 50 years later and survivors and their families were still feeling the emotion from the Holocaust and didn't want it there. How many Nuns do you think participated in the Holocaust? I'd venture to guess zero. But how many "Christians" did? Well, I think many Germans were Christians so we know the answer to that. And what did the Pope do? He was sensitive to the feelings of others and nixed the idea.

Don't turn this into a question of zoning and religious freedom. You're cheapening the issue. It's about respect and sensitivity.