Monday, August 2, 2010

Hypocrisy, Republicans, the Religious Right, and that Pesky First Amendment

By now, most of you have heard about the mosque being built several blocks from the former World Trade Center site, or Ground Zero.  Well, the mosque builders purchased the land, legally.  Made sure it was well within all zoning requirements for the site, legally.  Got the building plans approved by the city, legally.  Construction is due to start sometime this fall.

Well, Oh My Fictional God!  You'd think there was another terrorist attack on the city based on the verbally violent reactions of the religious right and the leaders of the Republican Party, including that wonderful spokesmodel for a bag of hammers, Sarah Palin.

By now, most of you have heard of Sarah's famous new word "refudiate" on her Twitter post.

New Gingrich (remember him?) got into the act,
"The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over."
Really?  An established religion of the world is building a house of worship in a major Metropolitan city and he calls that a double standard?  Well, in some fairness to Newt, he was referring to the double standard that Saudi Arabia won't allow a Christian church to be built.  Well, duh!  Saudi Arabia is a Muslim theocracy.  The United States is not a Christian theocracy, last I checked, although Newt, Sarah, and others wish it were so.  Why do you think the religious right movement in America is often referred to as the American Taliban?

New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino also got into the mix to state that he would use Emminent Domain to prevent the mosque from being built.  He also said,
"I say it is disrespectful to the thousands who died on 9/11 and their families, insulting to the thousands of troops killed or injured in the ensuing wars, and an affront to the American people -- and it must be stopped."
He obviously is unaware that some of the thousands killed, not including the terrorists themselves, were indeed Muslims.  And Muslim Americans at that.  How dare them?  I'm sure that Mr. Paladino has since been informed that it is illegal.  A comment from current Governor Patterson's legal team,
Paladino "is explicitly stating that he would use this power for the express purpose of preventing the construction of a specific religious institution," Hook said in a statement. "That is an obvious violation of the First Amendment's religion clauses, a gross violation of the spirit and intent of the eminent domain provision in state law, and may run afoul of other federal and state statutes and constitutional provisions."
 The Anti-Defamation League got into the act today with its hypocritical statement.
"Ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right," the ADL said in a statement. "In our judgment, building an Islamic center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain — unnecessarily — and that is not right."
Not really.  It is a question of rights.  It is a question of the First Amendment rights of the mosque's builders to practice their religion free of any interference from the government.  You may have the right to perceive that your feelings are hurt, but you do not have the right to stop somebody from hurting them.  Yes, there are laws against hate crimes, but building a mosque does not represent a crime.

Another group proposed making the site a historical landmark from the 9/11 attacks.  Their reason, a piece of the landing gear from one of the planes was found at the site.  That's it.  There is not one mention of making the adult porn shops located even closer to Ground Zero historical landmarks even though debris fell on them as well.

Now, if you want to talk about hate crimes...

During a protest of the site in early June...
At one point, a portion of the crowd menacingly surrounded two Egyptian men who were speaking Arabic and were thought to be Muslims.

"Go home," several shouted from the crowd.

"Get out," others shouted.

In fact, the two men – Joseph Nassralla and Karam El Masry — were not Muslims at all. They turned out to be Egyptian Coptic Christians who work for a California-based Christian satellite TV station called "The Way." Both said they had come to protest the mosque.

"I'm a Christian," Nassralla shouted to the crowd, his eyes bulging and beads of sweat rolling down his face.

But it was no use. The protesters had become so angry at what they thought were Muslims that New York City police officers had to rush in and pull Nassralla and El Masry to safety.

"I flew nine hours in an airplane to come here," a frustrated Nassralla said afterward.
They "looked" like Muslims.  That was all.  That was enough.  And you wonder why latinos in Arizona don't like the new immigration law.  These two men were, shall we say, "religiously" profiled.

I'm not oblivious to fact that most Americans associate the 9/11 attacks with Islam.  Islam, just like Christianity, has its wing nuts and its mainstream followers.  The United States was attacked by the Muslim wing nuts, just like those two men were almost attacked by the Christian wing nuts.

Let's not forget our First Amendment.  The First Amendment is important.  Religious freedom is important.  You may think as an atheist, I don't care about it, but I do.  Religious freedom as guaranteed by the First Amendment does not mean freedom for only Christians.  These leaders of the religious right and their Republican Party banner carriers only care for freedom of religion if it matches their own.  That damned pesky First Amendment strikes again.

No comments:

Post a Comment