Much is now being written about President Obama’s comments regarding the Muslim Mosque controversy near the 9/11 site.
President Obama said at a White House dinner celebrating the Islamic holy month of Ramadan “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, Obama said. “This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable.”
After that statement, news reports started to claim that President Obama sided with those who agree with the proposal to place the mosque two blocks away from the 9/11 site.
In Florida over the weekend, when asked about the matter, Obama said, "I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making a decision to put a mosque there," Obama said Saturday. "I was commenting very specifically on the right that people have that dates back to our founding."
Obama said that "my intention was simply to let people know what I thought, which was that in this country we treat everybody equally and in accordance with the law, regardless of race, regardless of religion."
So, as expected, the national Republican party pounced on Obama’s statement as a political opportunity to show that Obama is out of the mainstream since, after all, the majority of Americans do not favor the Mosque at the location.
In Louisiana, US Senator David Vitter who is running for re-election did not miss a beat. He challenged his main opponent, Democrat Congressman Charlie Melancon to repudiate Obama’s position.
So far Melancon has been silent on the issue just as Vitter has been silent on issues that would be embarrassing to the incumbent.
Some are criticizing Obama for jumping into this political hornets’ nest at a time when conservative and moderate democrats have their careers on the line. Melancon, who is a blue dog democrat running in the “reddest of red states” did not need Obama’s comments at all.
So, maybe I should not inject myself into this political free-for-all, but here goes…
President Obama said he wanted to make his position on the very controversial issue very clear, instead, actually he made it as clear as the Nile River in Egypt. I totally agree with Obama on two points. He did not say that the Muslim mosque should be placed on that land so close to where so many Americans died. Nor did he support the placement of the Mosque at that location.
Instead he said that Muslims have a right to place the Mosque there as do all other religions have that right to place a church or synagogue or any other religious place of worship as a measure of freedom of religion and speech as protected by our US Constitution.
To that point I also agree with the President.
In fact, it is fanciful and somewhat inconsistent for some to claim they want to return to the constitution which includes the First Amendment of religious freedom. Certainly, if some wanted a Jewish synagogue or a Christian church to be built there, I doubt there would be such outcry. I would hope that those who embrace the freedoms sacrificed by our young men in the time of battle would support a fundamental right no matter the nature of the edifice.
However, and let me be very clear, I do not understand the reason that anyone would want to place a Mosque in that location unless they were trying to make a political statement.
And, it would be easy to assume that many Americans would think that the proponents leading the charge to locate the Mosque at that venue are simply trying to rub our already sore noses into a much festered wound.
Arguably, some might think that placing the religious building would show solidarity with those who were ruthlessly killed, but there are certainly many other ways to do that given the incredible sensitivities of that land.
If President Obama wanted to make himself absolutely clear or even “totally clear” (as per Richard Nixon), he should come right out and tell the world if he is in favor of this Mosque being placed on that location, or not.
Until then, I believe it is it is wrong to assume that the president favors that Mosque on that site.
When Obama stepped into that political arena on the same day while celebrating a Muslim religious holiday and when he made such a statement on such a volatile issue, it makes one reasonably wonder if he is trying to play make his own political statement by splitting the hair, thus gaining support from some by the use of surgically delicate rhetoric during this election season.
]Instead, the exact opposite has occurred.
President Obama should stop playing coy here and definitively state his position and take the heat from those who oppose his view on the placement of that Muslim religious place of worship on that already non-sectarian sacred site or from those who support the project.
By being quiet now after stoking the fire, he is causing some of his supporters to look bad by their own his silence.
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