The blogosphere is erupting over the news that Obama is softening his tone over the building of a mosque in lower Manhattan.
Speaking to reporters today, President Obama drew a sharp line under his comments last night, insisting that his defense of the right to build a mosque does not mean he supports the project.
This inevitably has led some to say that he is backing down from a stance which many of us, myself included, applauded.
"I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding," he said.
As far as I am concerned what he said should still be applauded.
He is, of course, if one reads his words carefully, not saying that this mosque should go ahead, he is merely reminding everyone of the principle which is at stake here.
"We must all recognise and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of lower Manhattan, Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground. But let me be clear, as a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practise their religion as anyone else in this country.
"That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community centre 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."
But that he chose to remind everyone of that principle, at this time, whilst this argument is raging, is not accidental.
Sure, he won't come out and say specifically that this particular mosque should be built, but is there anyone who doubts why he chose to say what he said at this particular time? Why did he feel the need to remind everyone now that the United States was built guaranteeing religious freedom? Is there anyone who doesn't know the answer to that?
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