Monday, August 16, 2010

Rep. Nadler: We Do Not Put the Bill of Rights and Religious Freedom to a Vote.

The cynicism of the Republicans pushing this debate is breathtaking. Notice how, when Nadler points out that the United States was not attacked by Islam, but by extremists within that religion, Peter King is quick to question whether or not that is true.

That's a disgraceful stance to take.

Nadler does well here to point out that there is a Mosque in the Pentagon, where innocents also died on 9-11, but the Republicans aren't calling for that to be closed or removed. He also points out that it would be much easier to have sympathy for the sincerity of the Republican position if they were to vote to give healthcare to first responders to 9-11, which most Republicans voted against.

NADLER: Well, I certainly appreciate the sensitivities of some of the families of 9/11. There are others who have expressed support for it. The press has concentrated on those who have opposed it. But frankly, ground zero is hallowed ground. Two blocks away, first of all, is not so hallowed ground. Second of all, we should not -- government officials should not be in a position of pressuring people where to build their mosque or their church or whatever.

Third of all, as much as I respect the sensitivities of people, there is a fundamental mistake behind it, and that is how can you -- and I can quote any number of some of the people who have commented on it, and what they are saying essentially is how can you put a mosque there when, after all, Muslims attacked us on 9/11, and this is ripping open a wound?

Well, the fallacy is that Al Qaida attacked us. Islam did not attack us. Islam, like Christianity, like Judaism, like other religions, has many different people, some of whom regard other adherents of the religion as heretics of one sort or another.

It is only insensitive if you regard Islam as the culprit, as opposed to al Qaeda as the culprit. We were not attacked by all Muslims. And there were Muslims who were killed there, there were Muslims who were killed there. There were Muslims who ran in as first responders to help. And we cannot take any position like that.


NADLER: I am not going to comment on that, because I don't think it's proper for any government official to pressure them in any way. And if I were to say that I think it's a good idea for them to do it, since I am a government official, that would be government pressuring them.

But it's up to them. If they want to do that, they're certainly free to do it.

But I want to point out several things. One, there is a mosque in the Pentagon, which is also hallowed ground. No one objects to that. Second, the people who want to build this facility, which is partially a mosque and partially a community center, have a mosque a few blocks away from there, which no one has objected to.

And thirdly, objecting to this mosque would be as objectionable if you wouldn't object to a church or a synagogue in the same place because that's blaming all Islam and you can't blame an entire religion.

And finally, I would take the sincerity of many of the Republican critics of this, Peter King very much accepted, much more -- I would understand the sincerity much more if they were supporting, as Peter is, but very few other Republicans are, the bill to give health care coverage to the 9/11 heroes and responders which all but 12 Republicans voted against in the House last week.


NADLER: Well, I did not say they were playing politics. I said I would respect their sincerity more.

But we do not put the Bill of Rights, we do not put the religious freedom to a vote. The reason we have a Bill of Rights is that you have your religious rights, your right to freedom of speech for the press et cetera, whether majorities like you or not, frankly.

I hope that people will understand that government has no role in this. Peter has now said this. Many of the people who have been saying this -- who have been on the other side have not been willing to say that. Peter has, I appreciate that.

As to whether the imam wants to have the mosque somewhere else, that's up to them, and government should not pressure them one way or the other.
I am sure that there are some Republicans, and some families of those who lost their lives on 9-11, who are being perfectly sincere in their objections to this development.

But one can't help but feel that many Republicans are also using this as a wedge issue with which to hit a very loud anti-Islamic drum. It's distasteful and ugly. And it is ignoring one of the fundamental principles on which America was built.

No comments: