I generally fall in the moderate to conservative leaning camp on most issues, sometimes leaning right a little more than at other times. And, though it may not appear to be so at first glance on this topic, I think I still fall on the conservative side.
As I stated in my last post, if the proposed site is private property—and it is—and if all current obligations to the city in terms of fees, building codes, etc. have been met—entirely up to those responsible for such things in the city of New York and no one else—then the Cordoba Initiative should be allowed to proceed.
In the first post on this blog, A Perfect 10, I stated that given enough time, I was certain that the First Amendment to the US Constitution would get at least equal coverage as the 10th Amendment covered in that first post. And now, the First Amendment is taking center stage with the mosque proposal in New York City.
In all of my ranting, all of my jumping up and down, waving my arms shouting for someone, anyone to hear—or listen— “The Constitution says…” I have always tried to be consistent. The US Constitution is a document that grants certain powers—and only those limited powers enumerated in that document—to the Federal Government.
The Bill of Rights is a restatement of the Founder’s belief in the personal liberties of the citizens. It is not a granting of rights to the people, as it is so often, mistakenly regarded today. It is a warning issued to the Federal Government not to inhibit, intrude or infringe on those rights ALREADY BELONGING TO THE PEOPLE.
The First Amendment guarantees to all citizens of this “shining city on the hill” the rights of free speech and the freedom to practice, or not, any religion of their choosing. We all know this. Most of us espouse that as part of what it means to be a real American, although some have attempted to occlude the freedom to dissent with whispers of racism of late.
But this post is not (directly) about the current president nor the crop of Grift-resentatives in Congress, nor the
burgeoning rampant explosion of Government and its continued incursions into the lives of American citizens.
Rather, it is a post directly about us, the American people. It is about our character, our heart, and our souls. It is about what makes us who we are, who we perceive ourselves to be, and our place in the world. It is a post about what I believe makes us American, and acts as a buttress to this shining city on the hill.
Should we be allowed to quote the Constitution, to lean on its authority only when it is convenient, or when we feel it supports our position? Should we arbitrarily decide when to enforce the provisions set forth in the Constitution or when to ignore it?
I can almost hear the chorus from right side and several on the left side alike, “No”.
Followed by “But…”
There can be no “but…”
Either the Constitution means what it says, and we, as Americans, follow it, or it is just another interesting, historical document that gives a general overview of America and her history. Either it is the basis of our law, and sets forth the guiding principles of the land, or it is not. Either the entire document is static in its current form, including the Bill of Rights, or any and all of the Amendments guaranteeing our freedoms are subject to the whims of the majority and to the feckless interpretation of those in power, regardless of when or whomever those might be.
That is tyranny waiting to happen! That is complete and utter rule of might makes right; that is true democracy—majority rule, and NOT the federal republic this country was established as, and has survived as for more than 230 years. If its principles can be ignored, circumvented, or cheated, even “just this once”, than the whole document, and the whole individual liberty promising Bill of Rights are just so many empty words that can be applied as the political class sees fit. Or not, if they so deem.
I understand the angst the proposed building of this mosque has generated. I understand the feeling of “that’s just not right.” I understand the thought of “that’s not how I (we, an American) would do things. We’re more sensitive to people’s feelings than these/those/other people are.”
But feelings do not make law; at least not yet in this country. Majority rule is not the driving force behind our society. Laws, processes, even protests are all part of what makes this “great experiment” continue to work.
Show of hands if you’ve ever heard, or said something like this: “We may disagree, but I will defend to the death your right to disagree with me.” Are those just empty words, too?
But what about radical Islamic, crazy, jihadi terrorists who might try to infiltrate this country and kill innocent American citizens? We need to be better at preventing radical Islamic, crazy, jihadi terrorists from getting into this country. That is a job for the intelligence agencies and the police forces of this country. And the military. And, in all honesty, we as citizens. This country is engaged in a war with groups of people who have sworn to destroy us.
Their way of life is foreign to us. Their wish for subservience to their god and dominion over the rest of the world is not much different than others of their ilk throughout history. Americans as a whole have always rejected those types of controlling ideologies.
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…
— US Declaration of Independence
I have no doubt that we will continue to do so. Forcefully if necessary.
But, what about home grown terrorism, and the possibility of this mosque preaching anti-Americanism while its members chant “Death To America! Kill the Great Satan!”?
Is that any different—or worse—than Reverend Wright preaching essentially the same thing while our current president sat and didn’t hear him for twenty years? Or celebrities that openly mock this great country and all that it stands for while praising the humanity of tyrannical dictators?
What about protecting American citizens which is also mandated in the Constitution?
If we restrict liberty to attain security we will lose them both.
— attributed in various forms to Benjamin Franklin
When security comes at the expense of liberties, as those guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, that is a dangerous slope to find ourselves on. Who gets to decide what freedoms will be compromised? Who gets to decide on enforcement of the policies? Who gets to decide how universally any remaining freedoms are to be applied? And what happens in the future when the current “norm”, may be replaced by a new “norm”?
Is the proposed location in bad taste? In my opinion, yes. Is the timing for this idea somewhat suspect? Yes. Are there questions of motives, hidden agendas, collusion? Yes. Is there any reason, given public sentiment and the hue and cry of public outrage to allow it to proceed if the owners of this particular piece of private property choose to build it there? Yes.
Otherwise, we might just as well burn the Constitution and start over. Who’s got a match?