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The Static Page: Land Of The Free?

September 20, 2010 by admin

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By Brian Harris

“We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.” Edward R. Murrow

Remember when we were in elementary school and every November we would make hand turkeys while our teachers told us about the pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving? In between giving your hand turkey a green body with purple and blue feathers? Did you happen to catch the reason why they left England? In case you don’t remember, here’s a refresher: The Pilgrims left England because of religious persecution.

Now let’s fast forward to May of this year, when two organizations, the Cordoba Project and the American Society for Muslim Advancement, brought forth to the Community Board of Lower Manhattan their plans for the building they purchased, which happens to be located two blocks from Ground Zero. The plans call for a 15-story community center that would hold amongst other things, space for performances, a swimming pool, gym, and various public spaces. This building would also have a mosque.

As you could imagine, a proverbial firestorm erupted nationwide. Everyone from NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg to President Obama to Sarah Palin and every pundit, reverend and politician from coast-to-coast had to throw in their two cents. You had politicians turning this into yet another left wing-right wing battle. Protesters were calling this project a “victory mosque” and a direct slap in the face to not only the people who lost loved ones in the 9/11 tragedy but to the entire country as well.

Before we go any further, I would never disparage nor trivialize anything about what happened that day. I remember watching the news in chemistry class as the constant updates of the most visceral act of terror and evil in my lifetime flashed before my 16-year-old eyes, filling me, like everyone else, with thoughts of swift and merciless vengeance.

However, I also realized that this act of brutality was the work of a few misguided people, and not a statement from the Islamic people at large. That’s why I never had a problem with the U.S. invading Afghanistan, which is where the terrorist organization al-Qaeda held the country by the throat.

Al-Qaeda, like other extremist groups in all walks of life, takes a message that is positive and evilly twists it to fall along with their misguided message. Unfairly, the media at large for the most part has made it seem to the American public that the acts of these despicable people are a fair representation of the Islamic faith as a whole.

You’ve noticed that the people who protest the building of the mosque-housing community center are self-professed “proud and loyal Americans.” However, what these people seem to forget as they protest the mosque while clutching the Constitution and draping themselves in Old Glory is that what they would like to see happen, the abandonment of the project, is highly un-American.

This country was founded on the ideals of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” As Americans, we all have the right to express our feelings, opinions and beliefs. Whether its pro-choice or pro-life, for or against the war, atheist or believer, as citizens we have the freedom to believe what we want.

What I’m trying to say here is that we have to get over the “AMERICA!!! F**K YEAH!!!” sentiment that permeates this country and realize that there are more people in this world than just us and that they don’t necessary believe in the “American Jesus,” to borrow from a Bad Religion song. What these close-minded “patriots” seem to forget is that this country was based on the idea of individual freedom and by saying that this community center can’t be built, they are denying these people the very rights that they are granted by being Americans.

I’m not saying that the protesters don’t have the right to protest. Just because I don’t believe in what they are saying, doesn’t mean that they can’t protest. I just want them to realize what the actual situation is. The question is not “Should they build it or not?” The question is “Do they have the right to?” and the answer to that is yes. Because if we deny them their right to religious freedom, how can we go out and be the “global freedom police” that America fashions itself to be.

So I’ve got a message for all of those “culture warriors” or whatever you call yourselves, instead of having a death-grip on the Constitution as you spit out nonsense, try actually reading it.

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