It seems that just about everything I read coming out of the mouths of Republicans these day sounds so self-serving, so weaselly, so obnoxious, that I get only the sense that whatever they are saying boils down to one thing, and one thing only – “Vote Republican this November”. I never feel that when they speak, they are trying to voice an honestly held opinion, or are trying to relay facts they believe their constituents and the American people need to have to understand the great issues they are grappling with on a day to day basis. I also get the distinct sense that when their lips are moving I can be assured that they are, in fact, lying. Jaw movement and sound is all I need to confirm prevarication and falsehood.
This recent bullshit with the Islamic mosque supposedly being built in the “shadow” of the World Trade Center (which clearly doesn’t throw a shadow anymore, and even if it did, it would throw one across, and thereby disqualify, most of lower Manhattan, depending on the time of day) is a case in point. One of the lies being bandied about is that it is being built on “hallowed ground” (gotta resist the tug of the old heartstrings). No, it’s an old Burlington Coat Factory building, two blocks away (in that shadow, again). Gettysburg was hallowed ground. The Burlington Coat Factory building is not.
One of my favorite (*cough*) Republicans, Newt Gingrich, seems to think that we should not allow the mosque in New York if Saudi Arabia doesn’t allows Christians to build a few churches there. As John Stewart reacted, “Why should we as Americans have higher standards of religious liberty than Saudi Arabia. It makes no sense!” And John Cornyn (R-Texas) feels that it’s “unwise” to build the mosque so close to the area where 19 Islamic terrorists ended 3000 lives (which may be arguable, but beside the point).
My problem with this attitude is that now Republicans are going to use the issue as a political football, inciting Islamophobia in the hopes that it will propel voters to help them recapture Congress and, maybe in two years, the White House. The cynicism of such a strategy is gag inducing.
“The president supports a mosque at ground zero led by a man who blamed America for 9/11, his top intelligence official preaches the true meaning of jihad, and his attorney general can’t even say the words ‘radical Islam,’” said Michael Goldfarb, an adviser to Keep America Safe. “You start to worry they don’t understand who the enemy is, and so Republicans might understandably feel like they have to spell it out for them.”
Yes. Great idea! Let’s scare the crap out of people (after all, the Republican Party is now the party of “fear” and “no”) by perpetually reminding them of the events of 9/11, tarring every Muslim with the actions of a few extremists, so that they can be elected to office, in order to pick up where they left off when Bush was in the White House.
President Obama, however, has made it clear that this is an issue, fundamental to the Constitution of this country, that cannot be compromised, and he’s right. It doesn’t matter if the decision on the part of the Muslims is wise, they have a right under the First Amendment to buy land, open a mosque and worship their vicious, fairy tale Allah all they want, wherever they want. And it’s not Obama’s decision, one way or the other, that can change that, though Republicans are planning to place this football squarely on his doorstep, and ask him to kick it.
Those same Republicans who one day try to convince us that there is no such thing as separation of Church and State, are now upset with Obama because he won’t trample on the First Amendment, in effect expecting him to use the State to tell Church what it can or cannot do. Oh, the irony. Of course, these same Republicans believe we are a Christian nation, so perhaps it’s understandable that they feel threatened by a mosque.
It seems to me that the 535 politicians that make up Congress, while disagreeing about a lot of things – budgets, wars, defense, security, etc – should be able to agree on something so basic to the Constitution of the United States, and what it means. I know that sometimes varied and arcane interpretations of the Constitution can be the stuff of lawsuits, but those are resolved by the Courts. In Congress, the basic jurisprudence involving the Separation of Church and State has been resolved for hundreds of years. If it hasn’t, why don’t we tax churches? Because the separation of Church and state is so fundamental, so entrenched in out collective identity, as to be all but inarguable.
But, apparently, not when there’s an election at stake.