Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ground Zero Mosque

I'll keep this brief.

The First Amendment to our Constitution opens with, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...". Why then, based on the principles upon which this country was founded, is there any sort of argument against building an Islamic Cultural Center 2 blocks from the World Trade Center? First of all, the term Ground Zero Mosque just doesn't apply here. There already IS an HAS been a mosque at the WTC for years, even before the complex was contructed. Second, the proposed building isn't a mosque... it's a cultural center. Third, it's not at Ground Zero, it's 2 blocks away. Those are the facts.

Muslims died on 9-11; in the planes, in the towers and many gave their lives to rescue people. To say that they can't have a place to worship near this site makes us no better than countries like Iran, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, where many religions are illegal. Comparing this building to a "synagogue in Mecca" is not only asinine, but just plain stupid. First of all, I don't know of anyone who actually wants or needs a synagogue in Mecca. Second, this is a comparison of two vastly different cultures in to very different countries, both of which have different laws and perspectives regarding religion and the free practice thereof. Preventing this cultural center from being built underminds American values and spits in the face of those who died in the attacks, as well as the people fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's astonishing that there are Americans who are willing to support our troops being sent to die to supposedly protect our freedoms, but are unwilling to share these same freedoms with law-abiding, peaceful citizens of this country. The argument that shrine to a religion that kills people is an interesting one, and as such, frankly, means that no religious building should be built anywhere, since all religions are guilty of needless killing for some insane reason. I'd like to see how many white Christians would protest a church being built next to the Murrah Building Memorial in Oklahoma City. My bet is, there wouldn't be any protests, despite McVeigh having been a Christian.

Of course, the Republicans are using this issue to renew the fear of the brown person, just like they did in 2001. How anyone can support a political party whose main platforms are fear and hatred is just beyond my scope of understanding... it actually makes my brain hurt trying to figure out how people can really be this stupid.

The bottom line is, freedom of religion is pretty explicit. Therefore, you so-called defenders of the Constitution, I ask, what's the problem? Don't treat our most important document like you do the Bible, just picking and choosing things that suit your agenda. It won't work.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

14th Amendment Fiasco

If there were ever a prime example of GOP hypocrisy, the latest out of Senators Kyl and Graham would take the crown. They are calling for a full repeal of the 14th Amendment... yes, the same 1868 amendment that guaranteed freed slaves and their kin citizenship in this country. It was the first true civil rights amendment in our country's history. The GOP wants to repeal it to save us from the illegal immigrants... so much for the party of Lincoln and the self-proclaimed defenders of the Constitution.

The wording of the 14th Amendment is quite clear... anyone born in the US, with the exception of the children of foreign dignitaries and enemy soldiers, are automatic US citizens. This amendment sums up the very purpose for which our country was founded... for the persecuted, the poor, the miserable, the whatever, to have a place in which they can raise a family. I've been struggling to find a position on this issue, and my final opinion is that yes, children of illegals deserve their citizenship, based on the founding principles of our country. Our borders need to be open and secure to allow everyone access to the American Dream... isn't that the creed to which the Republicans are supposed to be associated? Mistake me not - I believe that anyone that wants to come to the US should be able to, so long as they do it within the law. This can be difficult, however, when the society into which these people want to enter is closed-minded and as of late, fearful and outright racist.

Let us not make the mistakes Germany made with the Turks, denying Turks born in Germany immediate citizenship. This has led to many people in Germany being stateless, and citizens of nowhere. We are better than that, at least, in theory. Where would it stop, should the 14th Amendment be repealed? Since we are all, in some sense, children of immigrants, would the government then have to sniff out every person that was born of immigrants, or not born on US soil? Should we rescind citizenship of the descendants of freed slaves, and of the freed slaves themselves? This is dangerous path down which to wander, and I believe the purpose behind this proposed legislation is to instill fear and hatred among the American people. There are also other implications, as the 14th Amendment guaranteed for all American citizens equal protection under the Bill of Rights. Should we not have a Bill of Rights?

For a political party, who for years has been screaming about the Constitution and how final it is, this is the ultimate in hypocrisy, and moreover, a straight-up denial of history. It is a slap in the face of the legacy of great presidents like Lincoln and Johnson, who fought for civil rights and equality. The Republican Party is a movement spouting fear, hatred and untruth. Even more frightening, people are buying into it because the Democrats don't seem to have the balls to fight back.

My message to Republicans: be careful what you wish for. My message to Democrats: defend what's right, fight back, or prepare to lose in November. Ignorance is powerful in America, and scary as it is, it actually could prevail.