As every sixth-grader knows, pilgrims originally came to these shores in search of religious freedom. Too bad we don't still practice it.
Even in colonial days, many Americans showed they believed in religious freedom -- but only for themselves. The Massachusetts Bay Colony was, notoriously, established as the civil arm of the Puritan religion. Only church members could hold public office, and dissenters or nonbelievers were banished.
Over the years, Catholics, Jews, and Christians have all experienced some form of discrimination. But never has religious intolerance been so publicly and shamefully displayed as it is today, by opponents of an
Palin and other Islamophobes put forth three main arguments against the project: that the Ground Zero mosque will be built on sacred ground; that Muslims are being insensitive; and that everybody would go away happy if only Muslims would build their mosque someplace else. Embarrassing, isn't it?
First, the facts. We're not talking about a mosque. We're talking about a cultural center, sponsored by Cordoba House, which would include historical exhibits, an auditorium, a swimming pool, meeting rooms -- and yes, a place of worship, or mosque. Created on the site of an existing building where Muslims already meet for prayer services.
The center would not be built at Ground Zero, but two blocks from Ground Zero. On
OK, it may not be holy ground, others concede, but Muslims are not being "sensitive" to the feelings of the 9/11 victims' families. Why go forward with this project, they protest, when 70 percent of Americans think it's wrong?
Imagine. By their logic, right or wrong is now determined by public opinion polls. God save the Republic! I dread to think of what might happen in parts of the country where 70 percent of the people think interracial marriage is wrong, or integrated schools. By that rule, we'd still have slavery in this country. And, by the way, if the "feelings" of some 9/11 families are allowed to dictate land-use decisions two blocks from Ground Zero, how far does their veto power extend? Over all of Lower Manhattan? The entire island? The entire state?
None other than Senate Majority Leader
But, of course, we should not expect logic in this debate because it's not driven by facts or reason. It's driven by pure hysteria, whipped up by demagogues like
By using Ground Zero as an excuse to oppose the community center two blocks away, Palin, Gingrich and others dangerously perpetuate the lie that all Muslims belong in the same camp as the 19 terrorists who carried out the
They also reinforce the impression that
Shortly after the
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