Saturday, August 14, 2010

Obama Back Tracks on Support for Islamic Cultural Center

"As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable." - Barack Obama on August 13, 2010

"I was not commenting on and will not comment on the wisdom of making a decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right that people have that dates back to our founding." - Barack Obama on August 14, 2010

There is nothing worse than cynical, manufactured outrage. The debate over the construction of an Islamic cultural center to be located near the world trade center site is the latest example of this despicable phenomenon.

There is no legal way to stop the building of this center, which by the way is not a mosque. The group owns the site, they have the right to own it, and that should be the end of that. The local community board, made up entirely of area residents, gave approval for the center. Not to admit defeat, opponents then turned to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in an attempt to landmark the current site and prevent anything new from being constructed. The commission correctly affirmed that the site is not worthy of designation and the story should have ended there. How naive of me.

Mayor Bloomberg, who I generally disagree with on every issue facing our city, rightly affirmed his support for the project again and again. He is the only profile in political courage to emerge from this story. Yesterday at an iftah, the Ramadan evening meal, Obama stated his support for the center, or so I and millions of other people thought.

Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Peter King, John Boehner and company all pounced on the president's remarks, and like a good little suck up, he obeyed the professional right. He always does. The left, professional or not, gets the ACORN treatment.

The attacks on Islam are just sickening. Opponents of the center go on and on about the terrorists being inspired by Islam and killing in the name of that religion. In fact, their act was primarily political. Osama bin Laden made that clear in the days when he used to give interviews. He was angry at America's support for Israel's human rights violations against the Palestinians. He was angry that U.S. troops were stationed in Saudi Arabia.

It is easier to talk about Muslims wanting to kill us all because we aren't Muslims. Nine years after 9/11 they have even more reason to be mad. Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia are all victims of mass killings at the behest of Uncle Sam. If we talked about the real reason for their anger we would have to question our government and our willingness to support, passively or actively, its criminal actions. It is much easier to foam at the mouth because a center which includes a prayer room will be located two blocks north of "ground zero."

As for our president, what can I say. He is always a double talking back stabber.