The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!


Friday, August 20, 2010

What a country!

Unless you're a total recluse -- and if you are, you certainly wouldn't be reading this blog -- you've no doubt heard of the controversy surrounding the planned construction of a $100-million mosque and Islamic community center in lower Manhattan, a block or two from the site of the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. For politicians the timing couldn't be better, or worse, depending on their respective knee-jerk positions. The president, for example, speaking at a Ramadan dinner held at the White House, decided to take the constitutional high road and solemnly declared that Muslims had every right to build the mosque:
"But let me be clear: as a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone 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. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are. The writ of our Founders must endure."
Nice words, but they don't really address the issue. They were apparently designed only to demonize those against the construction of the mosque by labeling them as bigots who disregard the constitutional rights of others when it suits them. But to my knowledge the opponents of the project have never questioned the right of Muslims to build their mosque near 9-11 "Ground Zero." Their opposition is not based on questions of legality; rather it is based on the propriety of building a mosque so close to the site of the attack by Jihadist  terrorists. Al-qaida and its supporters would, of course, celebrate the presence of the mosque as a victory over the infidels.

Additional concerns center on the unnamed sources of funding for the project and the radical ties and opinions of the man behind it, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, along with his wife, Daisy Khan, When one digs just a little beneath the surface, one thing becomes clear: Rauf and his wife are not the "moderates" they and their supporters make them out to be. (See Jihad Watch.)

Since the president turned the mosque into a national issue, the politicians have been scrambling either to join him or distance themselves from him. With the mid-term elections just two months away, most Democrat pols are not at all pleased that they must take sides on this potentially explosive issue. Reading the electoral tealeaves, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was quick to desert the president and joined the growing chorus questioning the wisdom of building a mosque so near ground zero. He has been followed by dozens of others who hope to defuse the issue prior to the November elections. And then we heard from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who made perhaps the dumbest (or scariest) suggestion of the year when she stated that those who oppose the mosque should be investigated. If she was serious, and I can only assume she was, she's an even greater threat to our freedoms than I had thought.

It's really quite entertaining watching all this scrambling and posturing by politicians caught in the headlights. I suspect we'll see a lot more of it in the coming weeks.

New York's Mayor Bloomberg was one of the first to speak out publicly about the proposed project. I thought it particularly interesting that he was so strong in his support for the mosque's construction. In his words:
"Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question: Should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here."
One got the impression that the mayor intended to do all in his power to fast-track the project despite the opposition of a significant majority of New Yorkers. I found this interesting because of the obstacles the City of New York has placed in the path of the Greek Orthodox community as they try to rebuild St. Nicholas Church (photo at left) which was completely destroyed in the 9-11 terrorist attack. The church had been there since 1916.

Few people have even heard about little St. Nicholas Church. It certainly hasn't received much attention from the mainstream media. And yet for nine years this small church's attempt to rebuild has been stonewalled by the city and the Port Authority, who seem determined to prohibit the church's reconstruction in its original neighborhood. According to representatives of the Greek Orthodox community, the Port Authority won't even speak with them about the church. "Unfortunately, they have just been silent -- dead silent, actually," said Father Alex Karloutsos, whose father was ordained at St. Nicholas. "They just simply forgot about the church."

Funny how neither the president nor the mayor said a word about St. Nicholas Church and the continued efforts by government agencies to prohibit it from being rebuilt near ground zero. It seems discrimination toward Christians remains the only politically correct form of discrimination. And so, as our politicians blissfully ignore the plight of this small Christian community, they make the appeasement of radical Muslims their top priority.

Memo to Mayor Bloomberg: Try listening to your own words...

"That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here."

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