Yesterday I heard a person-on-the-street interview on CNN in which the interviewee said that a mosque should not be built near ground zero because she considers that land to be sacred. That's right. She feels that sacred land is no place to put holy ground. Well, not that kind of holy. Only the holier-than-thou kind. Or, as I like to call it, the ass-holy kind.
Let me take a moment to point out that what is being described in the mainstream media as "a mosque at Ground Zero," is actually an Islamic Cultural Center a few blocks away from the place where the World Trade Center once stood. I would be interested to know just how large a perimeter around the site my freedom-protecting fellow Americans would like to cordon off against the free expression of beliefs other than their own. Maybe we should only allow Christians to live South of 14th Street. And I'm not talking about Catholics, 'cause that Saint-worshiping stuff smacks of paganism and Mother Mary comes awfully close to being worshiped as Goddess. How wrong would that be, to have people praying to a woman within miles of the sacred site where once stood a huge structure dedicated to global commerce?
Just a couple of weeks after the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, I came out of a Trader Joe grocery story to find a man putting little paper flags on the antennae of the cars in the parking lot. He was just moving to put one on my car as I approached. I asked him not to.
He said, "What's the matter? You don't love your country?"
I said, "I do love my country and I'm fond of the flag. But right now the flag is being flown in rage and as a call to violence and vengeance and I'm not comfortable supporting that."
He turned bright red and raised an angry finger at me, saying, "Hey! This flag is a symbol of peace and the freedoms we hold dear and I should kick your ass just for talking about it that way."
They say the first victim of war is the truth. I think the first victim might be a cultural sense of irony.
The goal of terrorists is to destabilize a perceived enemy by creating fear and anger that will overwhelm reason. The stability of our society is built upon a constitutional foundation. We started with a document that lays out a governmental structure and ten amendments thereto, collectively called the Bill of Rights. Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Assembly are all included in the very first of these amendments.
I would tend to say that if we begin restricting First Amendment rights based on a sentimental attachment to a particular plot of land, the terrorists will have won.
I'm sure some people will call me a crazy liberal for seeking to protect parts of the constitution that don't involve the right to carry a gun in a Wal-Mart, but that's okay. Everything I say is pretty easy to dismiss. I'm obviously not a patriot. If I loved my country I would prove it by letting strangers decorate my car to their liking.