kens*ten: a political blog

Obama OK with Ground Zero Mosque

Ignoring Public Opinion... Again.

Just a few weeks ago, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs refused to wade into the Ground Zero mosque debate. When asked what the administration’s view on the issue, Gibbs stated: “This is rightly a matter for New York City and the local community to decide.” 

IOW, we White House types are way too smart to get involved in this debate. Well, it turns out that Mr. Gibbs’ statement was premature… as well as inaccurate.  

President Obama decided to announce his support at a White House observance of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan: 

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. 

Chris Mathews must have leg tingles. He gets very excited when Professor Obama lectures average Americans on what America represents. 

And speaking of average Americans, Obama’s stance runs counter to the opinions of the majority of Americans. A CNN/Opinion Research poll found that 68% of Americans opposed the mosque plan while just 29% approved. Interestingly, 52% of self-identified Democrats and 70% of independents oppose the mosque. 

The president’s decision drew criticism from family members of 9/11 victims. Sally Regenhard, whose firefighter son was killed at the World Trade Center, said the president had failed to understand the issue. 

As an Obama supporter, I really feel that he’s lost sight of the germane issue, which is not about freedom of religion. It’s about a gross lack of sensitivity to the 9/11 families and to the people who were lost. 

Debra Burlingame, sister of one of the pilots killed on 9/11 and a spokesperson for several 9/11 families, was similarly direct: 

Barack Obama has abandoned America at the place where America’s heart was broken nine years ago, and where her true values were on display for all to see. Building the mosque at Ground Zero is a deliberately provocative act that will precipitate more bloodshed in the name of Allah. 

Just last week in a Fox News interview, Tarek Fattah of the Muslim Canadian Congress, called on mosque developers to withdraw their plan: 

They might have the right to build a mosque, but they don’t have the wisdom to understand the implications and consequences of their actions. And, that is why we are pleading with them to back off. 

All of us understand that this is meant as a provocation. That it is done in bad faith. 

I don’t know what percentage of Muslims share Mr. Fattah’s view. But, he raises an excellent point: Just because you have the right to take an action, doesn’t make it appropriate to do so. Do KKK members have the right to protest at Martin Luther King birthday events, perhaps so. Should they? No. 

The president is wrong. The Ground Zero mosque is not a freedom of religion issue. No one is banning mosques or prohibiting Muslim worship. Ms. Regenhard is correct. This issue is about sensitivity to American feelings about the 9/11 terror attack. 

Ironically, Obama dismisses “strict interpretation” of the Constitution when it conflicts with his ideology. However, in this instance, he can’t see beyond strictly legal terms. 

© 2010 by kens*ten. All rights reserved. 

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Robert Gibbs / Ground Zero Mosque is a Local Issue 

MSNBC / Chris Mathews has Leg Tingles 

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