August 5, 2010
Here we go again. We Republicans are supposed to be the party of the rule of law, smaller government, and individual freedom. But every time I turn around, I am confused by the hypocrisy our party will display for political expediency.
The most glaring example of this in recent time was the case of Terri Schiavo back in 2005. She became brain dead due to an accident and her husband wanted to remove her from all life support. Her family asked Republicans to usurp the authority of her husband by way of various political maneuvers to strip the husband of his right to make medical decisions about his wife. Ultimately the federal courts sided with the husband and she was removed from life support.
Republicans were more interested in scoring political points than protecting the rights of an individual not to have the government interfere in the private affairs of a spouse. Whether you agreed with the husband’s decision or not was totally irrelevant. This was one of the reasons Republicans lost control of congress in 2006.
Now, they are repeating the same mistake in 2010 in the case of the proposed mosque near the site of the twin towers in New York that were destroyed during the attacks on 9/11.
Two days ago, The Landmarks Preservation Commission of New York City voted 9-0 to reject landmark status for the building that is on the site of the proposed mosque. If the commission had granted landmark status, the building could not have been torn down, thus killing the project.
The decision paves the way for construction of the project to begin. The project is to include a mosque and an Islamic community center. The project is being spear-headed by a group called the Cordoba Initiative. According to them, they are a group of moderate Muslims. The total project cost is approximately $ 100 million (raised by private money). So, what is controversial about this? Absolutely nothing.
Republicans have decided to play politics and play on religious intolerance to score political points. But, as in the Schiavo case, this too will backfire.
Now, I will give you the stated reason why opponents are against this project. I hope you are seated—with seatbelt on. Their opposition is based on the great “legal” principle that the “location would be insensitive (because the group is Muslim) and it disrespects the memory of 9/11 victims.” Yes, you heard me right—INSENSITIVE. They claim the site is too close to the twin towers that were destroyed on 9/11.
Now, I will tell you who “they” are. Some of the most notable opponents of the project are: 9/11 first-responders, family members of those killed in the attack, former New York congressman and current Republican gubernatorial candidate, Rick Lazio, Abraham Foxman from the Anti-Defamation League, former speaker of the house, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, radio entertainers, Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham, to name a few.
These are all people that are supposed to be big supporters of the first amendment (freedom of speech) and the right of the individual and the rule of law. But yet, they supported the attempted hijacking of a government body in their attempts to strip away the rights of Muslim Americans to erect a building.
Is this what Republicans mean when they talk about “limited government?” Government that is limited only to what they believe?
After the vote to allow the buildings to go up, Foxman arrogantly stated, “the group’s proposal fail to address the crux of opponents’ criticism that erecting the mosque near ground zero is insensitive to 9/11 victims’ families.” Foxman continues, “Some legitimate questions have been raised about the Cordoba Initiative’s funding and possible ties with groups whose ideologies stand in contradiction to our shared values.”
Has he lost his mind? So, he believes in individual freedom as long as it’s agreeable to him? This issue is not about terrorism or Muslims, or 9/11. This is about the rule of law—I thought a core bedrock Republican principle.
These are the same Republicans who want Obama to enforce our immigration laws, but don’t want New York City to enforce the laws that give these Muslim Americans the right to build their Islamic community center near ground zero!
To the family members of those killed during 9/11, your personal pain should not be used to deny an American citizen the exercise of his constitutional rights. Would you feel the same way if the Catholic Church was erecting the building?
This whole debate has an undercurrent of religious intolerance. Politicians and talk radio are trying to push specific agendas at the expense of individual liberty and freedom. Did Republicans learn nothing from the Terri Schiavo disaster?
Maybe we should build a shrine to the Republican Party at ground zero and call it the “Mecca of Hypocrisy.”
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm. He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine (www.excellstyle.com).