One From Column A, One from Column B
Who's this supposed to impress exactly?
Speaking to reporters today, President Obama drew a sharp line under his comments last night, insisting that his defense of the right to build a mosque does not mean he supports the project.
"I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding," he said.
Obama's new stance is logically consistent with his words last night, if a bit less "clarion," as Mike Bloomberg called the first remarks. And there are certainly two possible stances here: Bloomberg's, that the Cordoba project itself represents the best of America; and Obama's, that the freedom of religion is an important American value.
Obama's new remarks, literally speaking, re-open the question of which side he's on. Most of the mosque's foes recognize the legal right to build, and have asked the builders to reconsider.
Oh well. It was a nice gesture for the president of the United States to unequivocally recognize the constitutional right to religious freedom. It's probably too much to expect that he might unequivocally stand up for religious tolerance too. Common ground and all that.
I'm fairly sure these folks are questioning the wisdom of building their mosque on the hallowed ground of Texas. As are other mosques throughout the country. Just so you know, Americans have every right to be Muslim in America. Let no one say anything to the contrary. I'm not going to comment on the wisdom of them doing so.
Chris in DC has written a nice essay on why this "debate" over the wisdom of building the center is balderdash. Here's an excerpt:
[T]he Cordoba House is deliberately, expressly, and unequivocally intended to stand for the diametric opposite of what the 9/11 attackers believed. It would stand for inclusion, reconciliation, and understanding across faiths and cultures. In fact, in many ways, the Muslim founders of the Cordoba House (and its imam) are the sorts of Muslims that bin Laden and his adherents hate most. They are cosmopolitan and modern. The Cordoba House itself will contain many earthly luxuries and pleasures. Its founders (and location) actively embrace multicultural, multi-sectarian, quintessentially modern New York City, and many of its proponents have happily lived in Southern Manhattan for decades.
The Cordoba House, in other words, is not only separate and distinct from the identity and ideology of al Qaeda and the 9/11 terrorists, it is a direct repudiation ("refudiation," for Sarah Palin) of them. So the only way that someone could ever confuse the Cordoba Initiative with radical, militant Islam is if that person thought that Islam itself was inseparable from terrorism or terrorist sympathies. That, to me, is highly illuminating. And if a very small handful of radicals who call themselves believers in a religion can hijack that entire religion to stand for the terrible things the radicals do and believe, then, well, Christianity apparently stands for the murder of doctors, the preachings of David Koresh, the beliefs and deeds of Tim McVeigh, the goals of the Huntaree militia....