But let me be clear. As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And 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 that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of the Founders must endure. ...The New York Times headline read "Obama Strongly Backs Islam Center Near 9/11 Site". The "professional left" across its full spectrum from white liberal women to gay Jewish ex-patriots praised it effusively. It wasn't quite the same forceful emotion as Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but hey, the President doesn't do emotion anymore.
And the reason that we will win this fight is not simply the strength of our arms – it is the strength of our values. The democracy that we uphold. The freedoms that we cherish. The laws that we apply without regard to race, or religion, or wealth, or status. Our capacity to show not merely tolerance, but respect towards those who are different from us – and that way of life, that quintessentially American creed, stands in stark contrast to the nihilism of those who attacked us on that September morning, and who continue to plot against us today.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the Gulf Coast. Obama backtracked:
My intention was to simply let people know what I thought. Which was that in this country we treat everybody equally, in accordance with the law, regardless of race, regardless of religion. [But] I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making a decision to put a mosque there.[my addition] What gives? I see two options: nobody in the White House understands the "professional right" or they get all wee-weed up from criticism from three old white guys. (make that four) Either way it's bad news: Obama didn't mean to speak out as strongly in favor of religious tolerance and respect, or he caves at the drop of a (white) hat.
I was commenting very specifically on the right that people have that dates back to our founding. That's what our country's about. And I think its very important that as difficult as some of these issues are, that we stay focused on who we are as a people and what our values are all about.
It is extremely frustrating to see that Obama can easily apply the strategy of avoiding showing weakness to foreign enemies, where it is actually counter-productive to our interests, yet gives up without a fight in response to his domestic enemies.
This nativist outrage at Muslims had been fabricated so easily and has been pounded on by the right for weeks. But the President goes back to his corner after throwing one punch. "Do unto others as we would have them do unto us" is fine and dandy for a moral guide, but in political rhetoric it should be "an eye for eye, and a tooth for a tooth."
Thank the Abrahamic God that Jon Stewart can bail us out with some funny: