Perhaps Howard Dean should read this and learn how a real progressive stands up for core beliefs. Senator Jeff Merkley stands up to hate. It's short and worth reading the few paragraphs.
By Jeff Merkley
The debate swirling around the proposed mosque and Muslim community center in lower Manhattan near the World Trade Center site has, for many, tapped into strong emotions of a national trauma that is still raw. But in the churning political and constitutional arguments, one question has not been adequately addressed: what makes a mosque near ground zero offensive?
Nearly everyone in this debate affirms the constitutional right for the mosque's construction. Indeed, that right is a cherished founding principle. As Thomas Jefferson said, "The constitutional freedom of religion [is] the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights." It is no accident that the right to worship in accordance with one's own conscience is enshrined in the First Amendment.
But, many mosque opponents argue, just because it can be built does not mean it should be. They say it would be disrespectful to the memories of those who died on 9/11 to build a Muslim facility near the World Trade Center site. I appreciate the depth of emotions at play, but respectfully suggest that the presence of a mosque is only inappropriate near ground zero if we unfairly associate Muslim Americans with the atrocities of the foreign al-Qaida terrorists who attacked our nation.
Such an association is a profound error. Muslim Americans are our fellow citizens, not our enemies. Muslim Americans were among the victims who died at the World Trade Center in the 9/11 attacks. Muslim American first responders risked their lives to save their fellow citizens that day. Many of our Muslim neighbors, including thousands of Oregon citizens, serve our country in war zones abroad and our communities at home with dedication and distinction.
Some have also argued that the construction of the mosque would hand a propaganda victory to Osama bin Laden. I think the opposite is true. Al-Qaida justifies its murder by painting America as a nation at war with Islam. Celebrating our freedom of religion and Muslim Americans' place in our communities is a blow to al-Qaida's ideology of hate and division. We strengthen America by distinguishing, clearly and unequivocally, between our al-Qaida enemy and our Muslim neighbors.
President Bush understood the importance of separating the terrorists from over a billion peaceful Muslims around the world whose faith has been used as an excuse by those bent on killing. Speaking at a mosque just six days after the World Trade Center attack, President Bush said, "These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith, and it's important for my fellow Americans to understand that."
I have great respect for the sentiments of the survivors and family members of those who died on 9/11, and understand that some may not regard the situation this way. But our fundamental religious freedom and our national security -- in addition to fairness for our fellow citizens -- will be well served by drawing a bright line between our Muslim friends and neighbors at home, and our al-Qaida enemy abroad.
Jeff Merkley is a Democratic U.S. senator from Oregon.
It's amazing when President Bush looks good compared to the Republican purveyors of hate who run wild today.
Hate may win in November. But hate will not prevail in the long run, if we stand up and fight it. That's a reason why Howard Dean's comments were so disheartening to me . As one who was a progressive hero (even if he always was just left of center as a Vermont governor), sometimes you have to stand up and be counted. That was the Dean philosphy, the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party:
What I want to know, what I want to know, is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the President's unilateral intervention in Iraq? [cheers].
What I want to know, is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting tax cuts which have bankrupted this country and given us the largest deficit in the history of the United States? [cheers].
What I want to know, is why the Congress is fighting over the Patient's Bill of Rights? If the Patient's Bill of Rights passes, is a good bill, but not one more person gets health insurance and it's not five cents cheaper.
What I want to know is why the Democrats in Congress aren't standing up for us joining every other industrialized country on the face of the Earth in having health insurance for every man, woman and child in America? [cheers, chants "Dean"].
What I want to know, what I want to know, is why so many folks in Congress are voting for the President's education bill -- "The No School Board Left Standing Bill" -- the largest unfunded mandate in the history of our educational system? [cheers].
As Paul Wellstone said -- and as Sheila Kuehl said when she endorsed me -- I'm Howard Dean, and I'm here to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. [cheers].
What I want to know is why Howard Dean chose not to stand up for the First Amendment?
This is not a Democratic Party value. It's a core American value:
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 unshakeable. 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.
We must never forget those who we lost so tragically on 9/11, and we must always honor those who led the response to that attack - from the firefighters who charged up smoke-filled staircases, to our troops who are serving in Afghanistan today. And let us also remember who we're fighting against, and what we're fighting for. Our enemies respect no religious freedom. Al-Qaida's cause is not Islam — it's a gross distortion of Islam. These are not religious leaders — they're terrorists who murder innocent men and women and children. In fact, al-Qaida has killed more Muslims than people of any other religion — and that list of victims includes innocent Muslims who were killed on 9/11.
So that's who we're fighting against. 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.
There are times one must stand up even if there may be a cost for doing so. Senator Merkley did and the President did.
Even Joe Scarborough did. Yes, a right winger like him.
But far too many ran away when they were called to stand up for freedom at home.
Sen. Merkley stood up for freedom.
Update I: A comment by RLMiller suggests we conttact Senator Merkley to show our support:
Don't just rec the diary; let the Senator know (1+ / 0-)
that his leadership is appreciated. We need to give carrots to our good leaders. If you like what he said and you're on Twitter, please thank @SenJeffMerkley. Or email him here.
Trying to teach myself eco by blogging and tweeting @RL_Miller
by RLMiller on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 08:45:48 AM PDT