Skip to main content

By Donna Lieberman, Executive Director, New York Civil Liberties Union, and Louise Melling, Deputy Legal Director, ACLU

"Of course you have the right to build a mosque, but it is insensitive to build it there."

This is the newest version of the call from critics of the proposed Islamic center in downtown New York City. The sentiment may at first blush seem sensitive: it recognizes the trauma of 9/11, the sacred nature of Ground Zero and the constitutional right to religious freedom. But the sentiment that the Islamic center can be built — just elsewhere — inevitably reflects a prejudice and intolerance that is in fact inconsistent with religious freedom.  

To conclude that building the Islamic center near Ground Zero is insensitive, one must, consciously or not, believe that the Muslims of downtown New York City who will come to the center to pray are — by virtue of their faith — all tainted by the terrorists who committed an atrocious act in the name of Islam. How else to explain the alleged "insensitivity"?

Political leaders like Mayor Bloomberg in New York should be praised for standing up for religious freedom in the face of political pressure. But the voices of prejudice still fill the airwaves, and outright hostility toward mosques continues to flare up around the country in locations having no relation to any acts of terrorism.

Throughout our history, Jews, Protestants, Catholics and Muslims have all been victims of fear and discrimination. In the end, tolerance and fairness generally prevail. So should it here. But that means speaking up for fairness, opposing religious discrimination rooted in cultural stereotyping, and resisting those who seek to trade away our most precious values for political advantage. It means letting our political leaders know that discrimination is a losing proposition, and that adherence to the Constitution is not optional.

For our part, the ACLU will continue to defend the right of all religious denominations — from majority faiths to unpopular religions — to establish places of worship, and for Americans to pray, or not, as they choose. We will also continue to defend the right for those who object to speak their mind. At the same time, we will continue to remind people that, even as we are still healing from an indescribable wound, we cannot abandon our core values or we will have lost everything.

(Cross-posted to Open Salon.)

Originally posted to ACLU on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 01:05 PM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site