Writing the wrong
If I had the President in front of me I would ask him what he was thinking when he chose to weigh in on the proposed Islamic Community Center being developed in Manhattan, New York. It is a local, community matter and not a federal case. In doing so, he ignited a firestorm that may very well side rail (not de-rail, mind you) Park51, and unleashed a barrage of manic poll taking, one of which indicates that 24% of Americans think that President Obama is Muslim. Horror of horrors! Naturally the White House started scrambling to ensure the public that they were not being led by one of them dirty camel jockeys. The official statement was: *He prays every day. He communicates with his religious adviser every single day. There's a group of pastors that he takes counsel from on a regular basis," said spokesman Bill Burton.
"He is Christian and his faith is very important to him," Burton added.
There must be a special place in hell for pollsters. At any rate, I am more concerned about that fact that our President takes advice on a regular basis from ANY religious cleric, Christian or otherwise. Did the Founding Fathers have this in mind when they established a separation between Church and State? I think not. In his eagerness to be a good iftar host, he made a statement that sounded a little, well, expansive and God forbid, echoed the first amendment of the US Constitution that states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
There it is, in plain American English for the entire nation to see. “This is America” President Obama reminded us and proceeded to support (it seemed) the project and make a cogent point. Well, of course, this is what the GOP was waiting for, though they pounce on anything they can find and the President essentially handed them a cherry when he made the statement. The relentless dissemination of misinformation that has swirled around the Commander in Chief from the moment he became a viable candidate is, to say the least, frustrating and part of what is the mass manipulation of the American people via outlets such as Fox News. His detractors are hell bent on showing how “foreign” and Other the President is. It makes me question what the President's “spiritual advisors” have been telling him when he made that statement. He usually plays possum on such controversial matters, so much so that rigor mortis sets in. (Possums, a cute rodent that sometimes plays dead to protect itself.) Remember when Israel laid siege to Gaza, killing children? Nothing from his lips; not a word, save for flaccid platitudes that did not comfort anyone except the people laying siege to Gaza. Therefore, it is puzzling that his comments on Park 51 were premature and not well thought out, and dare I say it? Seemed to come from the soul? Alas, the comments have brought unnecessary attention to something, which at this time is still in the planning stages and not ready to go public on a large scale and is simply not yet deserving of grandiose remarks from the leader of the free world. So what does this leader do next in the face of the GOP feeding frenzy? He back peddles, of course. Back peddling, a time-honoured American political ploy. Also he fiddles with semantics, like his fellow lawyer and predecessor, President Clinton, who spent hours quibbling about the meaning of the word “is” or some such nonsense after he was caught in a bald-faced lie concerning his comely intern. Let us not get into how utterly ridiculous it is to even consider impeaching a leader over adultery. No wonder the French think we're lame. I digress: so our Prez states that he was supporting religious expression and not the “wisdom” behind such an endeavour as Park51. Insert heavy sigh right here. Maybe you should not have opened your damn mouth in the first place, Mr President. Maybe you need to take your pastor advice committee to task for leading you down the primrose path! I know it was well intended. Mr President's niyot was in the right place or in the right neighbourhood but given that Park51 is being developed in the neighbourhood around Ground Zero, we got ourselves an open wound. The biggest one this nation has ever seen since the Civil War, I feel. Hell, there are people in the South who still refer to the Civil War as the “War of Northern Aggression”! I think that's funny, actually. But what is decidedly not funny is that this nation has a long memory and a history of holding grudges. I suppose most nations do, and the wound left by 9/11 is far from being healed. We all know that. In bringing further national attention to Park51 which is not yet big enough to handle it, our leader may have irrevocably damaged the process.
Too many pundits, sorry, I meant, punters, are weighing in now on various talk shows and the lies are gathering mass. Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, the brainchild behind Park51, is being falsely linked to Ahmedinajad and Hamas, on where else, Fox and Friends!
There ARE bright spots in this fracas. Perhaps this will force the nation to face its true attitudes and prejudices concerning Muslims and their place in American society, indeed their prejudices concerning “browns” altogether. Perhaps it will also force Muslims themselves to become bridges and embrace a more inclusive version of Islam, as Park51 aims to be interfaith and expansive, much like Mosques were in the South of Spain during the height of the Islamic Empire. Jews were welcomed and allowed to worship anywhere they saw fit, and that included mosques. Actually, during The Inquisition, which rightfully no one EVER expected, Muslims sheltered many a Jew in the mosques. This is the spirit that motivates Park51 and its organisers. What gives me hope, personally, is that the Jewsh community around the site is supportive as is Mayor Bloomberg, who has been very vocal in his support. President Obama reminded us we were Americans and thereby obligated to uphold the First Amendment, but Bloomberg reminded us we were New Yorkers and the eyes of the world and future generations were upon us. His statement was appropriate and necessary. President Obama should have left well enough alone. You plucked the plum before it was ripe, sir. Tell your pastors to meditate on that, please. Meanwhile, as a result of this storm in a teacup, I am doing precisely what I vowed I would not do: engaging with bigoted types on facebook and trying to make them see our point of view. Well, I guess it beats Farmville.
* Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2010/08/19/2010-08-19_one_in_five_americans_believe_president_barack_obama_is_a_muslim
(R) thedailystar.net 2010