Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Compass of Hatred

I could be wrong, but I believe Tocqueville was the first to observe how Americans have a bottomless appetite for zoning, siting, and related administrative arcana. We see it still today:

Nearly 70 percent of people feel an Islamic center near ground zero is disrespectful, even deliberately provocative, according to a CNN/Opinion Research poll.
Fantastic! We just can't get enough -- it's in our blood, or our distinctive national character, or our DNA, or our phenotype, or something.

It's worth noting, however, that very, very close to 100% of Americans have no legal standing and no discernible stake in having their feelings about locating an Islamic center within a few blocks of the 9/11 attacks validated by anyone, certainly not the elected and appointed officials who make siting and zoning decisions for Manhattan. I say that as an American with no love, not even phoned-in pro forma love, for the Islamic faith, but as an American who can see the distinction between respecting a creed and respecting the right to believe and practice the creed. These are not the same, and they're not hard to tell apart.

Because the cited article appears in an organ of American journalism, it naturally goes straight from citing results of poll questions that shouldn't have been asked to -- what else? -- repeating inane speculations on what it portends for the fall elections:
"There's little political upside for a President already seen by some as soft on terror, a President whom 1 in 10 Americans insanely believe to be a Muslim, to back the right of this house of worship to locate near the site of the 9/11 attacks. Especially with two-thirds of the public against it," writes the New York Daily News' Joshua Greenman.
The president should see that all religious organizations are held to equal standards in siting places of worship. Beyond that, he should stay out and remind everyone, as Obama has done here, that freedom of religion implies freedom for unpopular religions and popular religions alike. If that comes with "little political upside," then the president should welcome their hatred.

The hatred of morons and bigots should always be regarded as an indicator of motion in the right direction.

1 comment:

Laura said...

I think the only way to promote freedom and democracy is to live it. The fact is, any fundamentalist religion is dangerous. I don't relish the idea of having a mosque in my backyard, but whether I like it or not, the constitution allows it. What better way to demonstrate the principles on which this country was founded?