Sunday, August 15, 2010

Abandon hope

Dear President Obama,

I like you, really, I do. I like the idea of you and what your election represented for so many Americans.

When you came into office, it was immediately apparent that the desperate people of America had tasked you with an impossible to-do list. Their hopes were huge and they wanted you to be the savior to fix everything that had gone to Hell in a handbasket in the preceding ten years.

You indicated that this would have to be a two-term to-do list.

I've watched you now these many months, and I'm worried that you aren't really focusing on the things that need to be priorities. Where is your fight? What is your plan?

I am not among those who wanted you to "take action" when the oil spill regurgitated itself all over the Gulf coast. Unlike so many others, I do understand that corporations can't expect the government to be ready and willing to mop up messes like this one after those same corporations have fought tooth and nail to make sure the government can't be involved in anything businesses do. It's not the job of the government to clean up after corporate America. Personal responsibility goes hand-in-hand with personal freedoms, so let's just say I understand this, even though you're getting the blame for this disaster.

Your choice for the newest Supreme Court Justice, well, I have to admit I'm baffled by that one. It seems to me that you'd want a hard-core Constitutional scholar in that position, or at the very least, someone who has worked as a judge before. I'm sure you have your reasons for this choice, but for now, the evidence does not point to your selection's deep experience in the field.

Iraq and Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, Darfur vs. China--now these are things that get my attention, but maybe not so much of yours. This troubles me. In addition, I cringe when I hear the ignorant opinionaters of this country demanding to see your birth records (do they really think no one checked?) or when they insist that having a Muslim parent makes you a Muslim, too. Hey, I was raised Catholic and I'm an atheist through and through, so I know that argument is nonsense. Apparently, there are people who think you don't enjoy freedom of religion, or that all Muslims are evil. They think you've been installed in office as part of a vast Muslim conspiracy.

These are the people who are not going to shut up about your ethnicity, your heritage, or your name. Their voices will clatter like pots and pans as they drown out reasonable arguments and even facts regarding who you are and what you stand for.

This week, you may have sealed your fate for 2012. The year is supposed to be a disaster, anyway, but when you came out in support of the mosque at Ground Zero, you pretty much admitted to not wanting a second term. Is the Democratic National Committee grooming someone at this point?

Here's the thing. Your statement about freedom of religion was sensible, factual, and backed by the Constitution. Still just because it is possible and legal to do something doesn't mean it should be done.

This mosque issue is an emotional one. There is no way the average American is going to see the wisdom of celebrating the Muslim faith two blocks from where jihadists gouged out the soul of this country in the name of Islam.

Can they build there? Yes. Is it legal? Yes. Is it their Constitutional right to practice their religion wherever they want? Yes. Is it in poor taste to demand use of that particular location? Absolutely. Is it going to foster understanding and a bridging of cultures? No, because America is horrified. The message is lost in the greater sea of grief and anger seeping from a wound that is still raw. What Americans hear is a voice declaring, "We want to crush you and everything you value. We violated you because we want you to be more like us. Let's start here, where you're sure to feel we're rubbing your face in it." This is followed by a voice much like Ann Coulter's screeching, "SEE? We told you so!"

I have read extensively on this topic of the mosque near Ground Zero. The people involved appear to have good and honorable intentions, but they still don't have a clue about the power of perception.

It's a matter of principle for both sides. The organization doing the building believes they should go forward because they have a right to do so. The public and many in government are appalled by the lack of sensitivity and believe that this building belongs somewhere--anywhere--else. The state of New York offered a land swap, but the Islamic center developers rejected the offer because they want what they want where they want it. How can this be perceived as anything but a hostile act?

President Obama, your statement about freedom of religion was a noble one--and accurate, too, but no one has said Muslims are being denied the right or opportunity to practice their faith. No, the point is, it is arrogant and in poor taste to build a mosque there, on that particular spot.

Mr. President, I think you missed the point, the big picture, and quite probably, the re-election.

No comments: