|Posted on Tuesday, August 17, 2010 - 03:29 pm: ||
In a Family Security Matters Editorial on Sunday, it was suggested that President Obama’s apparent support of the Ground Zero Mosque, followed less than 24 hours by presidential back-pedaling, was creating a crisis of leadership. The apparent pandering to a project which has never gained widespread public support was predestined to create problems. Michael Bloomberg, New York’s liberal mayor, had attempted on August 3 to invoke the Founding Fathers and to cite instances from a century before, during the time of Peter Stuyvesant, to impress upon New Yorkers that religious tolerance was the hallmark of the Big Apple. By extension, Bloomberg appeared to reason, New York's citizens should all rally to support the Ground Zero mosque and thereby defend religious liberty. A Mairist poll from August 10th had shown that Bloomberg’s former popularity had sunk dramatically since April, coinciding with his support for the mosque. A CNN poll from August 11 had shown that almost 70 percent of the American public opposed the Ground Zero Mosque.
In an act of extreme hubris, against the groundswell of political opinion, and ignoring the lessons that could have been learned from Mayor Bloomberg’s dip in popularity, the president and his speech writer pressed on regardless. The August 3 speech that had been made by Bloomberg on a windswept Government Island, surrounded by representatives of different faiths, had been seen by the administration as something of relevance to its own agenda. On Monday, August 9th, Bloomberg’s speech had been translated into Arabic, Farsi (Persian), Russian, French and Spanish and was posted onto the America.gov “Engaging the World” website.
At the White House iftar dinner of Friday 13th, Obama again invoked the Founding Fathers to suggest that they would be supportive of the construction of the Ground Zero Mosque on a matter of principle. Two days before, to celebrate Ramadan, Obama had claimed that “Islam has always been in America.” There is no historical evidence for such an assertion, unless Obama was passing a sop to Muslim revisionists, who claim that Abul-Hassan Al-Masudi (c. 895 – 957 AD) had written of Muslims going to a faraway land in “The Book of Golden Meadows.” Archeologists have never found any evidence of pre-Columbian Islamic influence. To suggest that “Islam has always been in America,” is a pandering not to genuine history but to a Muslim political agenda.
On August 10th, State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley had told journalists that Imam Rauf, the imam behind the proposed Ground Zero Mosque, was on a trip to the Middle East as a sponsored emissary of America to “discuss Muslim life in America and religious tolerance.” Crowley was asked about the Ground Zero Mosque and if the administration supported it. He replied:
“Well, it’s not normal that the federal government would get involved in what is a – I think a zoning issue in New York City…. Well, I mean, we are obviously supportive of religious tolerance not only around the world, but in the United States, and – but this is a particular decision for the city of New York. And we do note the fact that Mayor Bloomberg made a very eloquent appeal for freedom of religion and religious tolerance recently in the city.”
When asked why the speech by Bloomberg was posted on America.gov and not on the regular State Department website, Crowley replied:
“I think Smith-Mundt probably has as much to do with that as anything.”
The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 (US Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 (Public Law 402) was introduced in 1945 and signed into law by Harry S. Truman on January 27, 1948. It was originally set up to delimit what America publishes abroad as propaganda. Nowadays, this law effectively limits what American citizens can be told about U.S. propaganda abroad, where the U.S. government “prevents its own people from knowing what is said and done in their name.”
Crowley conceded that Smith-Mundt did not prevent Mayor Bloomberg’s speech being posted on the State Department website. This is from the State Department transcript:
MR. CROWLEY: Again, we – the Obama Administration nor the United States Government have taken a position on this project. The decision is up to the people of New York. We simply posted the mayor’s comments –
QUESTION: All right.
MR. CROWLEY: -- as being – as we do frequently, helping people understand. We certainly support what the mayor was underscoring which is the history of religious diversity and religious tolerance in his city.
QUESTION: Okay, just – let me just finish.
MR. CROWLEY: Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. All right.
QUESTION: Let me just – yeah, I got one more on Smith-Mundt. Do you want to ask about Smith-Mundt?
QUESTION: No, I want to ask about the Imam Feisal.
QUESTION: Okay so – all right, well, on Smith-Mundt, right? The reason that that was passed in the 40s was to prevent the State Department or the U.S. Government in general from spreading propaganda to citizens of the United States in the United States.
MR. CROWLEY: That’s true.
QUESTION: Does the fact that you put this on the – on a website that was basically created because of Smith-Mundt and not on the regular website imply that you think that Bloomberg’s comments were propaganda?
MR. CROWLEY: No, it is to whom we were directing those comments. We were directing them to audiences overseas and we did that on one and not the other expressly because of the obligations that we have under Smith-Mundt. And this becomes a very complicated issue, because we know that on State.gov, our State Department website that is primarily geared towards audiences here in the United States, we do have people overseas who do tap into State.gov and we have American citizens who also tap into America.gov. In fact, we are constantly trying to evaluate the relevance of Smith-Mundt given the internet age and the fact that information now cannot be really – information that’s channeled overseas can have the ability to return instantly to the United States.
QUESTION: You’re convinced that you’re okay to be talking about America.gov from this podium.
MR. CROWLEY: I, from my position, can talk about both.
The issues of exactly WHAT Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf would be preaching abroad in America’s name are, and this may be hard to believe, not available for citizens to know, at least – not from government.
Crowley confirmed that Rauf would not be raising funds while in the Middle East:
“It is something that we have talked to him about and we have informed him about our prohibition against fundraising while on a speaking tour. We do not expect him to fundraise.”
There is something very odd about this issue. Imam Rauf can travel abroad to act as an agent of the State Department to issue “propaganda” but under the Smith-Mundt Act, the State Department will not make available to American citizens what is said on their behalf. Americans are not to be told what either Rauf, or CAIR representative Dawud Walid (who has been sent to Mali on outreach work, underwritten by the State Department) says, when the same American tax-payers fund such jaunts. There is something decidedly undemocratic and unwholesome to then see a president declaring at an iftar dinner that Rauf’s “rights” are fundamentally protected by the writ of the Founding Fathers.
Politically, defending in public an imam whose speeches abroad are already a “State Department secret” verges on the Kafkaesque. Such an action could be seen as inviting conspiracy theories no less cockamamie than propagandist theories of “Islam has always been in America” that Obama has publicly embraced.
When Obama stood up in the White House State Dining Room on Friday 13th and appeared to suggest that he supported the imam’s “religious rights” he made a bad political move. When on the very next day, relocated in the Gulf, he suggested that he had not meant what people thought he meant, he appeared weak. What seemed to be a crisis of leadership or even an act of political suicide has since been overshadowed by events.
The Backlash Begins Here
Obama’s speechwriters have handed a weapon to the president’s enemies. Following a longstanding tradition when leaders’ political hubris has gone so far that they think they do not have to consider those that put them into power, the political suicide could become a political assassination.
On March 15, 44 BC, Gaius Julius Caesar found that his friends in the Roman Senate had abandoned him, and he soon lay dead on the Senate House Floor. In Obama’s current drama enter, stage left, Senator Harry Reid. Before Obama has time to cry out “Et tu, Harry?” the knife glints and the damage is done.
Harry Reid, Senate majority leader, was pinned down over the weekend by his GOP opponent in Nevada, Sharron Angle. Reid has been on shaky ground and risks losing his seat to Angle in the November midterms. Angle demanded that Reid openly state if he supported the Ground Zero Mosque or not. Reid sent out a statement through his assistant Jim Manley:
“The 1st Amendment protects freedom of religion. Sen. Reid respects that, but thinks that the mosque should be built someplace else.”
The decision by Reid to oppose the mosque’s location is not dissimilar to that of New York’s governor, David Paterson. Officially, Paterson says he supports the mosque, but has offered to help to provide a new location where it could be built, away from the site of Ground Zero.
Dave Reaboi on Big Government points out that journalist Mark Halperin, writing on Time Magazine, has issued a plea to Republicans, asking them to not attack the issue of the Ground Zero Mosque. The fact that both the president and the mayor of New York, both progressives, have themselves politicized the issue of the mosque, leaves the GOP with no option but to confront it at a political level. Not that Halperin seems to understand this. Halperin advises Republicans:
“If you go full force on the offensive, every Democratic candidate in every competitive race in the country will have three choices, none of them good, when asked about the Islamic center: side with Obama and against public opinion; oppose Obama and deal with the consequences of intraparty disunity; or refuse to take a position, waffling impotently and unattractively at a crucial time.”
Halperin admits that “Sure, Obama remains a young, inexperienced Commander in Chief with few discernible foreign policy achievements.” It is possible that great propaganda triumphs have been made in Mali and the Middle East by America’s Muslim emissaries, but under the terms of Smith-Mundt, it is unlikely that one will hear of them.
Yesterday, White House press spokesperson Bill Burton announced that Obama’s mention of the mosque was not about politics, but an issue where the president wanted “to make sure people are treated equally” and “felt it was his obligation as president to address this.”
It would be rude to suggest that Burton is lying, but maybe we can look out for him soon declaring that the moon is made of green cheese, perhaps confirmed by NASA’s Muslim outreach program……
Support for the construction of the mosque at Ground Zero has come from a most unwelcome corner: the terrorist group Hamas. It should be remembered that earlier this year, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf had refused to condemn Hamas as a terrorist organization.
On Sunday, Aaron Klein was on WABC Radio with his show “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” He had with him as a guest Mahmoud al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas who is currently a senior leader of the terrorist group in Gaza. The full interview can be heard here. At the end of the interview, Klein asked:
“What do you think about the new initiative to build a mosque near the World Trade Center in New York, which is a major point of controversy now?”
“We have to build the mosque as you are allowed to build church and the Israelis are building there their holy places – we have to build everywhere in every area we have, Muslims, we have to pray, and this is, this mosque is the only site of prayer, especially which is for the people when they are looking to be – in a group, not an individual.”
Rush Limbaugh has waded into the arena, stating on his radio show yesterday that:
“Indeed just like Hamas, Obama believes Muslims should be allowed to build a mosque at Ground Zero but that Israelis cannot be permitted to build houses on their own land. I mean, there you go -- and the rude treatment that Bibi Netanyahu got at the White House over the building of these neighborhoods. Now, Obama's since done a walk-back on that as you get closer to the election. But still it's all about sensitivity. Some people are offended of those "settlements," saying it's not good for the peace process. Well, there are a whole lot of people sensibilities offended at the idea of a mosque at Ground Zero. I have some friends who lost a son. They are beside themselves. They just... None of it makes any sense. They don't understand why we can't even rebuild the place. They don't understand why the people that did what they did are not considered our enemy.”
Separation of Mosque and State
The president, the Mayor of New York, and the State Department may invoke the vision of the Founding Fathers to declare that they are only defending freedom of religion. However, in their haste to defend the “rights” of a man who once said that America was an “accessory” to the 9/11 attacks, they have trampled on a fundamental issue brought up by the Founding Fathers.
In a letter dated January 1, 1802, Thomas Jefferson wrote of the “wall of separation between church and state.” Jefferson was echoing the words of Isaac Backus, who in 1773 had written that:
“church and state are separate, the effects are happy, and they do not at all interfere with each other: but where they have been confounded together, no tongue nor pen can fully describe the mischiefs that have ensued.”
James Madison (1751 – 1836) who was fourth president of the United States from 1809 – 17 was one of the principle architects of the constitution. He wrote in a letter of March 2, 1819 that
“The civil Government, though bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability, and performs its functions with complete success, whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people, have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the State.”
The Bill of Rights, the ten-point addition to the Constitution, borrowed elements from George Mason’s 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights, including Section 16, which would become part of the First Amendment:
“That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.”
Thomas Jefferson wrote a brief “Memoir”, in which he discussed the creation of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.
“The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason and right. It still met with opposition; but, with some mutilations in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved, that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the words 'Jesus Christ,' so that it should read, 'a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;' the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination."
By publicly making statements in favor of a particular religion, talking to Muslims in Cairo and addressing people in the White House who appear to have strong links to the Muslim Brotherhood, the president has dug himself into a pit. With the anniversary of 9/11 coming around in less than a month, he will find it hard to dig himself out. His advisers should have warned him away from appearing to show such partiality towards the construction of a mosque, at a site where Islamic fanatics had murdered almost 3,000 American citizens.
The Founding Fathers knew why they had to ensure that there was not any bias towards any one specific religion. The incident of the Ground Zero mosque is only the last of a series of naïf statements designed to appease Islamic nations, when the only people that any president should put forward, above all else, are his own citizens.
Leftists and Muslim apologists may complain that those who condemn the Ground Zero Mosque are “Islamophobes”, a vague term with no real meaning. Most people with any ounce of humanity would oppose sharia law, and would be Islamophobic. Similarly, anyone who opposes Islamic terrorism could be called Islamophobic. And people who have no strong opinions but merely feel worried about the massive encroachments of Islam into the West, could also be called “Islamophobic.”
But just as the term “racist” has been used by those who have opposed the president’s actions, the term “Islamophobe” is similarly inappropriate. A poll from Rasmussen was released yesterday. This shows that 65 percent of US voters (two thirds) are “somewhat angry” about the current policies of the federal government. Of these, 40 percent are “very angry.”
The Ground Zero Mosque is only the touchstone which has drawn in the lightning. The other aspects of the political storm have been building up for some time, and these are again concerns about policies. The administration’s apparent genuflection to Islamism and Muslim nations that have no respect for democracy has been noticed by people at home, people who feel neglected and undervalued. This is not about Islamophobia, it is about listening to the people at home. That act of listening is fundamental to good democratic government.
The progressives have tried to engineer change, to force through new jurisdictions for a government where it formerly had no place, such as compulsory healthcare insurance, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the USDOJ apparently giving a free ride to Black Panthers in the name of redressing social injustice, as well prosecuting a state for trying to use state legislation to enforce federal laws while allowing sanctuary cities to openly break the law, the rights of illegals defended by Hilda L. Solis… the social engineering goes on, and on.
The Ground Zero Mosque issue is just the latest and most blatant sign of an administration that has steamrollered over the opinions and concerns of its citizens, an administration that has offered hope of a “pathway to legality” for illegal aliens who should have no legitimate right to be in America, while legal citizens have lost jobs, businesses and homes. The Ground Zero Mosque is opposed by most Americans, and a government that does not listen is a government that will eventually forfeit its mandate to stay in office.