If you pay close attention to the current political, economic, and social metamorphosis that is well underway in our country, you must feel confused or disoriented, at times. Our surroundings are seemingly changing instantaneously, as if by time-lapse photography. The sights and sounds of our democratic union, emanating from the “mainstream” media, resemble more of a disconnected chain of incoherent and illogical thoughts and ideas. It’s as if we are dreaming at times, and our brain is merely separating the ridiculous from the reasonable, just before we wake up to the relief of knowing we were only dreaming.
But we are not dreaming. There’s record unemployment, a failing economy, mounting federal debt, rising taxes, terrorism, nationalized healthcare, nuclear proliferation, illegal immigration, and a federal government more concerned with apologizing for America, instead of champion our exceptional accomplishments.
As if that wasn’t enough to consider, now there is this New York City mosque matter. The proposed 13-story building would house a bookstore, auditorium, basketball court, and mosque. The source of contention for opponents is that this proposed mosque is only two blocks from the site of the worst attack on U.S. soil since the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
According to the imam organizing the $100 million development, the project seeks to develop “an Islamic approach that allows for harmony and understanding among all religions and other ideas.” Opponents explain that the project will extol the glories of Islam, while overlooking the site where 3,000 people were killed by radical Islamists, in a horrific act of hatred.
Of course, not all Muslims are terrorists and Islam should not be condemned. Our country reveres its protection of religious liberty. But this is not an issue of religious tolerance. New York City has more than 100 mosques.
It’s a matter of respect, or mere common courtesy, in that just because you have the right to do it, doesn’t mean you should it. And 71% of New York state voters believe likewise. Because of the opposition of Ground Zero relatives, these voters feel that “the Muslim group should voluntarily build the mosque somewhere else.”
Sure, as Americans, we can all make the “it’s-a-free-country-and-I-can-do-what-I-want” speech. But while we have such unalienable rights, we likewise must demonstrate great responsibility (and sometimes restraint) in the exercise of those rights.
For example, you have the liberty to exercise your freedom of expression, however, you do not have the liberty to falsely shout “fire” in a crowded theater and cause a panic. You have the liberty to practice your religion, but not the liberty to perform human sacrifice in the exercise of that religion. In other words, your liberty ends where mine begins. It is virtue, however, that ensures that the boundary between us is respected.
And what is virtue? “The quality of doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong.”
What if Japenese-Americans wanted to build a memorial at Pearl Harbor, honoring the Kamikaze pilots who led the attack on Pearl Harbor, resulting in the deaths of 2,402 military personnel? While they may have the liberty to do so, the virtuousness of such an endeavor would seem quite hollow.
Most of us get this, though. Obviously, not everyone. They have the liberty part down pat, just not the responsibility part. And despite the objections of the families of the 9/11 victims, the imam leading the “Ground Zero” mosque has even blamed the U.S. for 9/11 by saying, “I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.”
And if this wasn’t enough to wake you up, now we have news that our own State Department paid $16,000 to this same imam to travel to the Qater, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates last month. Why? According to the State Department, his visit is part of a program where “we send people from Muslim communities here in this country around the world to help people overseas to understand our society and the role of religion within our society.”
Let me get this straight, we can’t have prayer in schools, or before high school football games, all while we are frantically scrubbing spirituality from every city hall, courthouse, outhouse, and henhouse here at home, and our President ignores his own country’s National Day of Prayer, but our State Department is sponsoring Middle East tours to explain the role of religion in our society?
This proposed mosque at Ground Zero isn’t about religious liberty. Nor about Constitutional rights. It has nothing to do with statutes, zoning regulations, or prejudice. This is about virtue. Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should do it. Just because you can build a mosque at Ground Zero doesn’t mean your liberty to do so is exercised in a vacuum. And if most Americans don’t see the virtue in that, then we may have much more serious challenges ahead for our country. In the words of John Adams, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Louis R. Avallone is a Louisiana contractor and attorney and editor of The Caddo Republican. Follow Louis on Facebook, on Twitter @ louisravallone, or by e-mail at email@example.com.