Today news stations across the country seemed to be debating the appropriateness of President Obama's comments last week regarding the plans to build a mosque near ground zero. It's been a topic of debate for a few weeks now. While some members of the left have shown support for the plans arguing that any attempt to halt or publicly challenge the project would provide further fuel for Islamic radicals who are fervently searching for signs of American sponsored Islamic oppression, conservatives have been quite vocal in condemning the building of a symbol of the very religion that has been tethered to the violent acts committed on 9/11. What Obama stated last week at the White House, not verbatim here, is that those who are in support of building the mosque on the private property obtained, are perfectly within their legal and constitutional rights to do so. These individuals are acting on the very principles on which this country was founded and have violated no laws whatsoever. The president's comments drew swift attention and condemnation from the right and understandably so. I mean after all, their views clearly oppose his, which brings into question the concern of rational versus emotional thought which is something that President Obama's more recent comments demonstrate. When asked about his views a day after his initial comments last Friday, President Obama again reiterated that those who are behind the aforementioned controversial project are well within their rights, however in his second statement he added that he would not comment on the "wisdom" of the decision.
What is it that President Obama was saying? Well if any logical person listens to both statements and understands the rational versus emotional responses to political controversies, then the message for you will not be lost in translation as it seems to have been in some press coverage throughout the day. To make it as plain and simple as possible: our President agrees with and stands by the fact that building a mosque near ground zero is perfectly legal and those who are interested in or a part of this project are well within their rights proceed, and (although this next part is an inference given the premise) the rights of these individuals to proceed with this project should not be violated. This is completely different from any argument concerning whether or not the decision to build the mosque is a wise one and this is precisely what the president was speaking to when he said he would not comment on the "wisdom" of the decision.
The argument coming from the far right is completely contrary to what the president has said and what others have stated in regards to the legality of the decision because the issue is being viewed from two different perspectives: one being legal and the other emotional. Though there is some intersection between these two perspectives there is a preponderance between the two on both sides of the debate that enables two contrary positions to be taken.
In regards to the intersection that is at play here for those who are in support of the decision, there is support because of where the issue stands within the realm of the law and perhaps supporters want to appeal to those who would certainly underscore the hypocrisy produced between the betrayal of the very foundational principles on which this country was found that we seek to protect and the same rights we would be violating if we stopped the mosque from being built. In addition there is perhaps an intersection between the legal (rational) and emotional for conservatives who recognize the rights of Muslims to build the mosque but also see a rational basis (meaning commonsensical, not to be confused with any test a law must pass in the analysis of the supreme court) for challenging the project on the grounds that it is not wise given the tragic events that took place on September 11. As one political pundit put it today, on CNN’s Rick’s List, this would be akin to the KKK building a center across from the hotel where Dr. King was assassinated... perfectly legal, but not prudent, kind, considerate etc.
Although, and I was certainly disappointed that Rick Sanchez didn't raise this point on his show, there is a tremendous inherent difference in an organization such as the KKK that is blatantly racist, xenophobic and has historically endorsed violence against Blacks, building a center across from the place where one of the greatest Black civil rights leaders was assassinated, and the building of a center for a religion that has been associated with a small sect of violent radicals who worship the same god. If we are to follow the reasoning proposed by those who are throwing around the KKK analogy, perhaps we should get rid of any churches near land where the blood of slaves was spilled since many people justified slavery according to the Christian text.
In any case, for those non-critical thinkers who are more eager to criticize politicians, or any public figure for that matter than they are eager to understand what people mean, President Obama was not being "wishy washy" he simply addressed two different perspectives on the “mosque controversy” at two different times. Needless to say what is legal may not be wise, but then again Obama isn't commenting on the wisdom, although we can all guess what he's thinking.