September 15, 2010

Another Rant on Forming a More Perfect Union

There has been a lot flying around the news on the American relationship with Islam, i.e. the mosque/cultural center near Ground Zero, and the Florida preacher threatening to burn Korans.

I believe that America must prove to the world that we are better, that we are more free, that we have totally bought into and believed in freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and freedom of our citizens.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution says: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

You can protest all you want (peaceably to assemble), but you must understand that our government allows every citizen of America to do these two things: build a mosque/cultural center (free exercise of religion) and burn the Koran (no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.) That is what makes our country great. We are not the Taliban--we will not say you cannot build a place for your religion to worship where you want. We will not say that you cannot protest as you see fit.

We must understand that these things make us great--that we allow for disagreement, but ultimately we allow for freedom. If we want to help Afghanistan, if we want to end terrorism, we must say to the Islamic community, "Come to our country! Build your mosques! Worship freely! But, you must accept that people in our country have the freedom not only to worship, but to express their views. And that is what makes us great and free."

I saw a news story on Islamic children who felt threatened and bullied at school, taunted for being Terrorists. No! This cannot be! The one intensely harmful flaw in America has always been racism, and we cannot continue to teach our children to hate--I was watching South Pacific on PBS the other night, and I sobbed my way through the song "You've Got to be Carefully Taught." We must teach how free America is, and everyone needs to remember it. Learn the Preamble to the Constitution. Learn the opening to the Declaration of Independence. Learn the Gettysburg Address. Take your kids to see South Pacific. Remember FREEDOM! and what it really means--not shutting out everyone who disagrees with you, but embracing differences and dialogue.