Two Dumbs Don’t Make a Smart
Just because you can open your mouth doesn’t mean you should. Often, that's not smart. Just because you can erect a building where a whole lot of people don’t want it doesn’t mean you should. Usually, that's not smart.
Our President is an excellent speaker, but once in a while it appears his mouth starts working before the idea is fully developed. Such was the case that added fuel to The Great Mosque Controversy.
Barack Obama could have stayed out of the whole matter, which would have been smart. Instead, he uttered a basic truth one day—that we have religious freedom in the United States and we should defend it—and qualified the statement the next day—he was not going to make a value judgment about whether or not religious freedom should be exercised by building a mosque in downtown New York City near the 9/11 attack site.
Taken out of context as I’ve just done, the two statements seem harmless. But the context is that a significant number (20 percent or so) of Americans believe two falsehoods about Obama. They think he was not born in the U.S. (he was born in the State of Hawaii) and that he is a Muslim (he was baptized by a United Church of Christ minister more than 20 years ago, and regularly reads the Bible). Despite the truth of the matters, anything Obama says or does to reinforce either of those unfounded beliefs damages him and his political associates.
The rest of the context is that a very large number of Americans are suspicious about Muslim beliefs and intentions. After all, that was not a group of Seventh Day Adventists who launched attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Those are not roving bands of Baptists killing our young men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.
American Muslims could best counteract the distrust by assuming activist roles in the fight against terrorists and speaking out against them at every opportunity. That would demonstrate their good intentions to their fellow Americans. Building a mosque near the 9/11 site would have the opposite effect. The intent certainly is not to exacerbate Judeo-Christian ill will. The reality is it would do just that, and the mere idea already has done so.
It seems fair to say American Muslims can expect more sympathy and tolerance from a government controlled by Democrats than one dominated by Republicans. The New York Muslim group shot themselves in the foot with the mosque proposal. They handed the right wingers in the GOP in issue they will use to their advantage in November election campaigns. The mosque issue will help energize GOP activists, and give party candidates some votes from independents they might otherwise not have received.
Although he was morally and ethically correct with his first statement and sensible with the second, Obama hurt his party’s chances in the Congressional elections by elevating the discussion to center stage when he chose to make presidential comments about the issue in the manner he did.
Dumb and dumb.