Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Friday, September 10, 2010

A simple reminder

At today's press conference, President Obama was asked about the planned Koran burning in Florida and the controversial Cordoba House project in Manhattan:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, on the second -- on your second question, there's no doubt that when someone goes out of their way to be provocative in ways that we know can inflame the passions of over a billion Muslims around the world, at a time when we've got our troops in a lot of Muslim countries, that's a problem. And it has made life a lot more difficult for our men and women in uniform, who already have a very difficult job.

With respect to the mosque in New York, you know, I think I've been pretty clear on my position here. And that is, is that this country stands for the proposition that all men and women are created equal, that they have certain inalienable rights; one of those inalienable rights is to practice their religion freely. And what that means is that if you could build a church on a site, you could build a synagogue on a site, if you could build a Hindu temple on a site, then you should be able to build a mosque on the site.

Now, I recognize the extraordinary sensitivities around 9/11. You know, I -- I've met with families of 9/11 victims in the past. You know, I can only imagine the -- the continuing pain and anguish and sense of loss that they may go through. And tomorrow, we as Americans are going to be joining them in prayer and remembrance.

But I go back to what I said earlier: We are not at war against Islam. We are at war against terrorist organizations that have distorted Islam or falsely used the banner of Islam to engage in their destructive acts. And we've got to be clear about that. We've got to be clear about that because, if we're going to deal with the problems that Ed Henry was talking about, if we're going to successfully reduce the terror threat, then we need all the allies we can get. The -- the -- the -- the folks who are most interested in a war between the United States or the West and Islam are al Qaeda. That's what they've been banking on.

And fortunately, the overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world are peace-loving, are interested in the same things that you and I are interested in: how do I make sure I can get a good job, how can I make sure that my kids get a decent education, how can I make sure I'm safe, how can I improve my lot in life. And so they have rejected this violent ideology for the most part, overwhelmingly.

And so from a national security interest, we want to be clear about who the enemy is here. It's a handful, a tiny minority of people who are engaging in horrific acts -- and have killed Muslims more than anybody else.

The other reason it's important for us to remember that is because we've got millions of Muslim-Americans, our fellow citizens, in this country. They're going to school with our kids. They're our neighbors. They're our friends. They're our coworkers. And, you know, when we start acting as if their religion is somehow offensive, what are we saying to them?

I've got Muslims who are fighting in Afghanistan, in the uniform of the United States armed services. They're out there putting their lives on the line for us. And we've got to make sure that we are crystal clear for our sakes and their sakes: They are Americans. And we honor their service. And part of honoring their service is making sure that they understand that we don't differentiate between "them" and "us." It's just "us." And -- and -- and that is -- is a principle that I think is -- is -- is going to be very important for us to -- to sustain. And I think tomorrow is an excellent time for us to -- to reflect on that.

It really all boils down to three of President Obama's words: "It's just us." The U.S. has managed to be more welcoming than many other nations. Yet we must constantly struggle against those who would define others as not "true" Americans. All law-abiding citizens are true Americans who deserve the rights granted to them. In the course of disagreement people will naturally say mean and nasty things. This is to be expected in any open society. However, when a whole group of Americans are told they should not feel free to exercise their rights, then the ideals on which our open society is based are compromised.

1 comment:

salty21 said...

Thanks for the post Ulysses. I personally thought this answer was the best of the whole press conference. President Obama is far from perfect, but he's trying hard to lead us to a better future.