You've heard the refrain about the Park 51 project: 'of course they have the right to build it, but they shouldn't. It'll offend the sensitivities of the majority!'
Harry Reid said it, as did Howard Dean. It seems the "respectable" way of opposing the project. It's an attempt to have one's cake and eat it too -- 'no, I'm not an Islam-bashing troglodyte, but ...'
I have no problem with ordinary people expressing that view. But coming from the mouths of public figures, it represents a truly offensive degree of moral cowardice. It's a position that rests on the letter of the law as a crutch, while defecating on the spirit of our Constitution.
The founders didn't see the freedom to speak, assemble and worship as one pleases as mere niceties -- they were core values of the American project. According to the letter of the First Amendment, there's nothing wrong with a politician bashing the Park 51 project with his or her words as long as they don't use their position to attempt to intervene. But the spirit of the law held that people should have the ability to worship when and where and with whom they want without any interference on the part of the government. According to the spirit of the First Amendment, that means being able to build a house of worship wherever one wants without being harassed or having one's patriotism questioned by petty public officials. Those core liberties are not supposed to be subject to the passions of the day, but are "inalienable."
I'd actually prefer a hard-core right-winger whose Constitution only comes with 2 Amendments -- the 2nd and the 10th. At least you know where they stand -- that theydon't hold a principled position. Mealy-mouthed pols trying to split the difference do nothing but lend credibility to their worldview.
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