Friday, August 27, 2010
What Happened to Patriotism?
I was going to write about marriage, and the fact that it is somehow possible to feel completely and happily hinged to another person even though the two of you often communicate as well as schizophrenic earthworms.
Considering how many painful misunderstandings happen between people who love each other, it’s amazing complete strangers on the street can coexist at all.
To illustrate this point, I’ll save my marital insights for another time so I can clarify something I wrote a couple of weeks ago.
I argued that building an Islamist Center two blocks from Ground Zero was neither a “poke in the eye,” nor a “slap in the face,” nor any other Three-Stooges-style assault described by right-wing pundits.
Essentially, I said it was not Islam that attacked America on Sept. 11, 2001, but a group of extremist terrorists who happened to be Muslim. So it makes a lot of sense to ban terrorists from Lower Manhattan, but banning an entire religion seems a little reactionary.
We should take pride in our freedoms, not shirk away from them or resent them because we’re in too much pain to correctly identify our enemies.
When I made this argument, I took for granted that everyone has a basic understanding of what those freedoms are. How silly of me!
Instead, many conservatives, ironically some of the most patriotic, flag-waving people you’ll ever meet, seem to possess only a vague awareness of the Bill of Rights.
(Well, maybe that’s not fair. They have Amendment Number Two down pretty well. But the rest, they’re pretty fuzzy on.)
One reader emailed me to say that we can let a mosque appear at Ground Zero as soon as Muslims let people build churches and synagogues at the Mecca.
What are we, in the fifth grade? “I’m only going to do the right thing if the other guy does it first.”
Or: “Aww, mom! Why do I have to honor other people’s freedoms? Johnny’s mother doesn’t make him honor people’s freedoms.”
Please pay attention to this brief civics lesson: The First Amendment does not apply only to religions you like or people you agree with. We’re stuck with it, regardless of what happens in Saudi Arabia, so you might as well get used to it, young man.
It reminds me of when Dr. Laura Schlessinger went on Larry King to complain that her right to free speech had been violated because so many people voiced anger over her use of a racial slur during her radio broadcast.
Uhm, excuse me, “Dr.” Laura, but the First Amendment does not protect you from being criticized for what you say. Please stop influencing many thousands of Americans who unwittingly seek your advice even though you have the brain of a pygmy marmoset.
Mangling the constitution this way is not just ignorant, it’s dangerous. So you say two blocks from Ground Zero is “too close” for a mosque. What about four blocks? Or a mile? Who’s to say if anywhere in New York City is “too close?” Who gets to decide where we draw the line?
“I think they should build it in the Middle East,” said one Ground Zero protester, quoted by the Associated Press.
Exactly. If we can ban Islam in Manhattan, why can’t we ban it nationwide?
Somewhere in hell’s sewage treatment facility, Adolf Hitler is giggling.