Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Another portrait in cowardice

Howard Dean has joined Harry Reid, Newt Gingrich, the hounds of the racist right, and a handful of timid New York Democrats in saying the Cordoba House community center--the Ground Zero mosque--should be moved away from the World Trade Center. In a way, his announcement is even more disgusting that the other cowardly Democrats. They at least have the excuse of trying to deprive their opponents of a wedge issue during a difficult election season (though doing so makes them just as bad as any race-baiting tea partier). Dean isn't facing reelection to anything. He could have stood up for the First Amendment without any consequences.

His disappointing comments came when he appeared on radio network WABC-77 and fielded questions from the host.
HOST: Governor, what is your position on the controversy surrounding the mosque at Ground Zero?

DEAN: I gotta believe there has to be a compromise here. This isn’t about the right for Muslims to have a worship center, or Jews or Christians or anybody else to have a place to worship, any place at Ground Zero.

Dean has to know that the Cordoba House is not "at Ground Zero"; it's two blocks away. He's buying into the framing established by Pam Gellar and pushed by the right. If it's not about the right of Muslims to have a house of worship "at" Ground Zero" then why is he saying they shouldn't have a house of worship at Ground Zero?
This is something we ought to be able to work out with people of good faith. And we have to understand that it is a real affront to people who lost their lives, including Muslims.

What is he talking about? In what way is it an affront to the Muslims who lost their lives to have Muslims peacefully worshiping near the place where they lost their lives? Why is an affront to any American for peaceful Americans to practice their religion on a piece of private property, wherever that piece of property might be? As best I can tell, there are three Christian churches in the neighborhood that are closer to the WTC. Why is it an affront for peaceful American Muslims to practice their faith near the WTC but not for Christians to? We know the answer. It's because the people who destroyed the WTC were violent, fundamentalist Muslims. Dean is joining the most hateful parts of the American political scene in slandering a whole religious group.
That site doesn’t belong to any particular religion, it belongs to all people of all faiths.

...except Muslims...
So I think a good reasonable compromise could be worked out without violating the principle people ought to be able to worship as they see fit.

HOST: You’re calling for a compromise, are you calling for the mosque to be moved?

DEAN: Well I think another site would be a better idea. Again, I would look to do that in collaboration with the people trying to build the mosque. I think the people who are trying to build the mosque are trying to do something good. But there’s no point in trying to do something good if it’s met with enormous resistance from a lot of folks.

Again, this makes no sense at all. He is saying that there is no point in doing the right thing if it's unpopular or difficult. Would he have said that about ending slavery? Women's sufferage? Ending segregation? Minority rights are not subject to a popular vote and the dialog about rights should not be driven by bigots and amoral opportunists. Dean is advicating the total capitulation of all minorities to the will of the majority, however wrong that majority might be.

Dean is giving his support to the idea that all members of a group should be held responsible for the actions of the very worst members of that group. This is the doctrine of collective guilt and collective punishment. It is a violation of international law, banned by treaties that the Us has signed, against US law, and an insult to the spirit of the Bill of Rights. Yet, Dean, cowardly Democrats, and demogogic conservaties would have us pitch our values and laws under the bus in order to pander to the most scared and easily stampeded among us. A small group of hate mongers hope to gain a few points by turning Americans against other Americans and our supposedly grown-up leaders engage in a race to the bottom to exploit that hate.

Dean and the others owe all Americans an apology.

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