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Obama Suggests Ground Zero Mosque Opponents Hate Islam

President Obama used a White House press conference today to issue his most forceful language yet in support of the Ground Zero mosque, making clear that the project should go forward and suggesting that those who oppose it do so out of animus toward Islam.

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 a site.

Obama continued to frame the issue as whether there is a “right” to build the huge mosque and Islamic center just two blocks from the World Trade Center site. But this time he indicated that opposition to the site involves hostility in general to the concept of freedom of religion and to Islam specifically.

We are not at war against Islam. We’re 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.

While there is a certain amount of anti-Islam feeling going on here, mainstream opponents of the site merely feel there is an association with Islam, the religion invoked by the hijackers, that makes the mosque’s presence inappropriate and brings forward unwanted associations for those affected by the tragedy. No one would build a German cultural center next to Auschwitz, and it doesn’t mean they don’t like Germans or that they think we are still at war against Germany.

The president’s thoughtless comments today are an unfortunate attack on good people who are not blaming all of Islam, as he indicated, for the attack. Once again, a man who pledged to be a uniter has stirred further division.

Obama’s Empty Gesture on the Ground Zero Mosque

The reaction of President Obama and his aides to his own speech on the Ground Zero mosque has been, and continues to be today, a disgrace and an outrage.

Bill Clinton has been spending lots of time dealing with Obama lately, and it shows. Obama is getting himself squarely on both sides of the issue while shirking his responsibility to directly address it.

It’s excusable if you believe that Obama was for the Ground Zero mosque before he was against it.

Speaking to Muslims leaders attending the White House Iftar Dinner Friday night, the president patted himself on the back for supporting freedom of religion and said Muslims have the “right” to build a mosque at Ground Zero. The remarks were widely interpreted as supportive of the project.

But wait a second, the next day Obama proclaimed that he wasn’t commenting on whether the mosque was a good idea, only that there exists a “right” to build it.

Obama addresses the Iftar Dinner

Well what a revelation. If it’s legal, there’s a right to do it. Nobody really contests that. Obama ascended a grand White House stage and with high theatrics said essentially nothing. And then he clarified the next day that he was saying nothing.

And then he said he would continue to say nothing – that is, not take a stance on the correctness of building the mosque. Because it’s his job to defend Constitutional principles from troglodytes who would trample them, his aides exclaim.

“The president thinks it’s his obligation to speak out when issues of the Constitution arise,” said White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton aboard Air Force One today. Saturday, as the uproar rippled outward over Obama’s amendment to his original remarks, Burton said, “It is not his role as President to pass judgment on every local project. But it is his responsibility to stand up for the Constitutional principle of religious freedom and equal treatment for all Americans.”

This is about as fatuous as it gets from presidents and their spinmeisters. In fact, it is an outrage.

Another local project

This is NOT JUST SOME LOCAL PROJECT. It something that thousands of Americans directly affected by the 9/11 attacks and millions of the rest of us view with sincere emotion and deep gravity.

This is not the Chicago School of Law, or the Chicago School of Politics. This is the presidency, and it is Obama’s job to lead the country. And that includes commenting and offering guidance on difficult issues.

When Obama called the Arizona immigration law “misguided” and said it showed “irresponsibility,”  was he delivering a lecture on the Constitution, or was he weighing in to an emotional and contentious debate?

And why did he say anything at all if IT IS NOT HIS ROLE AS PRESIDENT TO PASS JUDGMENT ON EVERY LOCAL PROJECT.

Because, he decided it was important enough to him. And in the case of those aggrieved by the sight of a mosque towering over the place where three thousand Americans were killed by terrorists proclaiming their allegiance – however warped – to Islam, it is not important enough. Or it could offend someone on Martha’s Vineyard, where he will begin vacationing Thursday.

Presidents are both the Constitutional and moral leaders of the nation. Obama knows it. Where are the notions of “hope” and “change” in the Constitution? He and his aides need to stop dressing up a craven failure to lead as high Constitutional principle.

Obama Amends His Ground Zero Mosque Comments

Speaking to the pool reporters in Panama City, Fla., President Obama hinted that he might, just might, not think building a mosque near the World Trade Center site is a good idea.

But after showing a little leg, he covered it back up. From today’s pool report:

“In this country we treat everybody equally and in accordance with the law, regardless of race, regardless of religion. I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That’s what our country is about.

“And I think it’s very important as difficult as some of these issues are that we stay focused on who we are as a people and what our values are all about.”

Why not comment on whether this is a good idea? I think most people would agree the creators of the Islamic center have a “right” to build it.

The question is, should they do it?You have a “right” to go trick or treating as Goebbels, but it’s not a good idea. Opponents of the mosque want its backers to use their common sense, not be handcuffed to their beds so they can’t leave the house to go build the thing.

Obama indeed said last night, that they have a “right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”

But today Obama clarifies that he wasn’t implying it was a good idea. So what has Obama contributed to the debate if, in Clintonian fashion, he offers a grandiloquent affirmation of religious freedom one day but then the next makes sure he’s not perceived as being on the opposite end of the issue as most Americans?

Obama’s “clarification” forced Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton this afternoon to do a “clarification” of the “clarification.”

Just to be clear, the President is not backing off in any way from the comments he made last night. It is not his role as President to pass judgment on every local project.

But it is his responsibility to stand up for the Constitutional principle of religious freedom and equal treatment for all Americans. What he said last night, and reaffirmed today, is that If a church, a synagogue or a Hindu temple can be built on a site, you simply cannot deny that right to those who want to build a Mosque.

The World Trade Center site is hallowed ground, where 3000 Americans-Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims were the victims of a cold-blooded massacre. We are still at war with the small band of terrorists who planned and executed that attack. But that does not give government the right to deny law-abiding Americans of one faith the same rights you would accord anyone else.

Obama has weighed in without really weighing in. He should have stayed silent on the matter instead of implying that people want to violate the law.

Obama Backs Ground Zero Mosque

President Obama came down squarely tonight on the side of those who want to build an Islamic center near the World Trade Center site, saying that “our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.” Obama said this includes the right to build religious centers anywhere, as long as it is done in accord with local ordinances.

The White House had just days ago described the issue as a local matter for New Yorkers, suggesting it would stay out of it.

Below are the relevant paragraphs from Obama’s remarks at this evening’s annual White House Iftar dinner in the State Dining Room. The full text is here

Now, that’s not to say that religion is without controversy. Recently, attention has been focused on the construction of mosques in certain communities -– particularly New York.  Now, we must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of Lower Manhattan.  The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country.  And the pain and the experience of suffering by those who lost loved ones is just unimaginable.  So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders.  And Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.

But let me be clear.  As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country.  (Applause.)  And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.  This is America.  And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable.  The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are.  The writ of the Founders must endure.

We must never forget those who we lost so tragically on 9/11, and we must always honor those who led the response to that attack -– from the firefighters who charged up smoke-filled staircases, to our troops who are serving in Afghanistan today. And let us also remember who we’re fighting against, and what we’re fighting for.  Our enemies respect no religious freedom.  Al Qaeda’s cause is not Islam -– it’s a gross distortion of Islam.  These are not religious leaders -– they’re terrorists who murder innocent men and women and children.  In fact, al Qaeda has killed more Muslims than people of any other religion -– and that list of victims includes innocent Muslims who were killed on 9/11.

So that’s who we’re fighting against.  And the reason that we will win this fight is not simply the strength of our arms -– it is the strength of our values.  The democracy that we uphold. The freedoms that we cherish.  The laws that we apply without regard to race, or religion, or wealth, or status.  Our capacity to show not merely tolerance, but respect towards those who are different from us –- and that way of life, that quintessentially American creed, stands in stark contrast to the nihilism of those who attacked us on that September morning, and who continue to plot against us today.

In my inaugural address I said that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.  We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus —- and non-believers.  We are shaped by every language and every culture, drawn from every end of this Earth.  And that diversity can bring difficult debates.  This is not unique to our time.  Past eras have seen controversies about the construction of synagogues or Catholic churches.  But time and again, the American people have demonstrated that we can work through these issues, and stay true to our core values, and emerge stronger for it.  So it must be -– and will be -– today.

And here’s a little color from the pool report by the Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan Weisman.

The speech, read from paper, not a teleprompter, hewed closely to the text with one flourish. He spoke of an American “way of life” from the text, then added, “that quintessential American creed,” picking up “…that stands in stark contrast to the nihilism…”

The crowd was attentive and respectful. Only twice did they interrupt with applause, after he declared “Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country” and after his story of Jefferson hosting the first Iftar for the ambassador from Tunisia.

When he finished, several guests surged forward to shake his hand while your pool was hastily ushered to the door.

White House Seems to Condone Ground Zero Mosque

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs came as close he ever has today to saying the White House approves of the mosque being built just by the World Trade Center site.

Gibbs suggested that President Obama will make the position official when he speaks at the annual White House Iftar dinner tonight, which marks the start of Ramadan.

QUESTION: At the dinner tonight, do you anticipate that the president will address the issue of the mosque in New York?

GIBBS: I’ve not seen the president’s final remarks. I will say this. I think the president strongly believes that our country was founded on first and foremost, a tenet of religious freedom.

You know, we have events throughout the year — Christmas, Hanukkah, tonight’s event, Iftar- to celebrate the rich diversity of religious freedom in this country that goes back, as I said, to its founding.

I anticipate he’ll talk about that.

QUESTION: Robert, how does that square, though, with the earlier comments on this from the White House, that this is a local matter?

GIBBS: Religious freedom is something that the president believes in, and I think you’ll hear him talk about it tonight.

So, it’s not longer a local issue, as Gibbs has said in the past. It’s a national issue because religious principles are universal.

Wrong. It’s a national issue because the people murdered at Ground Zero were from all over the country, because it was an attack on the whole country, and because the people fighting in the wars it prompted are from all over the United States.

Charles Krauthammer has an excellent piece today on why the mosque should not be built on hallowed ground. I believe the funding for the mosque and the ties of those who are behind it needs to be investigated. There is evidence, as the National Review points out, they are not quite as moderate as they present themselves to be.

The controversy that has ensued and the planners continued insistence on putting the mosque on the site belies the stated objective of fostering unity, understanding, and blah blah blah.

My suspicion, not proven, is that the money for the mosque is coming from people who despise what we stand for, and that the project is a plan to plant the flag of victory on defeated enemy ground.

Whether it is or not, that’s how it will be seen throughout the Muslim world among the many there who do hate us.