Sunday, September 12, 2010

Testing the Strength of our Freedom

This past Friday there was a huge amount of coverage allotted to the pastor in Florida who was planning to burn a Quran to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. On one morning show (Morning Joe?), I heard comments by Pat Buchanan suggesting that the President use his executive power to block this pastor from executing his plan. Further, Mr. Buchanan stated that the president would be derelict in his duty to protect American soldiers if he did not prevent this burning as it has been expressed by more than one military leader that this horrific act might inspire terrorists to kill American soldiers. In other words, he was suggesting that the President suspend the First Amendment to justify government intervention to block the pastor's actions.

Let me make this clear. This pastor's planned act is reprehensible. It continually amazes me how God is used to justify the worst things imaginable. But should we deny him his right to express his opinion? Do you not think that somewhere in the United States, a Quran was burned yesterday anyway?

When asked how the Quran burning was any different than the controversy over the Mosque, how each could be used by terrorists to foment hatred for America and lead to the death of American soldiers, the advocates of preventing the Quran burning did not have a compelling answer. Both situations are being used to justify attacking Americans. Further, one might even say that the continued questioning of President Obama's religion (is he a Muslim or not?) could also be used as motivation to harm Americans. And clearly, the many articles written by columnists such as Charles Krauthammer who repeatedly claim that we are at war with Islamic extremists, could easily be interpreted by those very extremists that their belief that we hate Islam validates their killing of American soldiers. So, should the government act to silence all those voices, all those opinions that could be used to inspire acts by our enemies?

How many rights do we sacrifice in the name of protecting our freedom?

Is it our goal to repress any act which will inspire our enemies to violence? Perhaps we should stop killing innocent civilians in faraway countries. Don't you think that the simple fact that we have killed upwards of 75,000 civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan might be causing some of the hatred towards America? I think that the fact that we have people in this country who are looking askance at Muslims because of 9/11 might give you some idea of how the people in those countries might feel about us.

Is it our goal to prevent Americans from dying in Afghanistan? Perhaps we should bring them home! I can't imagine a more direct way to prevent their death.

Our core beliefs are being tested. Do we only grant the important freedoms embedded in the constitution to those that agree with us, or to all people? Do we prove the worth of our form of government, one based on principles and laws by upholding those principles even when they are used to express opinions that are repugnant to us?

The ironic thing is that many of the countries with which we disagree, have governments that are religion based. We are appalled at the expression of those religions that treat woman as second class citizens and outlaw ideas that are not derived from their respective holy books. Yet at the same time, we have a movement in this country to define marriage so as to prevent a certain population from enjoying its benefits because of an interpretation of our holy book, the bible.

Lead by example. Isn't that what we strive for as parents? Perhaps we should evaluate our own actions as a country through this same prism.

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