Thursday, August 05, 2010

A Battle For The Heart & Soul Of America

As Uncle Leo, that crazy woman in England who sees UFOs through the window when sitting in her loo and my half dozen other readers know, I am heartsick by the furor over the so-called Ground Zero Mosque.

This is because the furor is not just another screaming match in an era in which they erupt with numbing regularity. It is a battle for the heart and soul of America at a time when the race and culture wars have flared anew, and because many of the opponents of the mosque are conservatives at a time when conservatism is being ripped asunder by neo-fascist ideologues.

Alan Jacobs at The American Scene captures my thinking much better than I could express it:

"[T]he really sad thing is that people who call themselves conservatives -- Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin -- should be crying out for apparatuses of the state to limit and police voluntary religious association. This is a profoundly anti-conservative view in two ways. First, it is historically myopic, as Mayor Bloomberg's brief history of controversies about religious freedom in New York City demonstrates. It's remarkable that people who invoke the Founders so regularly and in such tones of devotion could be utterly deaf to the Founders' concern to ensure freedom for mistrusted minority religions."

My paternal grandfather, who was a nonpracticing Jew, and my agnostic parents were civil rights activists. That they did not live to see the first African-American president is sad. That they might have lived to experience this furor after all of their own sacrifices on behalf of others who felt the string of discrimination would have been tragic.

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