“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility…promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty.”
This is the America that the Constitution talks about. This is the America where everyone is free to worship what they want, when they want, and how they want. This is the America that promotes freedom of language, freedom of thought, and yes, freedom of religion. This is the America I live in. Recently, however, this America has been called into question.
There has been an increasing debate as to whether or not there should an Islamic mosque built near Ground Zero in New York. Many on both sides of the political aisle have issued concerns, yet some have seemed to forgotten the true meaning of what it is to be an American.
Some have argued that the building of a mosque would be insensitive to those who lost loved ones in the September 11 attacks. But as President Obama mentioned, “it is only insensitive if you regard Islam as the culprit as opposed to al Qaeda as the culprit. We were not attacked by all Muslims…There were Muslims killed there [Ground Zero]. There were Muslims who ran in as first responders to help.” We must never forget this.
For those that have criticized Obama for meddling in such an issue, let me remind you that the president, regardless of his party affiliation or political views, has a duty to protect the citizens he serves and defend the Constitution. The First Amendment guarantees the freedom of religion for everyone, including millions of American-Muslims. By preventing the construction of the mosque, we would not only be violating the Constitution, but would be equating the entire religion of Islam with violence and terrorism. This would make our nation more prone to violence and hatred at the home-front and abroad.
But would we be having this same conversation if a church or a synagogue were to be built? If the answer is no, then how can we progress as a society? How can we stand up for what we believe in and prove to the world that Americans are not prone to the same injustices we have fought against?
There is no better place for healing, reconciliation and understanding than Ground Zero. There is no better place to understand the basic principle of being an American:
United we stand, and divided we fall.