In Aug. 14 IssueRussell County NewsBy Kathy Foley, Columnist
My Republican friends and neighbors should be pleased that I’m devoting this column to the recognition and praise for the words of two of their own.
First, President George W. Bush—now I admit that normally I don’t have much admiration or praise for this man; however, on September 20, 2001 when he gave his speech to the Joint Session of Congress after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I thought he was inspiring and that his words were inspired. He took the lead in reminding all Americans, and the world, that we are not at war with Muslims.
“…I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It’s practiced freely by many millions of Americans and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself.
The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends. It is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them…”
On Tuesday, August 3rd, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, standing in front of the Statue of Liberty, addressed New York City after the Landmark Preservation Commission unanimously refused to grant landmark status to the building located two blocks from the World Trade Center site where a new mosque and community center are proposed. His words were inspiring and eloquent:
“…We may not always agree with every one of our neighbors. That’s life and its part of living in such a diverse and dense city. But we also recognize that part of being a New Yorker is living with your neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance. It was exactly that spirit of openness and acceptance that was attacked on 9/11.
“On that day, 3,000 people were killed because some murderous fanatics didn’t want us to enjoy the freedom to profess our own faiths, to speak our own minds, to follow our own dreams and to live our own lives.
“Of all our precious freedoms, the most important may be the freedom to worship as we wish. And it is a freedom that…was hard-won over many years…
“This morning, the City’s Landmark Preservation Commission unanimously voted not to extend landmark status to the building on Park Place where the mosque and community center are planned. The decision was based solely on the fact that there was little architectural significance to the building. But with or without landmark designation, there is nothing in the law that would prevent the owners from opening a mosque within the existing building.
The simple fact is this building is private property, and the owners have a right to use the building as a house of worship.
“The government has no right whatsoever to deny that right—and if it were tried, the courts would almost certainly strike it down as a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question—should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here.
This nation was founded on the principle that the government must never choose between religions, or favor one over another…
“Let us not forget that Muslims were among those murdered on 9/11 and that our Muslim neighbors grieved with us as New Yorkers and as Americans. We would betray our values—and play into our enemies’ hands—if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists—and we should not stand for that…
“On September 11, 2001 thousands of first responders heroically rushed to the scene and saved tens of thousands of lives. More than 400 of those first responders did not make it out alive. In rushing into those burning buildings, not one of them asked ‘What God do you pray to?’ ‘What beliefs do you hold?’
“The attack was an act of war—and our first responders defended not only our City but also our country and our Constitution. We do not honor their lives by denying the very Constitutional rights they died protecting. We honor their lives by defending those rights—and the freedoms that the terrorists attacked…
“Political controversies come and go, but our values and our traditions endure—and there is no neighborhood in this City that is off limits to God’s love and mercy…”
That is profound. That is the America I want to live in.
(For those who would like to read Mayor Bloomberg’s entire speech go to http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703545604575407673221908474.html?KEYWORDS=Bloomberg+on+Mosque+Vote )