Monday, August 23, 2010

More on Muslim Cultural Center near Ground Zero

Michael Kinsley has a very nice response to Charles Krauthammer on Krauthammer's opposition the Muslim cultural center near Ground Zero.  I thought Kinsley's analogy to blacks and Jews being asked not to move into a neighborhood because their presence might cause anger among the neighbors is pretty apt.  Another example might be nine black students who enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957 following the Supreme Court's desegregation decision in Brown v. Board.  Should they have encouraged to attend an all-black school because integration was upsetting to the white folks in Arkansas?

This is why I think President Obama was right and courageous to speak out on this issue.  The principle at stake is basic and central to our democracy: heckler's do not have a right to veto the exercise of a person's constitutional right in the public square.  We are not a society where we allow the mob to determine whether individuals' can exercise their constitutional rights in the public square.  That was the issue at stake in the Little Rock Nine case and it is the issue at stake here.  If the President of the United States is unable to stand-up for that principle because he is afraid of the political repercussions, then he is not a person of courage.  But this President demonstrated courage in this case and I applaud him.

1 comment:

  1. Huh, I'm very late in commenting, but I'll give it a shot anyway. Do you really think President Obama was courageous to say merely that the Cordoba Initiative backers have a constitutional right to proceed? It seems to me that this is an essentially uncontroverted statement and little more than a platitude restating black letter law.

    I think real courage would be to articulate *why* he thought -- if he did at all -- that it would be *desirable* to have the Cordoba Initiative proceed to completion.

    Put another way, it does not take courage to saw that the fringe church in Florida has the right to burn copies of the Quran on Sept. 11 (though I note that President Obama hasn't said anything as of yet). It takes courage to say, as General Petreaus did, that this is a bad idea and that it will harm our troops in the field.