It's not pick-and-choose
August 18, 2010 | There's a lot of loose talk about the Constitution these days. The "take our country back" crowd — the Tea Party folks, for example — is fond of playing dress-up and professing their love of the Constitution.
A person could applaud this resurgence of interest in our Founding Document, if only these folks had ever read the Constitution. It's clear from the things they say that they have no idea of what the Constitution really says and what it means.
Sarah Palin, on Fox "News," claimed that we should "Go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant - they're quite clear - that we would create law based on the God of the bible and the ten commandments." Yes, Sarah, our documents are quite clear: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" (Amendment I, emphasis added).
Yet, Palin has been adamant in her opposition to a cultural center containing a mosque a few blocks from the site of the World Trade Towers: She tweets relentlessly: "Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real." (Personally I think that a person who uses Twitter is a twit. Sarah Palin, QED.)
Incidentally, Maureen Dowd asks in today's New York Times, How close is too close?
Have any of the screaming critics noticed that there already are two mosques in the same neighborhood — one four blocks away and one 12 blocks away. Should they be dismantled? And what about the louche liquor stores and strip clubs in the periphery of the sacred ground?
Obama had it right when he said:
Muslims have the right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan.
Unfortunately, the next morning he lost courage and "walked it back," as they say, when he tried to "clarify" that he was only talking about the right to obtain a building permit, not "the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there." Argh! With a few brief words, Obama managed to attract criticism for taking an unpopular stand without getting any credit for political courage.
Sharron Angle, that Tea Party candidate challenging Harry Reid for Senate in Nevada, told an incredulous Fox reporter (Fox, mind you!) that the media should "ask the questions we want to answer, so that they report the news the way we want it reported," that same pesky first amendment notwithstanding: "... or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."
The Right is very selective in which parts of the Constitution they believe in. The second amendment ("bear arms") is one they interpret expansively. The fourteenth (birth citizenship), not so much. Really, it is not the actual Constitution they believe in, but a pseudo-Constitution they have created in their own uneducated minds.
The Religious Right treats the Bible the same way — they pick out the parts they agree with at the moment, and ignore all the rest.
One of the best antidotes, I believe, to the kind of demagoguery that is so rampant in the country today, is a well-educated mind. Oops, the high-school graduation rate in 2006 for the US as a whole was 68.6%, which masks the fact that in Nevada, the state with the lowest rate, only half the students graduated. (Is it any wonder that Sharron Angle is a candidate in Nevada?)
Last updated on Jun 21, 2016