Profile in Courage.Posted: August 14, 2010
I’m proud of Obama for coming out and unequivocally speaking in favor of the proposed Islamist Center near the site of the World Trade Center bombing, as he did at a Ramadan dinner at the White House last night.
It seems a position he had to have particular guts to take. A George Bush could support the mosque without political penalty because there isn’t anybody out there who thinks George Bush is a secret Muslim agent taking his orders from Osama Bin Laden. But a lot of people think exactly that about Barack Hussein Obama. His unique vulnerability translates to zero political upside for him in the position, and a whole lot of downside. So he could have calculated the prudent thing, for which no one would blame him, to be to continue to treat the mosque controversy as a “local matter.” But he didn’t. He said, “Goddammit, for once I’m going to say what I believe and what’s right, even though I’ll pay a price for it.” I wish he would do that more–it’s one of the more disappointing things about his presidency that he hasn’t–but at least he did it this time. Maybe it’s a sign (along with his firing of Gen. McChrystal) that he’s finally growing a pair.
I’m not at all comfortable with the mosque in Lower Manhattan. I don’t dismiss as paranoia the suspicion that it could be a breeding ground for terrorism. But I also know that freedom of religion is a constitutional guarantee in our country, and there is no wiggle room in that. The right answer might not be the one we like, but that doesn’t make it less right. Thank you, President Obama, for being unafraid to stand up for it. May it become a habit.