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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Political courage 

Obama today made a strong defense of the so-called "Ground Zero mosque".
Obama gets it -- we don't get to choose the battle, we can only choose our side.
Initially, Obama wanted to stay out of the mosque dispute, and I can understand why. But as it became not only a national battle in itself, but also a symbol of religious tolerance vs anti-Muslim bigotry across the United States, then he had no choice.
Greenwald writes
The campaign against this mosque is one of the ugliest and most odious controversies in some time. It's based purely on appeals to base fear and bigotry. There are no reasonable arguments against it, and the precedent that would be set if its construction were prevented -- equating Islam with Terrorism, implying 9/11 guilt for Muslims generally, imposing serious restrictions on core religious liberty -- are quite serious. It was Michael Bloomberg who first stood up and eloquently condemned this anti-mosque campaign for what it is, but Obama's choice to lend his voice to a vital and noble cause is a rare demonstration of principled, politically risky leadership. It's not merely a symbolic gesture, but also an important substantive stand against something quite ugly and wrong. This is an act that deserves pure praise.

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