Regarding the president's comments about the Muslim center and mosque
near the site of 9/11, let's have some straight talk about exactly what
Obviously this latest example of the president's instinct to say whatever is on his mind, despite the damage it does to Democrats running for reelection, was damaging to Democrats.
But whether one believes the president was intrinsically right or wrong (I believe he was right) and politically smart or stupid (I believe it was stupid), the larger truth of this important matter is the open appeal to racism, bigotry and fear by a vocal minority of Republicans.
I call on all principled conservatives and Republicans to denounce the appeal to racism, bigotry and fear that is demonstrated in certain Republican circles, including a former Republican Speaker of the House and a former Republican candidate for the vice presidency.
But in the end, this decision should be made by the local community without gratuitous opining by the president, without appeals to bigotry by Republicans who are not in the community, without the rancor and bitterness that does our nation no service, and without the promoting of bigotry or fear of Muslims that does real harm to American troops serving in combat in Muslim nations.
In this matter we are not talking about a few hateful nuts who hold posters at rallies that compare President Obama to Adolf Hitler.
This is sickening. This is un-American. This does real, material and imminent damage to American troops serving in Muslim lands. It does real, material and imminent damage to America's security in the world, and America's ability to compete in the battle of ideas in which the overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world abhor murder, terrorism and killing of innocent people.
For all of his imperfections, I give former President George W. Bush great credit for this: He understood that most Muslims abhor terrorism and violence. He understood that American Muslims who are as red, white and blue patriotic as American Christians, American Jews, Americans who believe in the Church of Latter Day Saints, and Americans of all diverse faiths are part of our national community and part of our national battle against those who murdered our brothers and sisters in September of 2001.
We now have the sad, sorry and sickening spectacle of certain Republicans attacking Muslims simply because they are Muslims.
Through attack and innuendo they suggest that even patriotic American Muslims should be feared and ostracized with the slander that they are not fully Americans, with the innuendo that that they are not fully loyal to our country, and with the lie that they may be secretly friendly to terrorism because their faith happens to be Muslim.
This is the Big Lie, and the answer to the Big Lie is the Big Truth: that this kind of politics of bigotry and fear is un-American to the core. It violates the cardinal rule of the great American community, that we are a land of disparate people who come together behind shared values and shared visions of a nation that rises above bigotry and fear of those of different races, religions, colors, creeds, accents and personal preferences.
These voices of hate are not the voices of Ronald Reagan or Barry Goldwater.
These voices of bigotry and fear are not the voices of William F. Buckley or George W. Bush.