"We must all recognise and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of lower Manhattan, Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground. But let me be clear, as a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country.Hey, it's Ramadan--one can never be too careful.
OK. Obviously the president of the United States cannot come out in favor of depriving a religious organization their First Amendment right to build a house of worship. And obviously, in a just world with true tolerance and sensitivity Imam Rauf and wife Daisy would both see the division being created and graciously stand down their project. But we live in a real world with clashing interests. These folks appear determined to soldier on for Allah, and Obama appears to be standing with them against the ill wind from "conservatives".
But.. what if he had said this:
"America prides itself on freedom of religion, and we have a First Amendment that guarantees it. The government cannot stop any such project, nor would we even try. But, that same Amendment also gives the citizens a right to peaceable assembly and to speak their minds about any issues, something else we highly value in America. Many have spoken out against building this religious facility so close to the undeveloped area of Ground Zero. Clearly, this is an emotional issue for many people.
I am a man of tolerance and pride myself on mutual understanding and creating a culture of unity. In that regard I have a dream-- a dream to one day see a multi-denominational center built near the site, one which would bring the three great religions together as one. Such a facility would be a symbol of peace over terrorism; it would fly in the face of the misguided zealots who hijacked Islam on that dark day almost ten years ago and show the world that America can rise above hate ."
But of course he didn't--he gave a ballsout endorsement of the mosque.
Maybe it was the New York Times or polling, but Obama has now walked back his mosque cat. The White House was quick to say he's not changing anything, but had he used the word 'wisdom' in the Ramadan dinner speech that would have changed pretty much everything.
As it stands he's left lecturing a strawman, per usual. Few if any on the right (sans the nutcakes) have been in favor of the government directly subverting the First Amendment to stop the construction--they have been outraged over the apparent symbolism and want the Imam to stop it by using their own First Amendment rights.