« »

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Right Wing and the First Amendment -- Not the Best of Friends

Not surprisingly, President Obama's defense of the First Amendment Friday really got the right worked up -- and not in a good way.

CBS News:

On [Sunday's edition of Face the Nation], Republican strategist Ed Rollins, who was the National Campaign Director for the Reagan-Bush campaign in 1984 and the national campaign chairman for the Mike Huckabee presidential campaign in 2007, even called Obama's comments "probably the dumbest thing that any president has said or candidate has said since Michael Dukakis said it was okay to burn the flag. And it was very similar."

"This is an emotional issue," Rollins said. "Intellectually the president may be right. But this is an emotional issue. People who lost kids, brothers, sisters, fathers, what have you, do not want that mosque in New York."

"Intellectually the president may be right"; that's kind of the whole freakin' point, isn't it? The First Amendment exists to protect the rights of the minority from the whims of the majority. We're supposed to make emotionalism primary now? Since when?

I remember, in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Republican pundits expounding on the rationality of the right. The left were being all emotional about things, just because it was a sure bet that a helluva lot of people were going to die based on incredibly flimsy evidence. The Republicans were the rational ones, they argued, because the only logical response to Bush administration propaganda was to freak out, crap your pants, and crown Bush Emperor or the Universe. At least Rollins is being more honest about his argument these days.

Bonus fun: "People who lost kids, brothers, sisters, fathers, what have you, do not want that mosque in New York." Is it the State of New York that you're proposing we make a First Amendment-free zone now or is it just the city, Ed? If you could clear that up for us, that'd be great.

Former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie also weighed in:

"I thought it was an incredibly revealing comment by the president. You know, he basically said that the 70% of Americans who are opposed to this controversial imam building this controversial mosque at ground zero are seeking to deny the religious freedom of Muslims in this country. That's how he cast it," Gillespie said.

"It was said in the reporting this morning that he made a conscious decision to weigh in on it in that regard. I think it tells you that he has a very disdainful view of the American people. And I think that's one of the reasons his favorability ratings have come down, not just his job approval ratings. People see that in him. There's a kind of a condescension toward Americans that they don't like."

Again, that 70% are against it is irrelevant -- if even true. FOX News polling shows that 64% think it's "wrong" to build the community center near Ground Zero, but that 61% agree that "the Muslim group has the right to build a mosque there."

In any case, the First Amendment says what the First Amendment says. It doesn't say, "Go ahead and repress a minority if the majority wants to." And the only reason Feisal Abdul Rauf is a "controversial imam" is because fearmongering demagogues keep telling everyone that. The fact is that he's a moderate-to-progressive Muslim who'd worked closely with the Bush administration. Now he's a radical just this side of Osama Bin Laden -- how's that for gratitude? Note to minority groups; Republicans are not your friends. As soon as they need to demonize you, under the bus you will go. Ask Hispanics, Muslims, and African-Americans.

Search Archive:

Custom Search