Rep. Jerrold Nadler appeared with his fellow New York Rep. Peter King to discuss plans to build the Islamic center and mosque near ground zero on CNN's State of the Union. Nadler made a few really great points during this segment which more Democrats need to be repeating. The people opposed to the center being built are conflating Al Qaida with Islam, no one is objecting to the mosque in the Pentagon, the people who want to build the center already have a mosque a few blocks away which no one objected to and we don't put the Bill of Rights and religious freedom up to a vote.
He also said he'd respect the Republicans' sincerity on the issue if they'd voted to take care of the first responders instead of playing politics with the health of those that rushed into those buildings on 9-11. I couldn't agree more.
NADLER: Well, I certainly appreciate the sensitivities of some of the families of 9/11. There are others who have expressed support for it. The press has concentrated on those who have opposed it. But frankly, ground zero is hallowed ground. Two blocks away, first of all, is not so hallowed ground. Second of all, we should not -- government officials should not be in a position of pressuring people where to build their mosque or their church or whatever.
Third of all, as much as I respect the sensitivities of people, there is a fundamental mistake behind it, and that is how can you -- and I can quote any number of some of the people who have commented on it, and what they are saying essentially is how can you put a mosque there when, after all, Muslims attacked us on 9/11, and this is ripping open a wound?
Well, the fallacy is that Al Qaida attacked us. Islam did not attack us. Islam, like Christianity, like Judaism, like other religions, has many different people, some of whom regard other adherents of the religion as heretics of one sort or another.
It is only insensitive if you regard Islam as the culprit, as opposed to as the culprit. We were not attacked by all Muslims. And there were Muslims who were killed there, there were Muslims who were killed there. There were Muslims who ran in as first responders to help. And we cannot take any position like that.
NADLER: I am not going to comment on that, because I don't think it's proper for any government official to pressure them in any way. And if I were to say that I think it's a good idea for them to do it, since I am a government official, that would be government pressuring them.
But it's up to them. If they want to do that, they're certainly free to do it.
But I want to point out several things. One, there is a mosque in the Pentagon, which is also hallowed ground. No one objects to that. Second, the people who want to build this facility, which is partially a mosque and partially a community center, have a mosque a few blocks away from there, which no one has objected to.
And thirdly, objecting to this mosque would be as objectionable if you wouldn't object to a church or a synagogue in the same place because that's blaming all Islam and you can't blame an entire religion.
And finally, I would take the sincerity of many of the Republican critics of this, Peter King very much accepted, much more -- I would understand the sincerity much more if they were supporting, as Peter is, but very few other Republicans are, the bill to give health care coverage to the 9/11 heroes and responders which all but 12 Republicans voted against in the House last week.
NADLER: Well, I did not say they were playing politics. I said I would respect their sincerity more.
But we do not put the Bill of Rights, we do not put the religious freedom to a vote. The reason we have a Bill of Rights is that you have your religious rights, your right to freedom of speech for the press et cetera, whether majorities like you or not, frankly.
I hope that people will understand that government has no role in this. Peter has now said this. Many of the people who have been saying this -- who have been on the other side have not been willing to say that. Peter has, I appreciate that.
As to whether the imam wants to have the mosque somewhere else, that's up to them, and government should not pressure them one way or the other.
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