The Chronicle could not be more wrong in its opinion regarding the Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan.
First, it has the facts wrong. The Cordoba House will not be at Ground Zero. It will be a couple blocks away among restaurants, shops, buildings and churches. The Cordoba House fits in neatly among them while none of them are appropriate for this, or any other, actual memorial site.
Second, The Chronicle uses the same line other opponents begin with, asserting that it has nothing to do with religious freedom. Hogwash. It has everything to do with religious freedom. The Chronicle asserts that it is instead a matter of religious tolerance. But tolerance is the commodity a minority religion needs where there is an absence of religious freedom.
Our country was founded on the combination of religious freedom and government neutrality. That is what President Obama was driving at. Excepting pre-existing, neutrally-applied laws such as fire codes, it is simply not the government's business to weigh in on this matter. The president is the patriot for reminding us of this. The Chronicle staff and other opponents are the ones that need a civics course.
The Chronicle is right to compare this to other extremists, but its conclusions are in error and there are better examples. Just as James von Brunn (killer of the guard at the Holocaust Memorial) and Scott Roeder (killer of abortion doctor George Tiller) did not act on behalf of law-abiding U.S. Christians, the 9-11 attackers did not act on behalf of law-abiding U.S. Muslims. And that is precisely what we are dealing with here.
When The Chronicle and others of its ilk compare the law-abiding U.S. Muslims involved with the Cordoba House to the 9-11 attackers, it is, for all intents, defaming more than 10 million law-abiding U.S. citizens for the sole reason that their religion is both different from that of The Chronicle's staff and the same as the 9-11 villains over whom they asserted no control.
Finally, The Chronicle gets it wrong when it says much of the Muslim world will see this as a monument to the 9-11 attackers. Certainly some in that world will see it that way. But the vast majority, who are law-abiding citizens of their own countries, will judge our leadership, and talk of freedom, based on what we do here.
We can listen to The Chronicle and let them down, or we can "walk the talk" and engender the goodwill that reduces the hostility that leads to al-Qaida recruits and, as a consequence, larger threats to our soldiers overseas and ourselves at home.
It's a good thing this country is based on religious freedom. If we lacked it, and had to rely on the tolerance of those like The Chronicle's staff, the law-abiding religious minority citizens of this country would have much to fear.
North Augusta, S.C.