America’s tolerance attacked on 9/11

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The idea of hallowed ground is as old as religion. But, it was Lincoln who gave it a secular meaning in the Gettysburg address when he dedicated a portion of that battlefield to those who had “given the last measure of devotion” to the idea of freedom for everybody. And, of course, the core of that freedom is freedom of speech and religion. It is no accident that that was the First Amendment to the Constitution. It is therefore perplexing that a group of people that harkens back to the principles of our founding fathers, naming themselves the tea party movement, would want to deny this fundamental right to anyone. But this is exactly what they want to do to those who would establish a Muslim cultural center two blocks from ground zero in New York City. It is irrelevant that this is not a mosque. It is irrelevant that Muslims make up a significant minority of our population. It is irrelevant that Muslims had no more to do with the murder at ground zero than Christians had to do with the mayhem of the Branch Davidians or the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, although Christians were involved in both. What is relevant is that the ground where the World Trade Center once stood is made more hallowed by the existence of a Muslim cultural center (or mosque) in close proximity. It is indeed America’s determination to tolerate diversity that came under attack on 9/11. The fact that that determination is still there, honors those who died that day and those who have given the “last measure of devotion” from Gettysburg on, in battles defending American freedom. We should hope also that the rest of us would give the first measure of devotion by recognizing the right of Muslims or anybody else to build a place of worship anywhere a church or a synagogue might go. Arthur D. Fulton, Auburn