It's time to ramble on…

The thoughts of a young journalist in southeastern Michigan

The war on terror is over-and we’ve lost

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After nine years of fighting since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, it’s safe to say we’ve lost this war.

Image of the location of the proposed Islamic community center a few blocks away from the site of Ground Zero. (Image by USA Today)

And the scary part is, we didn’t lose it in the Middle East. We lost it in the very place that started the conflict: New York City.

The proposed Islamic community center and mosque a few blocks away from where the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center stood has received nothing but criticism and hatred from some, saying building a mosque *at* Ground Zero (another misinformed idea, as there’s nothing at the current site of Ground Zero at the moment) would permanently scar the families of those who lost loved ones in the attacks and would allow the Cordoba Initiative, the group planning on building the center, to begin training terrorists that will lead to the demise of America.

But the striking blow, in my opinion, came Friday night when President Barack Obama spoke to some Muslims during a White House dinner celebrating Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic calendar.  The White House has been mute on the subject until last night, when Obama said he supported the building of the center as long as it met local ordinances and standards.

But the indication of the loss came to me as soon as I read this paragraph in the story Aol posted regarding Obama’s comments:

Sharif el-Gamal, the developer on the project, told The New York Times, “We are deeply moved and tremendously grateful for our president’s words.” But Republicans were quick to attack the comments, saying that Obama was focusing on religious freedom and civil rights rather than the feelings of victims’ families and public opinion.

As soon as we begin questioning religious freedom and civil rights, we have lost the war Osama bin Laden started nearly nine years ago on American values.

This type of bickering is exactly what people like bin Laden want us to do. These people didn’t attack us because we’re Christian, he attacked us because of our beliefs and how different they are from his. He attacked us because of the government and freedoms we carry as Americans. When we begin debating over Constitutionally-guranteed rights, what type of nation does that make us? Certainly not a democracy.

How does this apply to journalists? Well, if freedom of religion- the true right this country was founded on- gets trampled on, what’s to say what the next guaranteed right  that will get squished is? There’s been a lot of talk about repealing certain elements of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees all those born on American soil are American citizens. The argument for those is that the 14th Amendment wasn’t designed for illegal immigrants, it was designed for those African-Americans who were enslaved at the time.

Yes, the 14th Amendment was designed after slavery was abolished, but if that was the case, the writers of the amendment would have specified as such. That’s the thing about writing constitutional amendments: they don’t just get thrown up and applied. If those writing the amendment meant just freed slaves and African-Americans were guaranteed citizenship at birth, the 14th Amendment would’ve said just that.

This senator, Bruce Patterson, wanted to force reporters to register with the state of Michigan, and charge them $10 for doing so.

But has this affected journalists in any way? In a way, it has. Earlier this year, a Michigan state senator proposed registering reporters into a statewide registry that would require a $10 fee and would have those registering meet several standards, including a bachelor’s degree or higher. Imagine if this bill were passed and became law. Access to information could be easily denied by officials, citing someone’s lack of registering. Freelancers wouldn’t be able to do their jobs. And the phrase  “college journalist” would become a thing of the past. Thankfully, this bill went nowhere, presumably because every other legislator knew it wouldn’t hold up in any federal courtroom.

It’s scary to see Americans bicker over whether or not freedoms should be carried out by a vote of the people. Votes of the people may have the cloud of justice and freedom surrounding it, but those votes don’t mean anything if it infringed on the U.S. Constitution. There’s a reason public sentiment doesn’t equate to law. Which is why the Cordoba Initiative has every right and should have everyone’s blessing to be erected at the proposed site in lower Manhattan. And if it doesn’t, we can call the funeral director to begin arrangements on the death of democracy in the United States of America.

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Written by David Veselenak

August 15, 2010 at 12:55 am

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