Obama and the mosque

Big ups to Obama for (belatedly) taking a stand on the lower Manhattan mosque. Glenn Greenwald, who’s been a pretty harsh critic of Obama, gives him some much deserving praise on this:

This is one of the most impressive and commendable things Obama has done since being inaugurated:

President Obama delivered a strong defense on Friday night of a proposed Muslim community center and mosque near ground zero in Manhattan, using a White House dinner celebrating Ramadan to proclaim that “as a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country” . . . .

“This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are” . . . .

What makes this particularly commendable is there is virtually no political gain to be had from doing it, and substantial political risk. Polls shows overwhelming opposition to the mosque nationwide.

Greenwald’s final point strikes me as spot-on:

To anyone wanting to quibble with what was done here — the timing, the wording, etc. — I’ll just pose this question:  when is the last time a President voluntarily entered an inflammatory public controversy by taking a position opposed by 70% of the public?

Obama has been quite a bit of a disappointment on civil liberties issue, but he’s certainly standing tall here– and since this is such a public issue– showing real leadership.

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