|Paul Giamatti as John Adams|
The ridiculous clamor around the siting of a Muslim cultural center in a building several blocks away from the (supposedly) hallowed ground of Ground Zero in lower Manhattan seems, thankfully, to have subsided. At least, for the time being. Yet, there are those who still believe they are right and proper in demanding that the center be moved to an alternate location, more to their liking. They hold this position even while admitting their protestations have no legal basis.
"It disrespects the families of the victims of 911," they whine. (And we all noted how deeply they have respected the feelings of 911 families, right? Remember when Ann Coulter said "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much." Remember when Glenn Beck said "It took me about a year to start hating the 911 victim's families.")
Fortunately, the so-called Founding Fathers of this nation include the great John Adams, who foresaw the dangers of populist sentiment run amok and provided a sterling example of how to address such prejudice. Appealing to the nobler sentiments of rebellious Boston citizens, Adams successfully argued that causa popularis must never be allowed to override the dictates of law.
On the one hand [the law] is inexorable to the cries and lamentations of the prisoners; on the other it is deaf, deaf as an adder to the clamours of the populace. --John Adams in defense of accused British soldiers in the Boston Massacre trialAdams, of course, was addressing the rights of accused prisoners, but the principle can certainly be extended to Muslims in New York City. Muslim rights are being threatened by popular animosity. As I stated before: "The conversation must hinge on a single question: are the Muslim citizens acting within their Constitutional rights? If the answer to that question is 'yes' (which right-wing freaks have already conceded), the conversation is at an end."
This issue is delicious for me, personally. In defending the rights of Muslims (and, in particular, of my wife) I am taking an unpopular stand. But that puts me on the same side of history as John Adams. And, I assert that he was a better man than Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or those ridiculous tea-bagging fools who sometimes don powdered wigs and tricorners but can't remember the words of the very people they pretend to revere.
If, by supporting the rights of mankind, and of invincible truth, I shall contribute to save from the agonies of death one unfortunate victim of tyranny, or of ignorance, equally fatal, his blessings will be sufficient consolation to me for the contempt of all mankind. --Cesare, Marquis of Beccaria as quoted by John Adams in defense of accused British soldiers in the Boston Massacre trial, 1770