Progressive Revival

The plot to bomb a Riverdale Synagogue in the Bronx makes all of us sick and angry about the use of religious violence and terror against ordinary citizens.  The four accused men claim that their actions are in reaction to the attack on Muslims in Afghanistan by the United States – and, by their own admissions, their hatred of Jews. That, of course, is no excuse at all and these individuals should be prosecuted to the legal limit with life in prison. 


This terrorism attempt brings into sharp focus two dueling policies and the drama of a former vice president facing off against a sitting President in opposing speeches today. Dick Cheney speaking to the American Enterprise Institute accused President Obama of “recklessness cloaked in righteousness’ as he defended torture and the degradation of the constitution as necessary components of the Bush approach to the war on terror. 


President Obama in a speech at the National Archives argued for the closing Guantanamo Bay as well as adhering to the international conventions against torture as part of the effort to win the war against al Qaeda, What Dick Cheney calls recklessness, Obama argues is part of what it means to be President of the United States saying:


I took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution as commander-in-chief, and as a citizen, I know that we must never — ever — turn our back on its enduring principles for expedience sake. 

But not only is the approach that President Obama taking principled – it is a pragmatic. The President knows that part of a successful strategy to the war against Al Qaeda involves convincing Muslims that America is, in fact, on their side and wants the best for them and their religion. 


The great majority of American Muslims already know this and are, I’m sure, the most sickened by the attempted attack by the four men earlier today.  I have heard Dr. Ingrid Mattson, President of the Islamic Society of North America, say on many occasions that America is one of the best countries in the world for Muslims to freely express their faith.  ISNA has been a great partner with the United States in anti-terrorism efforts, and Muslim Americans may have  even helped to foil the plot against the synagogue in the Bronx as there are many Muslims who serve on the NYPD.  ISNA also combats anti-Muslim sentiments and policies that still exist in this country, so that we might truly be the most religously free of all countries.


As Obama has said, we need all hands on deck in this war against Al Qaeda.  We need to win hearts and minds of people of all faiths, but especially Muslims – and that is not done by torture and the removal of habeas corpus.   It is done with firm prosecution of wrong doing while repecting due process of law.  Dick Cheney might pause to remember that 9/11 actually did happen on his watch, have a little humility and step down and let the President handle this.   

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