Voices of Reason

As the pundits rave about the Mosque in New York, I thought it might be useful to reflect on the words of a far greater American than Glen Beck that sheds light on this situation.


While I receive, with much satisfaction, your Address replete with expressions of affection and esteem; I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you, that I shall always retain a grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced in my visit to Newport, from all classes of Citizens.

The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet, from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security. If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good Government, to become a great and happy people.

The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my Administration, and fervent wishes for my felicity. May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.

G. Washington
To the Newport, Rhode Island Jewish community, 1791


Harvey said...


How appropriate a choice!!
Knee jerk "patriots" (for which read white christian males and their well-behaved significant others) tend to do what we have been enjoined against: "Those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat their mistakes."
How "Ground Zero" has come to be seen as "hallowed ground" in spite of the presence of decidedly unhallowed activities within a few blocks and, in most cases, closer than the proposed Islamic center, is entirely a creation of such "patriots'" xenophobia and largely religious bigotry. Moreover, it suits their agenda to refuse to apply those same constitutional protections for religious activities to the present attempt to build such a center, within the zoning laws that apply, that they repeatedly demand for any of their own religious activities of choice. As usual, those far right and fundamentalist Christian pundits take advantage of the inherent fears of "them" (They ain't like us!!) to garner public support to oppose an otherwise perfectly legal excercize of Constitutional rights by people who have different beliefs than they do.
It seems apparent to me that George Washington and the large majority of our other Founding Fathers would vigorously disapporve of this whole tempest in a teapot.

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

Harvey, this letter is one of the great documents of our history in my opinion. The second paragraph's clear statement that tolerance is not an appropriate word in a free society - because it implies that one needs the permission of others to conduct one's self in a lawful manner.