On the front page of today’s Morning Call was an article on the mosque to be located near Ground Zero in NYC. Below is a video statement and transcript of those remarks. My comments were misinterpreted slightly, and I absolutely do not speak for all Muslims – just myself – but the fact remains the reporter just wasn’t able to fit in my full thoughts on the matter, so the below is mainly to elaborate.
In New York, several blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center, an Islamic center and mosque is being considered. As a federal representative, it is my duty to defend the Constitution and the natural right to religious freedom as protected by the First Amendment. This freedom has its roots in how America was first settled by European religious outcasts. (Photo courtesy Rosino)
Therefore my stance is that if built on private property and approved by the local authorities, the citizens building the center are perfectly free to do so. I am sure the builders realize the impact of their actions, and the careful, sensitive path they will realistically need to tread if they choose to continue.
However, due to some minor misinterpretations of my position in the front page article in today’s Morning Call, I would like to elaborate:
9/11 remains a great scar on America’s soul. However, the fact remains that the threat of suicide terrorism is enhanced – NOT lessened – by the conventional armies stationed abroad in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Suicide terrorism is not caused by religious “fundamentalism.” Instead, suicide terrorist groups have a secular and strategic goal in mind – to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland. Period. Religion is NOT the root cause, and is mainly employed as a tool for recruitment and highlighting differences with the “invaders” from the native community. (I highly recommend reading Dr. Robert Pape’s “Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism” as academia’s best scientific study of suicide terrorism, see the video below.)
Again, Islamic fundamentalism was not the root cause of 9/11 or even suicide terrorism in general. This myth is just as nonsensical as blaming the religion and morals I was raised under, Catholicism, as the root cause of IRA (Irish Republican Army) car bombings in Northern Ireland. Even if the mainstream media has permitted this prejudice to pervade the public consciousness, this logic is nonsense.
For instance, Hezbollah’s first (and highly successful from their point of view) suicide terrorism campaign resulted in 241 Marine fatalities. This led to the rapid and complete withdraw of US Marines and French military forces from Lebanon in 1983. However, only 8 of the 38 identified Hezbollah suicide terrorists practiced Islam. The others either practiced Christianity or were secular. (Source: Pape’s book)
Specifically, Osama Bin Laden and his ilk follow Salafism which is a perversion of Islam. Al-Qaeda perverts the concept of jihad into a “holy war” that rationalizes the murder of innocent civilians. It is my understanding that those of the Shia and Sunni Islamic faiths in the United States peacefully believe in “jihad” as literally a “struggle” to maintain faith and piety in a greater sense, and in the right to personal self-defense when attacked in a lesser sense.
Of course, while speaking of the murder of innocent civilians, Americans must refuse the role of naive bystanders. We must realize hundreds of thousands of innocents have been killed in Iraq, and tens of thousands in Afghanistan. A huge percentage of these violent deaths were caused by our military. We must realize that the deaths of 5,642 American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan in unconstitutional, preemptive wars of aggression IN NO WAY compensates for the deaths of those that died on 9/11. Only the capture and trial of those responsible for 9/11 can in some way compensate for this tragedy.
The only effective and proper solution to defeat suicide terrorists is to capture the current generation and prevent the next generation from being created from collateral damage and blowback. Capture of the current generation will best be attained by small special ops forces acting under constitutional letters of marque and reprisal as explained here. Raising the reward for the capture of 9/11 criminals is also necessary, but also note that the American military believes there is less than 100 Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
American soldiers are dying NOW in far-flung deserts and mountains EVERY DAY. These brave men and women have written a check for up to and including their lives to defend their country. These checks are being cashed out into coffins in what I believe to be a negligent and fruitless manner.
If we aspire to be a just nation ruled by laws we must resolve to never ask our military men and women to engage in unconstitutional warfare and nation-building missions.
I do not wish to see the day when not only essential civil liberties are revoked by the PATRIOT Act – as they are today, not only when more than 1 in 8 Americans are living on food stamps – as they are today, and not only when employment is crushed by the economic suppression of the federal government – as it is today, but religious freedom is also lost.
I saw firsthand the evils the lack of liberty brings when I lived abroad in communist China, and I’ll be damned if I do nothing to stop these very same evils in my home country.
We must stop the endless debt and the endless wars. Yours in liberty,
Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito. “Never give in to evil but proceed ever more boldly against it.”
The campaign’s stances on Veterans, the Iraq War, and the Afghanistan War in detail can be accessed from this page.
A video of Dr. Robert Pape talking about his research on the logic of suicide terrorism.