We should live U.S. founding principles
Friday, September 3, 2010 - 1:43 pm

To the Editor:

In response to “More Time Needed Before Building Mosque Near 9-11,” (Aug. 25-31) by Joe Stark:

The debate is on and a majority does not want slavery reinstated in the United States. Emotions are running high especially and naturally from relatives and friends of the estimated 12,000,000 victims of the practice. Because the perpetrators were members of the American nationality, many people feel the nationality itself is the affront and any symbol of that nationality erected in the vicinity of the slavery atrocity is out of the question.

Perhaps the problem is timing. Not quite 150 years have passed and no reparation has been made for the centuries of forced labor that was demanded from these people.

It is too soon, the memories are still vibrant, the field-hands and house-slaves can still be envisioned in our minds being beaten and raped by their owners. We can all give thought and vision to vicious dogs being set on runaway slaves, and we can all see the people being shackled naked and sold like farm animals on the docks in New Orleans and Mobile.

The constant commemoration of both the slaveholding United States (e.g., Monticello or the countless monuments to the twelve American presidents who owned slaves at some point) and Confederate States of America (e.g., the state flag of South Carolina or the mascot of the University of Mississippi) so near the site of this centuries-long tragedy is producing thoughts of collective guilt. It is not unnatural for those opposed to slavery to condemn the American nation for the act, for the events following the “peculiar institution” have left us mired in over 150 years of racial strife and violence.

Many Americans are wondering whether our First Amendment, freedom of speech, is hindering our ability to think rationally as a society. Thousands of Americans feel that the ongoing legacy of racism has no free standing in our nation, and many more feel we are being kicked while we are down.

Would it not perhaps be in the best interest of all to postpone all self-congratulatory displays of nationalism -- including the idea that all Muslims are somehow culpable for the actions of the 9/11 terrorists and thus, “have no free standing” in a country that prides itself on religious freedom -- until we actually begin to live up to the noble principles that form the foundations of this nation?

Derek Maus

Potsdam