Harry Reid No Profile in Courage: ‘Mosque Should be Built Some Place Else’
August 16, 2010
(ChattahBox)— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) caved to political pressure during a close reelection battle, by siding with religious bigotry. In response to a taunt from his crazy tea party opponent Sharron Angle, to weigh in on the proposed Islamic center in Lower Manhattan, Reid decided to take the path of least resistance. He released a statement today, acknowledging the First Amendment rights of the developers of the Islamic Cordoba House, but said “the mosque should be built some place else.” No profile in courage here.
Reid, as the Senate Majority Leader, yields a powerful megaphone, so his opposition to building the Islamic center in Lower Manhattan, in a former Burlington Coat factory building is given great weight. And his statement just days after President Obama’s speech supporting religious freedom, places Obama in a difficult position, as well as the entire Democratic caucus.
It’s understandable that Reid would take this public stance against the Cordoba House in a tight reelection contest, but that doesn’t make his position any more palatable. And it doesn’t make it right.
In his statement, Reid also called for Republicans to truly show their support for 9/11 victims by voting to pass the first responders bill.
“The First Amendment protects freedom of religion. Senator Reid respects that but thinks that the mosque should be built some place else,” said a statement from Reid spokesman Jim Manley. “If the Republicans are being sincere, they would help us pass this long overdue bill to help the first responders whose health and livelihoods have been devastated because of their bravery on 911, rather than continuing to block this much-needed legislation.”
Reid responded to Angle’s challenge to inform his voters if he supported Obama’s position. And it didn’t take long for Reid to release his statement, throwing his lot in with the likes of Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin.
“As the Majority Leader, Harry Reid is usually President Obama’s mouthpiece in the U.S. Senate, and yet he remains silent on this issue. Reid has a responsibility to stand up and say no to the mosque at Ground Zero or once again side with President Obama—this time against the families of 9/11 victims. America is waiting,” said Angle.
Greg Sargent of the Washington Post’s The Plum Line, calls Reid’s position indefensible:
“Despite Reid’s reaffirmation of this right, his response is still weak and indefensible. And it leaves the President hanging after he took a big risk to do the right thing. Obama did not explicitly endorse the decision to build the center. But Obama did say that if the group does proceed with that decision, we must respect that decision, in accordance with American values.”
“Reid is not willing to say that. Rather, he’s saying, in effect, that even if he supports the group’s right to build the center, he’s not willing to respect the decision to do so. That’s unacceptable, and leaves Obama isolated at a very sensitive moment.”
Sargent adds,”This just makes the Dems look weak, unorganized, cowardly, and unwilling to take a stand for principles they plainly believe in.
In light of Reid’s politically expedient position, President Obama’s speech supporting religious freedom and tolerance, given at the White House iftar dinner, is all the more courageous.
“This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable,” said Obama.