Monday, July 07, 2008

Jersey Journal columnist hit nail on the head

The Jersey Journal is one of my favorite newspapers in this state, and has been for years. New Jersey’s greatest writer was a friend and the heart and soul of that paper for many years, the late Peter Weiss (1943-2003).

A lot of writers talk about how they ‘say it like it is,’ but few of them live up to the hype. Peter lived up to that saying, and perhaps was the embodiment of it. So it is not remarkable to me that another columnist at the Jersey Journal, Earl Morgan, puts it out there in a way that may not be pleasing to everyone, but I think he is right on the money.

In his June 28 column, titled “America’s ugly side surfaces,” Mr. Morgan points out that Illinois Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign run may well have exposed growing resentments in this country where it involves American Muslims.

Mr. Morgan noted that, during the early part of the Obama campaign, critics implied Sen. Obama was a “closet Muslim” because his middle name was “Hussein.” Further, Mr. Morgan pointed to a recent Newsweek poll that found 44 percent of respondents favored curtailing the civil rights of Muslims in the United States.

What is even more alarming is that 27 percent of those polled believed Muslims should have to register with the government in some way. I agree with Mr. Morgan, that this argument is beginning to travel down the same road that once led to concentration camps for Japanese-Americans during World War II. Racial profiling was a mistake then, and it is a mistake now.

The incredibly vast majority of German-Americans during world wars I and II had absolutely no sympathy for Germany. During World War II, it would be a grave error of history to imply that German-Americans, Italian-Americans and Japanese-Americans were not as loyal as any other in the fight against Axis terror. Meanwhile, today, to make the assumption that Muslim Americans, as a group, have some blame for worldwide terrorism is a leap not rooted in either common sense or reason.

If Barack Obama was a Muslim, so what? The United States has always been intended to be a beacon of religious freedom in this world. It is astonishing that Sen. Obama, a practicing Christian, would have to resort to denying a “closeted faith” for the sake of campaign rhetoric. Similarly, it is intolerable that any sector of American society, regardless of which one it is, should be targeted in any way because of criminal acts advocated by a relatively small overseas group of fanatics.

The need for security in this country is more pressing today than it was 10 years ago, and that cannot be argued. But security cannot be at the expense of scores of innocent populations of Muslims throughout this country. At the end of that day, the United States must remain what it has been to be what the Francis Scott Key termed the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

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