In regard to the recent controversy over Muslims building a mosque near ground zero, President Obama has said that Muslims, “Have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in the country.”
Given the context that a significant element within the Muslim faith subscribes to or advocates Jihad or Holy War against non-Muslim peoples, with America being at or near the top of such a list, it is either intellectually negligent or intellectually dishonest for Obama to make such a statement.
That such a mosque should not be built is a separate issue. (Though judging by the polls, Americans seem to have gotten it right this time.) However, on the issue of Muslims practicing their faith, the elected leader and Commander-in-Chief of the United States has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution—the purpose of which is to protect the individual rights of its citizens. The only proper statement that is consistent with such an Office and with America’s values and principles would be something as follows: Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country so long as their practice of it does not include advocating Holy War or acts of Terrorism against the United States or any of its citizens.
To fail to take this aspect into account is intellectually negligent; to omit it knowingly is intellectually dishonest. Either way, such an omission is damning—damning either cognitively or morally with respect to Mr. Obama and damning practically, physically, existentially with respect to us, the citizens of a country whose Constitution was designed to protect our individual rights—including our lives.