Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ground Zero Mosque -- Part Deux

In the comments of my previous Ground Zero Mosque post, my bro-in-law mentioned that maybe, for the first time ever, I agree with President Obama on an issue.  Well, I like to think that the President, for the first time, agrees with me.  Because I've been right all along, and the President is just now realizing it.

Well, I'm going to have another first, I'm going to recommend, and agree with, a Jon Stewart monologue.

I've never really cared much for Stewart.  I've never found him or Colbert to be funny.  If I stumble upon one of their clips while scrolling through the blogosphere, I'll rarely ever watch the entire clip.  And my laughing at one of their bits is even rarer.  But Jon Stewart's monologue about the whole mosque uproar was fairly on point in my opinion.

I've attached the video at the end of this post, and I highly recommend watching all nine minutes, but if you are like me and don't like his schtick, then here are the interesting (to me) points that he makes.

First, he plays a portion of Laura Ingraham on Fox News from last December in which she says, "I can't find many people who really have a problem with it.  Bloomberg is for it.  You got rabbis in New York saying they don't have a problem with it.  (...)  I like what you're trying to do and Ms. (unintelligible) we appreciate it." 

Now, I'm going to assume that this clip is what they purport it to be and it has not been edited down so much as to be out of context.  And I haven't listened to Laura's show with any regularity for many years, so I don't know if she's maintained her support for the project or if she's decided to change her position.  Jon doesn't offer up any more clips of Laura speaking against the mosque, so I don't know her current thoughts on the mosque project, but since Laura is a figurehead within the conservative movement, it's interesting to see how much has changed (in the conservative movement, in general) in six months.  Interesting, if not informative.

Jon then shows a smattering of clips from cable news talking heads from the right talking about the insensitivity of the mosque's location (a position I completely understand, but do not support).  He tells some of his (unfunny to me) jokes, makes a few (again, unfunny) puns, and gets some giggles from the audience.  He continues the clips/jokes/commentary portion of the monologue for a few minutes.  Jon then singles out one particular guy on a FoxNews morning show, paying special attention to the man's homemade cue cards and conspiracy theories.  You won't miss much if you skip over this part.  Nothing ground breaking or particularly funny.

Then, at the seven minute mark his argument starts getting more effective.  If you can't stomach Stewart and don't like what he says, I would contend the last two and a half minutes of the video is REQUIRED viewing.

Jon says, "This whole thing has gotten crazy.  In our panic, we've lost sight of something very important.  If only someone could step up and cut through all this political posturing and fear mongering and remind us what America is all about."

(NOTE: the first time I watched this video, I assumed that Jon was going to take another swipe at the people with which he disagrees.  I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with the clip he actually showed.  I guess I shouldn't always assume the worst of people and should give them the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.)

After making the above statement, Jon shows a clip of a speech by Charlton Heston in 1999.  Please do yourself a favor and listen to Charlton's wise words.

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Charlton Heston:  Tragedy has been and will always be with us.  Somewhere right now evil people are planning evil things.  All of us will do everything meaningful, everything we can do to prevent it.  But each horrible act can't become an axe for opportunists to cleave the very Bill of Rights that binds us.  

Powerful words from a great man.

Jon goes on to point out that Mr. Heston's speech was given soon after another very tragic event in our Nation's history, the shooting at Columbine High School.  He also points out that that speech was given at an NRA convention that the left had demanded not take place in Denver because it was too near the site of that tragedy.  Jon even makes the observation that he was probably one of those people calling for the convention be moved.

He ends the segment with more of Heston's speech.

Charlton Heston:  America must stop this predictable pattern of reaction.  When an isolated, terrible event occurs, our phones ring, demanding the NRA explain the inexplicable.  Why us?  Because this story needs a villain.  That is not our role in American society and we will not be forced to play it.  If you disagree, that's your right.  I respect that, but we will not relinquish it, or be silenced about it, or be told, do not come here, you are not welcome in your own land.  

I'd like to give credit to Jon Stewart and his staff for digging out the Heston speech and giving it the respect that it deserves.  That speech and those words are just as appropriate and meaningful now as they were when they were first spoken.  And so is the sentiment those words were intended to evoke.  It feels like I'm in a bizzaro-world, where people like Jon Stewart are using clips of Charlton Heston speaking at an NRA convention to support their argument and people like Rush Limbaugh are playing personality politics and throwing around conspiracy theories.  Shouldn't it be the other way around?

It is my hope that my friends in the conservative movement will set aside their (rightful and deserved) anger and will think about the principles that make their movement so strong and important to America.  Such principles as rugged individualism, property rights, a prudent government, the imperfectability of man and government, the opposition of involuntary collectivism, the restraint of government, and the reconciliation of permanence and change.  These are the principles of a strong and vibrant conservative movement.  Not impulse and emotion and populism.  And impulse, emotion, and populism are the traits I see in many of the people most opposed to the Ground Zero mosque.  And it saddens me.

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