Editorial: Spirit of ’76 (A Coward Strikes Again)
The tragedy in Orlando, Fla. is a lesson in history and a painful one at that. This coward struck at our community attacking harmless, defenseless, innocuous, average Americans, members of a community who did no harm to him or his. The wanton taking of life because of his intolerance is such a barbaric act as to strike our community to its heart. To average, thinking people it is incomprehensible. To non-average, thinking people it was expected for a long time.
Much has been said as to why this was “allowed to occur.” Contrary to those running for president who wish to take political advantage in this time of tragedy, this is not an issue of access to guns, nor it is an issue about immigration. This cowardly attack is solely an issue of religion.
When this country was founded, we were a group of 13 colonies all of whom had different religions. Our ability to form a single country was reached by a compromise on religion. In a historic event, we decided that there would not be a single religion for this country. We decided that the United States of America would have no state religion, unlike our European ancestors. Our founding fathers believed that we should attract the best and the brightest and those seeking freedom to worship as they wished. In fact, the First Amendment to the Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
In the United States of America, you have the right to worship as you wish, free from any interference from the state. This is sacrosanct in who we are and what we believe in. It is an idea essential to a modern democracy. However, as much as you are free to worship as you wish, you are not allowed to impose your religious views on others. This is the respect we show to all of our neighbors and fellow citizens.
For example, as a Muslim cab driver holding a public license, you do not have the right to refuse to take a person home from the airport because they are carrying a bottle of alcohol. That is the imposition of your religious views on someone else’s life. You do not have that right in this country. You have the right to worship in the mosque of your choice. That is what the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is all about: respect for others.
This coward who thought that he had the right to impose his religious views on the rest of us was frustrated because he did not think in terms of living his modern life in the 21st century. He was stuck in the 12th century. However, he did not have the right to impose that on the rest of us. He did not have the right to kill us because we think differently. He needed to tolerate others, and himself. He needed to get over it, and get a life; not take one.