A famous Muslim temple – photo by John P. Flannery
Bigots conceal their religious prejudice under the guise that they want to keep us safe and secure.
In fact, they compromise individual freedom, violate our constitution’s promise, foster more prosecutorial misconduct, and, prove what they’re really about is religious discrimination.
We’re talking about the reckless political trash talk demanding that our government surveil every Muslim Mosque in America.
America says it’s tolerant of all religions, and bound by our constitution to make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion, but our historic record reveals a different story.
Starting in colonial times, America was brutal to Roman Catholics. Catholics were ridiculed for their beliefs, their churches burned, believers killed. A groundless fear that the papacy might direct our government almost kept that “upstart from Massachusetts,” Senator John F. Kennedy, from becoming President, even though our Constitution says – “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office…”
We decry anti-Semitism abroad but Jews in America have been denied access to jobs, clubs, colleges, and neighborhoods.
We are now focusing on the most recent assault by wrong-headed candidates and elected officials demanding a nationwide surveillance net cast over every mosque as a suspect harbor for Islamist terrorists.
No matter that President John Adams, in the Treaty with the Barbary States in 1797, assured Tripoli that “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion” and, further, that the United States had no “enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims].”
But does that mean we may not investigate a place of worship?
Not so but the devil is in the details as to how and when.
As a New York federal prosecutor, I tried a case with a pay-off to the French connection for a heroin shipment, the parking ticket for a heroin laden car for the “buy money,” passed in the first pew at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
We didn’t know about it beforehand and no decent investigator was going to keep St. Patrick’s under surveillance ever after on the highly unlikely possibility it would ever happen again.
Compare how NSA identified Muslim “suspects” from 2002 to 2008.
The Snowden materials released to the Guardian in 2014 disclosed that NSA’s surveillance “training” materials referred to any individual “suspect” as “Mohammed Raghead,” quite revealing, and a “suspect” was anyone, (a), of Muslim faith, and, (b), politically active, despite the First Amendment prohibitions against the government “chilling” either speech or religion.
The real rub is that this “surveillance” required no suspicion of actual terrorism.
Worse, when our federal law enforcement finds no crime, they may create it, with promised grandiose rewards for doing things the FBI dictates be done. Continue reading