“It is forgotten that we are first, Americans. I am asking all of us on both sides to take one step back from the edge. Then another step. And another. However many it takes to get back to that place where we are all Americans. Different, imperfect, diverse, but one nation, indivisible. This cycle of tragedy-driven hatred must stop. Because so much more connects us than that which divides us. And because 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. America must stop this predictable pattern of reaction, when an isolated terrible event occurs, our phones ring demanding that the NRA explain the inexplicable. Why us? Because their story needs a villain.”
Why bring this up today? Well, as you may have heard, a new mosque is being proposed in New York close to Ground Zero. The Muslim organization behind the building of the mosque (which will also have a community center of some kind) are being asked not to move forward, out of respect to the victims of 9/11 and their families. Do you see the parallel? The writers at the Daily Show did and they chose this clip for a show last week.
I’m not normally one to involve myself too heavily in politics, but I do try to stay on top of world events. Ironically enough, the Daily Show with Jon Stewart happens to be one of my preferred sources of information. You may feel that Stewart is just as unfair and one-sided as the Fox News personalities that he mocks, but the point being made here crosses political beliefs and allegiances. We are all human beings, first and foremost.
If you want to watch the video clip from the Daily Show, Gawker has it posted on their site; the Charlton Heston speech starts at about the four-minute mark. If you want to read the entirety of the Heston speech, you can read that too. You may not agree with everything he has to say, but I think the quote above is both poignant and powerful.