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Chan Lowe: The mosque issue rears its head again


The U.S. Constitution, civics teachers like to say, is the defining document of who we are as a people. I would prefer to say that it’s the definition of the people we strive to be.

It’s when we tend to follow our natural herd instinct, rather than act like the inspired residents of the shining city on the hill, that we most need to refresh our memories as to the spirit behind our guiding charter. For the individual citizens of a nation to be truly free, the whole must be tolerant of, inclusive toward, and blind to differences between its parts. It’s right there in the establishment clause.

So if you’re the neighbor of a proposed mosque in West Boynton Beach, a mosque that is to be constructed on land that has been zoned specifically for a house of worship for years, it’s a little late to start complaining. You can’t suddenly decide that a mosque wasn’t what you had in mind, that you’d rather see a church or a temple next door to your development. The Constitution, basically, says, “Tough.”

The Founding Fathers never said it would be easy to be an exceptional nation. If it were, everybody would be exceptional. What makes us special is that we’re willing to subordinate our basest prejudices to the rule of law. Sometimes that notion sticks in our craw.

The harder it sticks, though, the more our chests can swell with pride that we’re acting like true-blue Americans, in the deepest sense of the word. In the end, it’s much more meaningful⎯and exceptional⎯than just standing around and waving the flag. Any nation can do that.

Categories: Culture Wars (199), Local South Florida Issues (187), Religion (28)
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Well, Chan, although as a center-right person I disagree with 9 out of 10 of your ridiculous political statement cartoons, this one I agree with 100%. But I still question the validity of the story. As far as I know only a few elderly residents have voiced a negative opinion about the planned mosque. It's not like Gateway and Military is Ground Zero after all (which would still be legit, just in horrible taste..). Is it possible that it isn't the nature of the building that's upsetting people? What if the land was zoned for a water park and residents were complaining because they didn't realize it when they moved in and were just upset that they would have to see a giant water-slide out of their back window? Are hyper-sensitivities making this a 1st amendment issue? Truthfully, I have no idea, and that's kind of my point. Who Cares about a little mosque in West Boynton? Why does such a few number of complaints warrant a SS editorial cartoon?

It's funny...I'd have thought that, given the current political and social climate, the residents of a certain area in the Keys would have tried to change its name...after all, the first five letters of "Islamorada" spell "Islam" (never mind where the name *originally* came from!)

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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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