By Jim Bennett
Daily Review Atlas
On April 20, 1999, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris shot 12 students, a teacher and themselves to death at Columbine High School near Littleton, Colorado.
That year, the National Rifle Association convention had been booked for the end of the month at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Denver, 14 miles from the site of the tragedy.
The event had been planned and paid for long before the massacre, but Association President Charlton Heston swiftly cancelled all of the convention’s various seminars, luncheons, ceremonies and the sprawling firearms exposition anyway.
The NRA voluntarily reduced their traditionally festive three-day assemblage to a few hours, long enough for an austere membership meeting (which they held only because it was required by law under their non-profit charter) and a brief, low-key reception.
Even though neither Harris nor Klebold was a member of the National Rifle Association, Heston went to extraordinary lengths to extend kindness to those who had lost their loved ones in the mass slaying.
This is called “simple human decency.”
On Sept. 11, 2001, Islamic terrorists hijacked four airliners and purposely smashed two of them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. The two skyscrapers collapsed a short time later. The third jet was intentionally flown into the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., and the fourth, which the hijackers had directed toward Washington D.C., crashed in a field in Pennsylvania as passengers and crew were courageously attempting to regain control of it; 2,976 people were killed in the attack, along with the hijackers. More than 6,000 people were injured.
In December 2009, Islamic Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf announced plans to build a 13-story mosque and Muslim cultural center just two blocks from the site of the Twin Towers atrocity. When some family members of 9/11 victims bristled at the suggestion and cried out for sensitivity, Rauf and his backers just pressed forward.
Simple human decency? Hello?
But what did the NRA get for their sacrificial and sympathetic gestures in 1999? They were pilloried by the press anyway; many media outlets continued to report the story as if the organization had simply shaken a defiant fist in the face of the families of the Columbine victims and gone ahead with their convention as planned.
The mayor of Denver at the time, Wellington Webb, a Democrat, demanded that Heston and his conventioneers stay out of the city altogether.
In contrast, the New York Times calls the Ground Zero mosque a “monument to tolerance,” and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks of the project in supportive, glowing terms. He believes the mosque will “help repudiate the false and repugnant idea that the attacks of 9/11 were in any way consistent with Islam.”
That’s an interesting statement, considering that Imam Rauf has refused to condemn Hamas as the terrorist organization it is. Bloomberg’s support shouldn’t surprise us though; the May Day car bomb discovered in Times Square left His Honor the Mayor speculating that the bomber was some right-winger upset over Obama’s health care plan. Later, police arrested Faisal Shahzad, a Muslim terrorist from Pakistan.
When federal officials weighed in on the NRA convention controversy in ’99, Congressman John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, called the group “merchants of death” while then-First Lady Hillary Clinton smiled and nodded in agreement.
When it comes to the Ground Zero mosque, however, even President Obama himself has inexplicably endorsed it. Shamelessly pandering to Muslims at the second annual White House Ramadan dinner Friday night, He called for the development to proceed, in spite of the pain it’s causing.
After the Columbine murders, NRA President Charlton Heston immediately called upon his constituents to show their “profound sympathy and respect for the families and communities in the Denver area in their time of great loss.” Again: Simple human decency.
Compare that statement to what Imam Rauf said on the Sept. 30, 2001, edition of CBS’ “60 Minutes”: “I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened [on 9/11], but the United States’ policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.”
But the Soetoro Administration’s fondness for Rauf could have no greater affirmation than his selection by the government to be sent abroad on a month-long junket (funded by you and me, taxpayers) to various Muslim countries. His mission, says State Department spokesman C.J. Crowley, is “to foster a greater understanding and outreach … among Muslim majority communities … to help people overseas understand our society and the role of religion within our society.”
We’re talking about a guy who once told Ed Bradley that the U.S. has “been an accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the U.S.A.”
I’m not sure this is the man we want “fostering a greater understanding and outreach” among Muslims, let alone building anything near Ground Zero.
Perhaps most disconcerting is the murky funding behind this $100 million development. Rauf and his partners have been eerily evasive about that, yet calls for an investigation into the Imam’s financial backers have fallen on deaf ears. Mayor Bloomberg says undertaking such a probe would be “un-American,” but now comes word that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is actually calling for an investigation into the funding of those OPPOSING the construction of the mosque!
“Simple human decency,” indeed.
Jim Bennett is the pastor of Rozetta Baptist Church in rural Henderson County.
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