In light of all of the controversy over the building of a Mosque near Ground Zero, I picked up my copy of the Constitution and reread the First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Post 9/11 days seem pretty frightening. I suspect they seemed scary during World War II, especially right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I did not live through World War II and so I don’t know how I would have reacted. But, I look back on what was done to U.S. Citizens in the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans and wonder what history might teach us about today’s circumstances, recognizing, of course, that every situation has its own context and its own set of facts. We are not reliving the past, but what do we learn from the past that might help us deal with the present and the future that we will make for ourselves? I don’t pretend to know the answer. But, let’s all hold up the First Amendment, high above our heads, and recommit ourselves to upholding our Constitution and keeping the dialogue that was started more so many years ago alive and well.
We are working on a project for Legal Line on the Bill of Rights. Our Constitution really is an incredible document and the Bill of Rights is amazing. We will have a special podcast available in a few weeks that will present the Bill of Rights to us all again, in a very engaging way – stay tuned.