Facts and opinions are not identical

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The late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” (1) A corollary to this statement might be “base your opinions on facts.” Let’s explore the differences between facts and opinion.

            A fact is a verifiable piece of information. Example: The President is Barack Obama. An opinion, on the other hand, is “a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty or a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.” (2)

Opinion poll

In a Time opinion poll in August 24% of the respondents said President Obama was a Muslim. (3) This poll also revealed that 28% thought that Muslims should not be on the Supreme Court and nearly a third thought a Muslim should not be allowed to be President. While these are opinions, they reveal ignorance. Obama is a Christian. The Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of religion. (4) George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson were all clear that the “freedom of religion” clause included people of all religions including Islam, not just Christianity as some today would have us believe. (5)

Proposed Mosque in New York

Former Speaker of the House and President wannabe Newt Gingrich said, “The folks who want to build this mosque, who are really radical Islamists, … don’t have any interest in reaching out to the community. They’re trying to make a case about supremacy.” (6) Then he compared this proposal to the Nazis having a memorial near the holocaust museum, a very disturbing comparison. The Nazis were the ones who conducted the holocaust whereas only a tiny radical group of Muslims were responsible for the attack on 9/11.

            Gingrich’s opinion is not supported by facts. The builders of the Park51/Cordoba House project, which includes a mosque, are Sufi Muslims, the mystical tradition in Islam. Muslims already gather at the site for worship and for cultural understanding. The building has been declared a landmark so any changes will be subject to New York landmark designation laws and rules.

The Time poll also showed that about two thirds opposed the Project because they thought “the plan would be an insult to the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center.” Yet, this opinion ignores the fact that as many as sixty American Muslims were killed in that attack. For example, Salman Hamdani, a police cadet and part-time ambulance driver, died “doing everything he could to help those in need” at Ground Zero. (7) The opposition appears to be about demonizing a whole group of people for the actions of a few. The opposition is being bankrolled in part by people like the billionairre Koch brothers. (8)

Civil Rights

            Glenn Beck had billed a rally in front of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28 as an effort to “reclaim the civil rights movement”. (9) Using this phrase is either a display of monumental ignorance of historical fact that the civil rights movement was entirely a struggle by black people for equality or it is a deliberate effort to revise history. In either case his opinions lack credibility. It makes me think that some people believe that if they say something often enough or yell it loud enough, it becomes a fact.

Health Care

            Rep. Dave Camp wrote in an article on July 18 in the Midland Daily News, “President Obama and the Democrats repeatedly told Americans that if they liked the health plan they have, they can keep it.” Then Camp added, “ Sounds good. Too bad it's not true.” (10) The first statement is a fact. The health care reform act does not require anyone to drop their coverage.  Camp’s second comment is an opinion based on bad logic. An insurance company dropped group coverage in SC and another company is thinking of dropping coverage in Maine. Both of these cases exemplify very well one of the problems with our current health care system. Individuals are dependent on employers or an insurance company for their health insurance coverage, not what they want. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act did not force these individuals to drop their coverage, the insurance company did!

 

Conclusion

            Opinions are the basis for decisions both great and small whether in our families business or government. It is important therefore that opinions are based on reality and facts as well as logic to the extent possible.

Notes:

(1)

Brainy Quote, Daniel Patrick Moynihan “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/d/danielpatr182347.html

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(2)

Dictionary.com. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/opinion

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(3)

“TIME Poll: Majority Opposes Mosque, Many Distrust Muslims”, Time, August 19, 2010.  http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2011799,00.html?xid=newsletter-daily

Quote from article:

Opponents of the planned Islamic community center and mosque near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan have public opinion firmly in their corner. According to a new TIME poll, 61% of respondents oppose the construction of the Park51/Cordoba House project, compared to 26% who support it. More than 70% concur with the premise that proceeding with the plan would be an insult to the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center. Opposition to the project appears to derive largely from the conviction that the proposed site of the project — just two blocks from Ground Zero, in a building that formerly housed a Burlington Coat Factory outlet — is so close to "hallowed ground," as President Obama put it.

Yet the survey also revealed that many Americans harbor lingering animosity toward Muslims. Twenty-eight percent of voters do not believe Muslims should be eligible to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Nearly one third of the country thinks adherents of Islam should be barred from running for President — slightly higher than the 24% who mistakenly believe that the current occupant of the Oval Office is himself a Muslim. In all, just 47% of respondents believe Obama is a Christian; 24% declined to respond to the question or said they were unsure, and 5% believe he is neither Christian nor Muslim.

 

See also:

Jon Cohen and Kyle Dropp, “Most Americans object to planned Islamic center near Ground Zero, poll finds”, Washington Post, September 9, 1010.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/08/AR2010090806231.html?wpisrc=nl_headline

This was a Washington Post-ABC News poll, conducted August 30-Sept 2, 2010.

Quote from article:

Two-thirds of those polled object to the prospective Cordoba House complex near the site of the former twin towers, including a slim majority who express strongly negative views. Eighty-two percent of those who oppose the construction say it's because of the location, although 14 percent (9 percent of all Americans) say they would oppose such building anywhere in the country.

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(4)

US Constitution, Amendment 1, “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.”

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(5)

Parvez Ahmed, “What Would Our Founding Fathers Say About the 'Ground Zero Mosque'?”, The Huffington Post, August 23, 2010

George Washington, in a letter to the Jews of Rhode Island, affirmed the essential nature of America, "a Government which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance -- but generously affording to All liberty of conscience, and immunities of citizenship." But today we have government officials openly giving sanction to bigotry.

 

In 1784, George Washington, seeking to hire craftsman for Mount Vernon, said, "If they are good workmen, they may be of Assia [sic], Africa, or Europe. They may be Mahometans [Muslims], Jews, or Christian of any Sect -- or they may be Atheists." Thus the foundation of America was based on meritocracy. On merits, the Park51 project has cleared all hurdles. No other consideration should stop the project from moving forward.

 

Ben Franklin wrote in his autobiography, "[S]o that even if the Mufti [Imam] of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service." Whereas Franklin was welcoming of foreign imams, today an insidious propaganda has opened up against a stalwart American imam.

 

Thomas Jefferson, who owned and read a copy of the Quran, wrote in 1816, "The most sacred of the duties of a government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens." Today government officials are dictating where private citizens should erect their houses of worship.

 

Other references:

When] the [Virginia] bill for establishing religious freedom ... was finally passed, ... a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read "a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion." The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend within the mantle of its protection the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, 1821

 

Ben Franklin, he says quite a bit of good stuff about Muslims in his book. .

http://books.google.com/books?id=TBy4P9nZHZcC&pg=PA66&lpg=PA66&dq=Mahometan,+%22benjamin+franklin%22&source=bl&ots=IlzIzhw4GE&sig=IZqhNQmmlcfHyT6-JC9H7GbDBgU&hl=en&ei=CWevTLToBIP6lwe-4pHqDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CBgQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false

                     

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(6)

Steve Krakauer, Gingrich Compares Ground Zero Mosque To ‘Nazi Sign Next To Holocaust Museum’ August 16th, 2010

http://www.mediaite.com/online/newt-gingrich-compares-ground-zero-islamic-center-to-nazi-sign-next-to-holocaust-museum/

There have been plenty of tremendous and troubling leaps made when trying to express outrage over the Islamic Center proposed near Ground Zero (this weekend with Sarah Palin, who called it the “9/11 mosque” on Twitter, for example), but Newt Gingrich may win the award for most offensive analogy.

 

Building the mosque near Ground Zero, says the former Speaker, is like putting a Nazi sign near the Holocaust Museum.

 

Gingrich has made this comparison for a couple days now, including this morning [Augusst 16, 2010]on Fox & Friends, when he said:

 

“The folks who want to build this mosque, who are really radical Islamists, who want to triumphfully (sic) prove they can build a mosque next to a place where 3,000 Americans were killed by radical Islamists. Those folks don’t have any interest in reaching out to the community. They’re trying to make a case about supremacy… This happens all the time in America. Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington. We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor.”

 

Also see:

“The pens of anti-Muslim conservatives impact N.Y.C. mosque debate mightily”, The Washington Post, August 19, 2010.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/18/AR2010081802582.html?wpisrc=nl_headline

 

Kathleen Parker’s column  in The Washington Post:

“Dear Muslims, let's all agree to reject hatred”

Sunday, September 12, 2010

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/10/AR2010091006508.html

 

A column by Tariq Ramadan: “Even now, Muslims must have faith in America” in The Washington Post, Sunday, September 12, 2010.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/10/AR2010091005366.html

Tariq Ramadan, a professor of contemporary Islamic studies at St. Antony's College at Oxford University, is the author of "The Quest for Meaning: Developing a Philosophy of Pluralism." His most recent Outlook essay, "Why I'm banned in the USA," appeared in October 2006.

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(7)

“Muslim Americans Under Attack As Far Right Fights To Deny Them From Building  Their Own Places Of Worship”, Think Progress, March 26, 2010.

http://thinkprogress.org/2010/05/26/muslim-americans-right-worship/  May 26, 2010.

 

For a partial list of Muslims killed on 9/11 see:

http://islam.about.com/blvictims.htm

This list includes names of thirty Muslims.

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(8)

Jane Mayer,  “Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama”, The New Yorker  August 30, 2010

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer?printable=true#ixzz0xlrkH100

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(9)

Leonard Pitts, Beck’s exploitation of struggle is obscene, August 27, 2010

http://rocnow.com/article/opinion-syndicated-columns/20108270338

Quote from column:

“This is a moment,” said Glenn Beck three months ago on his radio program, “… that I think we ‘reclaim’ the civil rights movement. It has been so distorted and so turned upside down. … We are on the right side of history. We are on the side of individual freedoms and liberties and damn it, we will reclaim the civil rights moment. We will take that movement, because we were the people that did it in the first place!”.

Beck was promoting his “Restoring Honor” rally, to be held Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial, 47 years to the day after Martin Luther King Jr. famously spoke there.

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(10)

Dave Camp, “Americans being forced out of health plans because of ObamaCare”, Midland Daily News, July 18, 2010

http://www.ourmidland.com/opinion/editorials/article_d629c087-464a-5ad8-9f24-79a544acbd91.html

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