In case you missed it, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered arguably the best political speech of the new century/millennium today -- a powerful reminder of the things that make us all American. Speaking in support of the mosque and Islamic center that is on its way to becoming a reality in Lower Manhattan, Bloomberg walked through the long struggle for religious tolerance in New York and in the nation -- including similar, and sadly successful, efforts to prevent Jewish and Quaker houses of worship in the earliest days of the city. And he pleads with us not to abandon the victories for understanding and diversity that came in the years since then.
Here's an excerpt:
For that reason, I believe that this is an important test of the separation of church and state as we may see in our lifetime - as important a test - and it is critically important that we get it right.
On September 11, 2001, thousands of first responders heroically rushed to the scene and saved tens of thousands of lives. More than 400 of those first responders did not make it out alive. In rushing into those burning buildings, not one of them asked 'What God do you pray to?' 'What beliefs do you hold?'
The attack was an act of war - and our first responders defended not only our City but also our country and our Constitution. We do not honor their lives by denying the very Constitutional rights they died protecting. We honor their lives by defending those rights - and the freedoms that the terrorists attacked.
Please read the whole thing -- your children or grandchildren may be reading it in a textbook someday. Meanwhile, I wonder if Bloomberg is still considering running for the White House as an independent, as he reportedly considered in 2008. I think that probably won't happen in 2012 -- in part because that's what the ex-Republican mayor is saying. But in 2016 when people are really, really disenchanted with both parties, it would not shock me to see the modern Bull Moose tandem of Bloomberg and Florida Sen. Charlie Crist waltz their way into the West Wing. Stranger things have happened.
(Photo by Edward Reed/Office of NYC Mayor)