Constitution suicide pact debate with 911 Hard Hat Pledge Founder Andy Sullivan is at the heart of the Ground Zero Mosque controversy

During what was undoubtedly one of the most energized and controversial debates to hit the virtual airwaves Andy Sullivan, who’s 911 Hard Hat Pledge organization is committed to derailing the building of what is known as the Ground Zero Mosque, made the statement that “the Constitution is not a suicide note.”  (Note: Remember to tune in to the on-demand broadcast “Were the wheels for 9/11 put in motion back in 1952?” to listen to the debate with Andy in its entirety.)

Ironically, and in relation to a completely separate story I have been covering regarding the case of William Melchert-Dinkel, I had actually written an article last September titled The Constitution is not a Suicide Pact: The questions and perhaps answers regarding The Serial Suicide Killer’s First Amendment Rights can be found in a statement by Abraham Lincoln.

While Abraham Lincoln is attributed with making the Suicide Pact statement, which had been made in response to criticism that his suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War violated the U.S. Constitution, its sentiments were actually expressed by Thomas Jefferson in 1803 regarding his reservations surrounding the Louisiana purchase.

Even though Thomas Jefferson I would write, did not personally believe that the Constitution bestowed upon the government the “right to acquire or possess foreign territory,” he nonetheless signed the treaty pertaining to said purchase.

In explaining his decision to sign the treaty despite his personal reservations, Jefferson would later offer the following explanation:

“a strict observance of the written law is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to the written law, would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus absurdly sacrificing the ends to the means.”

Even though Andy disagreed with the Jefferson interpretation, his reference to it nonetheless speaks to the heart of the Mosque controversy.  Specifically, does what Jefferson referred to as The laws of necessity relating to self-preservation, or saving our country when in danger, apply in this instance?  In other words, does the Ground Zero Mosque in and of itself or as part of a larger hostile conspiracy warrant constitutional overrides such as Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War, or Canada’s Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s imposition of the War Measures Act in 1970 to quell the FLQ Crisis?  Andy would without a doubt say yes!

Making references to baby’s being beheaded or children being raped, as well as criminal justice cases such as the one where a Muslim man almost got away with killing his wife under the auspices of religious freedom, did little to convince at least me that the prerequisite laws of necessity apply in this instance.  I mean come on, Muslim extremists beheading babies on the steps of the Mosque or friendship center in New York City or for that matter anywhere in the United States, without being prosecuted (and convicted) under the laws of the land is quite frankly ridiculous.  In an instance such as this, religious freedom would not trump the Jefferson laws of necessity edict which was demonstrated by the fact that on appeal, a lower court judge’s decision regarding the man who killed his wife was overturned by a higher court.  I mean come on, this isn’t the first time that a case ended up in an Appellate Court, with an original motion or verdict being overturned.

Let’s also not forget his references to the reported No Go Zones in places such as Britain which, in a January 6th 2008 article titled “Bishop warns of no-go zones for non-Muslims” talked about it being too dangerous in certain areas across Britain for non-Muslims to enter.  My only response to this would be to ask Andy if he has ever been to Philadelphia?  No Go Zones have existed their for many, many years.

I will give Andy this however, that while the level of danger relating to an extremist takeover of America may not be real, the feeling of vulnerability is without a doubt present in the hearts and minds of those who support the 911 Hard Hat Pledge.  And it is this feeling of vulnerability, pain and anger that needs to be addressed, not with harsh words of criticism or condescending intellectual debate, but understanding and meaningful dialogue.


Andy Sullivan

At the end of the day, those who experienced first hand the devastation of the 9/11 attacks and the resulting loss of life were, on that sunny autumn morning, left exposed by a government who instead of protecting them, through an incredibly flawed foreign policy dating back to 1952 set in motion the chain of events or circumstances that led to the tragedy.

Andy was right when he made reference to Ronald Reagan’s admonishment that each generation must be vigilant and ready to fight for the democracy that is America.  However, and within the generational context of the Reagan sentiments, it was not the call to defend freedom that rang out on September 11th but, the sins of the father.


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