Wednesday hundreds of thousands converged on Washington D.C. for marches relating to the anniversary of 9/11. The first march was the Million Muslim March, which later changed its name to “Million American March Against Fear”. The group was able to get a permit for their march from the US National Park Service. Though in actuality, only a few hundred people actually turned out and many of those may not have been Muslims at all.
Simultaneously, as our Kristin Tate reported, another group was denied a permit request by the NPS. That group called ” 2 Million Bikers” wanted to ride through Washington, DC on September 11th. They wanted to do this to honor all of the victims killed during the 2001 terrorist attacks. They did arrive in D.C. and as you can see from the photos, the turnout was very large.
Throughout the day yesterday and into today headlines are pitting the bikers against the Muslims. Why would NPS discriminate against the bikers but support the Muslims? Why would Muslims be so insensitive to march in D.C. on September 11th?
This is the left/right game. Don’t fall for it!
The reality here is that both of these groups have every right to march on Washington. Media on the right and left are working very hard today to pit these groups against each other. It is shameful. The reality is that American Muslims have every right to march on Washington for whatever message they want to express. Similarly, the bikers have a right to do the same.
The problem between these groups is not that they both want to march on Washington, the problem is that the National Park Service believes they have the power to decide who can march and who cannot.
The First amendment protects our right to speech and our right to peaceably assemble. The Bill of Rights does not state that your right to do so can be suspended because of traffic concerns or because an area might become too crowded.
When a right can be taken away simply because the National Park Service believes that it can or because local, state or federal lawmakers believe that it can, then it wasn’t a right to begin with. It is a privilege.
The right to assemble and the right to air our grievances is not a privilege. But that is the game we find ourselves playing when one group of citizens begins to argue that another group has been given “privilege”.
Under the Constitution, the American Muslims who marched on Washington D.C. need no permit and no “privilege” to make their voice heard. Under the Constitution the American bikers who rolled into D.C. do not need that privilege either.
The reality of what happened in D.C. yesterday is that both groups suffered a violation of their Constitutional rights. Both have an equal right under rule of law. By making one group (Muslims) obtain a permit and by denying a permit to the other (bikers), every one of those Americans had their First Amendment rights trampled.