I am amazed that the controversy surrounding the proposed Muslim mosque and community center in New York City at ground zero is still going strong. America has turned into a country where if you don’t agree with someone, you are painted as a bad person. This is exactly what is going on in New York City.

Those who oppose the project have lost the legal battle, but now they are attempting to turn it into a political battle. I find those in opposition full of hypocrisy, especially those in the Republican Party.

When President Obama used the word “empathy” to describe one of the qualities he looked for in a Supreme Court nominee, Republicans ripped into him (and rightfully so).  Our legal system is based on the law, not how one feels about a given case or person involved in a case.

Now, when it comes to the proposed mosque at ground zero, these same people want the Muslim community to be “sensitive” (i.e. empathetic) toward the family members of those killed and others impacted my 9/11. Mind you, everyone agrees that the Muslims have the legal right to move forward with the project—not even the most vocal opponent argues this point. 

Their whole argument is about “sensitivity.” How ironic that when Obama suggested empathy in a Supreme Court nominee, he was excoriated. Now, these very same people are encouraging the same thing, albeit in a different circumstance.

As a longtime Republican, I have had many conversations with White folks in the party regarding the confederate flag and its place in our society.  These people see absolutely no problem with the flag flying on the dome of state capitals around the country, even though they know it’s very offensive to the Black community. 

I have been told on many occasions that I (and the Black community) was being overly sensitive and that those who support the flying of the flag are within their rights.  Additionally, I was told, you can’t expect people to forget their heritage because of the sensitivities of the Black community. After all, “me nor my parents or grandparents were part of the Confederacy.  But, it is party of our family’s history; therefore, we celebrate it.  We had nothing to do with slavery, nor do we support any type of discrimination.”

Isn’t this the same argument the Muslims are using in New York? They had nothing to do with 9/11.  But, they want to be able to celebrate their religion, despite the bad feelings that others may experience.

Once again, these same Republicans who oppose the Muslims in New York on grounds of “sensitivity,” will not take the same stand on the Confederate flag when it comes to the Black community.

Principles are guides to one’s life that are not relative or situational.  Principles have to be consistently applied for one to be credible and maintain the moral high ground.  You can’t pick and choose when to apply one’s principles.

Through what’s going on in New York, maybe, just maybe, Republicans will better understand how Blacks feel about the Confederate flag. And maybe, just maybe, the next time Blacks express their feelings about having the confederate flag flying atop government buildings, Republicans won’t just blow us off.  But, maybe they will be “sensitive” to the pain the flag evokes within our community.

Can you honor the Confederate flag without being a racist? Without a doubt.  Can you support the Muslim project in New York without being “insensitive?” Without a question. 

To believe one without the other is to fly the flag of hypocrisy.

Raynard Jackson is president and CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washngton, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm.  He is also a contributing editor for “ExcellStyle Magazine”, www.excellstyle.com.