Photo from White House photographer Pete Souza's Instagram: "President Obama greets members of the audience after he delivered remarks at the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque."
Naturally, Republican candidates are going apeshit about President Obama visiting a mosque, proving the point of why his visit was so necessary.
His remarks at the mosque were extraordinary, and the full transcript of his address has been made available by the White House. I really encourage you to read the whole thing in full, because it's a terrific address, but here's just a small excerpt:
So the first thing I want to say is two words that Muslim Americans don't hear often enough—and that is, thank you. Thank you for serving your community. Thank you for lifting up the lives of your neighbors, and for helping keep us strong and united as one American family. We are grateful for that.
Now, this brings me to the other reason I wanted to come here today. I know that in Muslim communities across our country, this is a time of concern and, frankly, a time of some fear. Like all Americans, you're worried about the threat of terrorism. But on top of that, as Muslim Americans, you also have another concern—and that is your entire community so often is targeted or blamed for the violent acts of the very few.
...No surprise, then, that threats and harassment of Muslim Americans have surged. Here at this mosque, twice last year, threats were made against your children. Around the country, women wearing the hijab—just like Sabah—have been targeted. We've seen children bullied. We've seen mosques vandalized. Sikh Americans and others who are perceived to be Muslims have been targeted, as well.
I just had a chance to meet with some extraordinary Muslim Americans from across the country who are doing all sorts of work. ...And you couldn't help but be inspired, hearing about the extraordinary work that they're doing. But you also could not help but be heartbroken to hear their worries and their anxieties.
Some of them are parents, and they talked about how their children were asking, are we going to be forced out of the country, or, are we going to be rounded up? Why do people treat us like that? Conversations that you shouldn't have to have with children—not in this country. Not at this moment.
And that's an anxiety echoed in letters I get from Muslim Americans around the country. I've had people write to me and say, I feel like I'm a second-class citizen. I've had mothers write and say, "my heart cries every night," thinking about how her daughter might be treated at school. A girl from Ohio, 13 years old, told me, "I'm scared." A girl from Texas signed her letter "a confused 14-year-old trying to find her place in the world."
These are children just like mine. And the notion that they would be filled with doubt and questioning their places in this great country of ours at a time when they've got enough to worry about—it's hard being a teenager already—that's not who we are.
We're one American family. And when any part of our family starts to feel separate or second-class or targeted, it tears at the very fabric of our nation.
It's a challenge to our values—and that means we have much work to do. We've got to tackle this head on. We have to be honest and clear about it. And we have to speak out. This is a moment when, as Americans, we have to truly listen to each other and learn from each other.
...Islam has always been part of America. Starting in colonial times, many of the slaves brought here from Africa were Muslim. And even in their bondage, some kept their faith alive. A few even won their freedom and became known to many Americans. And when enshrining the freedom of religion in our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, our Founders meant what they said when they said it applied to all religions.
Back then, Muslims were often called Mahometans. And Thomas Jefferson explained that the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom he wrote was designed to protect all faiths—and I'm quoting Thomas Jefferson now—"the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan."
...By the way, Thomas Jefferson's opponents tried to stir things up by suggesting he was a Muslim—so I was not the first— (applause) No, it's true, it's true. Look it up. (laughter) I'm in good company. (laughter)