Sanctify This

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Obama Administration

So over the past several days here on this blog I have documented that within a three-block radius of the area called Ground Zero there are at least two strip clubs, plus a number of bars (one popular with lesbians). This morning through googling I found a lingerie and porn video shop about two blocks south of Ground Zero that a reviewer calls “grimy” and “sleazy.” Those establishments have existed in close proximity to Ground Zero lo these many years, and no one seemed to care.

Yet talk about putting up a cultural center within this same area, one that won’t even be visible from the Ground Zero site, and suddenly people start squawking about “hallowed ground” and “sacrilege.” Give me a break.

At First Things, a Catholic site apparently dedicated to making Catholics look like bigoted, sanctimonious pricks (I’m not saying they are, of course), someone has published “Everything you need to know about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (Ground Zero Mosque Imam)” without bothering to mention that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf Is a Sufi. That’s kind of a big oversight, unless your intention was not to provide useful information but to propagate hatred. I don’t think Jesus would approve.

Betsy of Betsy’s Page writes,

But of course, our betters such as the Mayor and the White House which posted his remarks all think that the only reason that people would oppose such a mosque is due to unthinking prejudice against Muslims. Because, in their view, only someone of deep-seated bigotry would be against such a mosque. Well, then the majority of Americans are bigots.

I think that if most people could be taken on a tour of lower Manhattan to see where the Islamic Center will be built and its actual proximity to the World Trade Center site, and also what the Islamic Center actually will be, they’d realize it’s nothing to get worked up about. It’s obvious people are envisioning a big, classic mosque with a dome and minaret either on the Ground Zero site or across the street from it. Instead, it’s going to be a multi-purpose building tucked away on a narrow street where no one will be able to see it unless they happen to go down that street. Once again, it won’t be visible from Ground Zero.

However, sometimes a majority of Americans are bigots. Why else did it take so long to get rid of Jim Crow, for example?

Joe Klein writes,

Today, he [Krauthammer] invents a concept that can only be called “Intolerance Zoning.” His argument: we create areas where certain types of behavior are allowed or not–commercial and non-commercial, alcohol or no; we also make decisions about whether certain forms of usage–a Disney theme park near the Manassas battlefield–are appropriate or not. But all these decisions have one thing in common: they concern activities that are not protected by the Constitution. Freedom of religion is protected. Period. (Even by Krauthammer’s standard, the Mosque will be located two blocks away from Ground Zero–in a heavily commercial areas filled with office buildings, bars [some topless, if I recall], fast-food stores, betting parlors, cheap clothing stores…would his “hallowed zone” be impinged upon by those activities–or it just the presence of Muslims that defile a place where innocent Muslims were among those who died.)

Klein describes the neighborhood well. This is what the wingnuts are trying to protect as “hallowed ground.”

The New York Times has an article today on why Mayor Bloomberg is so adamantly in favor of the Islamic center. His family was subjected to anti-Jewish bigotry when he was a boy, and he’s taking the “mosque” controversy personally.

In a widely watched address, Newt Gingrich, a former House speaker who has worked with the mayor on education reform, criticized the planned center and encouraged Mr. Bloomberg to change his mind.

But Mr. Bloomberg was heartened to hear that some of the families of 9/11 victims supported his position; they told him so a few weeks ago at a fund-raiser for the memorial at the site.

“One hundred percent of them in the room kept saying, ‘Please keep it up, keep it up,’ ” he recounted. “ ‘Our relatives would have wanted this country and this city to follow and actually practice what we preach and what we believe in.’ ”

Finally, see Jonathan Chait, “When Shuls Were Banned in America.”

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36 Comments

  1. moonbat  •  Aug 13, 2010 @11:38 am

    Far away, on a distant coast, the Mahablog is about the only place I’ve encountered this controversy about Ground Zero. As such, I am very heartened to read that Mayor Bloomberg has a spine and that the 9/11 families are behind him.

  2. Felicity  •  Aug 13, 2010 @11:59 am

    From the beginning of this fracas over mosque-no-mosque, in fact even before it started, I have believed that one of the most viable ways to ‘answer’ the perpetrators of 9/11 would be to build a new mosque as close to ground zero as possible. It would send a signal to radical Islam (which is not Islam by the way) that America is a country that champions freedom of religion, that Muslim Americans are free to worship as they want, that America welcomes the true followers of Islam.

    If nothing else, it would throw radical Islam a ball it would have no idea how to field, that America is not the enemy of true Islam.

    Enemies are the life-blood of the terrorist, whatever his stripes. Probably the one thing that our tactics and strategies have created in Iraq and Afghanistan is to hand jihadists a recruiting tool that they are quick to exploit. (Pretty hard to mount a world-wide jihad against a non-enemy.)

  3. erinyes  •  Aug 13, 2010 @12:09 pm

    Most of my fellow Americans are very bigoted when it comes to Arabs and Muslims; I shudder to think that most don’t even know the difference, and couldn’t care anyway. I think Lawerence of Arabia was the last movie that cast Arabs in a positive light.Some tragic events like the killing of Israeli Olympic athletes, and the dumping of Leon Klinghoffer (a disabled American Jewish gentleman) off a cruise ship have been VERY bad press for Arabs/ Muslims, and have turned public opinion against them.The Arab Oil embargo was another bad press event.
    Sadly, most Americans equate 9/11 with ALL Muslims.This is as rediculous as blaming ALL Christians for the horrors of Jonestown Guyana, or the Branch Davidian horror in Waco, Texas.

  4. JR  •  Aug 13, 2010 @12:24 pm

    Freedom of religion is protected from government intrusion. Private citizens can be as big an asshole as they want. However, when in the past eight years have the people who are objecting ever been asked to distinguish between good Muslims and bad? We said there was no difference between Afghanistan and Iraq. We made sweeping arrests and incarcerations. Hell, we barely bothered to distinguish between “good” muslims and bad when we tortured. You think they’re gonna start now?

    This is a revamp of the “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud” argument, nothing more. It’s fear in place of critical thought. It’s muslims infiltrating the congressional page program. It’s pathetic and embarrassing, but no one who’s experienced the past eight years should find it surprising.

  5. Gator90  •  Aug 13, 2010 @12:31 pm

    G-d bless Mayor Bloomberg. I cannot remember the last time I was genuinely inspired by stuff a politician said.

  6. fshk  •  Aug 13, 2010 @12:37 pm

    This is probably obvious to long-time readers, but there’s a pretty strong correlation to the irrational fear of terrorism (in terms of my hypothesis that people who are further removed from terrorism are more likely to be insane in their thinking about it) and the outcry against the GROUND ZERO TERROR MOSQUE. I mean, thanks for your concern and all, Random Red State Inhabitant, but why do you care about a mosque being built thousands of miles from where you live? I have a regular meeting two blocks from the designated site for the mosque, so I walk down that block once every other week or so, and I can tell you that a) you can’t see Ground Zero from the site because there’s a big office building blocking the view and b) nobody cares. (I mean, right there on the corner of whatever that block is, Park Place or Murray Street at West Broadway, from which you can see the construction site if you squint and know what to look for, there’s usually some guy who hands out fliers for a strip club. And there are a whole lot of bars in that neighborhood, too. And, I’m not even kidding, this hip-hop baby clothes store called “Babesta,” the sign for which makes me laugh every time I walk by it.)

  7. c u n d gulag  •  Aug 13, 2010 @12:51 pm

    Not that they would have any idea of what I’m talking about, but I think many people in this country imagine that this Mosque (not a Mosque) will tower over the NYC skyline like Brunelleschi’s Dome does over Florence, Italy. Anything over a dozen stories would tower over everything else in most towns, and even small cities in the US.
    But really, it’s not the height of said “Mosque” that offends these people. It’s the proximity. There’s a proprietariness, an ownership, of a location where the blood of “our” patriots, “our” saints was spilled, making the dead martyrs to a/the cause.
    “Hallowed ground.” By definition, you don’t allow the blood of the martyrs to be defiled by the nearby presence of those who spilled that blood.
    Are there such places in America? The Alamo comes to mind. But, that was in Texas, which at the time was an independent nation. Pearl Harbour, too. But that was in a territory far from the mainland. There are hundreds of Civil War battle sites that might serve. But, after all, that was an internal war. And at many, if not most of these sites, there are memorials and graves for the dead; of those who died for both sides – the Union, as well as for the Confederacy; the graves of patriots near those of the traitors. I don’t begrudge the graves and their markers for the Confederate soldier. That blood-soaked earth covers the bodies of people, mostly men, most of whom had no stake in slavery. They either fought because of their sense of pride or adventure, because of their neighbors, or they were conscripted, and felt they had no choice.
    Unlike most of the world, we don’t have locations that serve as ‘hallowed ground.’ A place where foreigners came and created some horror that would create such sanctified earth. Western Europe has countless places where foreign invaders came and created national martyrs at a particular spot. So does Russia, and the Middle East. Some of the sites there are due to Civil Wars of their own. Or battles and massacres caused by religious schisms. But those, though important, are not as ‘hallowed’ as when some “other” came and committed atrocities. Everywhere you look around the globe you can find such a spot in, almost, if not, every nation.
    Hell, everywhere but here. Unless I’m missing something. And maybe that’s what people are projecting onto this Islamic Cultural Center. It is near a location that is considered ‘hallowed ground’ in that it is a clear physical symbol of an attack on our nation. Our first real gaping open wound. The atrocity committed there was by people not only from some “other” foreign nations, but also those of some “other” religion, and a minority one at that, in this nation.
    The WTC then, serves as something we really never had this close at hand. And it happened less than ten years ago, not decades, or centuries ago, as in other countries.
    That the “‘World’ Trade Center” in NYC was chosen precisely because it is in a pluralistic society, and was in many ways deemed to be its very symbol, by those who hate such a thing, escapes those who now wish to exclude a group related to the attackers only because of some loose affiliations of faith. That when you segregate, and malign even one such group, you are invalidating that which you claim to be – one nation made up of many geographical parts, varying nationalities, and faiths.
    This is un-American to all but those who really don’t understand what America is really about.
    America isn’t about exceptionalism in war, space, culture, or technology. It really is best summed up as, “E Pluribus Unum.” THAT is our exceptionalism!
    And if you don’t understand that, understand this: You don’t then share the blood of the people spilled in the ground the you’ve sancified as ‘hallowed,’ you share the blood of the fanatics who murdered them. In that, then, you are truly ‘blood brothers.’

  8. Rick Massimo  •  Aug 13, 2010 @1:12 pm

    In a widely watched address, Newt Gingrich, a former House speaker who has worked with the mayor on education reform, criticized the planned center and encouraged Mr. Bloomberg to change his mind.

    But Mr. Bloomberg was heartened to hear that some of the families of 9/11 victims supported his position; they told him so a few weeks ago at a fund-raiser for the memorial at the site.

    City to Gingrich: Drop Dead.

    (Well, I’m old enough to get it, anyway …)

  9. joanr16  •  Aug 13, 2010 @1:12 pm

    If nothing else, it would throw radical Islam a ball it would have no idea how to field, that America is not the enemy of true Islam.

    Very well said.

    G-d bless Mayor Bloomberg. I cannot remember the last time I was genuinely inspired by stuff a politician said.

    And I was thinking the same. I’m really impressed with Bloomberg re this matter.

  10. Stephen Stralka  •  Aug 13, 2010 @1:47 pm

    Maybe you can’t literally take everyone on a tour of lower Manhattan, but anyone with an internet connection can use the street view feature in Google maps to get a good look at the very sacred and hallowed former Burlington Coat Factory where the Cordoba House would be located. If you somehow got teleported to the middle of that block and didn’t know where you were, you would have no reason to think you were anywhere close to Ground Zero.

    I keep thinking that a lot of the people who are getting so worked up about this really don’t know much about (among so many other things) what big cities are like. Two blocks may not sound like much, but in a place like Manhattan it can be a whole world away.

  11. Swami  •  Aug 13, 2010 @3:16 pm

    Sanctify This….Love the title, spoken like a true Noo Yawker.. Here’s one for that candy ass Newt…”I got ya hallowed ground buddy, right here, come an get it!”

  12. Bonnie  •  Aug 13, 2010 @4:29 pm

    I live in Tacoma, Washington. New Yorkers please feel free to do with your city as you please. All non-New Yorkers butt out. (I do, however, miss the old Yankee Stadium; but, even things like that have to change.)

  13. Doug Hughes  •  Aug 13, 2010 @9:25 pm

    The Big Deal about the US Constitution (which wasn’t new or unique in structure) was the Bill of Rights. The first phrase of the First Amendment,

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; ..”

    The result of this HAS trickled down in rulings to prohibit religous discrimination by States – nothing in the law can prohibit individual bigotry – be it against Catholics, Jews or Moslems. However, no one can read the opinions of Thomas Jefferson on the subject of religous freedom and claim discrimination against Islam is an act of patriotism. It’s bigotry – an attempt by any government to act on that bigotry would undoubtable be struck down by the courts – and NO CANDIDATE who embraces religous intolerence should be elected to office. It’s as unpatriotic as treason.

  14. freD  •  Aug 14, 2010 @1:10 am

    “They hate us for our freedoms.”

    I think we misunderstood the terminology:
    They = anything muslim
    us = plutocrats
    freedoms = to control everybody else

  15. Tom Healy  •  Aug 14, 2010 @2:24 am

    Thank you for this clarity and calm.

    Last Sunday, I was out getting the newspaper and some coffee and, seeing an hysterical headline in the NY Post, I said quietly to a friend how grateful I was to the Mayor for his eloquent, unequivocal defense of the Islamic Center.

    But just as I was walking out the door, a man jumped up and blocked my exit. “You heartless bastard. You obviously didn’t know anyone who died at Ground Zero.” Well, actually, I did. I worked there. The experience was frightening, enraging and deeply painful to me. And I went back to work on the revitalization of the area for several years after.

    But this guy who didn’t know me and didn’t want to, started screaming and gloating and even scaring his own two young children who were squirming a few feet away on the coffee shop sofas.

    Of course, it turned out he’d never even been to Ground Zero. He had no sense of the place, no accurate facts about 9/11 and, surprise, he couldn’t say anything about where the Islamic Center is actually being planned. He had nothing but the glee of indignation, even willing to frighten his own children with weird Sunday morning rage.

    I said nothing. And yet, people looked at me as if I’d done something evil. I’ve spent years working at Ground Zero, writing and talking about it, grieving the friends I’ve lost — but nothing I knew or felt meant anything in front of this loud, smug hater and his sudden, happy audience.

    I walked away. I was so sad. It was everything I could do not to deck the man who was screaming and spitting.

  16. Doug Hughes  •  Aug 14, 2010 @7:31 am

    The psycological word transference comes to mind – from wikipedia.

    ” “a reproduction of emotions relating to repressed experiences, esp[ecially] of childhood, and the substitution of another person … for the original object”

    Any rational knows that none of the 9-11 hijackers were American Muslims – why take it out on them? I wonder how much is something else entirely.

  17. erinyes  •  Aug 14, 2010 @7:56 am

    “why take it out on them”
    That’s easy, I’ll quote Juan Epstein, a character from the old TV show “Welcome Back Kotter” “There are two types of people in this world; US and THEM. I’m begining to think you’re one of THEM, Mr. Kotter”

    It is easier to kill and plunder if those you wish to kill and plunder are evil.

  18. erinyes  •  Aug 14, 2010 @8:23 am
  19. c u n d gulag  •  Aug 14, 2010 @9:11 am

    Tom Healy,
    “… the glee of indignation.” Great line.
    What you encountered kind of fits in with one of my laws, #3:
    1. Never argue with a man who has a tattoo on his face.
    2. Never touch anything with less than two legs, or more than four.
    3. The less you know, the louder you shout.

  20. erinyes  •  Aug 14, 2010 @9:21 am

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaBSDWQojNI&NR=1

    “The less you know, the louder you shout”
    That’s the truth.

  21. freD  •  Aug 14, 2010 @9:33 am

    Not to worry. Our government will be sure to spend many billions on military bases in lands where we’re imposing, uh, I mean generously providing, our brand of “religious freedom” on the populace.

  22. Anton  •  Aug 14, 2010 @9:40 am

    “close proximity” is grammatically incorrect. It is the same as saying “close nearness”

  23. stray  •  Aug 14, 2010 @9:51 am

    The other problem of perception is that Manhattan is the Island of Compression. So in Manhattan terms, what may be a fairly short distance in physical space might be quite a distance in terms of any less tangible measurement. So where does Hallowed Ground end? Four blocks? Ten blocks? Staten Island? Pick a radius, and then, NYC being NYC, count the mosques that have existed within that radius for decades, along with everybody else.

  24. montag  •  Aug 14, 2010 @12:00 pm

    Maha thank you for all your research but it sadly overlooks one point. The haters ginning up their fake outrage care not for reality. They exist to hate someone and now that people aren’t buying their gay hate they have moved on to their next vulnerable group. They don’t care how many people may be hurt or die because of their vile spew. They are all attention whores on the figurative street corners peddling their hate.

  25. c u n d gulag  •  Aug 14, 2010 @12:23 pm

    I have an idea!
    For consistency, I suggest the following:
    No sushi restaurants within 1 mile of Pearl Harbor.
    No Mexican food within 1 mile of The Alamo.
    No falafel or kebob stands for 1 mile from the WTC site. Also, no hummus or pita bread sold within the same radius.
    And no Southern Fried Chicken within 1 mile of Gettysburg.
    Who did I miss?
    Oh, yeah, no chittlin’s near Strom Thurmond’s grave, since I’m sure that’s ‘hallowed ground’ as well.*

    *Or, racists can substite whatever stereotyped food they believe that African Americans purportedly eat.

  26. maha  •  Aug 14, 2010 @1:03 pm

    No falafel or kebob stands for 1 mile from the WTC site.

    New Yorkers would get madder about that than they are about the “mosque.”

  27. oudiva  •  Aug 14, 2010 @5:33 pm

    I live in Oklahoma, and so have no standing in this issue, but for the record, I think Mayor Bloomberg is dead right and should stick to his guns. So should the people who are building the cultural center.

    We either believe in freedom of religion or we don’t.

  28. Betsy Ross  •  Aug 14, 2010 @5:58 pm

    What’s missing is just who is funding this “cultural center,” and exactly why in a area of lower Manhattan that is primarily a business district to begin with when there are, after all, over 30 mosques in New York metro to begin with. The selection of this site was meant to create the very “civil” war it has throughout the country, and sure that Mayor Bloomberg is once again seeing that 100 Million Dollar Mosque for the bucks, and of course would ignore any and all dissenters in favor of the “jobs and the economy” of the New York City coffers.

    What a purely insane idea, when there are so many more suitable sites in residential areas that would not create this outrage, and would better serve their flock in any event.

  29. maha  •  Aug 14, 2010 @6:59 pm

    What’s missing is just who is funding this “cultural center,”

    They are accepting donations at the Cordoba House website. The last I heard they are still short of the money they need for the site.

    and exactly why in a area of lower Manhattan that is primarily a business district to begin with

    It’s a many things district, although that particular area is as much a church district as anything else. There are several churches in the immediate vicinity.

    when there are, after all, over 30 mosques in New York metro to begin with.

    More than that in the metropolitan area, but we’re not talking about just a mosque.

    The selection of this site was meant to create the very “civil” war it has throughout the country,

    The selection of the site was meant to do no such thing. From the website:

    Park51 will be dedicated to pluralism, service, arts and culture, education and empowerment, appreciation for our city and a deep respect for our planet. Park51 will join New York to the world, offering a welcoming community center with multiple points of entry.

    With world-class facilities, a global scope and strong local roots, Park 51 will offer a friendly and accessible platform for conversations across our identities.

    There is much hopeful talk of a swimming pool. I know of some people who live in lower Manhattan who are looking forward to the opening of the center if there’s a swimming pool.

    The selection of this site was meant to create the very “civil” war it has throughout the country,

    The people bringing the “civil war” are the haters, the bigots, the people harboring the dark and most twisted impulses that are the seeds of atrocity. People such as yourself.

    and sure that Mayor Bloomberg is once again seeing that 100 Million Dollar Mosque for the bucks, and of course would ignore any and all dissenters in favor of the “jobs and the economy” of the New York City coffers.

    I’ll have to assume there’s a tangible idea in that verbiage somewhere, although I’m not sure I see it.

    What a purely insane idea, when there are so many more suitable sites in residential areas that would not create this outrage, and would better serve their flock in any event.

    I was in lower Manhattan on 9/11, and I think it’s a perfect place for an Islamic Center. It would class up the block quite a bit, at least.

    Now, take your sick, twisted, hateful little self and go away.

  30. sara56  •  Aug 14, 2010 @10:33 pm

    When lesbians and strip club attendees start bombing buildings and murdering innocent people in the name of lesbianism and strip club rights, then we will worry about where they do their business.

  31. Charlie M.  •  Aug 14, 2010 @10:43 pm

    The ‘founders’ didn’t give a hoot ‘n’ holler about government interference in religion. Their concern was religion’s interference in government. In 1776, there was zero–absolutely no–English example of government’s meddling in religious affairs, but the FF’s had only to look at the Catholic Church’s history as well as the history of the English Civil War in the mid-1600s to find examples of why they didn’t want religion encroaching on government’s job to protect the rights of citizens.

  32. because the World is Unsafe for Liberalism  •  Aug 14, 2010 @11:05 pm

    Re: the first paragraph, “lesbians” didn’t fly jet planes into the towers…

  33. maha  •  Aug 14, 2010 @11:10 pm

    When lesbians and strip club attendees start bombing buildings and murdering innocent people in the name of lesbianism and strip club rights, then we will worry about where they do their business.

    If al Qaeda were trying to build an Islamic Center in lower Manhattan, you’d have an argument. But it isn’t, and you don’t. The people planning to build the center are Sufis, and Sufism is a form of Islam that the jihadists hate as much as they hate westerners, if not more so. Connecting Sufis to the September 11 attacks is pure ignorance and bigotry.

  34. maha  •  Aug 14, 2010 @11:15 pm

    The ‘founders’ didn’t give a hoot ‘n’ holler about government interference in religion. Their concern was religion’s interference in government.

    They probably were a lot more concerned about religion’s interference with government, but there were already plenty of examples of government interfering in religion at that time; consider the puritan/Roger Williams saga, for example.

  35. maha  •  Aug 14, 2010 @11:19 pm

    Re: the first paragraph, “lesbians” didn’t fly jet planes into the towers…

    Neither did Sufis. It was al Qaeda. Al Qaeda isn’t building anything in Manhattan, and since the Imam in back of the project is a Sufi, al Qaeda or any other jihadist organization couldn’t possibly be connected to it. Jihadists hate Sufis.

  36. maha  •  Aug 14, 2010 @11:21 pm

    Folks, we’re starting to get trolls on this thread, so I’m shutting down comments.

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