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.
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?
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.”