That the Ground Zero Mosque in question is neither at Ground Zero nor a mosque seems a convenient pair of facts for the predictable chorus of elderly, mouth-foaming Islam-baiters currently braying in and around New York to ignore. But ancient right-wing imams named Lieberman, Gingrich, King and Giuliani jerked their crinkly replacement knees anyway, stepping in time to the fiddle played by Rupe's New York Post in what can only be viewed as a revival show put on in summer stock for little old ladies with blue hair.
It's all so old, so predictable, so lame, and so utterly bereft of any principles having anything at all to do with the human freedoms this little American experiment of ours are supposed to encourage. It's a tidy little package of intolerance wrapped in yesterday's news, a little blue pill for old-timey hatred hard-ons to go with book tours and cocktails at '21.'
Then there's what can only be described as the weaselly attitude of the ADL which, as Greg Sargent points out, seemingly favors a one-mile No Mosque Zone around the site of the 9/11 attacks. And it's hard for anyone to argue with Peter Beinart's reaction to the ADL's strange move:
The ADL’s rationale for opposing the Ground Zero mosque is that “building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain—unnecessarily—and that is not right.” Huh? What if white victims of African-American crime protested the building of a black church in their neighborhood? Or gentile victims of Bernie Madoff protested the building of a synagogue? Would the ADL for one second suggest that sensitivity toward people victimized by members of a certain religion or race justifies discriminating against other, completely innocent, members of that religion or race? Of course not. But when it comes to Muslims, the standards are different.
But it's not hard at all to argue with Michael Bloomberg. The Mayor has stood tall in the saddle on the so-called Ground Zero Mosque - actually an Islamic cultural and community center two blocks away from the current construction site that may or may not include a prayer room - from the very beginning. Bloomberg deserves praise as well as the thanks of cool-headed New Yorkers who value our wildly multicultural city. There was zero weasel in the kind of statements the Mayor has peppered the media with over the past couple of months; here's two of the menschiest:
"Muslims are as much a part of our city and country as any faith - and as welcome to worship in Lower Manhattan as any other group. This is as important a test of the separation of church and state as any we may see in our lifetime, and it's critical we get it right."
"What is great about America and particularly New York is we welcome everybody, and if we are so afraid of something like this, what does that say about us? Democracy is stronger than this. You know the ability to practice your religion was one of the real reasons America was founded. And for us to just say no is just, I think, not appropriate is a nice way to phrase it . . . If you are religious, you do not want the government picking religions, because what do you do the day they don't pick yours?"
Can't say it better than that. Haven't always agreed with Bloomberg. But his sincere lack of wiggle and straightforward, clear-headed policy here can't be overlooked. So what of the planned Cordoba House, the American Society for Muslim Advancement and its "controversial" founder Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf? ThinkProgress has the brief:
While the project has received considerable support from New York state and city politicians, it has also been praised by local religious leaders, Jewish and Christian. And if Abdul Rauf is so anti-American as Cheney and Kristol say, why would the FBI praise his cooperation with the agency after 9/11? “We’ve had positive interactions with him in the past,” an agency spokesperson said.
When President Bush said they hate our freedom in 2001, he was right. And some still do.