Unsurprisingly (given how strongly Mayor Bloomberg supports
real estate development religious freedom, New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission approved plans for a large Islamic Center (and mosque) on the site of a former Burlington Coat Factory store in lower Manhattan, over two city blocks from the World Trade Center site, In his inimitable style, Brother Roy explains it all for you; Roy Edroso is so thorough, so on, there's little I can add. So I will add... a little. .
When I first heard this story pitched, I, like everyone else, assumed that plans were for a Mosque in Ground Zero, meaning, within the 13 acre "footprint" of the former World Trade Center buildings. I had (and would have) no particular objection to that, because I (apparently foolishly, as Likudniks and the Anti-Defamation League and Sarah Palin and some
loud-mouthed multi-millionaires "9-11 families" and so forth would insist) think that the United States has "freedom of religion." Further, although an Islamic Center might be something of a security risk in its own right (mosques have been targeted all over Iraq and Pakistan for example, usually by members of rival sects), apparently, anything on the World Trade Center site, which was the subject of terrorist attack not merely on (hushed reverence) NINE ELEVEN, but in 1993, is going to present such a risk. All that said, it's a nice symbol of New York;s and America's tolerance and pluralism to slap a mosque up there... and if not on the site itself... near it.
Which takes us to what I find most intriguing about all this, which is the insistence that this is "the GROUND ZERO mosque." Um, no. IT isn't. It's TWO full city blocks North (and a few buildings over) from the nearest WTC entry point. The north boundary of the WTC site is Vesey Street. Between Church and West Broadway from that boundary north to Barclay Street lies a U.S. Post Office building. From Barclay between Church and West Broadway north to Park Place is 100 Church Street, a 20 or so story office building in which I happened to work for over five years, up to and including the morning of September 11th itself. The former Burlington Coat Factory site, located at 45 Park Place, is on the north side of the next block, between Park Place and Murray Street. In short: it's over two blocks away from Holy and Sacred Ground Zero[TM], I suppose, the boundaries of "Ground Zero" are rhetorical, and of course, magical, and can expand as needed to incorporate any of, you know, those people, as bigotry and ideology dictate.
But then, I don't know how many Americans could find New York on a map, let alone any particular point in it. And yet, we live in an era where "everyone is entitled to their [right-wing] opinion, no matter how stupid." I detest living in such an era. Whatever happened to "better to hold one's tongue and be thought a fool than to speak up (preferably on Fox News) and remove all doubt?" I don't know. I just don't know.
And speaking of mosques and Ground Zero... happy 49th birthday to my college classmate and the President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama. This has been, "Religious intolerance meets geographic ignorance." ,