Green Room

Ground Zero mosque opens with little fanfare

posted at 2:43 pm on September 22, 2011 by

The controversial Islamic center planned for lower Manhattan that was the focus of superheated and sometimes misleading debate opened not with a bang but with a whimper on Wednesday. The protesters who had fought so adamantly to see the project scotched were nowhere in sight. Neither were their fist-waving liberal opponents, goading them with accusations of religious intolerance.

Ultimately, the courts rejected efforts to block construction of the center, which they said was protected by the Constitution. The courts got this one right. No one I know and respect ever denied the Cordoba Institute’s right to build a mosque on any site of its choosing. The issue was never one of rights but, rather, of whatis right, in the moral sense. It is hard to conceive in a city with an area of 305 square miles that Feisal Abdul Rauf, the contentious imam behind the project, could not find an alternate spot that was not in the now-spectral shadow of the twin towers.

It is equally hard to imagine that liberals, who claim to own the patent on tolerance and compassion, had so little of either for the families of 9/11 victims, who were among the project’s most vociferous opponents. What possible harm could have come from indulging their request that Cordoba find a different plot of real estate for its religious center? Oh, that’s right—I keep forgetting: Mention of the fact that the terrorist plot to kill 3,000 Americans was carried out in the name of Islam is not permitted according to the liberal handbook.

The Park51 center, as it will henceforth officially be known, opened with a photo exhibit of children’s art. How innocent! And the project’s usually bellicose developer and chief financier, Sharif El-Gamal, was all sweetness and light as he tut-tutted:

We made incredible mistakes. The biggest mistake we made was not to include 9/11 families. We didn’t understand that we had a responsibility to discuss our private project with family members that lost loved ones.

If only he had had a V-8!

One small blessing that Rauf and El-Gamal can be thankful for is that no harm is likely to come to their center now that it is built. America is still by and large a peaceful and law-abiding nation. The two men wouldn’t enjoy the same peace of mind had they built the structure in Rauf’s native Kuwait or its neighboring countries.

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The “rights” issue was always argued incorrectly. Local communities have the right to deny building and operating permits, for the various reasons they may have. If NYC had decided not to allow the Park51 center to operate in its chosen location, it would have had that right, and it would not have constituted a violation of the 1st amendment.

NYC’s community board decided to approve the center. The system worked. I still disagree with that decision, but due process was followed. It would have been followed if it had gone the other way, too. There would have been nothing wrong with the city requiring the center to be located elsewhere.

It’s worth noting that St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, the only house of worship destroyed at Ground Zero, remains unrebuilt 10 years after 9/11. The Greek Orthodox archbishop vowed earlier this month that it would be rebuilt, but reporters in NYC say the Port Authority’s current plans don’t show the church with a rebuilt facility anywhere.

J.E. Dyer on September 22, 2011 at 3:14 PM

NYC’s community board decided to approve the center. The system worked. I still disagree with that decision, but due process was followed. It would have been followed if it had gone the other way, too. There would have been nothing wrong with the city requiring the center to be located elsewhere.

Quite true. I should have included that, as well as the fact that the head of Community Board 1, Julie Menin, is an occasional guest of Sean Hannity and quite extreme in her liberal views.

It’s worth noting that St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, the only house of worship destroyed at Ground Zero, remains unrebuilt 10 years after 9/11.

Also a good point.

Howard Portnoy on September 22, 2011 at 3:27 PM

Wasn’t Cordoba was the capital of Islamic Spain, or Andalusia, as bin Laden used to call it.

Any land occupied by a Muslims is forever Muslim and must be reclaimed. And the rest of the world must be taken from the infidels and Zionista, block by block.

Wethal on September 22, 2011 at 3:57 PM

remember how Presidential Candidate Ron Paul treated this issue, ignorantly and questionably

Is the controversy over building a mosque near ground zero a grand distraction or a grand opportunity? Or is it, once again, grandiose demagoguery?

It has been said, “Nero fiddled while Rome burned.” Are we not overly preoccupied with this controversy, now being used in various ways by grandstanding politicians? It looks to me like the politicians are “fiddling while the economy burns.”

The debate should have provided the conservative defenders of property rights with a perfect example of how the right to own property also protects the 1st Amendment rights of assembly and religion by supporting the building of the mosque.

Instead, we hear lip service given to the property rights position while demanding that the need to be “sensitive” requires an all-out assault on the building of a mosque, several blocks from “ground zero.”

Just think of what might (not) have happened if the whole issue had been ignored and the national debate stuck with war, peace, and prosperity. There certainly would have been a lot less emotionalism on both sides. The fact that so much attention has been given the mosque debate, raises the question of just why and driven by whom?

In my opinion it has come from the neo-conservatives who demand continual war in the Middle East and Central Asia and are compelled to constantly justify it.

They never miss a chance to use hatred toward Muslims to rally support for the ill conceived preventative wars. A select quote from soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq expressing concern over the mosque is pure propaganda and an affront to their bravery and sacrifice.

The claim is that we are in the Middle East to protect our liberties is misleading. To continue this charade, millions of Muslims are indicted and we are obligated to rescue them from their religious and political leaders. And, we’re supposed to believe that abusing our liberties here at home and pursuing unconstitutional wars overseas will solve our problems.

The nineteen suicide bombers didn’t come from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iran. Fifteen came from our ally Saudi Arabia, a country that harbors strong American resentment, yet we invade and occupy Iraq where no al Qaeda existed prior to 9/11.

Many fellow conservatives say they understand the property rights and 1st Amendment issues and don’t want a legal ban on building the mosque. They just want everybody to be “sensitive” and force, through public pressure, cancellation of the mosque construction.

This sentiment seems to confirm that Islam itself is to be made the issue, and radical religious Islamic views were the only reasons for 9/11. If it became known that 9/11 resulted in part from a desire to retaliate against what many Muslims saw as American aggression and occupation, the need to demonize Islam would be difficult if not impossible.

There is no doubt that a small portion of radical, angry Islamists do want to kill us but the question remains, what exactly motivates this hatred?

If Islam is further discredited by making the building of the mosque the issue, then the false justification for our wars in the Middle East will continue to be acceptable.

The justification to ban the mosque is no more rational than banning a soccer field in the same place because all the suicide bombers loved to play soccer.

Conservatives are once again, unfortunately, failing to defend private property rights, a policy we claim to cherish. In addition conservatives missed a chance to challenge the hypocrisy of the left which now claims they defend property rights of Muslims, yet rarely if ever, the property rights of American private businesses.

Defending the controversial use of property should be no more difficult than defending the 1st Amendment principle of defending controversial speech. But many conservatives and liberals do not want to diminish the hatred for Islam–the driving emotion that keeps us in the wars in the Middle East and Central Asia.

It is repeatedly said that 64% of the people, after listening to the political demagogues, don’t want the mosque to be built. What would we do if 75% of the people insist that no more Catholic churches be built in New York City? The point being is that majorities can become oppressors of minority rights as well as individual dictators. Statistics of support is irrelevant when it comes to the purpose of government in a free society—protecting liberty.

The outcry over the building of the mosque, near ground zero, implies that Islam alone was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. According to those who are condemning the building of the mosque, the nineteen suicide terrorists on 9/11 spoke for all Muslims. This is like blaming all Christians for the wars of aggression and occupation because some Christians supported the neo-conservatives’ aggressive wars.

The House Speaker is now treading on a slippery slope by demanding a Congressional investigation to find out just who is funding the mosque—a bold rejection of property rights, 1st Amendment rights, and the Rule of Law—in order to look tough against Islam.

This is all about hate and Islamaphobia.

We now have an epidemic of “sunshine patriots” on both the right and the left who are all for freedom, as long as there’s no controversy and nobody is offended.

Political demagoguery rules when truth and liberty are ignored.

Note how the supposed “Constitutionalists” and “States Rightist”, wants to incorrectly apply the First Amendment and thwart State’s Rights. All the while aiding the Islamist and demonizing Republicans and Americans as ‘islamophobe’ hatemongers.

jp on September 23, 2011 at 11:56 AM

Well, one can imagine a fair number of people stopping to converse with each other on the street while eating pulled pork sandwiches.

And when Bloomberg outlaws pulled pork in NYC, it could just be peoplo wearing five-inch stars of David. Twenty-four/seven.

njcommuter on September 23, 2011 at 10:45 PM

I don’t know who this dude is who wrote this post, so I can’t speak to his knowledge of what went on here at hotair when this was a “hot topic,” but the attempt to bring some blame to liberals or the people who built this mosque in your story is one of the most f&[email protected] ridiculous things I’ve read in the past 365 days.

Uh, all I can say is that this is not an issue where you can say, “oh, liberals and conservatives both had it wrong, and now that it’s a reality, let’s just move on…”

No. Conservatives (some at least) were (and I’m guessing are) complete and utter idiots when it comes to this mosque. The very mild mannered opening proves that. Anyone who bought that frothing banshies’ vitriolic lies about the mosque… well, all I can say is shame on you. Your thoughts and actions are a shame to this country. I can only hope you can see the error of your ways and welcome the opening of this mosque.

Tom_Shipley on October 1, 2011 at 2:00 AM