Ground Zero mosque opens with little fanfare
posted at 2:43 pm on September 22, 2011 by Howard Portnoy
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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