Gibbs on Ground Zero mosque: I'm not going to meddle in local decisions

A nice long punt on today’s decision not to block the new Muslim cultural center two blocks north of Ground Zero by landmarking the site. How radioactive has this issue become? Well, not only is this a rare case of an Obamite wanting to defer to local government, but Gibbsy takes the possibly unprecedented step of favorably citing Bush in order to deflect the question. It’s a surprising cop-out given (a) the beating Obama’s taken from the left in the wake of the Sherrod affair for not speaking out against those darned wingnuts, (b) the fact that, entirely predictably, this has now become a bona fide Teachable Moment on tolerance which The One, one would think, is expected to get in on, and (c) we are, after all, talking about something related to Ground Zero here. Someone must have looked at the polls this morning and figured that weighing in would achieve nothing. Smart move.

Notwithstanding my own opposition to the mosque, I’m glad they didn’t landmark the site. It was a transparent attempt to nullify the owner’s free exercise right, which, as with any right, exists even though it’s exercised in an obnoxious, provocative way. If Rauf wants to set up shop near Ground Zero in the name of “dialogue” despite the fact that, thanks to this clusterfark, everyone is now angrier and less amenable to dialogue than they were before it started, that’s his prerogative, and it’ll also be the mosque’s legacy. Which, I think, is precisely what assimilationists like Zuhdi Jasser were worried about in deciding to oppose it. I leave you with this piece from Dorothy Rabinowitz on the insufferable liberal sneering which has, inevitably, come to characterize this debate, embodied in the person of condescending cretin Mike Bloomberg. He’s deeply opposed to demagoguery, you know, except when he’s idly wondering whether an angry health-care protester might be responsible for the bomb in Times Square.

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David Strom 8:31 PM on November 29, 2022