Matt Drudge and Michael Graham both note the hypocrisy of left-wing mayors who want to ban Chick-fil-A from their cities for opposing gay marriage. (“GODFATHER WELCOMES FARRAKHAN” and “Imam Who Inspired Menino’s Mosque Lists The Many Ways To Kill Gays”.) Hey leftists, how about first breaking away from your bromances with Muslim demagogues who want to put homosexuals to death?
But the biggest hypocrisy is the contrast with their position on the Ground Zero mosque, where numerous leading leftists, from Obama on down, insisted that Muslims have a constitutional right to establish a mosque in a building that was hit by the landing gear of Flight 175 after it came out the back of WTC2 on 9/11.
Just as leftist Democrats Emanuel, Moreno and Menino want to bar Chick-fil-A from their territories for speaking what they consider to be blasphemy (despite its being the majority view), so too leftists in New York City (led by leftist Republican mayor Mike Bloomberg) rammed the mosque permit through very much on the basis of their approval of its speech content, all while pretending to be acting on the basis of content neutrality. The details are worth recalling.
The Ground Zero mosque site, 51 Park Place, is actually part of Ground Zero. From the beginning, this was Imam Rauf’s explicit rationale for wanting to build there:
The location was precisely a key selling point for the group of Muslims who bought the building in July. A presence so close to theWorldTradeCenter, “where a piece of the wreckage fell,” said Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the cleric leading the project, “sends the opposite statement to what happened on 9/11.”
“We want to push back against the extremists,” added Imam Feisal, 61.
Right, push back against the extremists. That’s why Rauf named his project “The Cordoba Initiative,” a name that dovetails with the first sentence of Osama bin Laden’s proclaimed justification for the 9/11 attacks:
Let the whole world know that we shall never accept that the tragedy of Andalusia will be repeated inPalestine. We cannot accept that Palestinewill become Jewish.
Cordoba was the Muslim capital of Andalusia (the Iberian peninsula when it was controlled by the Moors). Bin Laden in-effect named his attack “the Andalusia initiative,” and Rauf just changed “Andalusia” to its closest synonym. Both seek to bring the entire world under sharia law (the instrument of Islamic rule). About this, Rauf brooks no compromise:
And since a Shari’ah is understood as a law with God at its center, it is not possible in principle to limit the Shari’ah to some aspects of human life and leave out others.
So how does Rauf have a constitutional right to build his Islamic victory mosque on a piece of Ground Zero, which Obama himself describes as “hallowed ground”? Here is the Harvard Law grad’s attempt at an explanation:
Recently, attention has been focused on the construction of mosques in certain communities — particularlyNew York. Now, we must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of lowerManhattan. The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country. And the pain and the experience of suffering by those who lost loved ones is just unimaginable. So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. And ground zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.
But let me be clear [get ready for obfuscation]. As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are.
As Obama spokesman Bill Burton tried to clarify the next day:
What he said last night, and reaffirmed today, is that if a church, a synagogue or a Hindu temple can be built on a site, you simply cannot deny that right to those who want to build a mosque.
Ah yes, the perfectly impossible “if.” There is not a snowball’s chance in Hell that any other private religious group would ever be allowed to claim a part of Ground Zero in order to promote their ideological perspective on the 9/11 attacks. Partisan secular groups would also be barred, by the very mechanisms Obama mentioned: “local laws and ordinances.”
New York City‘s speech-content-based review process
The relevant permitting bodies were New York City’s Community Board 1 and the Landmarks Commission. CB1 approved the mosque on the basis of the views they thought it represented (that is, this government body’s decision was not speech-content neutral):
Community Board 1 member Rob Townley called the plan a “seed of peace,” a message repeated by mosque supporters throughout the night.
“We believe that this is a significant step in the Muslim community to counteract the hate and fanaticism in the minority of the community,” he said.
Unfortunately, that hateful and fanatical minority is well represented by Imam Rauf. The Board’s thinking here is the same as with the Crescent of Embrace memorial to Flight 93, which was favored by some Flight 93 family members precisely because it can be seen as a symbol of outreach to the Islamic world, leading one family member on the design contest jury to scream out:
I don’t want to reach out to those people. THEY MURDERED MY DAUGHTER!
Indeed they did. It is orthodox Islam that attacked us on 9/11 and orthodox Islam is what the Islamic crescent symbolizes (the flag of the last caliphate). Orthodox Islam is also what Imam Rauf preaches. There are moral Muslims—those who reject orthodox insistence on Islamic conquest and its systematic suppression of competing views—but Rauf is not one of them. He is orthodox to his core. He is one of the bad guys.
Then the Landmarks Commission, which is supposed to look at both architectural and historic significance, conducted a review that was limited exclusively to the question of whether the building’s “Italian Renaissance palazzo style” was historic enough to warrant protection. They explicitly left the 9/11 connection out of their review, only considering an application for historic status that had been submitted long before 9/11 (ibid):
The Landmarks Commission has had a pending application for landmark status for the site since 1989, de Bourbon said. The application had been on hold for more than two decades but was recently reinstated after a review by the commission.
She insisted the current review is unrelated to the controversy surrounding the proposed mosque and Islamic center.
“This is a totally separate issue,” de Bourbon told ABCNews.com.
The president himself calls the site “hallowed ground” (he was referring to Ground Zero in general when he said that, but the specific subject was the Ground Zero mosque), yet the Landmarks Commission never even considered whether having several of its floors penetrated by the landing gear from Flight 175 might be even a little bit historic.
It is obviously legitimate for cities and states and even the federal government to keep ideological claimants off of our most historic properties, yet even normally intelligent people like Eugene Volokh failed to question the “if” in the Obama administration’s “if a church, a synagogue or a Hindu temple can be built on a site”:
[T]he legal issue is open and shut. The Free Exercise Clause means that the government may not discriminate against an entity because of its religious denomination.
Sorry Eugene, but your “open” and your “shut” both wiff the issue, which has nothing to do with the denomination in question. As the historical review board’s tortured avoidance of the historical connection to 9/11 made clear, if the building were seen as connected to 9/11 then no religious or political group of any stripe would be allowed to claim it for their own soap box. The assumption that other religious groups or the Tea Party would be allowed to do this is ludicrous.
If Con Edison succeeds in evicting Rauf’s group from Park 51 for non-payment of back rent then maybe some well-heeled Tea Party member can pick it up and announce plans for a freedom museum that highlights the anti-liberty ideology of those who attacked us on 9/11. Just make sure to note that 51 Park Avenue is the perfect location because it was actually struck on 9/11. Then we’d see how quickly New York City’s Landmarks Commission would declare the building’s 9/11 connection historic, subjecting building plans to heightened scrutiny and giving the lie to their earlier pretense of content neutrality. Refusing to consider any historical connection to 9/11 is not neutral!
Bloomberg, of course
The whole process was manipulated by mayor Bloomberg who appointed the members of the Landmarks Commission and worked constantly behind the scenes to get the mosque built, to the point where he was credibly accused by the NY Post of engaging in state establishment religion:
Bloomberg’s community affairs commissioner even ghost-wrote a letter to CB1 on behalf of Daisy Khan, wife of mosque promoter Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Meanwhile, officials intervened to obtain permits so that prayers could be conducted at the site.
Bloomberg’s rationale was pure appeasement:
To cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists.
If we don’t coddle Muslims says Bloomberg (and to hell with the Constitution), they will feel alienated and will want to attack us again. It’s just like his instinct on guns: when under attack, quick disarm! Then the attacker won’t feel threatened and maybe won’t kill you so much. Cowardly pea brain. But as the Post noted, the immediate problem is the unconstitutionality of it:
Government has no business advocating for any religion. That’s the principle that chased Nativity scenes from the public square.
Leave it to Mike Bloomberg to cherry-pick one ofAmerica’s founding principles.
Unconstitutional support for Islam and unconstitutional attacks on Christianity by a cadre of fruitcakes who are obsessed with homosexual marriage. The unprincipled irrationality of these people knows no bounds.