Mayor Michael Bloomberg has just demonstrated that you can become a billionaire in America many times over, while being clueless about the country you live in.
To Bloomberg, if you oppose a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero, you are indulging in religious bigotry and do not understand the Constitution. Here is the mayor explaining how the heroes of 9/11 died so that mosques might be built anywhere in New York City.
"On Sept. 11th, thousands of first responders heroically rushed to the scene and saved tens of thousands of lives. More than 400 of those first responders did not make it out alive. In rushing into those burning buildings, no one asked, "What god do you pray to? What beliefs do you hold?' We do not honor their lives by denying the very constitutional rights they died protecting. We honor those lives by defending those rights, and the freedoms those terrorists attacked."
The mayor appears to have plagiarized JFK's speech to the Houston ministers, where Kennedy defended a Catholic's right to run for president by invoking the heroic death of his brother Joe over the Channel.
But the issue here is not religious tolerance. There are a hundred mosques in New York City.
The issue here is the appalling insensitivity, if not calculated insult, of erecting a mosque two blocks from a World Trade Center where 3,000 Americans were massacred by Islamic fanatics whose Muslim religion was integral to their identity and mission.
It is no more religious bigotry to oppose the Ground Zero Mosque than it would have been religious bigotry to oppose building a Shinto shrine in 1950 on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, next to the Arizona.
To Americans, the land on which the twin towers stood is hallowed ground, a burial site made scared by the suffering and deaths of all who perished in the horrifying minutes those towers burned and fell.
There are many such sites in America. Lexington, Concord Bridge, Bunker Hill, Yorktown, the Alamo, Manassas -- where the first battle of the War Between the States was fought -- Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Vicksburg, Gettysburg.
When developers tried to build a mall next to the Manassas battlefield, many who had kinfolk who fought and died in that war blocked it, including Jody Powell, Jimmy Carter's press secretary.
They did not fight development because they opposed private enterprise, any more than those who blocked the licensing of a casino beside Gettysburg battlefield did so because they dislike gambling.
What is the purpose of this mosque and Islamic center, the name of which, Cordoba House, is taken from a city that became the Moorish capital after Catholic Spain was conquered and came under Islamic rule for eight centuries before the Reconquista of 1492?
How would Muslims in the Middle East react to the building of a Crusader House in the Holy Land, funded by the Vatican and built around a chapel dedicated to Pope Urban II?
Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is fronting for the project, says its purpose is healing, reconciliation, harmony. Taking him at his word, why would Imam Feisal ferociously persist when the mosque was clearly enraging the families of the fallen of 9/11 and dividing, not uniting, New York and the country.
Nor has Imam Feisal been transparent about where he will come up with the $100 million for Cordoba House, or who is behind this, or what is the need for a 13-story mosque and community center so near where the twin towers stood.
As Claudia Rosett of Forbes has learned, Imam Feisal has been running the Cordoba Initiative, a charitable foundation whose total contributions over the five years ending in 2008 came to $100,000.
Yet he plans a 13-story mosque and community center that will, he says, employ 150 full-time and 500 part-time workers.
Mayor Bloomberg's statement also reflects a naivete about why bin Laden and al-Qaida sent those terrorists to wound our country and kill as many of us as they could in the most dramatic way they could.
Al-Qaida did not attack us because we have a free press and freedom of assembly. They sent terrorists to smash and burn the symbols of U.S. power -- the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Capitol -- because they hate our policies and, above all, our presence in the Dar al-Islam, the House of Islam. They wish to purify their region of the infidel, establish a caliphate and live under sharia.
To them, we are the new Crusaders, the new Romans, and by wounding and enraging us, they sucked us into a war on their terrain.
And those firemen, police and rescue workers did not run into those burning buildings to defend constitutional rights, but, acting out of bravery and love, to save their fellow men.
And as our God, the one true God, said, "Greater love than this hath no man, than that he lay down his life for his friend."
Tell them to put their mosque somewhere else, Mike.
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