Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Battlelines Are Drawn Over Cordoba House

The photo above shows a rightist protester holding up a sign at New York City hearing over Cordoba House's real estate: "No 9/11 Victory Mosque." Cordoba House is the downtown NYC Islamic community center and mosque being villified as the "Ground Zero Mosque" by the right wing.

It pains me to recognize that Mayor Michael Bloomberg is eloquently on the correct side of this issue:
"We may not always agree with every one of our neighbors. That's life. And it's part of living in such a diverse and dense city. But we also recognize that part of being a New Yorker is living with your neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance. It was exactly that spirit of openness and acceptance that was attacked on 9/11, 2001....
“Let us not forget that Muslims were among those murdered on 9/11, and that our Muslim neighbors grieved with us as New Yorkers and as Americans. We would betray our values and play into our enemies' hands if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists, and we should not stand for that...
"For that reason, I believe that this is an important test of the separation of church and state as we may see in our lifetimes, as important a test. And it is critically important that we get it right...
"Muslims are as much a part of our city and our country as the people of any faith. And they are as welcome to worship in lower Manhattan as any other group. In fact, they have been worshipping at the site for better, the better part of a year, as is their right. The local community board in lower Manhattan voted overwhelmingly to support the proposal. And if it moves forward, I expect the community center and mosque will add to the life and vitality of the neighborhood and the entire city...
"Political controversies come and go, but our values and our traditions endure, and there is no neighborhood in this city that is off-limits to God's love and mercy, as the religious leaders here with us can attest."

Now President Obama has forcefully also come out on the correct side of the issue: "As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country...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 unshakable."(full text)

Contrast this with the remarks of insane racist blogger Pamela Geller whose "Atlas Shrugs" blog is leading the charge to paint Cordoba House as a den of terrorism: "Obama came out for the Islamic supremacist mosque at the hallowed ground of 911 attack. He has, in effect, sided with the Islamic jihadists and told the ummah (at an Iftar dinner on the third night of Ramadan, of course) that he believes in and supports a triumphal mosque on the cherished site of Islamic conquest. If you had any doubt who Obama stood with on 911, there can be no doubt in our minds now. I believe he planned it all along. He waited until Ramadan. Symbolic." Geller has previously ranted on issues of Obama's citizenship. She is the force behind the outrageously hateful and inciteful signs shortly to appear on NYC buses attacking Cordoba House. Lining up behind Geller's disgusting campaign are a host of right-wing Republicans ranging from local political candidates like Rick Lazio to unemployed quitter and political parasite Sarah Palin.

Even George Bush resisted the urge to tar all muslims with the taint of 9/11 terrorism. These unleashed forces of Islamophobia are indicative of the qualitative rightward shift that has been transforming the Republican base into something quite new and dangerous.

For more discussion of the issues around Cordoba House see my previous posts on the Massacre Monument, Islamophobia, and on "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day."

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