At lunch, yesterday, I wandered by this building in downtown Manhattan. There was a cluster of people in front, including a couple holding signs defending the rights of American citizens to build a mosque and community center if they want to. I asked why they were protesting there and was told that this was the building where the mosque was to be built. Clueless to time and space as usual, I had not even noticed what street I was on.
A stocky white woman was ranting to a lithe black man with a video camera about how this project is an offensive “trophy mosque.” She compared it to the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, the oldest Islamic building in the world, which she said was built as a commemoration of Moslem conquests in that region. Wikipedia makes no mention of this, saying it was built as a shrine for pilgrims to the site that is holy to Christians, Moslems, and Jews, and was not even planned as a place of regular worship.
It’s hard to imagine the local community boards and zoning reviews allowing a structure as eye-catching as the golden dome to be built on Park Place in Manhattan, but I guess that’s what people in the No-Mosque crowd fear. The ranting lady conveyed with winks, nods, sarcasm and other broad rhetorical devices her absolute dismissal of the notion that the backers of the project are anything but evil agents of a foreign power – nation? religion? terrorist group? Obviously they are not what they pretend to be – Americans who want to build a cultural center near where many of them work and live.
It wasn’t too long ago that Jews were subject to this same sort of vile bigotry in America. Being Jews, they must be loyal to a foreign entity. Before the state of Israel existed, it was supposed to be some sort of international cabal of cannibals and bankers. And Catholics too were treated the same way. After all, they are not true Americans since their allegiance is actually to the pope. JFK was rumored to be under the pontiff’s thumb. A fifth-column of popery in DC!