Trophy Mosque

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!

4 Responses to Trophy Mosque

  1. Man of Roma says:

    I think that building a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero goes beyond the average man open-mindedness. Seen by many as an intolerable provocation, this vile bigotry, as you call it, seems here to me almost inevitable. Possibly the case of the Jews and of the Catholics (seen as agents of a foreign power etc.) was different, ie less justifiable.

    • lichanos says:

      It is a community center with a prayer room. I agree that the response is inevitable given the nature of American culture, and I also think the backers of it did a few dumb things, but for the most part, the fury is coming from outside of NYC, driven by Republican troglodytes. Doesn’t say much for the ‘average man.’

      An essential tension in democracy, the average (mob) man vs. principle. Supposedly, that’s why we have a constitution. You wouldn’t believe the scorn being heaped on the 1st Amendment by the protesters against this project.

      The project may be stalled for ‘political’ reasons. That is, the backers may decide it’s just not worth it to buck this wave of bigotry. Perhaps that is a sensible calculation, but there can be no conceding the principle or anything is permitted.

      Why is building a mosque on a busy street in Manhattan a provocation? By whom? To whom?

      This whole notion of ‘sacred ground’ is utter drivel. NOTHING is sacred in Manhattan, except real estate and money.

      • Man of Roma says:

        Well, I don’t know, it is your country, not mine but in any case it wasn’t in any busy street of Manhattan, but very close to Ground Zero, as far as I know. And, if nothing is sacred in Manhattan, it may be otherwise for the rest of the US.

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