Pluralism 1, Bigotry 0
The vitriolic opposition to the proposed Cordoba House Islamic center in Lower Manhattan (the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque”) has been nothing short of shameful – Newt Gingrich labeled it “deliberately insulting,” Sarah Palin called it a “provocation” and Cal Thomas described it as a celebration of 9/11 (seriously!). But defenses of the center have been as moving as the attacks have been ugly. Today’s New York Times editorial praising New York’s Landmark Preservation Commissions approval of the project said it well:
It has been disturbing to hear and read the vitriol and outright bigotry surrounding the building of a mosque two blocks from the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. So it was inspiring when New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted 9 to 0 on Tuesday to reaffirm one of the basic tenets of democracy: religious tolerance.
Instead of caving in to the angry voices — many but not all of them self-promoting Republican politicians — commissioners paved the way for construction of the mosque and Islamic center. It was not just the right thing to do, it was the only thing to do.
And New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave an inspiring speech yesterday in response to the commission’s decision, saying
Of course, it is fair to ask the organizers of the mosque to show some special sensitivity to the situation – and in fact, their plan envisions reaching beyond their walls and building an interfaith community. By doing so, it is my hope that the mosque will help to bring our City even closer together and help repudiate the false and repugnant idea that the attacks of 9/11 were in any way consistent with Islam. 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 worshiping at the site for the better part of a year, as is their right….
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 today can attest.
The contrast between this embrace of America’s highest ideals and the Right’s pandering to our society’s most shameful instincts could hardly be more stark.