Mosque on the Hudson (or: A Right, But Not Right?)

August 21st, 2010

Inspired by Religious tolerance in America, then and now, Grand Old Panderers: Truth goes missing in the mosque debate, Moral midgetry: Obama muddles his message on Ground Zero (Washington Post 8/17/10), Ground Zero for freedom (Kathleen Parker, Washington Post 8/18/10),  To N.Y. Muslims, more than a mosque: Center would fill community needs (Washington Post 8/19/10), Mosque debate: New Yorkers take dim view of rabble-rousing outsiders (Washington Post 8/20/10), and There are no outsiders among us (Stephanie Jones, Washington Post 8/21/10). 

“There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over.” – Newt Gingrich
“Well it may not make me hap– popular with some people, but I think, probably, the president was right about this. I do believe that people of all religions have a right to build edifices, or structures, or places of religious worship or study where the community allows them to do it under zoning laws and that sort of thing, and that we don’t want to turn an act of hate against us by extremists into an act of intolerance for people of religious faith. And I don’t think it should be a political issue. It shouldn’t be a Republican or Democratic issue, either. I believe Gov. Christie from New Jersey said it well, that this should not be in that political, partisan marketplace.” – Conservative super-lawyer and husband of 9-11 victim Ted Olson
“There’s nothing on that block. The place is so deserted, honestly, you can’t even see anything from there—Ground Zero, you can’t see it.” – neighborhood resident Fatima Monkush who’s looking forward to having a nearby pool she can go to
“It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.” – George Washington letter to the Jews of Newport, RI

OK, so the “mosque” being attacked as such an affront

Won’t actually be Hudson riverfront.

But then again, it’s also not on Ground Zero,

As all those who are sincere know.

The term “Ground Zero Mosque” conjures up images of minarets

And bearded imams promoting new deadly threats,

Rejoicing in their victory as they America’s evils expound,

Dishonoring the fallen on our own sacred ground.

The “mosque” is actually 600 feet away,

And isn’t even a mosque, anyway.

It’s a community center, library, and prayer room,

So visitors can say their prayers, and then cooking class resume.

(Of course, far rightists probably think those cooking classes are fake,

A cover for the bomb-making classes students really will take.)

And what sacred site will the Park51 Center replace?

The old Burlington Coat Factory, a decrepid run down place.

The building’s been empty and abandoned for the last nine years;

Redeveloping it in no way with honoring 9-11 interferes.

(And think about all the new jobs which redevelopment would bring;

You’d think Republicans would view that as a good thing.)

As usual, the right-wing echo chamber has excelled in purveying misinformation,

Portraying Park51 as a terrorist training abomination.

The Center’s founder has been depicted as a Bin Laden ally,

In spite of the fact that he was an informant for the FBI.

Yes, there are extremist Muslims out there, and we must oppose them;

If organizations provide them aid and comfort, we must expose them.

But we must also encourage Islamic moderates, you see,

Just as we must encourage voices of reason within the GOP.

You, Mr. Olson, are one such voice;

Alas, few fellow conservatives have made a similar choice.

I forgave you for Bush v. Gore when you took on Prop 8,

But now my opinion of you is even more great.

Too bad other Republicans haven’t followed your lead,

Not to mention Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Is it worth scoring political points if your principles are betrayed?

Unfortunately, even some Dems have drunk the Kool Aid.

(In fairness to Dems, though their lack of spine does apall,

At least they haven’t come close to level of right wing vitriole.

And Mr. President, you got it right last Friday.

You didn’t need to add what you said the very next day.)

Newt, as public figures go, you’ve been the worst

(Surprising for someone who in history is supposedly versed),

Suggesting that since there isn’t religious freedom in the Middle East,

Our own religious freedom should be correspondingly decreased.

Religious freedom is something that all of our history embodies—

We maintain for ourselves, not for the Saudis.

This is about American citizens, American values, and American rights,

No matter how much anger the phrase “Ground Zero Mosque” incites.

This community center isn’t being built by or for terrorists in training,

As many on the right have been complaining.

In spite of the scare stories the right invents,

The center’s being built for New York residents.

Newt, the 9-11 terrorists attacked them too.

And now they’re being attacked again.. by you?

I’ll remind you, in case you forgot:

They’re New Yorkers, and you’re not.

So sorry Newt, but your view is a fraud:

We shouldn’t punish New Yorkers to get tough on the House of Saud.

(In any case, I suspect that your anti-Saudi stance is just pretend–

Republicans have always been too cozy with them to want to offend.)

But above all else, like Polonius said, we must to our own selves be true

And not let the 9-11 terrorists dictate what we do.

If we do, then the terrorists will have won a victory,

By remaking America in the image of their own bigotry.

Lets not make this the beginning of a new intolerance period.

Park51 should be allowed to be built, period.


Here’s Keith’s 8/04/10 report, including video of the excellent speech by Mayor Bloomberg. You, Mr. Mayor, did get it right.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Here’s Jon Stewart’s 8/10/10 report.

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Here’s the Rachel Maddow Show’s 8/16/10 report. Unfortunately, even some Dems (Obama, Reid, etc.) are starting to cover their butts.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Here are Hardball’s 8/16/10 panel discussion and final comment, with Michael Smerconish subbing for Chris Matthews. Sorry Mike, but there’s definitely not a “consciencious effort on the part of the GOP to use the mosque and the prospect of ending birthright citizenship to drive the party base to the polls in November.” There is unquestionably a conscious effort to do that, but I wouldn’t call it consciencious by any stretch of the imagination. And I’m not sure about your “time and a place” argument either…

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Here’s Keith’s excellent 8/16/10 Special Comment.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Here’s a scene from the movie from which this post in part takes its name, Moscow on the Hudson, appropriately about the interplay between freedom, fear, and security. The scene also demonstrates that New York is indeed the melting pot of melting pots (that looks like an Arab guy behind the counter).

And here’s your theme music, Cutting Off Your Nose to Spite Your Face by Bruce Kupcha. Click here to listen to it on Rhapsody, and here to download it for free with the Real SuperPass free trial offer.

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2 Responses to “Mosque on the Hudson (or: A Right, But Not Right?)”

  1. Flyer0731 Says:

    Yes, the “mosque”- actually a prayer room in a cultural center- is not at Ground Zero. I have seen the building, and Ground Zero cannot even be seen from there. But that is not what this absurd debate is about. It is not even about the mosque itself, or about Islam or about terrorists.

    The debate is about us Americans, and whether we still hold to the core values enshrined in the first ten constitutional amendments, also known as the “Bill of Rights”. Do we believe in the freedom of religion proclaimed in the First Amendment?
    Do we rally want to change it, modify it, compromise it ? If so, to what politicians shall we assign the task of figuring out which religions shall be regulated, not allowed, or not allowed in certain places ? Shall we let the people vote on whether these religions are allowed ? Our founders thought we should not, and that is why they are enshrined as “rights”. Rights are exactly rights – they are not determined by majority vote. How many synagogues would have been voted out of communities in the past, or how many German speaking churches at certain times of war, or how many Mormon churches, or African American churches, in past- and even present- times ?

    Sorry to write such a long response to a good commentary. But if we mess with the Bill of Rights we will pay for it, all of us, long after all the other issues of today are forgotten.

  2. google Says:



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