by Jerry Krase
Nationwide, the media is carrying stories of objections to anything that reminds even reasonable people of Islam. Having many Moslem friends and having benefited if not been blessed by their courtesy and hospitality, I would be remiss if I didn't comment on what is becoming an incredible embarrassment for people like me who try to proudly represent America to foreigners here and abroad.
Now that "THE" Mosque has cleared another hurdle when the NYC Landmarks Preservation Committee decided not to landmark the structure to be torn down to make way for "THE" Mosque (i.e. community and cultural center) in Lower Manhattan I thought I might cut and paste and edit here some brief remarks I wrote in response to an excellent New York Times essay "A Mosque Maligned" By ROBERT WRIGHT which you can read at:
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/20/a-mosque-maligned/ He started his piece with: "Just to show you how naïve I am: When I first heard about the plan to build a mosque and community center two blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks, I didn’t envision any real opposition to it."
My comment is as follows:
A far more serious threat to the usually 'tolerant' climate of New York City is the real, but mostly imaginary, insults used by intolerance mongers to sell one or another politically partisan product such as a plethora of pandering candidates for local or statewide office. The disingenuous mongers, such as those found at The Weekly Standard, can also be found in local weeklies where they are enraged at Moslems wanting a place to worship that might challenge the hegemony of a newly minted 'Judeo-Christian New York.' I note this in re: the oldies but goodies in NYC and elsewhere as to outrages over Christian bells disturbing non-Christian ears, and eruvs enclosing non-Jews. I guess we should be grateful for the pseudo-Judeo-Christian coalition as perhaps, had it occurred some decades earlier, there would not have been a need for the Holocaust Museum near to the WTC that should shame the intolerant into respectful silence. Perhaps we need 'father' Charles Coughlin or 'rabbi' Meir Kahane to revisit the Big Apple to remind us of how far we thought we had come baby. Other than requiring a trip to Mecca before we die and accepting Mohammed as 'The' Prophet, almost all of us are supported (more or less) by the other pillars of Islam... belief in one god for all, charity, fasting, and prayers. Like Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and myriad other believers and nonbelievers alike, Moslems do not need a big building in which to worship; anyplace, anywhere. But NYC and New Yorkers do need to demonstrate the tolerance for which we are noted and which is the real threat to al qaeda and all the others in this world who can't tolerate tolerance. I hope that by August 11 (the start of Ramadan) I'll see in The Times a report on the schedule for building the mosque and a photo of the ecumenical collection of leaders (with shovels in their hands). I won't read what The Standard (or the foxers) will have to say about it, as it has long been far below my own standards of intelligent 'commentary.' ps: I can't wait to see how Sarah Palin spells Ramadan mobarak!
Jerome Krase, Ph.D.
Emeritus and Murray Koppelman Professor
The City University of New York