This Is Not My Normal Beat (Bloomberg & Mosque Dept) ...

By James Fallows

... but I have to say that all Americans are New Yorkers today, in the wake of Mayor Bloomberg's brave and eloquent defense of American tolerance, and the resilient strength of America's diverse society, in welcoming the vote that cleared the way for construction of a mosque near the site of Ground Zero.  (Daily News pic.)

Thumbnail image for Bloomberg.png"We may not always agree with every one of our neighbors. That's life and it's part of living in such a diverse and dense city. But we also recognize that part of being a New Yorker is living with your neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance. It was exactly that spirit of openness and acceptance that was attacked on 9/11.... Of all our precious freedoms, the most important may be the freedom to worship as we wish....

"The World Trade Center Site will forever hold a special place in our City, in our hearts. But we would be untrue to the best part of ourselves - and who we are as New Yorkers and Americans - if we said 'no' to a mosque in Lower Manhattan.

"Let us not forget that Muslims were among those murdered on 9/11 and that our Muslim neighbors grieved with us as New Yorkers and as Americans. We would betray our values - and play into our enemies' hands - if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists - and we should not stand for that."

Apart from the lofty sentiments, I love the plain "That's life" -- part of the thick-skinned, no-nonsense realism that Americans like to think exemplifies our culture, but doesn't always. Nothing is more admirable about this country in the rest of the world's eyes than the big-shouldered unflappable confidence demonstrated in that speech. Nothing is more contemptible than the touchy, nervous, intolerant defensiveness we sometimes show. 

From Jeffrey Goldberg on this topic; and Andrew Sullivan; and Ayelet Waldman on TNC's site; and Andrew Sprung. Good for Bloomberg. Shame on Newt Gingrich, Joe Lieberman, and the ADL -- who, unlike Sarah Palin and the Tea Partyers, presumably know better. I will never be a New York guy, but New York is a very American city today.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/08/this-is-not-my-normal-beat-bloomberg-mosque-dept/60904/