Palin vs The Mosque

Palin doubles down on her Ground Zero campaign. A reader writes:

I first heard about the mosque project a month or two ago, and the thing that struck me the most about it was the overwhelming support it had from the local community board in Lower Manhattan. 

I don't know how familiar you are with how zoning works in New York and the role that community boards play in that process, but let me tell you, to have a community board agree 29-1 on ANY land use issue is quite an accomplishment. Furthermore, why is land use in New York City the business of anyone else but the citizens of New York?  If so, I would really like to know Sarah Palin's opinion of the Atlantic Yards (or Hudson Yards or the expansion of Columbia University) project, an issue that is 1,000,000x more controversial than this project.  That's all this is: a land use issue. 

Following her logic (no small feat, I might add), do I now have the right to protest the construction of a new office building in Anchorage because it may house the offices of Big Oil and insult the people who suffered from the BP oil spill?  Or can I have a say the next time some city in the "heartland" decides to build more sprawl at the expense of more livable communities with mixed-use development, walkable streets, and public transportation?  I think I should, because it really "stabs me in the heart" when places do that.

This is a local issue, plain and simple.  The people of New York - the ones actually attacked on 9/11 and who had to live through the aftermath - are the only ones who are affected by this.  It is no one else's business.  Sarah Palin and the "heartland" do not have permanent veto power over what gets built in Lower Manhattan.  If they want a say over what happens there, my advice would be to move to New York. They might even learn something about the values of living in a multi-ethnic, multicultural community.  Short of that, please STFU.

Polling shows that 52% of New Yorkers are opposed to the mosque. Joe Klein isn't one of them:

If there ever was a place to demonstrate this country's core value of religious tolerance, it is at the site of the World Trade Center.

As regular readers know, I am an intensely proud New Yorker--from the outer boroughs, even--and Palin's intolerance runs counter to my all-American value system. I am a such a staunch supporter of diversity that I find that cliched word insufficient: multiversity is more like it. There is nothing more satisfying for a true New Yorker than to discover a great new restaurant--Afro-Lebanese fusion, perhaps--run by a gay Muslim-Adventist couple. I mean, hummus grits! Why not?

Mayor Bloomberg is backing the board (and an aide who got in a Twitter spat with Palin). Another reader writes:

Yes, 9/11 affected all of us, in the sense that it was an attack on all of our country, and our hearts go out to the victims and heroes of that day. While I do think 9/11 was a national trauma, I also agree with Morgan Freeman when he said "If you were not in New York on Sept. 11, what you saw was an event on CNN". Just because al Qaeda meant to symbolically attack the whole country doesn't give the whole country a say into what goes on in the surrounding area of ground zero.

How often do Sarah Palin, or any of these other talking heads (or me, for that matter) find ourselves strolling around the lower Manhattan area? So what do I care if in one of those buildings is a mosque and Islamic cultural center? The zoning approval for such a center should be subject to the same approval process as anything similar in New York City, and those are subject to the relevant laws and ultimately the voters of New York City and the state. The rest of us should just butt out.

Alaska native Shannyn Moore agrees:

9/11 for NYC was a day many Alaskans couldn’t fathom. I’d never been there. My father didn’t know about the terrorist attack for weeks because he was on the Koyukuk River hunting moose. Another hunter was informed after a military escort surrounded his small aircraft on his return to town. Last year I visited New York City and wept when I realized how terrifying it must have been. I had no context until I stood in the canyons of buildings.

She also points to a list of Muslim-Americans killed on September 11.