“I see privilege being accorded to Islam, as against situations in which the civil authorities have de-privileged Christianity and Judaism”
The Optimistic Conservative has an illuminating take on the Ground Zero mega-mosque and how Islamic supremacists gradually assert themselves ever more strongly. “God and Man at Ground Zero,” by The Optimistic Conservative, August 13 (thanks to Doris):
Here’s my bottom-line problem with the concatenation of events and trends surrounding the Ground Zero mosque: I see privilege being accorded to Islam, as against situations in which the civil authorities have de-privileged Christianity and Judaism. The reflexive animus against America’s traditional major religions will be recognizable, in what I describe below, to every conservative. Yet in a situation where a very large group of Americans objects to the placement of a particular mosque, government authorities not only don’t privilege the objectors, they castigate them as bigots and override their concerns. [...]
There are two relevant tales of Christian developments near Ground Zero. One involves a Greek Orthodox church, St. Nicholas’, which was crushed by the collapse of WTC Tower Two on 9/11. St. Nicholas’ Church was across the street from the World Trade Center. In 2008, a deal was announced with the New York Port Authority to rebuild the church two blocks from its original site. But civil authorities objected to the church’s plans for a larger structure, with a dome and spire in the Greek Orthodox tradition. Their express concern was that the church not be taller than the World Trade Center Memorial.
There is no apparent concern about the Park 51 Islamic center being taller than the WTC Memorial (it is). It will not be built as a wholly new structure, of course. But on the other hand, the commercial skyscraper planned by the Port Authority will be a new structure, and it will tower over the WTC Memorial. The principles at work appear to be as follows: new commercial structures may be taller than the Memorial. An Islamic group may occupy a building that is taller than the Memorial and devote it to a religious purpose. But a Christian structure may not be built taller than the Memorial.
We must note about St. Nicholas’ that the 2008 deal with the Port Authority entailed a contribution of $20 million from the Authority toward the new building. Certainly, public funding properly gives the Authority some leverage over the structure. St. Nicholas’ hasn’t been singled out for special public benefits, however; it was the only church that was destroyed by the 9/11 attack. Rebuilding it was simply proposed for public funding as part of the overall plan for the 9/11 site.
The Port Authority planned to build a platform and foundation for the church, because under the 2008 deal it was to sit on top of a garage and security screening area. In March 2009, Authority officials refused to allow the church to review the plans for the garage and screening area. At that point, talks regarding the church’s rebuilding ground to a halt. [...]
The center will house a mosque, and mosques broadcast the call to prayer five times a day. This practice has become contentious in a number of American cities; in the Bronx, a masjid stirred vigorous community opposition last fall when it applied for an amplified sound permit for the purpose. The specific reason for requesting the permit was, apparently, that the call already broadcast outside the mosque was not considered loud enough to attract the attention of the faithful, and needed to be louder.
During the years I lived in Norfolk, Virginia, I lived not far from a masjid and I recall that in the 1980s, the calls to prayer were barely audible outside of about a block’s radius. By the 1990s, they were being amplified, and could be somewhat annoying on a temperate evening when you wanted to have the windows open. I don’t know if anyone ever formally objected to the noise. From a quarter mile away, I found it a bearable irritant. But I can understand why people closer to it might have found it objectionable – as I can understand why residents of the Bronx would, who have no alternative to hearing the adhan five times a day….
Read it all.