In Human Events this morning, I explore what might be behind Bloomberg’s spurious claim of the moral high ground in the debate over the Islamic supremacist mega-mosque at Ground Zero:
[…] And in the spring of 2009, Bloomberg opened a news bureau in Abu Dhabi, joining its existing offices not only in Dubai, but in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. And Bloomberg Chairman and Managing Director Peter T. Grauer announced plans to expand Dubai operations still more: “Central to our growth strategy is the doubling of staff strength in Dubai office, our 10th regional hub, from 48 to 100 people within a year…. We will be investing not just in more people but also in infrastructure to support clients in the region.”
Grauer revealed that while Bloomberg was taking a bath worldwide, business was booming in the Middle East: “Despite the difficulties faced by the financial sector in the economic turmoil, our terminal sales in the region grew by 2% in the past nine months, when globally we faced a major setback.” Khaleej Times reported that “the New York-based company has drawn up a five-year plan that will see it achieving a two-fold increase in revenue from the Middle East region by 2014.”
Imagine how quickly that revenue stream would dry up if Bloomberg sided with the people whom Rauf and other leaders of the Ground Zero mosque initiative are busy smearing as “Islamophobes” and “bigots.” When his company is doing poorly worldwide except in the Middle East, it couldn’t have been hard for Bloomberg to see on which side his bread was buttered.
Business decisions are business decisions. But if Bloomberg was making a business decision when he came out so strongly in favor of the mega-mosque, he would have been more honest, and admirable, if he had just said so. He might even have retained some respectability if he had simply said that his business commitments in the Middle East made for a conflict of interest, and recused himself from the debate over the Ground Zero mega-mosque. But that conflict of interest does make his moral dudgeon over the mosque opponents appear hollow and hypocritical. It isn’t easy to be a saint, and it’s even harder when the material rewards for striking a saintly pose are as ample as they are for Saint Bloomberg of Brookline.