I don’t wish to be unfair. It’s not in my nature. I know that Michael Bloomberg was born and raised in modest circumstances, and dreamed and schemed and worked very hard — not stopping to bother to learn any history or literature, for there was simply no time, and Michael Bloomberg had decided to dedicate himself to great business, the epic business, of Making A Fortune. And once he had made that fortune, which long long before had passed the dreams of avarice held by any homme moyen sensuel, that is, you and I, dear reader, he decided he would “give something back” by entering politics, and buying himself the mayoralty, the better to win fame to alliteratively bookend that fortune, and to justify man’s ways to man — that is, to justify Michael Bloomberg to Michael Bloomberg, by winning (so he thought) the respect and admiration of his fellow man.
Well, it hasn’t worked out that way, because his attempt to liken himself to George Washington reassuring Moses Seixas of the Touro Synagogue is one based on Bloomberg’s complete and total ignorance — a willful ignorance, and ignorance that he insists upon — of Islam, of what a mosque is, of what a triumphalist mosque is, of what Islam is, and in this case, more specifically, of what Feisal Abdul Rauf means when he says Muslims in America must be free to work to change our secular laws so that they no longer come into conflict with the Holy Law of Islam, the Shari’a. That effort — along with the usual tom-lehrerish old-dope-peddler desire of “doing well by doing good” — is now Feisal Abdul Rauf’s public, and possibly private, too, reason for being.
But except for being that celebrated thing, A Self-Made Man (not all Self-Made Men are as willfully ignorant, or as obstinately so, as Michael Bloomberg is, with his private childhood demons and his bland unexamined assumptions about so many things), rather than “beginning with a good inheritance,” Michael Bloomberg in this New York Mosque affair is proving to be a Podsnap, forsooth, to the life — as so many others are also proving themselves.
You’ve forgotten Mr. Podsnap, have you? Well, then, let me remind you of how in two paragraphs Charles Dickens described him, and endowed him with immortality:
Mr. Podsnap was well to do, and stood very high in Mr. Podsnap’s opinion. Beginning with a good inheritance, he had married a good inheritance, and had thriven exceedingly in the Marine Insurance way, and was quite satisfied. He never could make out why everybody was not quite satisfied, and he felt conscious that he set a brilliant social example in being particularly well satisfied with most things, and, above all other things, with himself.
Thus happily acquainted with his own merit and importance, Mr. Podsnap settled that whatever he put behind him he put out of existence. There was a dignified conclusiveness – not to add a grand convenience – in this way of getting rid of disagreeables which had done much towards establishing Mr. Podsnap in his lofty place in Mr. Podsnap’s satisfaction. “I don’t want to know about it; I don’t choose to discuss it; I don’t admit it!”
Here’s Mayor Bloomberg:
Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo should not investigate the financing of the proposed Islamic community center near ground zero, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said on Tuesday, reiterating his support for the project.
“I think it’s a terrible precedent,” he said. “You don’t want them investigating donations to religious organizations, and there’s no reason for the government to do so.”
Yes, that’s Mayor Bloomberg, with his easy assumptions that it’s merely a matter of “religious freedom,” which, furthermore, he appears to think is absolute. His Counsel has apparently not told him that the Free Exercise of Religion is not absolute at all, and there are a long series of Supreme Court decisions to prove it. The Counsel should remind him that while we have democracy and free speech in this country, too, we also look into who is behind certain kinds of free speech. Imagine if Mayor Bloomberg said it did not matter, for example, if some group of oil companies, say Saudi-owned Aramco, along with the Libyan Oil Agency, and a Kuwaiti oil company, and an Emirati oil company, were paying for a very expensive global-warming-denial ad campaign and also contributing to all candidates who agreed that global warming was simply a fiction. Imagine if in that case Bloomberg insisted “You don’t want them investigating donations to political organizations, and there’s no reason for the government to do so.”
“No reason,” Mr. Podsnap of Gracie Mansion?
No reason at all?