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Mayor Bloomberg’s One-Way Street

Posted on August 25 2010 7:00 pm

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As a resident of Manhattan, I am used to navigating its grid of one-way streets and avenues. However, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has brought the one-way concept to a new level in his insistence that there must be no compromise regarding the location of the mega mosque complex planned near Ground Zero. Bloomberg’s flouting of the wishes of the majority of New Yorkers, including many of the families of those who perished on 9/11, is all the proof we need that the two-term limit should have applied to him after all.

Bloomberg spoke last night at his annual Ramadan celebration at Gracie Mansion. While finally acknowledging that “there are people of good will on both sides of the debate,” the mayor proceeded to lecture us again on American values of “cultural tolerance” and “religious freedom.”

Protecting radical Muslims under the mantle of the Constitution is not new for Mayor Bloomberg. Recall that he at first had supported the trying of  Khaled Sheikh Mohammad in a New York federal court before he finally reversed himself under public pressure. He has now dug himself too deep to reverse himself here.

Yes, Mr. Mayor, we can all agree that religious freedom and tolerance are core American values. But rights also carry responsibilities.  Tolerance and respect for each other must run in both directions.

Bloomberg thinks it is time for us all to move beyond the pain of 9/11 and move forward with the mega mosque complex as planned. No compromise is possible, he insists:

The question will then become how big should the ‘no-mosque zone’ around the World Trade Center be? There is already a mosque four blocks away. Should it too, be moved?

This rationale for no compromise actually undercuts the mayor’s overall position. Indeed, the mayor is right that there is a mosque four blocks away from Ground Zero, as there are many other mosques throughout New York City. Nobody has asked that this mosque just four blocks away be moved. And I am not aware of any objection to expanding it at that site with additional floors, for example.

But why build another complex – thirteen stories high – half the distance to Ground Zero on the site of a building that was hit with part of one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center towers? Why won’t the sponsors meet directly with the families of loved ones killed on 9/11 and try to reach a solution that both sides can be comfortable with?  Seeking a reasonable accommodation of conflicting needs is also an American virtue.

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