“Location”, “location” and “location” are said to be the three most important attributes of real estate properties in terms of desirability.
The proposal to build Cordoba House, now called the Park 51 Islamic Community Center, within two blocks of the former World Trade Center site affords much opportunity to speculate about the three most important attributes of this particular development; they are not self-evident.
There might be more lucrative commercial alternatives to building a mosque and related facilities at 51 Park in New York City. Supposedly, Soho Properties originally planned to develop a condominium project before partnering with Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf and his Cordoba Initiative.
Even if its primary purpose is to practice Islam or proselytize about it in some missionary fashion, it seems there might be more bountiful prospective populations elsewhere, notwithstanding the support of Mayor Bloomberg and progressive Manhattan residents.
In any event, knowing the real purpose of this project could add more fuel to the fires of outrage and controversy already developed all across the United States. The originally proposed name is an obvious reference to Cordoba, Spain, which was ruled by a Muslim Caliphate for about three centuries in the Middle Ages. Daniel Pipes, a well-known history scholar with particular authority on radical Islam has commented that the initiative “carries the unmistakeable odor of Islamic triumphalism”.
One thing is certain; the media cannot let this story go just yet. Even though the controversy continues following the U.S. President’s obfuscating remarks on the topic—a troubling fact for his media supporters—a story is a story. There has even been speculation on the Cable News Network (CNN) about whether the issue will fade away before revival at the anniversary next month of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. Such angst among the progressive journalists is almost amusing to watch.
Surely there is no serious journalist who thinks a mosque at “Ground Zero” will not also be an election issue of some significance. Democratic strategists are no doubt already trying to micromanage the unintended consequences of political fallout that may be visited on the power elite as November’s mid-term elections draw ever closer. If a goal of building Cordoba House was to promote a controversy and/or obtain free publicity then it has already succeeded.
The issue requires clarification. It really is too bad there is no leadership at the traditional level of statesmen to better put the situation and its symbolism in perspective.
Substituting for the dearth of statesmen is a host of scoundrels in elitist politics who are “State-men” rather than statesmen, possessing neither experience nor wisdom in the art of government. Although there are plenty of well-experienced politicians among the entrenched elite—men who have made careers of fleecing the taxpayer to make their own fortune—there are not so many possessed of the wisdom of a Washington, Jefferson or Madison.
Obama and others (his speech writers too, most notably) believe that centralized government control is the path to prosperity rather than individualism and decentralization. Thus, while the president may say the controversy over the mosque project is an issue of religious freedom he cannot be bothered to explain himself to the satisfaction of a majority of Americans, speaking as he does from his aristocratic loft and circumventing the palpable conflict among those he considers beneath him.
President Obama could have added qualifying or clarifying statements to his comments. In fact, he did try to do just that after his abysmal first cut, but as we know he failed.
He initially said:
“…Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship…. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome…is essential to who we are.”
Well, that was the first day. On day two he added:
“I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding.”
That was a poor effort, in my view, but many people interpreted it as a retraction from initially implying that he was in favour of building the mosque. It certainly did not help that a White House deputy press secretary, Bill Burton, attempted to clarify the matter later in the day by adding:
“Just to be clear, the president is not backing off in any way from the comments he made last night. It is not his role as President to pass judgment on every local project.” (Emphasis added.)
The president’s is a leadership role and this controversy is more than a local project. Barack Obama shirked responsibility on this issue by relying on incompetent speechwriters and bumbling spokesmen so he looks like a bigger damn fool than he actually is.
The point is that the president should have commented on the wisdom of the decision to build the mosque. That is the very sort of thing that leadership entails. By refusing to comment he abdicates his leadership role.
To his original comment on religious freedom and the right to build the mosque he could have added:
“Having said that, I think the decision on the part of Imam Rauf and others was ill advised. At the least it is in poor taste. At the worst it is a deliberately provocative move. But our ability to accommodate that is what makes our country superior to any other nation on earth. We value free expression along with religious freedom. We understand that it is not always pretty, as in the case of racism and other forms of stupid, impractical and insensitive bigotry and hatred. But we will not have our government intervene in the private decisions of its individual members of society, so long as those actions do not infringe on the natural rights of others.”
But of course, this president is a collectivist, ignoring the values of individualism and the founding principles of a great country, so he can only lecture to the non-elites, stopping short in the manner of a command.
That is why the President’s comments came across as another of his finger-pointing speeches of condescension, figuratively holding his nose and often literally reading his lectures to those he considers uninformed and unsophisticated.
©Copyright 2010 Edward Podritske