Yesterday, we were excited to blog about New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s very moving, passionate speech in support of Cordoba House, the proposed Islamic community center near Ground Zero that will contain, among many things, a mosque.
Today, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), whose congressional district includes Ground Zero and lower Manhattan, released this statement:
As an elected official who believes strongly in the separation of church and state, I contend that the government has no business deciding whether there should or should not be a Muslim house of worship near Ground Zero. And, as a representative of New Yorkers of all faiths and cultures, I find the singling out of Muslim-Americans — because of their faith — for animus and hate to be shameful and divisive. We should instead work toward building tolerance and understanding. For centuries, New Yorkers have exhibited a great capacity to incorporate and benefit from diversity. The Cordoba House, which is the product of moderate Muslims, has the support of the local community board and a wide swath of Lower Manhattan community leaders.
Even former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, who told the Weekly Standard he found the building of the Cordoba House "insensitive," agreed there's no legal reason the community center shouldn’t be built:
"There is no room for discussion" on the legal question, Koch told me. "It's insensitive for those who have suffered loss and object, but the people who want to build the mosque have that right and nobody should stand in the way legally — s tand in the way seeking to stop them legally."
Koch also stated:
From the very inception of this controversy, I have said that every religious institution is to be treated equally. And if a church or a synagogue could be situated on that plot of land, then a mosque can as well. I understand the anger of the survivors and the relatives of those who died, but there is a United States Constitution, which guarantees equality for all religions.
But perhaps Mayor Bloomberg put it best in his speech Tuesday, when he said:
On September 11, 2001, thousands of first responders heroically rushed to the scene and saved tens of thousands of lives. More than 400 of those first responders did not make it out alive. In rushing into those burning buildings, not one of them asked 'What God do you pray to?' 'What beliefs do you hold?'
The attack was an act of war — and our first responders defended not only our City but also our country and our Constitution. We do not honor their lives by denying the very Constitutional rights they died protecting. We honor their lives by defending those rights — and the freedoms that the terrorists attacked.