Tag Archives: Ground Zero

60 Minutes On the Park51 Project

27 Sep

Not many stories about Park51 include interviews with both Pamela Geller and Imam Rauf, but 60 Minutes’ does.  It’s well worth the almost 13 minutes.

[HTML1]

It Must Be August #Paladino #NYGov #Park51

23 Aug

Late last week, this happened:

Paladino has criticized New York’s rich menu of social service benefits, which he says encourages illegal immigrants and needy people to live in the state. He has promised a 20 percent reduction in the state budget and a 10 percent income tax cut if elected.

Asked at the meeting how he would achieve those savings, Paladino laid out several plans that included converting underused state prisons into centers that would house welfare recipients. There, they would do work for the state — “military service, in some cases park service, in other cases public works service,” he said — while prison guards would be retrained to work as counselors.

“Instead of handing out the welfare checks, we’ll teach people how to earn their check. We’ll teach them personal hygiene … the personal things they don’t get when they come from dysfunctional homes,” Paladino said.

…and this:

Paladino told The Associated Press the dormitory living would be voluntary, not mandatory, and would give welfare recipients an opportunity to take public, state-sponsored jobs far from home.

“These are beautiful properties with basketball courts, bathroom facilities, toilet facilities. Many young people would love to get the hell out of cities,” Paladino he said.

He also defended his hygiene remarks, saying he had trained inner-city troops in the Army and knows their needs.

“You have to teach them basic things — taking care of themselves, physical fitness. In their dysfunctional environment, they never learned these things,” he said

Under normal circumstances, a traditional candidate for governor of the state of New York would have been long ago disqualified from serving, and his campaign would be in tatters. But because Paladino is a self-funded millionaire, the resources are available to him to say and do utterly ridiculous things and continue to plow ahead.

Like when he called Governor Paterson a “drug addict“, Paladino will neither apologize nor walk back his outrageous and offensive mouthshits. He will instead double down on them, patting himself on the back for not being “politically correct”. Regrettably, literally hundreds of people around the state will be pleased by his defamatory “tough talk”.

The Paladino campaign has succeeded in gaining attention and some traction in the polls, but in so doing Carl has made headlines for sheer idiocy. Whether it was sending out racist & pornographic emails, calling the Governor a “drug addict”, trying to out-pogrom Rick Lazio on the Park51 community center in lower Manhattan, and now this – labor camps for the poors.

And I don’t throw around the term “pogrom” loosely.

A protest against the Park51 project (and Sharia law, and Islam in general) was held in lower Manhattan yesterday, and during it, an African-American carpenter who works on the Ground Zero construction project had the misfortune of walking by the protest wearing a white shirt and white do-rag. Some in the energized crowd mistook him for a Muslim, and he came within inches of being an assault & battery victim.

When people like Carl Paladino, who are unmistakably but inexplicably taken seriously as political candidates say that the Park51 center is a “monument to those who attacked our country” on 9/11, that’s calling every single Muslim a terrorist.

[HTML1]

When you put together the entire equation of what’s happening in that video, including the background lies and hatemongering that have whipped that crowd into that frenzy, this is no different from a contemporary anti-Muslim pogrom. It’s not about 9/11 or insulting the memories of those who perished on that day. Contrary to the bigots’ assertions, this isn’t some “victory mosque” or a coded project to force Americans to submit to Sharia Law. This is, quite frankly, what leads to a Kristallnacht or crosses burning on a lawn. That’s not to say that there are honest people who are genuinely offended by the idea of a mosque. But when you have a frenzied mob aggressively accost an innocent passerby because they think (incorrectly) that he’s Muslim, that goes far beyond the pale.

When Carl goes on about jamming the poors into a decommissioned jail so’s they can get their work on in various parts of the state as a sort of nouveau Civilian Conservation Corps, you have a bunch of interesting stuff going on.

Usually, tea party Republican candidates don’t tout modern-day versions of New Deal government jobs. We can make Carl’s CCC stand for “Carl’s Camps of Couth”. The notion that poor people, or people on government assistance can’t keep themselves clean is offensive on its face and needs no further comment. But, like Carl’s platform plank where he would require welfare recipients to be residents of New York State for a year before receiving benefits, he is uninformed about the law. A residency requirement is not legal. Carl’s assumption that welfare queens sit around having kids all day while smellily watching Maury is based on a pre-1996 vision of government assistance.

It’s a shame that these are the issues we’re discussing when it comes to New York and its dysfunctional government. The word for all of this is “laughingstock“.

Park51 and Election Season

18 Aug

[HTML1]

Newt

18 Aug

[HTML1]

Michael Bloomberg on Freedom

3 Aug
World trade center new york city from hudson c...
Image via Wikipedia

Neither puking hatred or semi-informed emotion – it is words like these that remind us what it means to be an American.

“We have come here to Governors Island to stand where the earliest settlers first set foot in New Amsterdam, and where the seeds of religious tolerance were first planted. We’ve come here to see the inspiring symbol of liberty that, more than 250 years later, would greet millions of immigrants in the harbor, and we come here to state as strongly as ever – this is the freest City in the world. That’s what makes New York special and different and strong.

“Our doors are open to everyone – everyone with a dream and a willingness to work hard and play by the rules. New York City was built by immigrants, and it is sustained by immigrants – by people from more than a hundred different countries speaking more than two hundred different languages and professing every faith. And whether your parents were born here, or you came yesterday, you are a New Yorker.

“We may not always agree with every one of our neighbors. That’s life and it’s part of living in such a diverse and dense city. But we also recognize that part of being a New Yorker is living with your neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance. It was exactly that spirit of openness and acceptance that was attacked on 9/11.

“On that day, 3,000 people were killed because some murderous fanatics didn’t want us to enjoy the freedom to profess our own faiths, to speak our own minds, to follow our own dreams and to live our own lives.

“Of all our precious freedoms, the most important may be the freedom to worship as we wish. And it is a freedom that, even here in a City that is rooted in Dutch tolerance, was hard-won over many years. In the mid-1650s, the small Jewish community living in Lower Manhattan petitioned Dutch Governor Peter Stuyvesant for the right to build a synagogue – and they were turned down.

“In 1657, when Stuyvesant also prohibited Quakers from holding meetings, a group of non-Quakers in Queens signed the Flushing Remonstrance, a petition in defense of the right of Quakers and others to freely practice their religion. It was perhaps the first formal, political petition for religious freedom in the American colonies – and the organizer was thrown in jail and then banished from New Amsterdam.

“In the 1700s, even as religious freedom took hold in America, Catholics in New York were effectively prohibited from practicing their religion – and priests could be arrested. Largely as a result, the first Catholic parish in New York City was not established until the 1780’s – St. Peter’s on Barclay Street, which still stands just one block north of the World Trade Center site and one block south of the proposed mosque and community center.

“This morning, the City’s Landmark Preservation Commission unanimously voted not to extend landmark status to the building on Park Place where the mosque and community center are planned. The decision was based solely on the fact that there was little architectural significance to the building. But with or without landmark designation, there is nothing in the law that would prevent the owners from opening a mosque within the existing building. The simple fact is this building is private property, and the owners have a right to use the building as a house of worship.

“The government has no right whatsoever to deny that right – and if it were tried, the courts would almost certainly strike it down as a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question – should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here. This nation was founded on the principle that the government must never choose between religions, or favor one over another.

The World Trade Center Site will forever hold a special place in our City, in our hearts. But we would be untrue to the best part of ourselves – and who we are as New Yorkers and Americans – if we said ‘no’ to a mosque in Lower Manhattan.

“Let us not forget that Muslims were among those murdered on 9/11 and that our Muslim neighbors grieved with us as New Yorkers and as Americans. We would betray our values – and play into our enemies’ hands – if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists – and we should not stand for that.

“For that reason, I believe that this is an important test of the separation of church and state as we may see in our lifetime – as important a test – and it is critically important that we get it right.

“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.

“Of course, it is fair to ask the organizers of the mosque to show some special sensitivity to the situation – and in fact, their plan envisions reaching beyond their walls and building an interfaith community. By doing so, it is my hope that the mosque will help to bring our City even closer together and help repudiate the false and repugnant idea that the attacks of 9/11 were in any way consistent with Islam. Muslims are as much a part of our City and our country as the people of any faith and they are as welcome to worship in Lower Manhattan as any other group. In fact, they have been worshipping at the site for the better part of a year, as is their right.

“The local community board in Lower Manhattan voted overwhelming to support the proposal and if it moves forward, I expect the community center and mosque will add to the life and vitality of the neighborhood and the entire City.

“Political controversies come and go, but our values and our traditions endure – and there is no neighborhood in this City that is off limits to God’s love and mercy, as the religious leaders here with us today can attest.”

[HTML1]

Facts are Fun

30 Jul

Courtesy of Andrew Sullivan:

As a Jewish American, I am offended by Newt Gingrich’s suggestion that use the name of Córdoba by Muslims is insulting to non-Muslims. The height of Muslim rule the Iberian Peninsula, the rule of the Caliphate of Córdoba, was also the height of Jewish culture in Spain. It was the decline of the Caliphate of Córdoba that began the end of tolerance of Jews in the Muslim-ruled parts of the Iberian Peninsula. Nevertheless, it was not until Christian rule was established over the entire Iberian Peninsula in 1492 that there was a concerted effort to eliminate the existence of Jews and Judaism in every part of Spain.

Gingrich seems most offended by the fact that the Mosque of Córdoba was established on the grounds of a former church. He failed to mention that the church in question was purchased for the purpose of constructing a mosque on the site. Those who later converted the mosque into a cathedral were not so kind as to offer payment.

I agree with Gingrich that churches and synagogues should be allowed to operate from within Saudia Arabia. However, I am of the opinion that this should not be a pre-requisite for religious freedom in the United States. I was under the impression that the United States considered democracy and freedom of religion to be core principles, not privileges to be used as bargaining chips.

You’re entitled to your opinion.

You’re not entitled to your own facts.

Deep Thought: Muezzin Edition

28 Jul

The Park51 “Mosque” nontroversy is a convenient distraction, enabling Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino to out-demagogue each other on how much they hate the killer Moslems. In the meantime, upstate New York loses people by the truckload and has endured a decades-long malaise thanks to a lack of vision and leadership.

Hatred has become only thing separating New York Republicans from New York Democrats.