LOST IN TRANSITION: A New York Story

As I wander the streets in my hometown, even though the skyline and the sidewalks look familiar to me as they did 20-30 years ago and even though urban gentrification has pushed Manhattan’ness into Brooklyn; the Upper East and Upper West Side have morphed into Harlem (all positive developments in many respects), the city nevertheless seems lost in transition.  Since 9/11 and the turbulent economic environment that ensued in its wake over the last decade, we have searched for our proverbial soul, often defending our culture and way of life rather than pronouncing our pride for the embodiment of the capitalist spirit that we once celebrated so enthusiastically here. Sure, I get it, in more humbling recessionary times that seem like a New Depression, a certain degree of humility and introspection is perhaps not only more gentlemanly and polite but also necessary for us to evolve as a people.  For a society that does not question where it went awry is destined only to repeat the errors which brought on the very problems which destabilized that society, bringing a way of life to the brink of extinction.

Absent, however, from the spirit which led to the revitalization of Lower Manhattan and the building of The World Trade Center by David Rockefeller and company in the 1960’s and 70’s is a unified vision of how and why we shall remake ourselves for the next century. There is a hesitance or reluctance to assert the true American spirit, almost as if doing so is somehow politically incorrect, if not outright totally unacceptable.

While 9/11 was a horrific tragedy which deserves historical acknowledgement in terms of a 9/11 Memorial,  in the vacuum of leadership and perhaps because of that humility or the simple reality of a country in debt and facing less prosperous times, what has risen in its place to date are symbols which do not necessarily best represent the future of where New York is headed in terms of a global leadership position for the next 50-100 years. Do we hope to have one or are we ceding ground? What statement have we made to the world thus far with the continued emptiness in Lower Manhattan?

I find myself longing for a time before the “caricature of the city” that is represented by caricatures of the metropolis represented by shows like “Sex and the City” took over the public conscience representing what New York is to those less familiar with the history of our metropolis. Over the last few weeks, it’s as if this remake of an HBO Show made into a “Sex and the City” movie and a sequel is still projecting itself with assistance of the Fashion Industry as the most significant symbol of our metropolis. In fairness to the current administration of Mayor Mike Bloomberg, all critique be damned, it is one that has remained focused if not uniquely vigilant in understanding the business of the metropolis, working with NYC & Company to grease the wheels of the Tourism industry, making Times Square one of the most visited destinations in America and thus thereby insuring that New York remains one of the most visited places in America, if not the world. In post boom New York many industries are still licking their wounds from the economic collapse of 2008. That the Tourism industry is holding steady if not growing, is certainly no small feat. In the end “Sex and the City” is but an infomercial for the fashion industry, the design community and perhaps the stores that line Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue in New York City, so I will tolerate its existence even if I feel that the show is rather overly simplistic, hollow and superficial representation of one of the greatest metropolises that the world has ever known.

My concern, as it has been since September 12, 2001 is with the revitalization of Lower Manhattan. There are those, like Community Board 1 who believe that it matters not that an Islamic Cultural Center should rise in Lower Manhattan well before symbols of free enterprise tower over the Lower Manhattan skyline. Islamophobia is not the source or motivation behind my concerns, for I have friends who are Muslims and who practice the Islamic faith who are also very much Patriotic Americans and vital contributors to American society. Thus, I am not one who believes that the goal of each and very individual Muslim is to destroy America or see it come apart at the seams.

The strategic growth of Islam in American society appears, however, on a macro level politically calculated, designed to create an alternate political dynamic within America itself.  In his book American Jihad, researcher  Steve Emerson exposes the myriad of relationships of militant Islam in the United States, involving “charitable” foundations and fraternal organizations, benign-sounding front groups, and university-associated Islamic think tanks,  all working to advance the Islamic brand.  Even if the intent is not for purely militant ends, questions arise as to what that means in terms of conflicts between our Constitution, the American legal system and Sharia Law which influences the legal code in most Muslim countries. There is a growing debate as to whether sharia can coexist with secularism, democracy, or even modernity.

My critique here may certainly not endear me to those of my friends who are Muslim and for that I am sincerely sorry. While I do not believe that excessive Nationalism is productive to move a society forward, except perhaps to rally the masses during war time, America has done exactly the opposite since 9/11, often apologizing for who and what we are and our position on the world stage. Believe what you will, worship the way you will but Sharia Law and the political forces behind Islam will not establish a beach head around our national monuments and integrate Sharia Law without a struggle and without a fight from this man, so help me god.

The American Society of Muslim Advancement:Political Enterprise Promoting Islamic Supremacism?

The American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative have and continue to use disingenuous PR Spin to obfuscate the truth about their agenda and the rationale for the building of a mega mosque at this point in the history of New York City and at this particular crossroads of humanity. One would think that said organization and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf,  might have chosen an alternate location, especially if their efforts were not designed to inflame the sensibilities of non-Muslims or test the limits of religious tolerance.  Advancing the Muslim brand worldwide could be more effectively achieved or accomplished by undertaking an outright cleansing and detoxification of the so called radical elements within the faith, not insisting that those who have been harmed by the militant elements within your  faith tolerate your establishment of a beach head near the epicenter of a tragedy inflicted on our metropolis in the name of your faith. Fix your faith before you seek to build more houses of said faith in or around monuments  or other strategic locations in America. Capische?

Ground Zero Mosque: Interfaith Cultural Center or Iron Fist of Islam in Velvet Glove?

The organizations and individuals behind this project ought to be a little more honest and straight forward about their true actual political agenda, the source of their funding and the quasi political statement that they are seeking to make by building a Mega Mosque at Ground Zero. The building of the mega mosque has been promoted or at least the PR Spin is that it will be an Interfaith Center. But yet this is being built and run exclusively by those who represent one faith, abhor interfaith dialogue and whose leadership (see: Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf)  has been engaged in doublespeak, making one set of talking points about their agenda to the American public, and a local political body that does not wish to offend in any ways members of the local Arab community in New York City,  while making contrary statements to the Arab community locally and overseas.  This has led to some commentators asking whether the Ground Zero Mosque: Olive Branch or Soft Jihad?  Furthermore, ironically, no Christians, Jews or other religious organizations or leaders are behind this project, simply those tied to an Imam with questionable beliefs about American Society and the role of his religion in that society.

Ground Zero Mosque=Quasi Political Statement

Make no mistake, the building of a Mega Mosque at or near Ground Zero is far more than a religious statement, it is a quasi political statement because of its proximity to the World Trade Center, a location where radical elements of said faith inflicted a tremendous tragedy on American soil, and has been interpreted by many citizens across a wide demographic as being an attempt by Islamists to take a victory dance around one of America’s greatest tragedies and a slap in the face to those murdered on 9/11. And while I believe in religious freedom, I also believe that religions seeking to make an overtly political statement so close to where so many died on 9/11 is innately political and should be treated as such.  When religious bodies morph into political bodies they ought to lose their 501 (c) (3) tax exempt status and be taxed as free enterprises.  Some 501 (c) (3) entities are simply not doing God’s work but pursuing a political agenda in the name of spirituality and there is a distinction.   We as a people should not be in the business of subsidizing the spread of Islam in America. Ground Zero is a war memorial, a burial ground and a place for the rebirth of capitalist enterprise, not a zone for Global Islamists to imprint their brand, in a “killroy was here” fashion.

REBUILD: Twin Towers & A “World Trade Center”, Not A World Prayer Center

The rebuilding of downtown should be focused first and foremost on free enterprise and rebuilding something which truly resembles a futuristic ‘World Trade Center’ a place of international commerce that builds trade, facilitates the flow of capital between nations and increases productivity and employment. But ironically there seems to be more of a dialogue on the issue of building an Islamic Cultural Center than there is in rebuilding the Twin Towers. Is this truly “the vision” of post 9/11 New York City? Where is our resolve? Are we re-building a World Trade Center or a World Prayer & Tourist Mecca? Are we allowing for the long slow killing of the American spirit and American culture by forces committed to the installation of a new kind of society in America?

Ground Zero Zoning & Land Use: Free Enterprise Only

Zoning & Land Use regulations exist for many reasons, including to preserve the character of buildings and communities.  We have a Landmarks Conservancy because we do  not wash away the greatest aspects of our historical architectural achievements as a people merely because those committed to the global spread of Islam have investors empowering them to plant symbols of their faith  in locations they deem convenient, much in the same way that Prada or Gucci wants a store on Fifth Avenue or Madison Avenue.  The American Society for Muslim Advancement for political reasons wants to have a monument to their faith at or near Ground Zero for branding purposes, and get this they want it completed to open on September 11, 2011.

The solution is rather simple: the blocks in or around Ground Zero should be re-zoned as commercial taxable grounds and not those used for religious non-profits who will proselytize one faith that in many respects is antithetical to the spirit of American Capitalism, Democracy and the continued existence of America itself, in its present composition. A line must be drawn in the sand against the Islamization of America.  Preservation of our culture and  the American way of life is more important than the political agenda of the forces behind Islamization of the planet.

Religious Freedom Is Not the Issue: Moderate Muslims Are Against the Ground Zero Mosque

Don’t let anybody fool you that this is a debate about religious freedom  It is not, even though it has been framed that way by an Imam with a questionable agenda. It is about the freedom to pursue a political agenda in the name of religion or spirituality, the establishment of a beachhead for political Islam and Islamic Supremacism, all with the support of taxpayers.  As a Society Editor who covers the 501 (c) (3) Tax Exempt charitable fundraising circuit, I expect that some may take issue with my condemnation of  the forces behind The American Society for Muslim Advancement. Some 501 (c) (3) entities are simply not doing God’s work but pursuing a political agenda in the name of spirituality and there is a distinction.

In conclusion, do not let anyone persuade you that it is only Conservatives or those who are intolerant of religious freedom, who are against the building of this mega mosque.  Muslims are not being deprived of their right to worship freely and openly in America. In fact, even some moderate Muslims have questioned the timing of this project at this particular location, and have expressed misgivings about the Ground Zero mosque and the real agenda of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.  Likewise, a wide cross section of New Yorkers and Americans not limited to those affiliated with any one particular ideology are concerned, even if some outspoken conservatives are doing the heavy lifting and being labeled bigoted and intolerant.   This is why I will stand “in spirit” at noon time on June 6, 2010  with my fellow Americans, of divergent socio-political views, who are calling on our leaders to Stop the Mosque at Ground Zero. In the end Capitalism and Democracy will save America before subsidization of the proliferation of Islam will.

*Note: The video included at the top of this piece is Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out on Broadway) by Billy Joel. Wikipedia has an explanation of the meaning of the song. Billy Joel also performed this song live at The Concert for New York City, a 9/11 Benefit Concert on October 20, 2001 at Madison Square Garden.

Reference: For additional perspective on this subject, check out the following links:

-Twin Towers Alliance by Margaret L. Donovan:  “Death to America?” Memorial Day 2010

-American Thinker: A Sneak Preview of the Ground Zero Mega Mosque

-Atlas Shrugs blog by Pamela Geller

-PR News Wire: Is Ground Zero Mosque Founder Lying to NYC? Is Real Goal Sharia Not ‘Religious Dialogue’?

-A Mosque at Ground Zero? Moderate Muslims say no by Jeff Jacoby

- Hudson New York: Ground Zero Mosque: A Muslim View: Stop This Imam Now

-Brett Stephens (Wall Street Journal), The Mosque at Ground Zero

-NY Post Op-Ed: The Peaceful Jihad in America

-Mark Davis: Even So, Ground Zero Mosque is a bad idea

-FDNY: Stop the Ground Zero Mosque!

- SOIA Human Rights Group: Stop Islamization of America

-The Ground Zero Mosque Developer: Muslim Brotherhood Roots, Radical Dreams

-Jihad Watch: Geller: Mayor Bloomberg Submits, Sanctions 9/11 Mega Mosque

-Looking at the Left Never Forget Never Forgive: Stop the Mosque Ground Zero Rally

-Demonstrators Say No to Mosque at Ground Zero

Books & Video

-Terrorists Among Us – The Jihad in America (2001)

-American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us by Steve Emerson

-Militant Islam Reaches America by Daniel Pipes

2 comments

  1. ML Donovan Jun 6

    Thank you for a very thoughtful piece.It was no surprise to read yesterday that the imam behind the “Cordoba Initiative” is a leading figure in the Malaysian group behind busting the Gaza blockade. In other words, as Debra Burlingame, sister of the pilot whose plane plowed into the Pentagon, there are two Feisal Abdul Raufs — one is a mild-mannered “can’t we all get along” cleric and the other is an Islamic agitator. So, the insane possibility that the financing for “Cordoba House” is tied to those who brought us 9/11 is not the least farfetched. Instead of foaming at the mouth about religious freedom, why isn’t Michael Bloomberg calling upon the imam to open his books? After all, naming their initiative “Cordoba” is like labeling an arsenic bottle “Poison.” When we know where the money is coming from, then we can talk about religious freedom. Thanks for weaving another great tapestry of our great city.

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