Occasionally, New York City's King, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, takes stands that aren't the easiest, politically. Now that Cordoba House—the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque"—will be constructed, let's give the man major credit for his rigorous defense.
Bloomberg gave an impressive speech this afternoon at Governors Island, with the Statue of Liberty behind him, to defend Cordoba House. The Muslim community center is now certain to be constructed after the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously this morning against providing historical status to the building near Ground Zero that will be demolished to make way for Cordoba.
The mayor's speech lived up to the grandiose optics. He even choked up at one point! We'd recommend reading the whole thing, if you get the chance. But here's a good section:
"The attack was an act of war, and our first responders defended not only our city, but 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. But 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 ways 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 better, the better part of a year, as is their right. The local community board in lower Manhattan voted overwhelmingly 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 can attest."
The speech was a nice way to mark the end—or at least the end of this chapter—of the controversy. Bloomberg probably didn't expect this local zoning board dispute to become a national referendum when he started defending it, months ago. This was before Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, the National Republican Trust PAC, the Anti-Defamation League and many New York politicians stepped in to exploit the red meat at hand.
So today we give props to Michael Bloomberg, for sticking by his values on this one, and putting his famous stubborn streak to great use.