Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bloomberg's arrogance on display

Shut Up, He Explained
Mayor Michael Bloomberg to New Yorkers.
BY William Kristol
August 16, 2010

Last Tuesday, standing in front of the Statue of Liberty, New York
mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke on the subject of the proposed mosque at
Ground Zero. His remarks will be read with curiosity by future
generations of Americans, who will look back in astonishment at the
self-deluding pieties and self-destructive dogmas that are held onto,
at once smugly and desperately, by today’s liberal elites. Our
liberation from those dogmas, and from those elites, is underway
across the nation. But it’s worth taking a look at Bloomberg’s speech,
if only to remind us of what we need to ascend from so our descendants
can look back with curiosity at the ethos to which we did not succumb.

As is the way of contemporary liberals, Bloomberg spoke at a very high
level of abstraction. He appealed to the principle of religious
toleration, while never mentioning the actual imam who is responsible
for and would control the planned Ground Zero mosque. To name Imam
Feisal Abdul Rauf might invite a consideration of his background,
funding, and intentions. Do Rauf and his backers believe in the
principles underlying the “inspiring symbol of liberty” that greets
immigrants to the United States and before which Bloomberg stood?
Bloomberg didn’t say. It apparently doesn’t matter. Toleration means
asking nothing, criticizing nothing, saying nothing, about whom or
what one is tolerating. This is the Sergeant Schultz standard of
toleration: I know nothing.

Knowing nothing, or wishing to know nothing, about the mosque,
Bloomberg took it upon himself to lecture his fellow New Yorkers on
their obligation to be true to “the best part of ourselves.” That part
is apparently the part of us that allows at once for intellectual
obfuscation and moral preening. Bloomberg never acknowledged that sane
and tolerant people might object to a 15-story Islamic community
center and mosque right next to Ground Zero. He could not be bothered
to take seriously the reservations and objections of a clear majority
of his constituents. “In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be
to hand a victory to the terrorists­and we should not stand for that.”
So public sentiment be damned. There’s nothing to be learned from the
ignorant and bigoted residents of New York.

Instead, Bloomberg lectured: “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?’ ”
True, certainly true. But Bloomberg did not permit himself to ask what
vision of god, what set of beliefs, inspired those who set those
buildings aflame. Bloomberg said that it was our “spirit of openness
and acceptance that was attacked on 9/11.” But attacked by whom?
Bloomberg wouldn’t say.

In fact, he denied the propriety of asking such a question. It would
have been one thing­a more defensible thing­if Bloomberg had argued
that there was little that could be done legally to stop the mosque
and that New Yorkers should therefore make the best of a bad
situation. But that was not his message. Instead, Bloomberg came to
the Statue of Liberty not simply to accept the mosque, but to praise
it: “Of course, it is fair to ask the organizers of the mosque to show
some special sensitivity to the situation­and 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. . . . I expect the community
center and mosque will add to the life and vitality of the
neighborhood and the entire City.”

But have the real, existing organizers of the mosque shown much
sensitivity to other New Yorkers? The answer is no­but if you’re a
contemporary liberal, you don’t get into the actual, existing facts in
order to make a judgment. You govern on the basis of what the
organizers’ “plan” nominally “envisions,” you appeal to a hope and
expectation that even Bloomberg can’t really believe in. But it allows
him to avoid coming to grips with what is really happening and what
lies behind the popular sentiment of disgust, even revulsion.

The conclusion of Bloomberg’s speech was odd: “Political controversies
come and go, but our values and our traditions endure­and 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.” Do the rest of us
need Bloomberg’s hand-picked religious leaders to tell us that there
are no limits to God’s love and mercy? We do doubt that encouraging
this mosque to be built is an appropriate expression of respect for
God’s love and mercy for those who were killed almost nine years ago.
And we would note that no expression of New Yorkers’ love and
gratitude for the victims of September 11 has yet been built at the
site of Ground Zero during Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure.

It is likely, we believe, that civic pressure will cause the mosque to
be moved elsewhere­Bloomberg’s lecture notwithstanding. But if
Bloomberg were to have his way, it’s worth noting that he would
presumably attend a dedication of Feisal Abdul Rauf’s mosque at Ground
Zero before he would attend a dedication of a proper memorial to those
who died there.

Contemporary liberalism means building a mosque rather than a memorial
at Ground Zero­and telling your fellow citizens to shut up about it.

Women For Israel's Tomorrow  (Women in Green)
POB 7352, Jerusalem 91072, Israel
Tel: 972-2-624-9887 Fax: 972-2-624-5380

No comments: