Podhoretz Makes My Point – UPDATED

NYPost Opinion Photo/Jeff Day

Yesterday, I wrote here that if we had not so utterly failed in rebuilding at Ground Zero, the Cordoba House, Islamic Cultural Center/Mosque, don’t-call-it-a-mosque-Park51 currently occupying our thoughts would not have been an issue, at all:

In a near-decade that “something” could have taken the form of a park, or a memorial, or a glistening new tower, and the construction of a mosque two blocks thence would have been nothing more than a reinforcement of the notion of American Exceptionalism and what Madeline Albright called The Indispensable Nation, and the narrative would have been a stirring one [. . .] But because such a narrative does not exist, the American psyche is at a disadvantage, and what should only be a mosque becomes nothing less than a psyops victory for terrorism, a demonstration of divine blessing upon a damnable means of movement: America cannot fill its hole within a decade, but we will raise a mosque in a year!

I believe that’s really what all the controversy comes down to: the unspoken pronouncement of America as a horse so weakened, she cannot find the spirit to rebuild where she should have, the overall message the gaping hole at Ground Zero sends of defeat, and disorder. It’s a notion so uncomfortable that I’ve had a few emails from people calling me “Un-American” for suggesting there has been any failure at all.

But yes–as Obama would say, “make no mistake”–our inability to rebuild on site has been a failure and it is wholly our own failure, no one else’s. It is a failure of leadership, drive and vision. It is a paralysis of politics, pandering and passivity.

Had we rebuilt, this mosque project would not be on anyone’s radar.

My point seemed to be lost on others, too, who were so quick to crouch into predictable parroting posture and start squawking “bigot! racists! Islamophobes! Bwwwark!” that they missed my criticism. I got hate mail from them, too, telling me I was Un-American for being an Un-American Christianist Nazi Un-American Idiot Poopyhead.

My hate mail from right and left tends to be very similar, but the people on the left use bigger words and curse more.

John Podhoretz, writing in the NY Post today, makes a similar point to mine, but lays it out plainly, and even points fingers:

The real story of the Ground Zero mosque is that the project only became feasible because of the appalling and astonishing fecklessness of the officials who were charged with the reconstruction of the site and the neighborhood all the way back in 2001.

We’re just three weeks shy of the moment, nine years ago, when the landing-gear assembly from the plane that hit the South Tower smashed through the roof and two floors of 45 Park Place, which housed a Burlington Coat Factory.

Imagine that, in the weeks following, you had expressed the opinion that in nine years’ time, that building would sit abandoned only 560 feet from Ground Zero — and there would be no memorial, no museum, no nothing on the 16 acres on which the towers themselves sat.

You’ll have to read it all to see who he blames (hint, it’s the guy I pick to be the next Dave Gergen).

No argument from me. But I think there’s a good deal of blame to go around.

We’ll file this under “Remaking America.” It certainly can’t be filed under “American Genius”

Some interesting comments at Hot Air

Shrinkwrapped appears to have been ahead of both of us!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    “My hate mail from right and left tends to be very similar, but the people on the left use bigger words and curse more.”
    LOL! That was funny. I guess that shows I’ve never sent you hate mail since I’m on the right, I curse, and I use big words. :-P

  • http://alittlecaliforniadog.blogspot.com/ flicka47

    So true, the US is becoming paralyzed. Bureaucrats looking for more and more control(and bigger budgets!)

    And New York “agencies”(especially in this case) have to be the epitome of grinding things to a halt,with so many folks not willing to budge, or give up any control(of course since “epitome” means “top” I guess that really is not the right word…).

  • c matt

    Which ones use “poopyhead”, or do they both?

    [just one side. take your best guess! :-) -admin]

  • DWiss

    Until I read your post on this yesterday, it had not occured to me that the empty hole at Ground Zero and the mosque controversy are related, but of course they are! Doh!

    My view has been that we should have built two new towers, each one floor higher than the fallen ones. Put a musem and memorial in the lobby or alongside so that everyone who visits the place will remember. All that could have been accomplished by now, and what better fitting memorial to those who died than putting it all back the way it was?

    Shame on us for dithering and failing. Where’s the courage?

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    We certainly should have put something there, long before this!

    My own preference would be for treating it like a cemetery, but I’d be open to a memorial center, a museum, or, yes, even the towers rebuilt.

    The space should have been filled, long ago.

  • tim maguire

    I’ve given it some thought, and I disagree. There is no failure to find the “spirit to rebuild.” Quite the contrary, the rebuilding process has been relentless. The problem is the process itself, the endless array of interest groups that must be catered to and a determination by developers, the city and state to cater to them all.

    What is missing is a sense of urgency. Clean up happened ahead of schedule. But many many hearings have been held, building plans have been made and scrapped several times, some rebuilding has in fact happened. But there is a feeling among the parties that what matters is making everybody happy no matter how long that takes.

    It is an embarrassment, sure, but it is not a failure of will or spirit.

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  • Diane Kelly

    It seems to me that if the rebuilding had been left to the American people, the towers would have been rebuilt and dedicated to the victims of 9-11. However, from the beginning, when a so-called “peace memorial” was proposed that showed victims of American aggression throughout her history, I knew that Americans were not going to have a say in what was built there. The land was private property. The owner of the property didn’t have enough money, there was no well financed group ready to step in and help, and the government in New York City has never seemed interested in establishing a memorial. I daresay that if Rudy Guliani had remained Mayor, something would have been done. Mayor Bloomberg has other interests that bring his loyalty to the people of New York City into question.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Tim, I believe the process itself might be a big part of the problem, here.

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com/ Bender

    I said before, I’ll say it again — the mosque/Islamic center should not be built there, but neither should they build a couple of commercial skyscrapers on the graves of 3000 people. Fill in the hole and plant some grass there. And perhaps put 3000 crosses in the ground too.

  • http://sisu.typepad.com Sissy Willis

    I disagree in this way. The new structures would have gone up tout de suite under a totalitarian regime. The dithering could be seen from that perspecctive as an affirmation of our sprawling individualism

  • http://westernchauvinist.blogspot.com Western Chauvinist

    Funny – I disagree in a different way. I think you are right about the loss of cultural confidence (will, spirit or whatever you wish to call it) and I think the cumbersome rebuilding process is evidence of this. But, I disagree that the mosque would be a non-issue if GZ had been rebuilt. I think the call-to-prayer echoing around the site five times a day would still be an affront to decency. I expounded on this at length (sorry) in the previous thread. Actually, that would be my “line in the sand” – a radius far enough away from GZ such that the call would not be audible at the site.

  • Jeff

    Wasn’t the Hoover Damn completed in less time, and the Golden Gate Bridge.

    It’s a disgrace. Rebuild the Towers, that would be the best f u to the jihadists.

  • baleen

    The Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building (built in a Muslim country no less) was started in January of 2004.

  • Jeff

    I just looked that up. Holy cow.

  • Bob Devine

    I know it will never happen but here is my solution to the GZ mosque situation.

    The City of New York should expropriate the site and give it to the Greek Orthodox congregation that lost their existing church in the 9/11 terrorist attack. They can then rebuild their church virtually within yards of their original site.

    The Islamic group that have no history or connection with the site except for the fact it was their cohorts that made the terrorist attack can with the money they receive from the city buy land somewhere else to build or better still charter a bunch of airplanes that they could use to fly off to some Islamic country of their choice and live happily ever after. (Well maybe not happily. I heard one of their big shot Imans or whatever has said happiness is not allowed in Islam.)

  • nan

    I vote for Bender’s solution.

  • Robb76

    I for one am damn tired to be giving in to these
    bastards and their pathological belief system.
    We are a country that has at least, a memory of a Judeo-Christian moral baseline. Subscribe to our culture or get your savage backsides back to those seventh century cultures from which you came.

  • Jeff

    Islam is a real problem because it does not and will not recognize separation of Church and state. Once they attain a majority in a country, sharia comes in and “infidels” go out.

  • Joe Odegaard

    A kind group would not put the mosque where it is supposedly going. I look forward to N. Pelosi’s investigation of me, in the middle of nowhere, typing a note onto a blog, with no prompting from anyone else.

    Good night all.

  • Joe

    It is a disgrace the site has been left in this manner. For shame on all involved.

  • Jim Hicks

    I’m reminded of Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign in 1972. He was challenged in the primaries by a liberal Republican and a conservative Republican. Each received about 5 percent of the vote. The Wall Streeet Journal pointed out this result indicated Nixon was right where he belonged in the center.

    Ditto with you. If both sides are coming down on you, it shows how close to being correct you really are.

  • tim maguire

    Rhinestone, I think I said pretty explicitly that the process is the problem. But I thought of something after wards that is important and missing form this discussion–we’re talking about private property here.

    The underlying deed is held by the Port Authority. But The Silverstein Group holds a 99 year lease. 99 year leases are fairly common in New York City and the lease holder has all rights and responsibilities of ownership, including rebuilding in the case of disaster.

    The city and state are involved, but ultimately, this is a private project, not government. And the developers are free to take as long as they want.

  • Harold Brady

    Hark Hark the dogs do bark,
    The, —-ah, Muslims are coming to town!

    Their wombs – fecund, their progeny – furious,
    their religion – militant/ecxlusive/expansionist!

    Fertility rates:
    USA rate – 2.06
    Avg. European Union rate – 1.50
    Replacement rate – 2.11
    Avg. M.E. muslim nation rate – 3.31

    Ashes to ashes, do “we” all fall down?

    Nursery rhymes aside the intended mosque, and related issues are indicative; the overall conflict is huge!

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    I think 9 years is long enough for any process to go on.

    Why all the stalling here?

  • Jasmina

    Ironically, the Greek Orthodox church at ground zero that was destroyed on 9/11 cannot get its permits to be re-built.

  • Jeff

    I read an interesting article on “Taqiyyah” the islamic doctrine on lying. It seems very clear to me that they consider that they have the right to lie and dissemble to promote and expand Islam. Something to bear in mind.

  • jill e

    Donald Trump said, “What I want to see built is the World Trade Centers stronger and maybe a story taller.”

    I still want that.

  • Bill

    I believe that the mosque site is four blocks from ground zero. What is an appropriate distance, eight blocks, sixteen blocks, thirty blocks?

  • Jeff

    What is an appropriate distance for the nearest Catholic church to Mecca?

  • Bill

    We do not live in Saudia Arabia.

  • Bill

    Excuse my spelling, Saudi Arabia.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/shanasfo shana

    As I understand it, there are already mosques built and used for worship a few blocks away from where this frequently renamed Muslim mosque/culture center is being proposed. And those mosques are in primarily residential sections of the city, close to the populations that use them for worship.

    This new center is being built in a primarily commercial center, some distance from the populations that would frequent it for worship.

    Now, I know that there are Catholic Churches built around commercial sections of cities, but usually those areas began as residential sections and became commercial over the years. Those parishes are old, and usually sold off to become restaurants and breweries (as in Pittsburgh) when the diocese sees the population using the building drop and the upkeep is more than the congregation can manage.

    I read a very interesting perspective on this by a Muslim man: here

  • http://westernchauvinist.blogspot.com Western Chauvinist

    Well, Bill – the site is two blocks away and had the landing gear of one of the planes go through the roof. And, as I suggested above, I think a radius should be measured away from GZ outside of which the call to prayer is inaudible. They can build their “bridge building community center” outside of that.

  • P. Buchta

    Yep. Totally agree with you on this one. Seen it coming from a long way off. BTW The people on the left use bigger words, but the people on the right compensate with bigger guns. :-)

  • Brigid Elson

    Bender, right on. Lay out a beautiful park with crosses.

  • Jeff

    The call to prayer is one of the most annoying sounds I’ve ever heard.

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  • igout

    I’m surprised you’re catching flak for stating the obvious symbolism. A triumphant Islam raises its tower over the helpless infidel’s ruins. The Devil, no doubt, whispers in my ear that their 9/11 may come.

  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    Bender: I said before, I’ll say it again — the mosque/Islamic center should not be built there, but neither should they build a couple of commercial skyscrapers on the graves of 3000 people.

    The proposed community center is not to be built at Ground Zero, but on private land.

    Bender: Fill in the hole and plant some grass there. And perhaps put 3000 crosses in the ground too.

    That’s a very odd statement considering not everyone killed was a Christian. If you were to provide symbols for each of the dead, the choice would seemingly depend on the wishes of the individual families. The idea of a memorial park of some sort is not a bad idea, though.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Tim, if “Process” has been going on for 9 years, and there is STILL nothing at the Ground Zero site (and no plans to turn it into a memorial park, or cemetery); if officials are still bloviating and stooging around, not getting St. Nicholas church rebuilt, while going full speed ahead on a mosque—then, yes, I think that counts as a failure of will and spirit.

  • jane

    Well, thank God Daniel Liebeskind’s design for the hole at Ground Zero didn’t materialize.

    He was the architect of the disastrous addition to Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum/ROM (looking very like his extension to the Denver Art Museum). His Michael Lee-Chin Crystal at the ROM has been called one of the planet’s ugliest buildings by both Virtualtourist.com and the Washington Post, an abomination my husband and I call “Mars Attacks,” because it looks like a celestial body that’s come crashing through the hemisphere, smashing into a very gracious, early 20th century building. Toronto’s Intelligentsia has lauded it to the hilt and Toronto/Ontario taxpayers are still paying for it.

    To add insult to injury, Mr. Liebeskind’s brother-in-law is Stephen Lewis, a former New Democratic Party leader, from the far left of the Canadian political spectrum, who is virulently anti-Catholic, especially when it comes to fighting AIDs in Africa. His solution?: the distribution of condoms.

  • rickl

    Anchoress: I think you were right on target in your original post. If something–anything–had already been built there, the mosque would not be an issue.

    I don’t have a strong opinion about what should be built at the site, but with regards to rebuilding the towers, there is another factor that is not being discussed: whether there is an economic need for additional office space in lower Manhattan. I don’t know the vacancy rate in existing office buildings there, but I would imagine that it is substantial.

    I remember reading shortly after 9/11 that the towers were built back in the 1970s with government assistance, probably from the Port Authority. In other words, the free market on its own would have either not built them so large, or not built them at all in the first place. It’s just one more consideration.

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com/ Bender

    You really do go out of your way to be objectionable and obnoxious, don’t you?

  • Elizabeth Scalia

    [Are you talking to me? admin]

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com/ Bender

    Are you talking to me?

    No, of course not. (Good De Niro impression, though.)

    I do think it incongruous though (although thoroughly consistent with his own particular “logic”), for one who so quickly smears opponents of this particular mosque as bigots to then go on to object to having too many crosses at the site.

    [I guess I had better read some of the comments. Sigh. My cross is a heavy one! :-) -- okay, having read the comments I sort of agree, it should not be 3,000 crosses. It should be as many crosses, Stars of David and Crescents (and globes, or something, for the atheists) to represent the fact that there were PEOPLE killed at that site, indiscriminately. Or, you know, I'd like to see anything built there. admin]

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    jane, #42, I guess we can be thankful that the guy who designed the “Crescent of Embrace” memorial for Flight 93 didn’t do the designs for a Ground Zero memorial, either!

    (I shudder to think what he would have foisted off on the public!)

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    I fear that if there are any crosses, Stars of David or even symbols of, say, Hinduism, or Buddhism, that those who currently champion the Ground Zero mosque on the grounds of “religious freedom” will suddenly become champions of, “Separation of Church and State!” and “No religious symbols in public!”

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Speaking of which, what ever happened to the Ground Zero cross—the pieces of metal, fused into a cross-like shape, that was found in the rubble at Ground Zero? It was being displayed for a while, then the usual suspects became disturbed by it, so it had to be hidden away somewhere? Anybody know where it is now?

    [I think it is slated to be part of the memorial -admin]

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Very good; hopefully, it will make it into the memorial, and not just be stashed away somewhere, out of site.