How to Provoke
Has there ever been a more brilliant, more knowing, more effective provocation than the Cordoba-Initiative-Park51-community-center-mosque plan? Think of what has been accomplished without subjecting a single brick of the existing building to any further demolition than what took place on September 11, 2001, when the landing gear from the plane that smashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center tore through the roof of 45-47 Park Place and punched holes in the floors below. A frenzy has erupted. Americans have divided. And the unifying aspect of the al-Qaeda attacks—the way in which they reminded citizens of this country that we are all Americans first and foremost—has finally and completely dissipated.
The proposal has ignited a new culture war in the United States in which unusual lines have been drawn—with unabashedly secular liberals sternly admonishing religious conservatives about the transcendent importance of the freedom of religion. Suddenly, even property rights and building “as of right” have become sacrosanct to people and institutions who have opposed private projects in important locations all over New York City on the grounds that, say, they might cast a shadow at certain hours over a few hundred square feet in Central Park. And yet they feel free to express disgust at complaints about a mosque a few hundred feet from where the Twin Towers were destroyed—a building that would certainly cast a shadow over a Ground Zero memorial.
About the Author
John Podhoretz is editor of COMMENTARY.