By most calculations, Michael Bloomberg has been one of America’s decent mayors. From reducing crime to improving public education, he has done a solid job as Rudy Giuliani’s successor in New York.
Recently, however, Bloomberg decided to grant unqualified support to the building of a mosque on the edge of Ground Zero. When it comes to real estate, location means everything and in this case, it’s a problem and a serious one. The site of the 9/11 attack on New York is no place for such activity. Build it anywhere in the city, but not there. That’s what New Yorkers are saying. And that’s what surviving family members of the victims of the radical Islamist attack have expressed to anyone who will listen.
The mayor has depicted this as a broad question of tolerance and sensitivity toward others. He has repeated this mantra so often, one can imagine him traversing the country and world, applying this to other matters.
Call it Mayor Mike’s Tolerance Tour.
His first destination could be Massachusetts, where he could challenge Red Sox fans to accept a New York Yankees Museum in the heart of South Boston.
From there, Gotham’s mayor could move westward to an Indian reservation, where he could advocate erecting a statue honoring General George Custer, the notorious Indian fighter.
He could then roll south, east of Atlanta and toward Savannah, where he might upbraid Georgians for failing to build a center honoring Union General William Sherman, who devastated their land in the waning months of the Civil War.
After that the Tour could reach beyond America’s borders. Mayor Mike could try Mexico City, where he could offer a monument to Sam Houston, who led Texas to independence from Mexico.
Then he could cross the Atlantic, arrive in Northern Ireland, and propose the display of Union Jack billboards throughout Irish Catholic enclaves.
After that, Bloomberg could head to Dresden, Germany and suggest a Winston Churchill Center, in honor of an otherwise good man who ordered its controversial firebombing during World War II.
Eventually, the mayor’s most excellent adventure would lead him to the Middle East. Jerusalem alone would offer a plethora of opportunities for over-the-top displays of mayoral enlightenment. The mayor could urge its residents to propose the creation of a Yasir Arafat Cultural Center commemorating the most undeserving Nobel Peace Prize winner in history. He could also propose the construction of a 90-foot crucifix on the Temple Mount, next to the Al Aqsa Mosque and in full view of Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall.
Clearly, such a tour would leave behind a muddy trail of ill will and strife. But if we are to believe the mayor, the fault would lie not with him, but with the natives. It would not be his insensitivity, but their supposed intolerance, that would bear the blame.
In the final analysis, the mayor’s stance on the Ground Zero mosque betrays a regrettable lack of understanding of the sensitivities of New Yorkers and other Americans in a post-9/11 world. It has not been one of his finest hours.
Paul Liben has worked in New York City and Washington, DC as a speechwriter for the past 15 years. He served as a speechwriter for New York Governor George Pataki and then as director of speechwriting for U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. A published writer, he has written op-eds for more than 100 publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, Baltimore Sun, Philadelphia Inquirer and Houston Chronicle.