Mike’s Mosque Myopia
As long as Mayor Mike is in the dock, let us also note that when it comes to building a mosque near Ground Zero, he has from the start stood behind the First Amendment — sort of.
That is, he likes the part that gives Muslims the right to build a house of worship just about anywhere they want.
But the part guaranteeing a separation between religion and government?
Not so much.
That much became obvious last week with the release of e-mails demonstrating that City Hall did much more than offer the mosque’s organizers routine help.
In fact, it turns out that Team Bloomberg was heavily involved in operating the political machinery needed to ensure that various regulatory agencies approved the controversial project — which has rightly drawn the ire of many 9/11 survivors and victims’ families.
Even to the point of pressing Community Board 1 to cast an approving vote — so that the chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission could be given the “political cover” he so urgently sought before his agency denied landmark status to the existing building.
That not only raises First Amendment questions — it also provides serious doubts about the legitimacy of the LPC vote, which appears to have been dictated far more by politics than by any consideration of the building’s architectural and historical merit.
Bloomberg’s community affairs commissioner even ghost-wrote a letter to CB1 on behalf of Daisy Khan, wife of mosque promoter Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Meanwhile, officials intervened to obtain permits so that prayers could be conducted at the site.
Bloomberg’s office maintains that the mayor’s staff did nothing out of the ordinary on behalf of the mosque.
But if that’s so, why did City Hall wait nearly five months before responding to the Freedom of Information request from the American Center for Law & Justice — acquiescing just before Christmas?
Moreover, City Hall held back some documents, claiming exemptions for privileged communications.
All this is objectionable on its face.
But the violence it does the First Amendment takes the offense to a fundamentally higher level.
Government has no business advocating for any religion. That’s the principle that chased Nativity scenes from the public square.
Leave it to Mike Bloomberg to cherry-pick one of America’s founding principles.