But, as I mentioned the other day, he has been a lonely voice of reason...one of the few shining lights...in the verbal combat surrounding what I'll be calling the Burlington Coat Factory Mosque from now on. There are any number of things that have gone on under Mr. Bloomberg's watch that I haven't been thrilled with, but at this moment, in this place, I'm thankful and proud that he's the Mayor of NYC.
Tonight, in what is an annual event, Mayor Bloomberg hosted a Ramadan Iftar (evening's breaking of the fast) at Gracie Mansion, the Mayor's official residence. Once again, he proved to be the clearest speaker in America about why opposition to this mosque is completely wrong. He took it a step further, clearly stating why he feels that now, the project must go forward. You can read his full comments here, and I recommend you do -- they're not all that long--but let me excerpt a couple of his points.
Addressing the question of moving the mosque to an alternate location, he said,
"...I understand the impulse to find another location for the mosque and community center. I understand the pain of those who are motivated by loss too terrible to contemplate. And there are people of every faith - including, perhaps, some in this room - who are hoping that a compromise will end the debate.
"But it won't. The question will then become, how big should the 'no-mosque zone' be around the World Trade Center site? There is already a mosque four blocks away. Should it be moved?
"This is a test of our commitment to American values. We have to have the courage of our convictions. We must do what is right, not what is easy. And we must put our faith in the freedoms that have sustained our great country for more than 200 years."
He also addressed the subject of Imam Rauf, who has had his loyalties and motives openly questioned...everything short of actual accusations of being a terrorist collaborator. And while the previous and current Administration have entrusted him as an emissary, neither has bothered to come to his defense. Mayor Bloomberg took that on as well in closing his remarks.
"...a few of his [Rauf's] statements have received a lot of attention... I would like to read you something that he said that you may not have heard. At an interfaith memorial service for the martyred journalist Daniel Pearl, Imam Rauf said, quote, 'If to be a Jew means to say with all one's heart, mind, and soul: Shma` Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ehad; Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, not only today I am a Jew, I have always been one.'
He then continued to say, 'If to be a Christian is to love the Lord our God with all of my heart, mind and soul, and to love for my fellow human being what I love for myself, then not only am I a Christian, but I have always been one.'
"In that spirit, let me declare that we in New York are Jews and Christians and Muslims, and we always have been. And above all of that, we are Americans, each with an equal right to worship and pray where we choose. There is nowhere in the five boroughs of New York City that is off limits to any religion.
"By affirming that basic idea, we will honor America's values and we will keep New York the most open, diverse, tolerant, and free city in the world."I don't have any personal stake in whether or not this, or any other mosque, church or synagogue is built. I don't have any personal stake in where any mosque church or synagogue is built. I do have a personal stake in whether or not I'm a citizen of the country I thought I was. Mayor Bloomberg's voice seems awfully lonely right now, but his clarity needs be heard above all of the other noise.