Denver talk-radio hosts Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman Tuesday hosted a strident show on the community center and mosque proposed to be built two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center in New York, Ground Zero of the 9/11 attacks. The building proposal, sponsored in part in part by the Muslim Cordoba Center, has won praise and support from the neighborhood board and from local politicians, who believe its extensive facilities and message of increased ecumenical respect and recognition among cultures and religions a perfect match for the site.
Yet the proposal has drawn fire from hawks and the tea party on the right, who planned a protest in New York this week and who argue that building a mosque on the site would represent a victory for the 9/11 terrorists. Caplis and Silverman’s guests also suggested that Islam as a whole is antithetical to U.S. culture and law.
“[The mosque] is a travesty. It is another attack on America,” said Pamela Gellar, editor at Atlasshrugs.com, a strident Ayn Rand-inspired libertarian politics site and a leader of the group “Stop the Islamicization of America.” She said a mosque built on the site of a building that was crushed by one of the wings of the 9/11 planes would be “the ultimate symbol of victory.” She said the same thing has occurred over and over again in Islamic History. “They build giant mosques on the cherished sites of conquered lands.”
Right-wing anti-terror firebrand Robert Spencer, founder of Jihadwatch, said the mosque was little more than an attempt by Islamists to stake out a victory flag in New York City. He said the mosque would promote a religious and political system completely at odds with the Constitution. “[Islam] denies the freedom of speech, denies the freedom of conscience, denies the legal equality of women with men, and of non-Muslims with Muslims.
“Certainly it is a sign of Islamic conquest and supremacy,” Spencer said. “We are talking about political Islam that is asserting itself over non-Muslims.” He said the mosque would be teaching the same beliefs of those who felled the twin towers.
The Cordoba Initiative promotes religious or spiritual coexistence. The proposed development is described as a community center that includes a mosque, a 13 story space that will include a performing arts center, culinary school and child-care facilities.
Cordoba Initiative director, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, told the AP “We have condemned the terror of 9/11. We have worked to ensure that our mosques are not recruiting grounds for terrorists.”
Silverman seemed won over by the guests. He said that although freedom of religion is guaranteed by the 1st Amendment, “Islam is more than just that. It is a political system. It is a rule of law. So we have to consider all of this as we as a country decide Do we want a mega mosque at Ground Zero.”
The Manhattan Community Board 1 strongly supported the project, voting 29 to 1 in favor with 10 abstentions.
“It’s a seed of peace,” Board Member Rob Townley said. “We believe that this is a significant step in the Muslim community to counteract the hate and fanaticism in the minority of the community.”
Asked about her personal beliefs, Geller said she followed the teachings of Ayn Rand.
“If you act in your own self interest, you will serve the greater good– but it should never be about the greater good… I think that altruism is a cancer. It is a means, it is a psychological means to enslave people. I would never live for the sake of another man. I would never ask another man to live for the sake of me,” Geller said.