Before he folded his presidential campaign and turned to trolling President Trump on Twitter, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared at AIPAC Monday: “I was never prouder than when I stood in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty and argued that Muslims had every right to build a Mosque anywhere in our city, including near the World Trade Center.”
He may have been proud, but he was not successful. The infamous Ground Zero Mosque was Bloomberg’s pet project and was hailed by all the leftist intelligentsia, including Barack Obama, but the planned 16-story structure was not built during Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor, and may never be built at all. The failure of the project, however, did not stop the establishment media from declaring victory. The New York Post told us in December 2012 that “the Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero…opened with great fanfare a year ago.”
You missed that? That’s because it didn’t actually happen. The media was hyping a couple of minor events at a tiny, unmarked mosque in a building that had been extensively damaged in the 9/11 attacks so as to save face after Pamela Geller’s rallies — which I helped out on — marshaled public opinion to beat the mega-mosque project. The response to those rallies far exceeded our expectations because Americans, aside from Bloomberg, largely recognize the insult to the memory of the victims of 9/11 that this mosque represented. Seventy percent of the American people opposed the Ground Zero Mosque.
And with good reason. Bloomberg no doubt had and still has no idea of the fact, but as The History of Jihad shows, the placement of mosques throughout Islamic history has been an expression of conquest and superiority over non-Muslims. Muslims built the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock on the site of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in order to proclaim Islam’s superiority to Judaism. The Umayyad Mosque in Damascus was built over the Church of St. John the Baptist and the Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople was converted into a mosque, to express the superiority of Islam over Christianity. Historian Sita Ram Goel has estimated that over 2,000 mosques in India were built on the sites of Hindu temples for the same reason.
But the Ground Zero Mosque wouldn’t have been another example of that Islamic supremacism, would it? After all, the mosque initiative’s initial principal spokesman, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, said that the building of the mosque by the World Trade Center site was intended to make “the opposite statement to what happened on 9/11.” The group behind the Mosque claimed that it was “a project to honor those who were harmed on September 11. It is a project to proclaim our patriotism to this country and to stand side-by-side [with] all men and women of peace.”
And Ground Zero is not a holy site, so the symbolism of Islam conquering and replacing other religions wasn’t there — or was it?
The Twin Towers, after all, were the symbol of America’s economic power. Placing a mosque by the site of their destruction (at the hands of Islamic jihadists) would have symbolized the taming of that power. Abdul Rauf himself placed the blame for 9/11 not on jihadists at all, but on the U.S. and the West, saying that they “must acknowledge the harm they have done to Muslims before terrorism can end.” Statements like that called into question just who the Ground Zero Mosque organizers had in mind when they said that the Mosque was intended to honor “those who were harmed on September 11.”
But Bloomberg was and is oblivious to all this and to the staggering inappropriateness of placing a shrine celebrating the motivating ideology of the 9/11 attackers right next to their principal target. If the 9/11 hijackers had been white nationalists, would Bloomberg have supported the construction of a KKK meeting hall right next to Ground Zero, since the organizers of the project were proclaiming that their intentions were peace and reconciliation?
No, not all Muslims are terrorists or supported 9/11. But all the hijackers on that terrible day were devout Muslims, acting in the name of Islam and in accord with its teachings of warfare against unbelievers. It would have been the height of tone-deafness to put a mosque teaching the same doctrines at Ground Zero. Bloomberg wasn’t being wise, or sensitive, or multicultural when he did his best to push the project through to completion. It’s a good thing he won’t be president.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 19 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.