Saturday, August 7, 2010

What a Mosque Says About New York

New York Times
Room for Debate
August 6, 2010

New York City's landmark commission's decision this week to allow a mosque to be built near the World Trade Center site further fueled the passionate national debate over the project. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg defended it as a symbol of America’s religious tolerance. But politicians like Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and others outside the city have been lacerating in their criticism. Mr. Gingrich, for one, said that the proposed Islamic center "is a test of the timidity, passivity and historic ignorance of American elites."

New Yorkers, by now, are used to this sort of attention. What role does the city play in the American political imagination in the post-9/11 era? Is this simply another role among many -- elitist bastion, epicenter of urban decay, the antithesis of the American homeland -- the city has been variously assigned in national politics?