Center of Controversy

Monday, August 16, 2010

Jerrold Nadler, U.S. Representative (D-8th) who represents Lower Manhattan, comments on the plans to build an Islamic center near Ground Zero.


Jerrold Nadler

Comments [53]

pordy from Madisons, NJ

I listen to ~40 hours of NPR programming a week and this is the best discussion I've heard on the matter.

Brian- split your hours between local and non-local topics and you'd make a great national syndication!

Aug. 17 2010 12:36 AM
Said in Manhattan

Will such things be on display at this new center? Will realities such as this be discussed there? Is this or is this not Islamic Culture?

from the New York Times, August 16, 2010:

"...The couple eloped to Kunar Province, in eastern Afghanistan, staying with distant relatives, but family members persuaded them to return to their village, promising to allow them to marry. (Afghan men are legally allowed to marry up to four wives). Once back in Kunduz, however, they were seized by the Taliban, who convened local mullahs from surrounding villages for a religious court.

After the Taliban proclaimed the sentence, Siddiqa, dressed in the head-to-toe Afghan burqa, and Khayyam, who had a wife and two young children, were encircled by the male-only crowd in the bazaar. Taliban activists began stoning them first, then villagers joined in until they killed first Siddiqa and then Khayyam, Mr. Khan said. No women were allowed to attend, he said.

Mr. Khan estimated that about 200 villagers participated in the executions, including Khayyam’s father and brother, and Siddiqa’s brother, as well as other relatives, with a larger crowd of onlookers who did not take part.

“People were very happy seeing this,” Mr. Khan maintained, saying the crowd was festive and cheered during the stoning. The couple, he said, “did a bad thing.”

A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabiullah Mujahid, praised the action. “We have heard about this report,” he said, interviewed by cellphone. “But let me tell you that according to Shariah law, if someone commits a crime like that, we have our courts and we deal with such crimes based on Islamic law.”

Aug. 16 2010 11:49 PM
Kenny from Washington, DC

All Muslims in America are connected to the Muslim World Trade Center bombers in the same way that all theists in America are connected to the theistic World Trade Center bombers. If we ban mosques (or anything Muslim associated) we should also ban churches and temples.

One can only hope.

@Sherman L. Greene: I didn't hear Brian ginning up anti-Muslim sentiment. And I don't think ratings are really the goal of the public radio business model.

Aug. 16 2010 10:37 PM
Sherman L. Greene from Upper West Side

This is truly horrible. Brian is trying to gin up anti-Muslim sentiment, presumably because he thinks it'll be good for ratongs. Shameful.

Aug. 16 2010 05:43 PM
andy from manhattan from manhattan

those who are so against this project should go to WTC, and then walk to the proposed site of the cultural cneter/mosque, what-have-you.

4 blocks is a world away in new york city.

and even if it wasn't it is EVERY american's right to free speech and religious freedom.

good job, fear mongers, you have succeeded at dividing your conuntrymen more than ther terrorists did. shame on you, and your weakness of mind. fear is, indeed, the mind killer.

Aug. 16 2010 01:15 PM
Michael Meyers from New York, New York

Jerry Nadler is so hypocritical. he has used his offices as a public official to deny others' their free speech rights and rights of association. See release below.

Brian Lehrer needs to do more homework on the related issues his guests have commented on for consistency or inconsistency.

He also needed to ask (which he did not do) Nadler about Gov. David Paterson's offer of land/space for a mosque. THAT OFFER constitutes an impermissible involvement of government with aiding and subsidizing a religion.

(JTA) -- From the halls of Congress to the State Department, pressure is building on the Ford Foundation to stop supporting groups that engage in anti-Israel agitation and anti-Semitic activities.

The pressure comes in the wake of a recent JTA investigative series, "Funding Hate," which revealed that one of the country's most prestigious foundations has spent millions of dollars on Palestinian and other non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, that agitate against Israel.

On Monday, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), met with the Ford Foundation's president, Susan Berresford, to deliver a letter that he and 19 other lawmakers signed urging Ford to stop funding anti-Israel extremists.

Also on Monday, the State Department said it is talking to the Justice Department, whose job it is to determine if any laws have been broken.

The congressional letter said, "We are extremely concerned with the Ford Foundation's funding of organizations that have openly and purposefully instigated anti-Semitism, called for the destruction of the State of Israel, and/or engaged in the promotion of violence."

The letter also said it was "equally disturbing" that some of the grantees have refused to sign a U.S. government document, the Certification Regarding Terrorist Financing, that requires U.S.-funded organizations to pledge they do not support any group that advocates or engages in terrorist activities.

Nadler said after Monday's meeting that in addition to the letter's call for increased "transparency and de-funding grantees engaging in objectionable behavior," he also gave Berresford recommendations for Ford to prevent future support of anti-Israel groups.

Those steps, he said in a statement, might include training human-rights NGOs to "stop the burgeoning problem of unchecked anti-Semitism and de-legitimization of the State of Israel in the human-rights arena."

Aug. 16 2010 01:00 PM
DAT from Nathan Straus Projects

Of all the places to build a Mosque in NYC,
why pick Ground Zero?

Why pick that spot?

Aug. 16 2010 12:37 PM
andy from manhattan from manhattan

those who are so against this project should go to WTC, and then walk to the proposed site of the cultural cneter/mosque, what-have-you.

4 blocks is a world away in new york city.

and even if it wasn't it is EVERY american's right to free speech and religious freedom.

good job, fear mongers, you have succeeded at dividing your conuntrymen more than ther terrorists did. shame on you, and your weakness of mind. fear is, indeed, the mind killer.

Aug. 16 2010 12:34 PM
Omatunde from Bed Stuy

As Erick Erickson jokes

“This Ground Zero mosque may be the only time American socialists have ever supported property rights.”

Aug. 16 2010 11:45 AM

Dave, Good point. Mike, great point!

Further, even if it were a mosque (which it is not), and even if it were *at* ground zero (I don't even think the site can be SEEN from ground zero), what difference would it make?

What is it about the bellicose rantings of Mr. Nadler that appeals to people?

Aug. 16 2010 11:31 AM

Muslim Americans Observe Holy Month of Ramadan
Ramadan in America, like elsewhere in the world, is a month of fasting, prayer, charitable giving and reflection. For many Muslim Americans, Ramadan also is an opportunity to educate non-Muslim friends about their culture and traditions.

Aug. 16 2010 10:59 AM
gary krasner from Queens

If Nadler believes this is a religious freedom issue and government officials should not weigh in on it, then why did he accept Brian's invitation to come on his show to weigh in on it?

Aug. 16 2010 10:56 AM

Dave: not a great comparison. Timothy McVeigh was an anti government radical, and Oklahoma has a strong Christian base.

Aug. 16 2010 10:53 AM
Jerome Harris from Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

Recent comments by some politicians and others that "Islam was connected to the 9/11 attacks", "the attacks were perpetrated in the name of Islam" (therefore the Cordoba House project should be moved or opposed) are misguided. Should the building of Christian worship sites be opposed because of terrorism carried out in the name of Christianity (i.e. the "troubles" in Northern Ireland; the violence of "Christian identity" groups and the KKK in the U.S.; etc.)? Should synagogues be opposed because of what the Gush Emunim Underground did?

Aug. 16 2010 10:51 AM

I was in the WTC on 9/11. 2 friends are dead from the acts of murdererous jihadis. I lived and continue to live 4 blocks from ground zero.
A mosque this close - and it is in the neighborhood - to ground zero IS a shrine to Islamic terrorism. And Islam is a religion built upon terror - and the oppression of women and the oppression of All who do not "submit"
Don't be foolish and do not let your political correctness fog what is obvious. Violent Jihad and terror is woven into the fabric of Islam and is practiced on a much wider scale than the murders on 9/11- every day - and Sharia and the Koran are manuals for a terrorist practice against women and against all non-muslims.
No Islamic Cultural center should be built Anywhere in New York. Islam should be exposed for what it is and allowed to wither and die in the light of truth.
Is That Islam-a-phobia or is that the truth?

Aug. 16 2010 10:43 AM
Angela from the Financial District from Financial District, Manhattan

The WTC area should serve the local community, not xenophobic ideology & paranoia. The xenophobia of the Right Wing should have no bearing on whether or not the US Constitution is upheld. Nor should the wishes of "the families", unless they have a vested interest in the area.

The fact is that most detractors live nowhere near the area anyway, and should have no say in the matter. This so-called "hallowed ground" is a real, live neighborhood with real, live families living in it who need real neighborhood resources.

Thank you, Congressman Nadler, for upholding the Constitution and supporting the citizens of NYC. And thank you, Brian, for including local citizens in your discussion, instead of limiting the comments to "the families" and Right Wing bloviators from Alaska, Georgia and elsewhere.

Aug. 16 2010 10:38 AM

nadler talks about not wanting japanese near pearl harbor. he should check is 5th grade history book and see that japanese were put in prison. if 9/11 happened in the 1940's every muslim in this country would have been put in prison.

Aug. 16 2010 10:37 AM
Hash Reichardt from Manhattan

It only became a cultural center after the controversy began. Originally it was only supposed to be a mosque, Cordoba House, an interesting choice for a name if you look at the history of Muslims in Cordoba. I believe that if it can be proved that the center is legitimate and the funding is legitimate then they have every right to build a mosque where ever they want just they way they picked to build the Al-Aqsa Mosque on top of the holiest place for Jews, the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem

Aug. 16 2010 10:36 AM
Mom in NJ

Bravo to the congressman. Finally someone who can articulate some sane truths. And where are the other media channels sharing such points of view???

Shame on Peter King and his blatant exploitation of this situation for his own gain. gee--how many more minutes of free national exposure can this man milk from an incident that happened almost ten years ago. What has he done to help move our country forward to get us beyond what happened????

What about local rule?? Peter King and Sarah Pallin do not live in this neighborhood. Why do their ignorant opinions hold more weight than the people who actually live in the neighborhood??

Peter King keeps talking about this as a "teachable moment." Perhaps he should take his own advice and actually honor the constitution as well as established law and show his constituiants how to do so gracefully and respectfully.

Aug. 16 2010 10:34 AM
Cristin from Hoboken

It's a cultural center, not a mosque.
It's not at ground zero, it's a few blocks away. There's a strip club closer to the WTC site.
They have a legal right to build it there, and they have a legal right to practice their religion.

There's really no argument here. The right has turned a non-issue into a huge issue, manipulating Americans' fear of islam to get more votes.

I lived a few blocks away from the WTC site on 9/11, I witnessed it firsthand, it was horrific and scarring. Yet I personally have no problem with this cultural center being built near ground zero.

Aug. 16 2010 10:34 AM
john from office

I was in the heart of the atttack on 9/11
I am a conservative and would fight for the right for these Americans, who happen to be Muslims, to build there project. This is America , it is their right.

Aug. 16 2010 10:34 AM
Michael Burchill from Califon, NJ

As interesting as this problem is, the fact that this is such a HUGE problem for so many people is a real indication of just how screwed up this country has become.

What has happened to our belief in the core values and principles that our nation was founded on? Like 'freedom of religion'?

Sadly, those principles seem to be in danger of being over-written by a post-911, "mob rules" mentality.

Aug. 16 2010 10:33 AM
Carl from East Village

Every one of the large religions have been leveraged as a platform for motivating people to perform horrendous atrocities.

I only oppose this as much as I oppose any new religious centers! Hahaha. How about a "center for the study of virtue"?

Aug. 16 2010 10:32 AM
JT from Long Island

If people trying to block the Islamic center wrote down their thoughts and actually read them they would see that they're full of contradictory statements that discriminate against all Muslims. If they aren't willing to think through their positions carefully there's nothing that can be done to change their minds. We just have to hope that they are in the minority and that politicians don't cave in.

Aug. 16 2010 10:32 AM
jawbone from Parsippany

What I do actually fear is that the right wingers' and Republicans' use of this as a wedge issue may lead to actual violence against innocent Muslims and their places of worship.

What is wrong with these Republicans? Have they finally no decency?

Aug. 16 2010 10:30 AM
Jennifer from Manhattan

Wasn't the entire purpose of building an Islamic center as close as possible to Ground Zero to express solidarity and promote understanding between people of all faiths and to broadcast the peacefulness of the vast, vast majority of those of Muslim faith against the actions of terrorists who are extreme religious radicals? The lack of understanding and welcome that the conversation has degenerated into sadly seems to illustrate the very need for this center.

Aug. 16 2010 10:29 AM

Yes, they have the right to build a mosque; do I keep in the back of my mind the real feelings of a community away from the rest of society? Yes. Should we stop this building? No. But we do not know what gets said privately in people's homes and what gets said in a house of worship.

It can't be controlled, and this guest is absolutely correct, it should not be decided by our government.

Aug. 16 2010 10:28 AM

This whole topic is just disgusting. Why are we even having this conversation? Of course they have the right to build an Islamic cultural center (or mosque, even though that isn't the case here) anywhere they like. Any objections to this on the grounds of the 9/11 attacks are bigotry, pure and simple.

Aug. 16 2010 10:27 AM

Well intentioned Jewish leftists have always paved the road to their own doom, ever since the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 subsequently led to the rise of Fascism and Nazism in Europe in the 1920s and '30s. Now we have them arguing for the civil rights of those who would love to eventually slit their throats.

Aug. 16 2010 10:27 AM
Richard from Chelsea

I don't know if this has be brought up already-

Should we ban Catholic Churches from being built near schools because some priests are pederasts? Of course not, being pederasts does not relate to their Catholicism. Just as being in Al Qaeda does not at all relate to being a Muslim.

Why can people in this country understand that there are great differences in the various sects of Christianity but not get that these people practice a different religion than the members of Al Qaeda?

Aug. 16 2010 10:26 AM
jawbone from Parsippany

Let's do a thought experiement: Consider, for an extreme example, that children's bodies be considered sacred; ergo, the Catholic Church should not be allowed to build churches anywhere near children, given that so many of the church's clerics have invaded the sacred space of children's bodies; ergo, no Catholic Churches near children which would also mean no Catholic schools since by definition such schools would put children in harm's way.

OK, crazy, stupid, exaggerated? Yeah.

So is saying that Muslims may not have cultural centers near the (seemingly) ever expanding Ground Zero.

Give me a break. Mayor Bloomberg, on this issue, is a beacon of morality and political wisdom. Too bad the president had to temper his remarks....

Aug. 16 2010 10:26 AM

Racists have feelings — they're human beings! But racist feelings are not to be coddled because they are _feelings_! Does this really require explanation in 2010?!

What is wrong with people here?! I _expect_ Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin to be racists! But what is happening with the remaining 90% of opponents of the Islamic cultural center who know racism full well when it appears in the form of anti-Semitism or hatred towards _any_ ethnic group _except_ Arabs and Muslims.

I have never been more disgusted by New Yorkers. "Average" Germans in 1937 were _just as convinced_ that they were not bigots. And this is no idle comparison.

It is this casual, idle, utterly unreflective racism that leads to atrocities.

As for Governor Paterson's suggestion that the developers of the Islamic center take state land elsewhere, this is identical in form to Jackson's Trail of Tears!

Brian Lehrer needs to call this out just as he would any person calling in with explicit, express racist statements.

Aug. 16 2010 10:26 AM

Who cares who's funding the Islamic Community Center? We'd be so lucky if all Muslim radicals were so benevolent.

People who are against this thing are so irrational.

Aug. 16 2010 10:25 AM
James from East Village

I worked in 2 WTC and am a native New Yorker. Part of living in New York is that we have learned to share our space. Just look at the luxury condos built next to public housing - people still buy them. And if either group of residents has an issue with the other's race or socioeconomic status, they learn to live with it or move away.

The blanketed bigotry disguised as "sensitivity" is appalling! Religious freedom is a fundamental right in the USA, and cultural centers in NYC are positive tributes to our nation's true values. I love New York!

Aug. 16 2010 10:25 AM
Nick from UWS

The bombing of the Murrah building had nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity or religion. There is no issue there and it's not an analogy.

Anyone who doesn't consider this project to be a victory mosque is highly naive, is dreaming. It shouldn't go there, and the Cordoba organizers certainly aren't starting off on the right foot as far as peace making is concerned.

Aug. 16 2010 10:24 AM

Nadler on CNN:

Aug. 16 2010 10:24 AM

Is it offensive to build a church near the Oaklahoma bombing site? It's the same idea.

Aug. 16 2010 10:24 AM
dan kaplan from chelsea

could you imagine an equivalent uproar of Americans if Jewish Americans wanted to build a synagogue in a Palestinian American neighborhood?

Aug. 16 2010 10:24 AM
Mike from NYU

Why is it not offensive to build a magazine stand even closer to ground zero and sell porn. And why are we paying any attention at all to the republican by-line of a "mosque" at "ground zero" which is entirely false. Instead, we should be looking at what a cool project this will be. Its going to be a great building that really adds to this neighborhood. As a catholic I doubt I'll get any use out of the prayer room but I'm looking forward to the preforming arts space and the restaurant.

Aug. 16 2010 10:23 AM
Afro Geek from NYC

It's a Muslim Cultural Center, not The Terrorist Museum. It's also a train stop away from ground zero. How close is too close? The building is an empty eyesore and there two mosques in area already. Also, wouldn't it be great for the visitors to ground zero to also be able to visit the Muslim Center? If the terrorists were christians would we tear down the churches in the area?

Aug. 16 2010 10:22 AM
Brian from Hoboken

Thank you mike from NYU. One journalist wrote aptly that calling this cultural center a mosque (no minarets, no call to prayer) with a prayer room is akin to calling a catholic hospital with a chapel a church.
I am truly chilled by the outright bigotry and racism that I have seen through this "debate". If you replaced the word Muslim with African American, this would sound like we were back in the 1800s.

Aug. 16 2010 10:19 AM
Leah from Brooklyn

I want to second Mike from NYU. Also, the whole system that the 9/11 terrorists attacked was the tolerance and freedom that are the cornerstones of American life. If we abandon those in a misguided stance against them, we literally (and this phrase has been overused but is appropriate here) let them win.

Furthermore, how does an Islamic center offend the former WTC site by its mere presence? Because the attackers were Muslims? They were also men. Should we ban males from the WTC site? How about airplanes?

Aug. 16 2010 10:19 AM
Otto from NYC

The President should not have even commented on the mosque, especially not in the same breath as Ground Zero. Although the First Amendment protects freedom of speech and religion, it also prohibits the ESTABLISHMENT of a religion. By speaking out like this, the President was getting close to etablishment.

Aug. 16 2010 10:17 AM

How large a radius around the place where the Twin Towers once stood is off limits? If two blocks is too close, why is three, four, or a thousand blocks any better? The people seeking to build this center are not co-opting the Freedom Tower. They are seeking to use an old Burlington Coat Factory building.

Aug. 16 2010 10:17 AM

The "sensitivities" of people about the World Trade Center area are racism - pure and simple. RACISM! Face up to it.

There can be no other explanation for people drawing the link between A mosque NEAR Ground Zero.

Stop the lies. It is racism.

Palestinians have _every_ reason to be hostile to Israelis. But to suggest that Jews be barred from building a synagogue near a place of transcendent importance to Palestinians would be anti-Semitism.

Racists take note: this is distinct from Israel building on Occupied Territory. That is wrong for an entirely different reason.

Moreover, Israel is -- as we speak -- DESTROYING a centuries-old Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem to build -- get this -- a Museum of Tolerance. Destroying a cemetery to build a museum of 'tolerance'! Any objection from Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin or Abe Foxman? On the contrary, the same Americans who condemn the Islamic cultural center endorse this project.

The people linking any and all Islamic institutions with terrorism are _racists_. Face facts. Be honest. If you can be honest about anti-Semitism or racism against blacks or hispanics and CANNOT be about discrimination against Muslims, then you are a _racist_.

Aug. 16 2010 10:17 AM

Peter King makes my stomach turn. Because of this sensitivity, I don't think he should be able to live anywhere near people with common sense---it would be too hard us.

Aug. 16 2010 10:17 AM
Arun from Manalapan, NJ

While Imam Rauf is within his legal rights to build the community center/mosque near ground zero, note that the purpose of this building is to help promote interfaith dialog.

How can it do that if it is built even when 70% of the American public (so we are told) is against the building?

IMO, the Imam, if he wants to go ahead anyway, should do something like pledge to build the center with only American donations; by winning consent with at least some of the 70% opposed to the center. The very (long, unfortunately) process will embody that desired interfaith dialog.

Aug. 16 2010 10:16 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Nadler is stuttering and dissembling

Nadler finally faces a smart, capable and articulate opponent this year in Susan Kone (a staunch defender of Israel...unlike Nadler), who has acknowledged both the religious rights and the gross insensitivity of this provocation.

Dump Nadler.....elect Susan Kone.
Where are term limits when we need them

Aug. 16 2010 10:16 AM
michael from Brooklyn

They have every right to build near Ground Zero, especially if they really want to reach out and heal the wounds. But shouldn't the Imam and his organization be out pounding the pavement, explaining who they are and what they stand for in a very public way in order to win over the public? Why aren't we hearing more from him?

Aug. 16 2010 10:16 AM

cancel the whole idea and build a 'politically correct' , 'feel-good' warm and fuzzy inter-faith house of worship.
perhaps no newly built single-faith house of worship should go up near that site, too many died on all sides in that site's radius.

Aug. 16 2010 10:15 AM
RLewis from the bowery

Living so close to the area, it's easy to see how national news screws everything up - the media and opponents of this center make it sound like the site is directly over the ground of the 9/11 dead.

If people from middle America saw how far the center is from ground zero, they would wonder what the problem is.

Aug. 16 2010 10:14 AM
Mike from NYU

For about the thousandth time.... its not a mosque, and its not at ground zero.

Aug. 16 2010 10:11 AM
Dave from Nyack

I don't remember people not wanting to have Christian Churches built around the Murrah building in Oklahoma City after that attack.

Aug. 16 2010 10:11 AM

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