Charles Krauthammer has yet another fatuous column today making the case that the blocks around the World Trade Center site are “sacred ground” that cannot be defiled by the presence of a Muslim community center. Like most “Ground Zero Mosque” opponents, he is happy to give the misleading impression that the area is some sort of solemn preserve free of commercial establishments and other such sacrilegious influences. (Cf. Dan Senor’s equally fatuous claim that the area should remain “reserved for memorials to the event itself and to its victims.”) Of course, the actual mosque location is surrounded by delis, coffeeshops, bars, offices — not to mention a strip club a few feet away from the proposed site. Strangely, neither Krauthammer nor any other mosque critique has complained at any point over the last nine years that the strip club, or any of the other businesses, are defiling “sacred ground”.
So here’s an easy way for them to avoid any appearance of hypocrisy: simply propose legislation that would ban any commercial or otherwise non-commemorative establishment in the three blocks surrounding the World Trade Center. No strips clubs, no bars, no delis, no brokerage houses, no Starbucks. This appears to be the only way to make the Ground Zero site “hallowed” in the way that Krauthammer and his allies claim to believe that it already is.
Do I expect any of the mosque opponents to support such a proposal? Of course not. But if they don’t, it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that their opposition to the project has less to do with the idea that the blocks around Ground Zero are “sacred ground” and more to do with the fact that they simply don’t like Muslims very much.