A Modest Proposal for Charles Krauthammer

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.

Daniel Luban

Daniel Luban is a postdoctoral associate at Yale University. He holds a PhD in politics from the University of Chicago and was formerly a correspondent in the Washington bureau of Inter Press Service.



  1. As usual, right on, Daniel.

    Krauthammer :
    “When we speak of Ground Zero as hallowed ground, what we mean is that it belongs to those who suffered and died there”
    – I can imagine one of the older clients expiring because of the excitement some of “New York Dolls” gave him, his heart not being up to it – would the “hallowed ground” belong to him too?

  2. You know what i would love to see build on or around Ground Zero? A community center specifically designed for Sufi Muslims, Unitarian Christians, and Reform Jews.

    This would proved the rallying point for Jews, Muslims and Christians to come together and work together on a common project, getting to know each other in the course of it and forming fast friendships. Someone proposed that there are two kind of people in the mid East situation — those who want the fighting to stop and those who want it to got on forever. An Abrahamic community center for all those liberals of good will would be a powerful rallying flag for those of us who want to fight the forces of ignorance and hatred.

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