Heedless editors in thoughtless attack on New Yorkers.
Now we've seen everything. In an editorial today, the New York Times denounces New Yorkers. Wait, it's even more bizarre than that description makes it sound. The subject, not surprisingly, is the Ground Zero mosque, an ill-conceived idea that has driven much of America's self-anointed cognitive elite completely around the bend.
The Times commissioned a poll of New York City residents, which found that their views on the mosque project are very similar to those of Americans more broadly. As the paper reports in a news story today:
The center's developers, and its defenders, have sought to portray opponents as a small but vocal group.
The poll, however, reveals a more complicated portrait of the opposition in New York: 67 percent said that while Muslims had a right to construct the center near ground zero, they should find a different site.
Most strikingly, 38 percent of those who expressed support for the plan to build it in Lower Manhattan said later in a follow-up question that they would prefer it be moved farther away [from Ground Zero], suggesting that even those who defend the plan question the wisdom of the location.
The Times editorial is a classic of muddled thinking and self-righteous attitudinizing:
As the site of America's bloodiest terrorist attack, New York had a great chance to lead by example. Too bad other places are ahead of us. Muslims hold daily prayer services in a chapel in the Pentagon, a place also hallowed by 9/11 dead. The country often has had the wisdom to choose graciousness and reconciliation over triumphalism, as is plain from the many monuments to Confederate soldiers in northern states, including the battlefield at Gettysburg.
We're not sure we agree with the Times that the proposed mosque is akin to a monument honoring enemy soldiers. But if we accept the analogy for the sake of argument, shouldn't postbellum reconciliation at least wait until the war is over?
The editorial concludes by dressing New Yorkers down:
New Yorkers, like other Americans, have a way to go. We stand with the poll's minority: the 27 percent who say the mosque should be built in Lower Manhattan because moving it would compromise American values. Building it would be a gesture to Muslim-Americans who, of course, live here, pray here and died here, along with so many of their fellow Americans, on that awful September morning. But it's all of us who will benefit.
The snooty tone is bad enough, but to take the full measure of the Times's boorishness, you have to consider the full context. The reason we know that two-thirds of New Yorkers oppose the Ground Zero mosque is that the New York Times asked them. Some of those who answered are quoted by name in the news story:
"My granddaughter and I were having this conversation and she said stopping them from building is going against the freedom of religion guaranteed by our Constitution," said Marilyn Fisher, 71, who lives in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn. "I absolutely agree with her except in this case. I think everything in this world is not black and white; there is always a gray area and the gray area right now is sensitivity to those affected by 9/11, the survivors of the people lost." . . .
Richard Merton, 56, a real estate broker who lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, exemplifies those mixed and seemingly contradictory feelings.
"Freedom of religion is one of the guarantees we give in this country, so they are free to worship where they chose," Mr. Merton said. "I just think it's very bad manners on their part to be so insensitive as to put a mosque in that area." . . .
"Personally I would prefer it not be built at all, but if it is going to be built it should be at least 20 blocks away," said Maria Misetzis, 30, of the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn.
At the very least, the Times owes Marilyn Fisher, Richard Merton and Maria Misetzis an apology. These people did not seek out the controversy. They were minding their own business when the Times came to them and asked their opinions, only to hold those opinions up for derision.
Which, come to think of it, is a synecdoche for the entire mosque debate. The developers pitch the idea as a symbol of reconciliation. No thank you, say most Americans, a mosque at that location makes us uneasy. Now the liberal media and political elites, always certain that they know best, are determined to harangue the country--and the city--into submission.
If that's the New York Times's idea of reconciliation, antagonism looks good by comparison.