Volume 23, Number 15 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | August 18 - 24, 2010
Letters to the Editor
To the Editor,
There’s no question that the community center and prayer space Park51 has become a national question. Perhaps that’s a good thing: it’s time to confront anti-Muslim rhetoric that has spun out of control.
Most troubling is the planned protest for September 11. The speaker roster and organizers reveal that this is not about locating Park51 near the World Trade Center, but part of a fundamental, existential debate about whether Muslim-Americans will be free to practice their faith in America.
Featured speaker Geert Wilders is hailed by event organizer Robert Spencer as a “freedom fighter.” But Wilder’s agenda is far wider reaching than Lower Manhattan. As founder of the ironically named Freedom Party in the Netherlands, he has advocated a tax on headscarves, a ban on all immigration from Muslim countries, a ban on mosque construction, and a ban of the Qur’an. With his new international “Freedom Alliance,” he promises bluntly to “Defend Freedom and Stop Islam.”
Aside from inviting and championing Wilders, organizers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer appear to be on a campaign against Islam, despite claims that their opposition here is just about the site. Spencer, by his own description, writes about how “Islamic law contradicts principles of human rights,” and equates Park51’s construction to the Nazi march in Skokie. Geller’s Stop Islamization of America links to efforts to prevent mosque construction around the world.
With such biases in the air, we need to be absolutely clear about the issues here, as Representative Nadler and Mayor Bloomberg have done so eloquently. Freedom of religion is what makes us proud to be Americans. It’s not enough to make hollow claims about that freedom while simultaneously claiming something’s wrong with Park51’s site, as Senator Reid did this week. Let’s be clear: the developers are either free to build on private property in accordance with the law, or they aren’t.
A very relevant detail
To the Editor,
The very relevant detail of historic significance has been lost amid the political maelstrom surrounding 45 Park Place. While the Landmarks Commission now believes it does not merit individual designation, twenty-one years ago the same Landmarks Commission proposed the elegant cast-iron structure for designation as an individual landmark. In September 1989, a public hearing held by the commission elicited public testimony overwhelmingly in favor of the commission’s proposal, with Community Board 1 voting nearly unanimously to support the designation. Yet until their recent vote, the commission failed to act on their own proposal, leaving the structure as one of many ‘heard but not designated’ structures languishing in limbo. The unprofessional practice of holding public hearings but failing to vote on a designation must end. Such inaction fails to protect historic resources the commission is charged with overseeing while subjecting it to the political manipulation so clearly evident now.
Needed: Common sense
To The Editor,
I didn’t think it would be possible for the situation crossing West Street to get any worse but once again I underestimated the insanity called bureaucracy. For the past couple of days I have noticed the pedestrian safety officers in place on the corners of Chambers, Warren and Murray in addition to the DOT agents, 14 paid employees at three intersections in all. Nothing has changed. The DOT agents are still ignoring the traffic lights and directing cars through at speeds way over the 30 miles per hour while the pedestrian safety guys stand there with their hand in the air indicating that the pedestrians should not walk in front of the moving cars. I know the safety management company is getting paid millions of dollars in addition to what the city is paying their employees when the answer is so simple, green means go, red means stop. Not to mention that with six people on the corner of Murray Street, no one seems to know what the other is doing so crossing the street is quite an adventure when one is telling the people to walk while the other is giving the go ahead to the cars. When will someone use common sense when implementing a plan of action?
Downtown Express welcomes letters to The Editor. They must include the writer’s first and last name, a phone number for confirmation purposes only, and any affiliation that relates directly to the letter’s subject matter. Letters should be less than 300 words. Downtown Express reserves the right to edit letters for space, clarity, civility or libel reasons. Letters should be e-mailed to news@DowntownExpress.com or can be mailed to 145 Sixth Ave., N.Y., N.Y. 10013.
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