NYC commission ignores bigoted hysteria

NYC COMMISSION IGNORES BIGOTED HYSTERIA…. Right-wing critics of a proposed Muslim community center in Manhattan have struggled to explain why anyone should take their hysteria seriously. It makes it easier to ignore their nonsense.

After a protracted battle that set off a national debate over freedom of religion, a Muslim center and mosque to be built two blocks from ground zero surmounted a final hurdle on Tuesday.

The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted 9 to 0 against granting historic protection to the building at 45-47 Park Place in Lower Manhattan, where the $100 million center would be built.

That decision clears the way for the construction of Park51, a tower of as many as 15 stories that will house a mosque, a 500-seat auditorium, and a pool. Its leaders say it will be modeled on the Y.M.C.A. and Jewish Community Center in Manhattan.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) will endorse the project today.

The developer of the project, SoHo Properties chief executive Sharif El-Gamal, noted this morning, “We are Americans — Muslim Americans. We are businessmen, businesswomen, lawyers, doctors, restaurant workers, cabdrivers, and professionals of every walk of life, represented by the demographic and tapestry of Manhattan.”

That this has even become a story is something of a national embarrassment. In the 21st century, conservative activists have shown no qualms about arguing, in public, that religious liberty shouldn’t apply fully to those they don’t like. That officials in New York are choosing a more sensible, more respectful, more American approach is encouraging.