"I believe this is as important a test of the separation of church and state as any we may see in our lifetime - and it is critically important that we get it right."Damn straight. Of course, this is mostly about position-taking, and it is easier for Bloomberg to take this position in multi-cultural/liberal New York, and it is easy for the Gingriches of the world to take the opposing position since they can write off NY as well as voters who think in terms of religious freedom in general. Instead, they can pander as they wish since they seek the white evangelical votes that are so important in Republican primaries. Indeed, as I have written before, there is a logic of outbidding here, where each Republican must participate in this auction of extremism, becoming ever more enthusiastic a defender of the Christian faith. This should not be surprising to scholars of ethnic politics, but then again, wishful thinking tends to push us into believing that it would not happen here. Well, it does.
But Bloomberg has it right:
“We may not always agree with every one of our neighbors. That’s life and it’s part of living in such a diverse and dense city. But we also recognize that part of being a New Yorker is living with your neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance. It was exactly that spirit of openness and acceptance that was attacked on 9/11. On that day, 3,000 people were killed because some murderous fanatics didn’t want us to enjoy the freedom to profess our own faiths, to speak our own minds, to follow our own dreams and to live our own lives."I just lost much of my post due to a firefox glitch, so read the rest of Bloomberg's speech. And realize that the folks who are grandstanding against this are either insincere or delusional. And they are certainly anti-American, just as un-American as book-burning.
I can't think of a surer way to lose both our national soul and the struggle against terrorism. Yes, Mr. Gingrich and Ms. Palin, there's a cultural-political offensive afoot to undermine our civilization. And you're leading it.Update: Salon has a short piece reminding folks of a Washington Post story--that there are Muslims praying inside the Pentagon. Much closer to another ground zero. No demagoguing this. Why? Two quick and dirty explanations: a) Most folks really see 9/11 as a NYC/World Trade Center event with the Pentagon out of the focus due to the lower level of casualties and destruction; b) hard for the crazy-cons (David Klinghoffer's term) to launch rhetoric against the military.
* HT to Marc Lynch for his tweeting the link to Bloomberg's speech.