A secondary argument being used by opponents of the Islamic community center near Ground Zero in New York (in addition to anti-Islam and terrorist fearmongering) is that the former Burlington Coat Factory store the center would replace is as landmark that deserves protection. But like the other arguments, that one is growing beyond control and logic.
An example of the “landmark” argument was forwarded August 9 in a Washington Times column by Jay Sekulow of the right-wing American Center for Law and Justice, who claimed that the building is “historically significant” because “pieces of one of the hijacked planes crashed through the roof on Sept. 11.” But as the city's landmarks commission pointed out, the building itself is not architecturally significant, hole in the roof or not. Sekulow also tried to argue that the building is “nearly identical” to one down the street that did receive landmark status, but according to the landmarks commission, that building was designed by a prominent architect and has a notable history as an early home of the New York Daily News.
The landmark argument metastasized quickly. In his Aug. 24 column, WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah declared that the building “should either be repaired and declared a historic landmark or be replaced by something other than a mosque,” adding:
The unacceptable symbolism of replacing the Burlington Coat Factory with a mosque is even more compelling than the idea of building a mosque at the former site of the World Trade Center.
In effect, by tearing down this building to make way for a mosque constructed with foreign Islamic money and leadership linked to Islamic extremism, Americans would be consenting to the completion of the audacious and insidious attack of Sept. 11, 2001.
I must give credit to a friend and colleague of mine, the best radio producer in America, Franklin Raff of the “G. Gordon Liddy Show,” for noticing this oversight even among those dead-set against the idea of the Ground Zero mosque.
The World Trade Center is gone. The Burlington Coat Factory is still standing.
Wouldn't Islamists around the world love to see the devastating attack of 9/11 result in even more destruction a decade later with the bulldozing of a landmark building only damaged on that date and replaced with a trophy mosque?
Yes, according to Farah, tearing down the building would be “completing the attack” the terrorists started.
The theory goes completely nuts in an August 24 post by Mort Todd at Big Peace, part of the Andrew Breitbart empire. “It is insane to consider the former site of the Burlington Coat Factory anything but Ground Zero,” Todd asserts:
The term Ground Zero does not just denote the footprints of the late World Trade Center; scores of blocks were covered by human ash, making a large area of Manhattan a virtual graveyard. But since pictures (and video) speak more than words, here are some 9/11/01 images of the neighborhood that we are not allowed to call Ground Zero anymore.
That's a far cry from just a week ago, when Fox Business' Eric Bolling suggested that moving the center “two or three blocks away” would “make everybody happy.”
As this map shows, there are numerous buildings that sustained at least some damage in the 9-11 attacks that, under Farah's definition, would also keep them from being torn down and/or turned into an Islamic center. That doesn't count the innumerable others that were, in Todd's words, “covered by human ash.”
The logical extension of that line of thinking is that not only can you not build an Islamic center in the immediate vicinity of the World Trade Center site -- or even “a large area of Manhattan” -- you can't build anything.
Do opponents of this project really want to go there?