I have to admit that I’m getting bored with this whole Ground Zero mosque rhetoric, and there are enough other people ranting about it that you don’t really need to hear it from me. (It’s not that I don’t rant, it’s just that I reserve most ranting for more personal forums thankyouverymuch.) On an objective level, there are two relevant things that I know about: economics and (to a lesser extent) law and reason. On the legal front, it’s pretty clear that the constitution grants the right for a religious center to be created on this particular site, and the question of whether it’s tacky, inappropriate, antagonistic, whatever is mainly a matter of opinion, and people are entitled to their opinions.
On the economic front, I would like to have a word with those people who conclude that the group behind this Muslim whatever it is *must* be placing it near Ground Zero as a “neener-neener” to the rest of the country. From The New York Times, before this matter brought out the crazy in everyone:
The location is not designated a mosque, but rather an overflow prayer space for another mosque, Al Farah at 245 West Broadway in TriBeCa, where Imam Feisal is the spiritual leader.
Ah, so the group was in need of more space. That sounds potentially reasonable.
Kukiko Mitani, whose husband, Stephen Pomerantz, owned the building at the time, tried to sell it for years, at one time asking $18 million. But when the recession hit, she sold it in July to a real estate investment firm, Soho Properties, for $4.85 million in cash, records show. One of the investors was the Cordoba Initiative, an interfaith group founded by Imam Feisal.
So…this particular building was cheap. Hm. (If you’re curious, the building is likely cheap because it had a piece of a plane crash through the roof. No big deal.) Based on this evidence, I would argue that the problem isn’t even one of a religious group potentially wanting to taunt people with its presence, it’s one of a religious group not being willing or able to pay a lot more money to purchase something that has a lower chance of offending people. In that sense, if people really didn’t want the community center near the World Trade Center site, they should stop yelling for a minute and try paying the organization to place it elsewhere, since at the end of the day money speaks louder than words, no?
I’m pretty sure that this is Exhibit #827 on why people think economists are weird.
(Update: I noticed the other day that a future coauthor of mine’s Twitter followers were breeding like rabbits. The reason? @jasonmustian: In fairness, we’ve been building ‘ground zeros’ near Iraqi mosques since March 2003. 3:01 PM Aug 16th via Twitter for Android Retweeted by you and 100+ others. See, I told you economists and/or comedians should stay out of this. 🙂 )