Special by Bob Glass
Editor’s note: While I was in D.C. for September 11, my friend Bob Glass was in New York, and he investigated the rallies both for and against the Islamic Center near Ground Zero (“Cordoba House”). Bob grew up in Queens before moving west. Bob also took numerous photographs of the rallies, and hopefully I’ll be able to publish some of them in coming days. Incidentally, my stated view is that, while the Islamic center should be morally condemned, it should not be forcibly blocked. Following are Bob’s reflections of the 9/11 rallies. -Ari Armstrong
Americans will forever remember September 11 as a somber, reflective day — a day in which this nation was attacked by fundamentalist Muslims intent upon murdering innocent men, women and children — all in the name of Islam. This attack was the most sensational and devastating of all the attacks perpetrated by the Jihadist movement that has murdered thousands of people around the world.
This was a wake-up call for Americans because prior to that the acts of Islamic terrorism on American soil were of a relatively minor scale. On September 11, 2001, nearly three thousand Americans lost their lives and the very symbol of free trade and free markets — the World Trade Center — was reduced to a pile of smoldering rubble.
To all Americans and to New Yorkers especially, virtually all of whom knew someone killed on that day, the site on which the Twin Towers once stood is hallowed ground, a sacred site, a reminder of what hangs in the balance between a society based on free trade versus a society based on the tyranny of Sharia law.
So it should be no surprise that the proposed “Islamic Cultural Center” built at Ground Zero would be seen as a slap in the face and an affront to the people of New York and those New Yorkers who lost loved ones on that terrible, infamous day. The claims made by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf that his intentions are purely to bridge the gap between different cultures and promote tolerance and understanding amongst people by building this mosque have been undermined by his threats against the United States warning that not building the mosque would jeopardize our national security.
If you look at the record of Islamic conquest throughout history, mosques and shrines have always been built on the sacred sites of Islam’s conquered enemies. Perhaps the greatest example of this is the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, built on the site of the holy Jewish temple (Temple Mount). So it is understandable why Americans and New Yorkers would be outraged at the prospect of such a “victory mosque” being built at Ground Zero. Recent polls indicate that 70 percent of New Yorkers and all Americans oppose the construction of this center at Ground Zero.
It is important to note that none of the anti-mosque people crashed the rally for the mosque. On the other hand, one elderly lady who was simply walking by the pro-mosque rally with a small American flag was viciously verbally assaulted by a bunch of the hard-left activists. I was shocked and appalled at the level of vitriol unleashed against this woman who could be anyone’s grandmother. The hard-left ralliers also sent scores of agitators into the ranks of the opposing rally determined to cause as much disruption as possible. [September 15 Update: See a partial list of endorsers of the endorsers below.]
The anti-mosque people to their credit showed remarkable restraint in the face of endless verbal taunts and jeers from those agitators carrying signs calling them bigots, racists, and worse. The mainstream media were oblivious to this in their reporting, saying simply that there were a number of vocal confrontations and a few scuffles between the two groups.
I estimated that about 2,000 people showed up on each side. The mainstream media reported that the pro-mosque crowd was decidedly larger but (surprise, surprise) that was not the case. [Editor’s note: Pamela Geller estimates that “tens of thousands” of people rallied “against the Ground Zero mega mosque.”]
The NYPD was out in force both in uniform and plainclothes. I know this because several times I saw uniformed cops stopping people in civilian clothes, only to back off after the people they stopped flashed them their badges. The police randomly shut down pedestrian traffic on streets adjacent to the demonstrations only to open them later and shut down other streets. I assume this was to disrupt any organized plans to stage counter demonstrations.
The NYPD utilized a (somewhat Orwellian-looking) mobile observation platform that could be raised five or six stories in the air. This unit was complete with all kinds of cameras and communications equipment.
The people demonstrating against the mosque were Tea Partiers for the most part, joined by friends and relatives of those killed on 9/11 as well as many firefighters and off duty police. Standing in the midst of both demonstrations and engaging in dialogue with many people on both sides, I was reminded of the name of one of the chapters in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged — “The Sacred and the Profane.”
September 15 Update: On September 7, 2010, in an email stamped 5:40 am, actioncenter[AT SIGN]action-mail[DOT]org distributed an email titled, “Emergency Mobilization Against Racism and Anti-Islamic Bigotry.” That email, as received by Bob Glass, lists the following “partial list of endorsers:”
Al-Awda NY Palestine Right To Return Coalition
American Muslims For Palestine
Arab Muslim American Federation-AMAF
Bail Out The People Movement
BAYAN USA-Philippine American Alliance
Bethlehem Neighbor for Peace, Albany, NY
Black Workers For Justice
CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities
Casa Esperanza, Plainfield, NJ
Catholic Scholars For Worker Justice, White Plains, NY
Creative Nonviolent Resistance Against Injustice, Wyckoff, NJ
Dec. 12 Movement
Defenders For Freedom, Justice & Equality, VA
Democratic Labor Party, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Drum-Desis Rising Up & Moving
Families United For Justice In America-FUJA
Fight Imperialism Stand Together-FIST
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition
Freedom Road Socialist Organization
Green Party Power to the People, New York, NY
Guyanese American Workers United
In the Name of Humanity
International Action Center
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Islamic Leadership Council of New York
Jersey City Peace Movement
Labor for Palestine
Los Angeles Latino Muslims Association
Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
Masjid As-Salam, Albany, NY
May 1 Workers And Immigrant Rights Coalition
Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice
Million Worker March Movement
Millions For Mumia
MN Anti War Committee
Moratorium Now Coalition To Stop Foreclosures, Evictions & Utility Shutoffs
Muslim Solidarity Committee
New York City Labor Against the War
Nodutdol For Korean Community Development
North East Peace And Justice Action Coalition
NYC Coalition to Stop Islamaphobia
NYC Jericho Movement
Pakistan USA Freedom Forum
Pan Africa News Wire
Peoples Organization For Progress
Project Salam , Albany, NY
Queers For Economic Justice
Radical Women, Harlem, NY
Senegalese Workers Association
South Bronx Community Congress
Take Back WBAI Coalition
The Peace Thru Justice Foundation
U.S. Palestinian Community Network, NY
Women In Black, Westchester, NY
Women’s Fightback Network
Workers World Party
World Can’t Wait
Edward Childs, Chief Steward, Unite-Here Local 26*, Somerville, MA
Colia Clark, Candidate US Senate- New York, Green Party Power to the People
Dr. Joseph J. Fahey, Chair, Catholic Scholars For Worker Justice, White Plains, NY
Steve Gillis, Vice President, USW Local 8751*, Boston, MA
Basem Khader, Peace and Justice activist, Chappaqua, NY
Imam Ashrafuz Zaman Khan, President, North American Imams Federation – NAIF*
Rahman Khan, Chairman , Muslim Voters of America, Evanston, IL
Michael Kuzma, Democratic candidate, NYS Senate, 58th District, Buffalo, NY
Angaza Laughinghouse, President, UE Local 150, NC Public Service Workers Union*
Bishop Filipe Teixeira, OFSCP, Diocese of St. Francis of Assisi, CCA*
Dom Tuminaro, Professor, PSC-CUNY-AFT, AFL-CIO*, New York, NY
Fatema Zohny, Educator/Social Activist, Cornerstone Academy For Social Action*, New York, NY
*=For purposes of identification only
for full list see iacenter.org/muslimsolidarity [Note: This web site does not actually seem to include the full list of endorsers.]
Anonymous September 15, 2010 at 2:12 AM
The pro-mosque people were the usual people that are at every Leftist rally; ie they are the pro-socialist, minority-activist, pro-Palestinian Leftists that the Communist front groups in the area always stir up for Leftist rallies. Leftists do this for every big rally in any city in America, regardless of what its about. Pretty much all the big Leftist organizations are nothing but fronts for genuine Communist organizations.
The anti-mosque rally on the other hand reflected genuine sentiments of a pro-American grassroots movement. You say they were equal in size, yet I haven’t read that from anywhere else. From the coverage I saw, the anti-jihad rally looked significantly bigger.
Anonymous September 17, 2010 at 6:03 AM
The anti-mosque rally was endorsed by the “English Defence League,” a band of football hooligans who regularly beat up British Muslims, and Geert Wilders, who spoke at the rally, is a neo-fascist whose party in the Netherlands includes neo-Nazis elements.
Also, the hate-filled rants of Pamela “Shrieking Harpy” Geller, on her blog, misnamed “Atlas Shrugs,” are serio-comic, at best:
Sick, sick, sick ….
Ari September 17, 2010 at 9:40 AM
There’s a huge difference between an endorsement recognized by the organizers and some random endorsement. Any nutjob can endorse anything he pleases. Did relevant question is which endorsements the organizers tout.
As for Wilders, frankly I haven’t done much research on him. If you can prove that he is a “neo-fascist,” then please do so. But I’ve heard enough false cries of fascism to demand proof.
I have mixed feelings about Geller.