The wingers and the bigots and the charlatans and the fools are no match for Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the public face of a proposed $100 million Manhattan edifice that would include a swimming pool, gym, basketball court, 500-seat restaurant, culinary school, library, reading room, art studio, child care center, September 11 memorial, and also a mosque.
On Monday, Rauf caused all of their heads to explode, when, in response to their ceaseless ululating that the site was somehow “hallowed ground,” situated as it is two long blocks from the crater of the World Trade Center, he observed mildly that “it’s absolutely disingenuous, as many have said, that that block is hallowed ground,” seeing as how it contains two strip clubs and a betting parlor.
Well, yes, that it does. Women rhythmically remove their cloth-ing at The Pussycat Lounge and New York Dolls, while over at the parlor bettors lay their money down on horses. A customer of the latter scoffed to the Wall Street Journal at the would-be hallowing of the ground, noting that “the bums used to sit right in front of” the former Burlington Coat Factory that the community center will replace.
Chris, employed to strip at The Pussycat Lounge, says she volunteered for the Red Cross after the 9/11 attacks, to which she lost eight friends. But she has no problem with the community center, and no illusions that she dances on hallowed ground.
“It’s all good,” she said of the community center. “You have your synagogues and your churches. And you have a mosque.”