Opponents to the plan to build a mosque and community center two blocks from the World Trade Center site insist they're not bigoted, intolerant Islamophobes, but just defenders of what's appropriate. For example, one woman whose relative died on 9/11 recently told the local Community Board, "I am not a bigot and most of the people in this room are not bigots, I oppose the mosque because it's in poor taste." And the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Peter King, says, "Right at this moment in history, it's bad form to put it there. There are things you are allowed to do, but that aren't appropriate to do." Ah, the Miss Manners approach. Can't lose!

Today the Landmarks Preservation Commission will take up the issue of whether 45 Park Place, a 152-year-old building that once housed a Burlington Coat Factory, should get landmark status. (Details [pdf] if you want to attend the public hearing at Hunter College.) Cordoba Institute, which wants to build the mosque and community center at that site, is hoping the commission will vote no, which seems likely. The commissioners will focus solely on the architectural and historical merits of the old building, not what would replace it. "If I was on the commission, I would probably vote against maintaining it," Rick Bell at the American Institute of Architects tells the Daily News. "This is a building no one will lose sleep over it if it's gone."

King, who is a supporter of Republican Rick Lazio's campaign for governor, told the AP yesterday, "We are at war with al-Qaida. I think the 9/11 families have a right to know where the funding comes from; I think there are significant questions." Lazio has also called for an investigation into the funding for the mosque, leading to mudslinging between him and Attorney General/gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo, who dismissed Lazio's request as Islamophobia.

Now Mayor Bloomberg has chimed in, telling reporters, "I don't think we're going to go and start investigating funding sources for religious organizations or vetting people who preach, pray in religious organizations. That just is so out of character for what this nation stands for." Bloomberg's rhetoric could really use some more spice; where's Marty Markowitz on this?! ("A mosque near Ground Zero? Oy vey!") As for Lazio, he's expected to testify at today's Landmarks meeting. A savvy entrepreneur could make a lot of money selling commemorative 9/11 Freedom Popcorn at this thing.