Great news, Muslims! Our arbiter of all things American, Newt Gingrich, has decreed that you may build a mosque on the island of Manhattan! There's just one condition: It has to be far away from the World Trade Center site. How far is far enough? Newt says near Central Park is permissible, or maybe up around Manhattanville. Last night Gingrich elaborated on what Matt Yglesias has called the "mosque exclusion zone" during an interview an interview on Fox:
You know, there are over a hundred mosques in New York City. I favor religious freedom. I'm quite happy if they'd come in and said, "We want to build a community center near Central Park, we'd like to build a community center near Columbia University." But they didn't. They said right at the edge of a place where, let's be clear, thousands of Americans were killed in an attack by radical Islamists.
Daily Intel has put together a handy map showing Newt's No Mosque Zone, ballooning out in an 80 block radius from Ground Zero. The area outside that zone will be ceded to Islam, and any real American leaving the safe zone is advised that he or she will likely encounter individuals who are, in Gingrich's words, "very hostile to our civilization."
The Landmarks Preservation Commission has not yet ruled on whether the building the mosque would replace deserves landmark status. But last night Community Board 1 voted 24-to-11, with two abstentions, to recommend that the city's Landmarks deny historic designation for the building at 45-47 Park Place. Before the vote, there was the requisite ranting from the public. Stuart Kaufman of Great Neck, Long Island, declared that "this is not just a local issue. It was America that was attacked on 9/11."