Ever since Newt Gingrich took the position that it should be impermissible to build a mosque “near ground zero” because that’s how they would handle this in Saudi Arabia, I’ve been wondering how big the Mosque Exclusion Zone is supposed to be. All of Manhattan? The whole of New York City?
According to Eric Kleefeld, Gingrich clarified his thinking somewhat last night on Greta Van Susteren’s show indicating that the northern boundary of the Exclusion Zone lies somewhere south of 59th Street:
“You know, there are over a hundred mosques in New York City. I favor religious freedom,” said Gingrich. “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.”
So the zone is clearly meant to mark out some kind of specific element of lower Manhattan. My recollection of the actual events of 9/11 were that the National Guard set up barricades along 14th Street (inconvenient for my 12th Street-based family) that people weren’t allowed to cross except for a one-time opportunity for folks to get to their houses. So maybe in honor of the day, we should say no mosques south of 14th Street since, after all, the good people of Greenwich Village, SoHo, etc. are well-known fans of Gingrich, Palin, and their brand of xenophobic militarism.