As an immigration patriot, I obviously sympathize with those who oppose the construction of the Cordoba House Mosque near the World Trade Center. Only the most recalcitrant globalist cannot see what an extraordinary insult this is to the victims of September 11th and their families.
Unlike many of those who support the mosque's construction, I was actually in Manhattan on September 11th. And while I was not close enough to the Twin Towers to be in any danger, I was close enough to see them fall with my own eyes.
It's hard to describe the collective sense of dread we all felt that day. You just had to be there.
Nevertheless, I am actually relieved that a mosque is being built near the World Trade Center. Let me tell you why:
Lost in the debate over the Cordoba House Mosque is the fact that New York City now has a larger Muslim population than London, Paris or any city in Western Europe. There are over 800,000 Muslims living in New York and over 100 mosques—some estimates are much higher.
There are also an incalculable number of Muslim prayer rooms or "musallas" in the city, located in the backrooms and basements of restaurants, warehouses, and offices buildings. There was even a musalla on the 17th floor of Tower One.
Since Muslims pray five times a day, and half the cab drivers in New York are Muslim, you will often find many cabs double-parked outside these mosques and musallas, clogging up already overcrowded streets. Sure, the meter maids write them tickets, but the imams provide the cabbies with letters to bring to traffic court claiming that double-parking one's taxi is a constitutionally protected act of religious freedom.
The Masjid al-Farah Mosque, which is nothing more than a converted storage space, is just a fifteen minute walk from Ground Zero, and has been there since 1985. During the Muslim Sabbath on Fridays, the police cordon off the streets and sidewalks outside the mosque to accommodate the overflow of worshipers, who are either kneeling or fully prostrate on the ground.
The fact that their prayers stop traffic and force pedestrians to cross the street doesn't seem to bother them; in fact, I think that's the whole point.
I've witnessed this bizarre ritual many times. Certainly, it does not resemble other forms of public prayer, such as pro-lifers praying in front of abortion clinics, or evangelicals holding hands and forming a circle around a flag pole. No, these Friday prayers are an act of cultural intimidation, an attempt to arrogate part of the city and declare it Muslim territory.
The first originally-constructed mosque built in New York, the Islamic Cultural Center, opened in 1991 on East 96th Street. The mosque was largely paid for by the Emir of Kuwait, and other Muslim governments. Its opening was delayed because the original Iranian-born architect was dismissed for having hired a Jewish consultant.
Only days after September 11th, I attended a Rosh Hashanah dinner with some Jewish friends on East 96th Street near the mosque. Afterwards, as we walked home, we noticed that the mosque was surrounded by a number of policemen who were there to fend off the much-anticipated anti-Muslim backlash that, of course, never did happen.
As we drew closer, a helicopter flew low overhead and aimed its searchlight directly on us. One officer then approached and ordered us to cross the street.
It was a close brush with the brave new world of diversity, and not my last.
A few years later, St. Ignatius Church, my former Park Avenue parish, ran an "interfaith dialogue" trip to the Islamic Cultural Center. The event was hosted by Imam Omar Saleem Abu Namous, one of the most prominent Muslim leaders in New York.
The Islamic Cultural Center is an imposing facility that looks more like a fortress than a place of religious worship. It lacks any beauty or warmth and is surrounded by a thick iron fence and heavy gates.
Imam Namous was perfect for the job of ecumenical outreach—smiley, personable, and able to peddle off the whole "religion of peace" routine as well as anyone could possibly do it.
After a brief tour of the mosque, Imam Namous asked us if we had any questions. I asked him if we were welcome to come back to the mosque on our own time. He assured us that we were all welcome to visit any time we liked.
So, naturally, I decided to take him up on his offer. It was time, I figured, to put diversity to the test. Obviously, it helps that I'm a pretty big guy. Still, I decided I'd better bring along a friend, just in case.
Several days later, my friend and I chose to visit the mosque just after their midday prayers had ended, so as not to intrude on anything. We entered through the rear entrance of the mosque at 97th street, just as I had done with the parishioners from St. Ignatius.
During my previous visit with St. Ignatius, the members of the mosque kept a considerable distance from us. But not this time. As soon as we took off our shoes, in compliance with Muslim custom, we were met with several icy stares.
We then headed toward the main prayer hall while several men followed close behind, muttering angrily in Arabic. As soon as we entered the prayer hall, they confronted us.
"Are you Muslim?" one of them demanded to know.
"No," I replied. "But we were invited to come here by Imam Namous." This did not impress any of them, even though I could see Imam Namous on the other side of the room talking to a group of children.
The man then glowered at us behind a set of almost lifeless eyes. "You have to leave," he shouted at us, "Now!" and he thrust a clenched fist into his palm.
This was the future of Muslim-Christian relations in America staring me right in the eye.
We grabbed our shoes and left.
Shelby Steele once wrote "Most people could empty half of any room simply by saying what they truly believe." One of the positive, and sadly brief, outcomes of 9-11, was that many Americans actually had the courage to say what they really thought about the world around us.
Terrible as September 11th was, it awoke the instinct that has for so long been suppressed among the American people—and among all Western peoples—the instinct of self-preservation.
On the afternoon of September 11th, and in the days following, many people gathered on Central Park's Great Lawn, where you could watch the Twin Towers smolder over the Manhattan skyline for days. They also met in bars, restaurants and coffee shops.
Scores of people began to honestly speak their minds about the world around them, even among strangers, and no one was afraid of censure.
This racial realpolitik only strengthened when it was reported that in many Muslim enclaves in New York and New Jersey, Muslims publicly cheered when the Twin Towers collapsed.
Unfortunately, ten days later President George W. Bush addressed the nation and said
"I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It's practiced freely by many millions of Americans, and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. "
He also told the nation that America was attacked not because of our race or religion, but because of our democratic values.
The MainStream Media and the Conservative Establishment immediately began to parrot these patently ludicrous assertions which tragically lacked any emphasis on self-preservation.
Our response to 9-11 suddenly became about defeating our enemies "over there" in the Middle East.
But our enemies are not over there. They are here—and in greater numbers than ever before because we still allow them to come.
In the meantime, sharia law continues to inch its icecap over New York City. Muslim activists have been lobbying Wall Street to practice sharia-compliant finance. They have been pushing the public schools to recognize their holy days. Whenever a mosque or musalla opens in the city, they try to muscle any liquor stores or bars out of the neighborhood. You get the picture.
The real insult to the victims of 9-11 is not that a mosque is being built near the spot where they died—it is that Muslim immigration continues to flow into the city and country most of them called home.
Moreover, even if opponents of the Cordoba House Mosque successfully prevented it from being built by Ground Zero, it will probably still be built a short distance away. What kind of victory is that?
If we really gave a damn about the victims of 9-11, we would immediately prohibit all Muslim immigration. But that isn't going to happen unless people begin to demand it.
My hope, then, is that the mosque's construction will help to reignite the instinct of self-preservation that is so essential if the country is to avoid having a Muslim problem on a scale like that of Western Europe.
While the instinct of self-preservation remains sadly dormant among our elites, it still burns within the rest of us. We have seen it in the number of people who already oppose the Cordoba House Mosque. We have all seen it in the thousands of outraged citizens who crashed the Senate switchboard to oppose another amnesty.
And, of course, we have seen it in the number of people who read and support VDARE.com.
The construction of the Cordoba House Mosque will hopefully awaken Americans to the reality that our enemies are not "over there".
They are already here, and living among us; they are swelling in strength and size, and right now, they appear to be winning.
Matthew Richer (email him) is a writer living in Massachusetts. He is the former American Editor of Right NOW magazine.