Taranto: N.Y. Times Overreaches In Comparing Today's Muslims to 19th Century Catholics

James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal opinion page online has an eye for the absurd, as in the story of one reporter named Paul Vitello:

The New York Times finds echoes of history in the controversy over the Ground Zero mosque. It seems that in 1785, some New Yorkers opposed a plan to build a Catholic church in Manhattan:

City officials in 18th-century New York urged project organizers to change the church's initial location....Then there were fears about nefarious foreign backers...."We were treated as second-class citizens; we were viewed with suspicion," Father [Kevin] Madigan [now the church's pastor] wrote in his letter to parishioners, adding, "Many of the charges being leveled at Muslim-Americans today are the same as those once leveled at our forebears."

Indeed, the two situations are all but identical. Remember when Catholic extremists attacked Manhattan in 1776, just two blocks from where the church was later built, killing 3,000 civilians? Oh wait, neither do we. Well, we did say "all but" identical.

Clearly, Catholics could have been viewed as an alien presence with a foreign leader in 1806, but there was no traumatic mass murder in Manhattan in the decade preceding the church founding. Nevertheless, Father Madigan is a very staunch backer of the Cordoba House project, as he told the Irish Echo:

The pastor of New York’s oldest Catholic parish has given his backing to the controversial Islamic center at Park Place, citing the “inalienable right” to build.

The Rev. Kevin Madigan, of St. Peter’s Church on Barclay Street at the edge of Ground Zero, said that people in the community were happy with the plans for Park51, the proposed 13-story complex that has become a national issue this month.

“I have a problem with the view that says: ‘Why can’t they compromise and go some place else.’ Well, that means they have to give up their rights; they’re relinquishing their rights. So that’s not compromise. That’s asking them to cave in,” he said.

“There are certain things we don’t vote on – the right to speak your mind, the right to worship as you please and the right to assemble. They’re called ‘inalienable’ because they cannot be taken away,” the priest added.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis