Posted by Brad @ 4:39 pm on November 22nd 2010

Delicious Irony from Park51

I’m sure this wasn’t intended to throw them back into controversy, but I kind of appreciate the developers of the Park51 program applying for $5 million in federal funds as part of a federal aid program intended to subsidize the redevelopment of lower Manhattan after the attacks of September 11th. A large multi-faith community center particularly catering to underrepresented minorities is, of course, the sort of project that one would have to assume the creators of this federal aid program very much had in mind, and which it is explicitly designed to assist. Indeed, the grant being applied for is specifically designated to underwrite “community and cultural enhancement” projects in the area, and the grant application itself states that religious organizations can make funding requests for capital projects “as long as the request is for a facility or portion of a facility that is dedicated to non-religious activities or uses.” Which indeed Park51 has – it’s a proposed 13 story building with a single Islamic prayer room, which it excludes from the application (meaning federal money from the grant won’t go to the portions of the building which are all “muslimy”.

In the end, given that Park51 only has about $20,000 of its proposed $100 million dollar budget, it’s unlikely to get any grants, unrelated to its attendant controversy. Which has, by the way, always been the case. The good bet is that nothing ever comes of the Park51 project at all — really it’s nothing more than a glint in the eye of a muslim real estate developer — except, crucially, a strong signal from a very vocal minority of Americans that there is something inherently offensive about the practice of Islam such that it should be treated differently from the practice of any other religion, which was at the very least a very clarifying moment in modern American political history, and I don’t mind at all if the developers keep visible and keeping that thumb in the eye of that segment of Americans.

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