Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sounds of Silence

Without attempting to weigh the Constitutional issues involved on whether a mosque should be built close to the site of the World Trade Center (which are pretty clear cut in favor of building such a facility), certainly there are others that we can consider. For surely there are realities to such a project which have yet to see the light of day and voices yet to be heard on the subject. 

I've heard Mayor Bloomberg make an impassioned plea on behalf of those seeking to move forward with construction. I've heard David Patterson, the governor of New York, also say that while he does not oppose the building of this mosque he understands why some feel anxiety or even anger; and that he was willing to intervene to help the group seek an alternate site for construction. I've heard Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and every talk show host on TV and radio weigh in on the subject on one side or the other, often with a shortage of facts and an abundance of emotions. I have even heard a couple of candidates for office (most recently Sen. Harry Reid and his opponent, Rep. Sharron Angle) voice a few well chosen words on the subject, agreeing for once that they believe that the mosque should be built elsewhere

Amazingly enough in all of these voices however, I have not heard from the unions of New York City on the subject. One must believe after all, that unions representing police and firefighters, whose members perished in the collapse of The World Trade Center, must certainly have some opinion on the subject. We must likewise believe that as organizations representing some of those who fell on 9/11, certainly their opinion (like those of the families) is one that we would expect to hear in the ongoing discussion of the situation. 

Now assuming that these unions exhibit nothing but support for their fallen comrades (which is not much of a stretch) and object to such a project, the next logical question would be how other the other unions of NYC react. Certainly we could again make an assumption of union solidarity on the subject (again logical), which would inevitably lead us to believe that they too would in fact oppose such a project (in spite of the jobs that it would provide in a tough economy). Taking all of the preceding into consideration, we might then ask: How could anyone expect to complete construction of a building in the Big Apple without the support of the local trade unions? 

It does not seem much of a stretch to believe that if the construction unions (or any other for that matter) were to stand behind a negative reaction by police and firefighters, that a work action against such a project would be short in commencing. If carpenters, electricians, iron workers and plumbers were to refuse to work on such a job site, it hardly seems possible that such a project would ever be able to be started, let alone completed. If that action were to include a picket of such a site (again, not much of a stretch), it seems more than probable that even getting building materials delivered to the site would be difficult, if not impossible. 

Now while no one will ever accuse me of being an expert on the subject of labor unions (or much of a supporter for that matter), it doesn't take one to recognize the practical power that such organizations have in relation to such projects. It takes even less of one to recognize that the environment of New York City is one where unions are capable of a great deal of real power and control. Were they seriously to voice a negative opinion on the subject of the construction of a mosque (or anything else for that matter) anywhere in the city, much of the ensuing discussion on the subject would become little more in fact than noise. 

Instead of the shouts of protest in support of their union brothers and sisters and the cries of injustice being done that we would normally expect to hear however, in this particular instance we have heard nothing yet from any of these organizations but the sounds of silence ...


Hooda Thunkit (Dave Zawodny) said...

Amigo (in absentia)Tim,

I agree that the union brother (and sister) hood should make their feelings known.

All that they would have to do is say that, although those pushing for the mosque have the right to put it there, it wouldn't be right to do so and that they (the construction unions) will not participate/cooperate.

The unions need to show their elected officials what having a spine looks like. . .

Roland Hansen said...

One word:


Tim Higgins said...


You said it!


You have such a way with 'word'.

mud_rake said...


You clearly have a unique perspective on this topic. Of course, we all know that it really isn't a mosque which is being planned but rather an Islamic Center whose religious rooms will be up on the 12th floor with a community center on the other floors. I suppose that its reference as a 'mosque' helps move the demagoguery along nicely.

On my blog today I call this hubbub just one more red herring that the right-wing has thrown into the spotlight to divert citizens' attention from the important issues facing our nation. And, not unexpectedly, the news media is aglow with this quasi-news.

Newt Gingrich is daily throwing gasoline on the 'issue' hoping to light a fire under his 2012 presidential campaign. He hopes that the right wing will forget his insidious Contract with America and praise him for his stance against Islam.

It's rather darkly humorous that most Americans cannot separate the religion Islam from those who practice it. But then, Americans have been none too smart about cultures and religions beyond the 50 states.

Whether union construction workers will work on building the Islamic center is a moot point. Of much more concern to America is whether construction workers throughout America will have a job next week or will be waiting in the unemployment lines like 10% of the former workers of this nation.

Tim Higgins said...


Mosque, religious center, these are just words that so many hide behind.

What might be considered darkly humorous and a red herring however, is trying to cast aspersions on the right for what is clearly a contentious issue on both sides of the aisle. One might further consider personal attacks on those from the political right as a red herring to distract from a policy discussion that the left appears unwilling to have (or so it seems with so many Democrat incumbents running away from recently passed legislative efforts).

One might well question the motives of Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin and say that they are trying to fire up the political right, but conservatives are not the only ones who attempt to do so during election seasons (as illustrated during the last election cycle).

As to whether construction workers will be able to find gainful employment in the coming days, one might better look to a banking a mortgage industry whose oversight was in the hands of the Congress since the middle of the Bush Administration. One might further look to the insecurity of employers who have no idea what taxes on employees are going to cost them, or where investment capital will come from when the wealthiest 1% have it confiscated by the government at a higher rate.

Your willingness to indict the American people in general, and those with a differing political opinion in particular, seems to indicate the very prejudice you seem willing to accuse other of.