Just days ago, President Obama weighed in on what has become a national controversy, the building of a mosque at Ground Zero, voicing his support for the "right" of Muslims to build a mosque at the site. His subsequent comments notwithstanding, his statement nationalized the issue. Whether one thinks that it should have been nationalized or not, those in the area deserve to have their elected officials ensure that their voices are heard.
According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, 73% of Staten Island voters oppose construction of the mosque compared with just 14% who support it. With at least 100 mosques in New York City, the project could hardly be viewed as an attempt to fill a need in the community. Many local politicians have spoken out on the issue, from gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio's firm opposition to Mayor Bloomberg's strong support. One politician, however, has been deafeningly silent on the issue: Staten Island Congressman Mike McMahon (D-Staten Island). Given that 263 islanders were killed in the World Trade Center attacks, one would think that the man they elected to represent them would serve as their voice in the debate. Those with friends or family who were killed, as well as those who work in lower Manhattan every day, deserve as much. Sadly, though, Congressman McMahon is nowhere to be found.
"As a member of the FBI, I worked alongside other first-responders at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks," Grimm said. "I saw the direct consequences of Islamic terrorism in the carnage on the pile, and the desperation on the faces of those seeking word on the whereabouts of their loved ones. For the president of the United States to now say this area should embrace the religious zealots who were behind this cowardly attack is going much too far."
Grimm, a Republican-Conservative candidate for congress, continued: "The decision to place a mosque and 'cultural center' just a stone's throw from the site of that terrorist attack is an affront to decency and a sign of disrespect to the memory of the nearly 3,000 innocent lives claimed that day."
This is just the latest dust up surrounding Congressman McMahon, who recently released a statement talking about Grimm's "Jewish money". Said Jennifer Nelson, McMahon's now former spokesman, "There is a lot of Jewish money, a lot of money from people in Florida and Manhattan, retirees." McMahon has since fired the spokesman, but the damage was already done.
Whether members of the press bother to push McMahon to take a stance at this point is irrelevant. He has already missed the boat and shown that he is oblivious to the concerns of his constituents. Staten Islanders deserve better.