By Stefanie Schappert
Special to The Clyde Fitch Report
I literally feel like my head is going to explode over this Ground Zero mosque. Can someone please tell me why I (along with 63 percent of New Yorkers) am considered a racist Neanderthal because I do not think it is appropriate to build a mosque steps from Ground Zero? I just love how the left once again reduces the majority of thinkers about this issue, including the 9/11 families, into invalid, subhuman forms of life to be dismissed as uneducated bigots.
From Mayor Michael Bloomberg, (a true Dem in disguise), whose ratings have plummeted since he declared that “us dissidents” of the mosque should be “ashamed of ourselves,” to President Obama’s waffling stance to Nancy Pelosi trying to figure out who is “funding these people,” it’s enough to make one scream. But I’ve already written a piece laying out many of the reasons why I think a mosque should not be built at Ground Zero: Muslims Return to the Scene of the Crime?. And I think our good friend Imam Rauf has enough “caught on tape” moments for most (check out the latest one here). So I’m going to offer another point of view, one that many of my readers would not have access to, and one that I assume many of the Clyde Fitch liberal readers wouldn’t either. I am talking about the hard hats.
Who are the hard hats? They’re the working class guys who are the backbone of this city. They’ve been on the job site — some for decades — here in the five boroughs. Many of them worked in the Ground Zero “pit” alongside firefighters and other first responders on 9/11. What we forget is that they are still in the pit, taking part in the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site. More importantly, they’re the ones that would be hired to actually construct “Park 51,” the new Islamic center and mosque. Not surprisingly, most say they’d refuse — and they’ve taken a pledge to prove it.
This week, I got a chance to talk to the brains behind this “9/11 Hard Hat Pledge”: Andy Sullivan, a born-and-bred New Yorker, a union guy with 30 years in the business and currently “a field super for the biggest union construction outfit on the East Coast.” He started his own blog, Blue Collar Corner, about a year ago as a way to share “what the regular working person is thinking about.” And until the mosque issue came to light, it was primarily focused on the economic crisis and the government’s job performance since Obama took office. He’s become a bit of a media darling in the past few weeks. Here’s what he had to say.
Why the Pledge:
Andy was there at the Community Board 1 vote on May 25. He watched 9/11 family members weep when the board approved the mosque plans to move forward. It was then he thought “I’m disgusted. This is it — I can’t depend on lawsuits, elected officials or politicians who’ll just fall in line with the Mayor. The only way out is to do it myself.” He says he realized it’s his crews who build all the big buildings in New York City (ever hear of Yankee Stadium?) “It’s my people who do this type of work. It’s time to take a stand and wake the national conscience.”
How the Pledge Got Started:
“I went from to job site to job site, asking people if they would work on the mosque.” The most common answer Andy heard: “Hell no, not if I was starving.” A few days later, he was driving home in his car listening to talk radio (Rush Limbaugh — oh, lefties, relax). The topic of the mosque came up, he called in, and the 9/11 Hardhat Pledge was born.
Andy says that on 9/11, “before the cops and firefighters showed up, a lot of us were the ones getting people out of the buildings.” He adds, “It’s hard to work across from Ground Zero: We know what the thousand-yard stare is.”
Andy says he’s angry that “Giuliani, Pataki and Bloomberg all promised us that the site would be built up again.” Yet, he points out, “it’s still a hole in the ground.”
Why No Mosque:
“Islam is saturated in symbolism. The symbol is to build a mosque on conquered lands. To build a tower with a mosque in it sends a message to the rest of the world: Islam has beaten us. The radical Muslims will be cheering in the streets just like they did when the towers came down. It will be like a wave of motivation for them to top the WTC attack.”
On Imam Rauf:
Even if this guy is totally clean, Andy says, his actions show that “tolerance to him is a one-way street. He’s going to do whatever he wants.” He believes Rauf’s trip to the Middle East as an ambassador of religious tolerance, is just “an excuse to raise money” for the project. (Ah, the financing — another Lipstick Conservative piece in the making.)
On Being Called a Racist:
Andy says his workers knew the old Burlington Coat Factory outlet was being used as a prayer center. He adds, “If I was such a racist, I would have been protesting their proximity to the WTC site years ago.” Andy agrees that government shouldn’t interfere with private property issues. But building the mosque is “just not the right thing to do.”
Who Backs the Pledge:
Not only the construction workers, iron workers, cement masons, pipefitters, sprinkler fitters, etc., but suppliers, insurance companies, telecommunications installers and all kinds of mom-and-pop shops across the country. Hundreds of individuals and companies are refusing to supply everything and anything from sheet metal to paper cups and pencils to emergency medical services.
The military. Andy says he’s heard from a lot of soldiers serving overseas questioning “why they’re in 100 degree heat, spilling their blood, while people over here are rolling out the red carpet for them to build a mosque at Ground Zero.”
In case you think it’s all about the mosque, Andy says, “it’s just part of a broader issue…the Obama Administration took a nasty hard left with healthcare and financial reform. This is just part of it. It’s the ruling class telling us what’s good for us, what to do and how to feel.”
Tell Me How You Really Feel:
“It’s a terrible idea. Building a mosque at Ground Zero is like sticking a finger in your eye. It will push Muslim and American relations back to the Stone Age.”
And My Final 2 Cents:
I must address those who keep saying the swanky “Park 51,” as they like to call it, will not really be at the Ground Zero site. Please give me break: the address is 600 feet from the footprints of the Twin Towers. And if that’s not close enough, remember that the old Coat Factory was actually damaged during the 9/11 attacks when landing gear from one of the hijacked planes crashed through the roof, straight through the top two floors. So, technically, one could argue it is part of the site. Again, is that close enough for you people? Did the naysayers ever stop to think what else could have crashed through that roof? Just this past month, the New York City Medical Examiner’s office announced that, after sifting through another 844 cubic yards of debris, there are still about 1,000 World Trade Center victims unidentified. What if that contains your missing husband, mother or child?
And, finally, can we please stop arguing weather the goddamn thing is a mosque and be done with it? The developers on their own website say the site will include — well, click and read right here. No one is trying to fool the masses. Drum roll, please: it’s a mosque.
Stefanie Schappert is a freelance journalist based in New York. A staunch conservative in a self-professed city of liberals and the military wife of a Green Beret, she created Lipstick Conservative to share her unique viewpoint on politics and culture. This broadcast news veteran and former NFL Cheerleader is known to hang out with quite a liberal crowd and has been the buzz kill during many a dinner party. Contact Stefanie or learn more at lipstickconservative.com.
Lipstick Conservative does not necessarily represent the views of The Clyde Fitch Report.