In the debate over the Islamic community center two blocks from ground zero, Mayor Bloomberg has found a cause that he is truly passionate about. The guy seems driven to convert opinions with his message of tolerance and religious equality. On the heels of his Iftar-dinner speech Tuesday night, Hizzoner was on The Daily Show last night to discuss the issue with a sympathetic partner, Jon Stewart.
The two wisecracking New York Jews are, not surprisingly, great together. When Bloomberg pointed out that the area around ground zero was already a “vibrant community” that contained “porno places” and “fast-food places,” Stewart asked, with mock insult, “Why did you have to look at me when you said porno places?” Bloomberg, keeping the joke going, replied, “Well, I just wanted to make it relevant to you.”
Jokes aside, Bloomberg claimed that while some 9/11 families were sincerely bothered by the mosque, politicians were just “trying to stir things up to get publicity and trying to polarize people so they can get some votes,” and he predicted, as we have, that this will all go away after the election. Which invites the question: Would Bloomberg be speaking out so unequivocally in support of the mosque if he were up for reelection himself, as he so often is? “I think I should speak out even more if I was running for reelection,” he told Stewart, “because I think the public wants people — what they want people to say, candidates to do, is say what they believe. They want people to be genuine, even if they don’t agree with them.” Luckily for Bloomberg, he won’t have the chance to actually test out that theory on this issue.