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Muhammad Ali Hasan Headshot

Redlining the Ground Zero Mosque?

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In an attempt to finesse a haphazard 'treaty,' Governor David Paterson, along with Congressman Peter King, are celebrating that the State of New York is prepared to offer developers of the Cordoba House, the Ground Zero Mosque, a parcel of state land, much further away from the World Trade Center area, free of charge, in exchange for their agreement to build their mosque on the state land, far from Ground Zero.

Free land in New York City? Pretty sweet deal, right? Unfortunately, for Paterson and King, they are practicing one of the most bigoted forms of public policy that has greatly hurt America - redlining.

It was around the 60's, 70's, and sadly, well into the 80's that local governments wrestled with the idea of 'integration.' After all, the federal government had passed numerous Civil Rights bills, guaranteeing that all people in America, regardless of skin color, religion, or sexual orientation, would be guaranteed the same opportunities - but the broken chain within this fence was municipal policy.

As the jaw of integration sunk its teeth into local laws, municipal governments would proudly talk about the modern housing projects they would build and restore, like Cabrini-Green and Robert Taylor Homes in Chicago or the Roxbury Projects in Boston. And to these municipal leaders, these 'modern' apartments in Cabrini-Green would be state-of-the-art and zoned for 'lower-incomes' or 'rent-control,' meaning that good, 'hard working' Americans, could finally find a home, especially disenfranchised minorities. After all, for the municipal government to spend so much money and time in developing these apartments specifically for poor minorities - was this not the height of American compassion?

The result?

Documented cases show mortgage and loan companies often steering African-Americans and minorities into housing projects, concentrating them far from 'white' neighborhoods. Once placed in such projects, minority populations were aggressively redlined, with banks denying mortgage and business loans that would help minorities leave, sometimes only on the basis of geography.

But worse is the theory of 'planned shrinkage' often discussed by scholar Robert Wallace, who argued that as African-American and minority populations were increasingly concentrated into housing projects, municipal services would suddenly leave, leaving the inhabitants of the projects to their own devices, where sadly, street gangs determined the law of the land, as police forces, public schools, and all forms of government assistance subsided.

So allow us to review - Peter King and David Paterson are suddenly offering a group of minorities (Muslims) a free piece of land - a 'sweetheart' deal of compassion - in exchange for their permanently leaving a major business section of Manhattan and never coming back?

America, we have seen this before.

Was it Peter King's ilk who cut the red ribbons when projects like Cabrini-Green first opened, hailing the low income apartments as a great 'compromise' between forced integration and municipal response?

But David Paterson is the one who cannot be figured out? I know he is without vision, but even Governor Paterson should know that he is an African-American? And has it occurred to the Governor that he is attempting to practice a bigoted policy that continues to devastate the African-American community to this day? If Governor Paterson isn't bigoted against Muslims, then he is certainly a failed student of American History.

And lastly, it is my hope that the developers behind the Cordoba House reject this awful deal. While the minorities of the 60's, 70's, and 80's were fooled by a compassionate face, the minorities of America today are far too educated to be bamboozled in such a manner - or so I think?

As my favorite, fellow Republican, George W. Bush, would say, "Fool me once? Shame on you. Fool me twice? Shame on me."