I hate to be the turd in the punch bowl, but Bloomberg’s latest proclamation on the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ would be a bit easier to take if he wasn’t such an avowed defender of the nanny state. Opponents of the mosque have been accused of knee-jerk tribalism, and to be fair, I’m no great fan telling people where they can and cannot build based on some hazy, half-imagined connections to terrorism and a made-up line of demarcation between Ground Zero and the rest of the city. But the mayor, despite an admittedly stirring defense of individual rights, is guilty of his own special brand of identity politics.
To be sure, Bloomberg’s New York is a fine place for mosques, financial wizardry, and racial diversity. These manifestations of individual choice jive nicely with the elite’s conception of what their city should be: cosmopolitan, worldly, and prosperous. But Bloomberg’s less favored subjects – fat people, smokers, citizens who don’t want to be subjected to the 24-hour surveillance state – aren’t defended in public speeches or New York Post op-eds. For a variety of cultural reasons, their choices don’t matter as much to Bloomberg and company. And I find that brand of liberal tribalism nearly as noxious as any of Palin’s calls to “refudiate” the Ground Zero Mosque.