Supporters of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump released a video last week in an attempt to prove that some Muslims celebrated the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11, 2001.
Trump claimed that he saw “thousands and thousands” of Muslims cheering in New Jersey in the aftermath of the terrorist attack.
The somewhat poor quality video of a CBS news report from 2001 does show somebody on a rooftop on Journal Square. But it is unclear what they are reacting to.
This is not the first time Trump has made controversial statements or stated as fact things he could not prove (or things clearly disproven). Since this statement, he has gone on, in fact, to issue a policy proposal that would ban all Muslim immigration into the United States. This last comes in reaction to the murder of 14 people and wounding of 21 others in California at the hands of two people indoctrinated into a radical and misguided vision of Islam.
But rather than destroying Trump’s credibility, these types of remarks have increased his lead in the GOP field of candidates.
Even if the video is real and someone celebrated on that terrible day in 2001, “thousands and thousands” were not on that narrow roof.
But facts have hardly gotten in the way of myth-making in our society, and Trump seems aware that he has tapped into a rich vein of anti-Muslim sentiment that other GOP candidates are hesitant to explore.
In a democratic society, few leaders are willing to recognize the depth of racism and hatred that exists in America. Some of this rage comes from the fear inspired by the terrorist attacks, and the potential for any innocent American to get caught up in a random attack. But a significant part of this rage comes as a result of resistance to change. The fabric of American culture is changing, and the former Christian-dominated society of earlier immigration is giving way to new and different religious beliefs.
Hudson County, which has been on the forefront of these waves of immigrants for more than a century, has come to accept newcomers for the most part, recognizing that many who arrive on these shores bring new energy and vitality to America. These are people seeking to share in the American Dream.
In this regard, Trump is very distant, even though he has developed casinos in New Jersey and is building housing in Jersey City.
Yet equally remote is New Jersey’s governor, Christopher Christie, whose ignorance of the vetting process for Syrian refugees has him seeking to ban them from coming to the state. Christie isn’t willing to go as far as Trump in feeding off the distrust of strangers, but he is contributing to an un-American culture of fear – and by default, helps increase the power of the terrorists.
Instilling fear in America is the real objective of these terrorists, and it appears that Trump, Christie, and others of their ilk, are doing exactly what the terrorists most hope for in changing the basic values America has always lived by.
Conservative groups in New Jersey have recently targeted Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, a key member of the Hudson County legislative contingent, because Prieto defended the process by which Syrian refugees are admitted to the United States.
The conservative groups, like Christie and Trump, rely on misinformation or partial truths to make their case. In this instance, they claim that the United States relies on the United Nations to determine who gets placed in America, and these conservatives ignore the fact that the immigration list also goes through several layers of additional vetting by Homeland Security and other federal agencies. In the end, the list of recommended refugees is significantly reduced in number.
Development issues in Hoboken
As the new Hoboken City Council gets ready to reorganize in January, the Hoboken Zoning Board of Adjustment will get a new chairperson.
The Zoning Board, as it is better known, is a body that can allow exceptions to zoning laws, permitting variances for projects that might not otherwise meet the letter of zoning laws.
With the exception of some favored developers, the Zoning Board in Hoboken has largely been very conservative in its approach to allowing variances. Most of the projects approved in the last few years have been minor projects such as the reconstruction associated with brownstones.
This seems to reflect a somewhat anti-big development philosophy, and gauging from the new membership of the City Council, this philosophy is not going to change any time soon.
Historically, Councilman Jim Doyle has been viewed as anti-development. While this is not completely true about Doyle, Tiffanie Fisher – who was elected in the 2nd Ward and will take office in January – has a track record for opposing development. This may prove a boon for Weehawken, Jersey City, and West New York, whose access to the waterfront provides development alternatives; it won’t be good for revenue-starved Hoboken.
This anti-development stance seems somewhat at odds with some of the key players inside Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s administration. These include attorney Bill Northgrave, the former chief of staff to County Executive Robert Janiszewski. Planning expert Steve Marks was a key player in the county Planning Department, instrumental not only in its open space policies, but in several of the county’s central redevelopment projects. Former state Sen. Bernard Kenny is no stranger to Hoboken, and served as part of the brain trust behind former Mayor Dave Roberts.
Rumor suggests that the zoning board may see a change at the top with Phil Cohen replacing James Able as chairman. Able is a close associate of Councilman Peter Cunningham. Although Cohen has run for freeholder with the blessing of Zimmer and has spouted anti-county taxes rhetoric, he may prove to be a more even-handed steward when it comes to steering the Zoning Board.
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.