"A flag bearing a crescent and star flies from a flagpole in front of the World Trade Center, next to a Christmas tree and a menorah."
New York Times, 1997
In 1997, Mohammed T. Mehdi, the head of the Arab-American Committee and the National Council on Islamic Affairs, lobbied to have a crescent and star go up at the World Trade Center during the holiday season. His wish was granted, despite the fact that Mehdi had been an adviser to Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman.
violent ex-waiter and a slumlord Imam, the World Trade Center allowed Mohammed T. Mehdi to bully it into flying the symbol of Islam.
By 1997, Mohammed T. Mehdi had become an unambiguously ugly public figure. He had been fired by Mayor Dinkins in 1992 for anti-Semitic remarks. The year before he had proclaimed that, "Millions of Arabs believe Saddam stands tall having defied Western colonialism". In 1995, the US Attorney's Office in New York had listed Mehdi as one of the unindicted co-conspirators in the trial of Sheik Rahman. Mehdi had already published a book titled "Kennedy and Sirhan: Why?", which argued that Robert Kennedy's assassin had been acting in self-defense.
Considering Mehdi's role in actively working on behalf of the Sheik behind the wave of terrorism that included the original attack on the World Trade Center, turning down his request should have been a no-brainer. And yet when all was said and done, in the winter of 1997 there was an Islamic star and crescent at the World Trade Center. And another one at the park in front of the White House.
The previous year had marked the first annual Ramadan dinner, integrating the Islamic celebration into the Clinton Administration's schedule of events. Bill Clinton had not come down to the World Trade Center after the bombing, but in his list of priorities, he did find a way to make time for Ramadan. The star and crescent had not only come to the White House, it had gotten inside.
But the Star and Crescent flying at the World Trade Center did not prevent it from being targeted in a second greater attack four years later. Nor did Clinton's Ramadan dinners keep the plane headed for the White House at bay. It took the self-sacrifice of its American passengers to do that. Instead every gesture of appeasement only seemed to make it worse. Before the star and crescent flew at the World Trade Center, the site suffered only a few dead. After it, thousands dead. The more Ramadan dinners Bush hosted, the more Americans died, because the Star and Crescent and the Ramadan dinners both signified a deliberate blindness to the threat of Islamic terrorism.
No one who understood what had happened at the World Trade Center in 1993, would have permitted a banner associated with its attackers to be flown there. But while the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, let Mehdi have his way with the World Trade Center, other Muslims were working to carry out Sheik Abdel-Rahman's agenda for a war on America and the free world; "Cut the transportation of their countries," the blind Sheik had commanded, "tear it apart, destroy their economy, burn their companies, eliminate their interests, sink their ships, shoot down their planes, kill them on the sea, air, or land."
While Secretary of State Albright was holding her Ramadan dinners, other Ramadan dinners were being held out of sight at which more substantive events were being discussed. While the US was busy bombing Yugoslavian civilians in order to create a separatist Muslim state for KLA terrorists, Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were recruiting the first of the 9/11 hijackers. While the United States tried to appease Muslims, Muslims plotted to murder Americans.
In 1997, the New York Daily News wrote an upbeat story about Mehdi's Star and Crescent, which envisioned Islam blending in merrily into the holiday season.
New York may seem a little brighter this holiday season as the glowing Muslim crescent and star symbol nudges its way onto a seasonal landscape of Christmas trees, menorahs and Kwanzaa candles.
Watch out, ho, ho, ho-ing Santas you might get drowned out by cheery folks yelling, "Allahu akbar!"
Four years later, cheery folks yelling "Allahu Akbar" had filled downtown Manhattan with ashen snow and brightened it with the flames of the burning towers of the World Trade Center.
On the Christmas of 2001, New York City was a city with an open wound. Muslims had finally made their impact on the holiday season in a truly unforgettable way. At Ground Zero, workers were still struggling to search through the remains, looking for bodies or parts of them. "It would be like a gift for somebody," a police officer said, who was spending his holiday searching through the debris. A gift for the non-believers on that holiday season from Islam.
While Muslims were stuffing their faces in November of 2001, Americans were mourning their dead. While Abdul, Mohammed and Raisa were picking through their lamb stew, Americans were picking up the pieces of their loved ones. And yet it was Americans who were repeatedly told to be sensitive to Muslim concerns.
On the 9th anniversary of 9/11, Islam had another gift for us. Having bought up a building damaged in their own attack, they plotted to set up a grand mosque near Ground Zero. Another gift to New Yorkers from the religion that kept on giving. Another Crescent and Star.
The same people who did not learn the lesson in 1997, and allowed the Crescent and Star to fly at the World Trade Center, were eager to let the Ground Zero Mosque go forward in the name of tolerance. But despite the Crescent and Star, appeasement proved to be no defense. 3,000 people died on 9/11 because American leaders preferred to appease, rather than confront. And we are still busy appeasing, like never before.