Angry New Yorker

Saturday, April 17, 2004
The Holy City of New York

Sounds kind of strange, doesn't it? But then again why not? Frankly, I've about had it up to here with "The Holy City of Najaf" or the "Holy City of Kut" or the "Holy City of The House Where my Cousin Lefty Lives." Enough already! Basta. No mas! Am I the only one who thinks this "holy city" labeling is a getting way out of hand? Saddam, curiously, had no problem sending his goons into "holy cities" to grab poor schmucks and send them to the afterlife. Why didn't the "miltias" or the holy army of cleric so-and-so do something then if it was such a fundamental outrage?

But apparently it's only when those from the west, that is primarily non-Muslims, come in to put the strong-arm on a wanted fugitive that entry with guns for the ultimate purpose of arresting someone blossoms into an unspeakable outrage. Not that I'm comparing the coalition forces to Saddam's goons -- far, far from it.

Look "cultural sensitivity" is one thing; discrimination against other religions is a very different kettle of fish. Could we file a discrimnation claim under the new Iraqi administrative law (nee temp. constitution) against the sheiks who say can we can't go into Najaf to execute a warrant?

On a practical level, what do you do with a "holy city"? Can you re-zone a section from, say, "low-intensity worship" to "full pilgrimages permitted", or is a city once deemed "holy" in stasis forever -- sort of like landmarking here in NYC? Really, I'm curious how this actually works on the ground.

Who's in charge of dubbing a city "holy"? Is there a spiritual zoning commission somewhere? Can you get a variance for special hardship? Are there special tax incentives, a-kin to "Empire Zones" here in NY, to attract development? Perhaps an "allah comtemplative zone" where marketeering is banning, or say, a special "infidel only crossings"?

It seems to me that we need a lot more info about just why cities are holy and what that means to marines ready to step in and kick some unholy ass.

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