Feature

Editor's Letter: A mosque near the World Trade Center

As arguments raged over the location of mosques in New York and around the country, I thought of Jack Morgan and his predetermined ideas about who was responsible for the 1920 Wall Street blast that killed 38 and injured hundreds.

On a bright September morning in downtown Manhattan, at an address that symbolized the restless, beating heart of American capitalism, a terrorist explosion ripped through buildings, shattering glass and ending lives. The 1920 Wall Street blast killed 38 and injured hundreds. Among the victims were employees of the Morgan Bank, whose iconic limestone headquarters at 23 Wall St. was pockmarked by shrapnel. The explosion was widely presumed to be the work of anarchists lashing out against the financial elite, of which the “House of Morgan” was pre-eminent. The perpetrators were never identified. But Jack Morgan, son of J. Pierpont Morgan and arguably the age’s most powerful financier, had his own predetermined ideas about who was responsible: “the Jews.”

There’s no mystery about the terrorist attack that struck downtown Manhattan 81 Septembers later. Self-avowed Islamic extremists giddily claimed credit. But I thought of Morgan as arguments raged over the location of mosques in New York and around the country. Some Americans are outraged at a plan for a mosque near the World Trade Center site. Others express fear that America’s 2.6 million Muslims are preparing to impose sharia law on their 348 million fellow citizens—painting a portrait of an awesomely enterprising minority. Speaking within sight of the Statue of Liberty, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg last week asserted that the right of Americans to practice their religion could not be bounded or constrained. I wonder what Jack Morgan would have made of the occasion. Like us, he was a creature of his time, so it’s doubtful he gave much thought to Muslims or mosques. But a Jewish mayor? Jack must be spinning in his narrow, gilded grave.

Francis Wilkinson

Recommended

The Chinese Communist Party congress that could make Xi president for life, explained
Xi Jinping.
Briefing

The Chinese Communist Party congress that could make Xi president for life, explained

Has Liz Truss already failed?
Liz Truss.
Briefing

Has Liz Truss already failed?

Ukrainian forces break through Russian lines in southern Kherson
Ukrainian tanks in Kherson
'numerically superior tank units'

Ukrainian forces break through Russian lines in southern Kherson

North Korea fires ballistic missile over Japan
A Japanese news network shows footage of Kim Jong Un.
escalations

North Korea fires ballistic missile over Japan

Most Popular

5 toons about Trump's spiraling legal woes
Political Cartoon.
Feature

5 toons about Trump's spiraling legal woes

National Archives says some Trump administration records are still missing
A view of the National Archives and Records Administration building in Washington, D.C.
More Trouble for Trump?

National Archives says some Trump administration records are still missing

Ukraine takes full control of Lyman while Russian media points fingers
Ukrainian flag in Donetsk
do svidaniya

Ukraine takes full control of Lyman while Russian media points fingers