A local chamber of commerce and city ward’s office denied a permit to build a mosque in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the nation because the government can’t tax it as much as alternatives.

A special use permit was denied to an organization seeking to open a mosque near the West Rogers Park neighborhood on the North Side of Chicago, Ill., Vince Gerasole reported last week at CBS 2.

“It sounds a bit like the controversy over the proposed mosque in New York near where the Twin Towers fell. Perhaps at first glance, but not when you scratch beneath the surface,” he reported.

The local chamber of commerce and alderman’s office denied the permit because alternatives would generate a higher tax revenue to the government. “The chamber says the mosque’s tax exempt status in that commercial location would eliminate much needed tax dollars and halt growth,” according to Mr. Gerasole’s report.

The lot’s been vacant for two years and is formerly the site of the stellar hot dog joint called “U Lucky Dawg” at 6821 N. Western Ave.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, Rogers Park had a population of over 63k with a median income of over $31k:

  • 31.8% White
  • 29.6% Black
  • 27.8% Latino
  • 6.40% Asian
  • 4.48% “Other”

Four blocks south of the lot where the permit was denied is a mile-long stretch of Devon Ave., commonly known as “Little India”, where Indo-Pak restaurants, shops, grocers, community centers, ethnocentric media organizations as well as Christian, Hindu and Muslim places of worships solely dominate. Less than a block south is a KFC where the marquee advertises the sale of halal meat year-round. The neighborhood and the neighboring West Ridge are the definition of a melting pot—filled with local mom ‘n pop markets and large franchises, Catholic and Protestant churches, Jewish synagogues, Hindu and Buddhist temples and Islamic mosques.

It’s a neighborhood with the large, secular Loyola University-Chicago, families, singles, straight, gay, young, assisted living centers for the elderly, public and private K-12 schools, faith- and arts-based schools. There’s no label to place on the neighborhood other than the abstract “diverse” because that’s exactly what it is.

Having lived in Rogers Park for 6-7 years of my adult life and Chicago for my entire life, I don’t believe another neighborhood in the Chicagoland area—or any other I’ve seen across the U.S.—can claim such a high level of diversity, tolerance and cooperative relations between the demographics.

The West Ridge Chamber of Commerce is actually 30-40% Muslim, Amie Zandel—president of the organization—told CBS 2.

There’s little reason to believe the organization and Alderman Bernard Stone’s (D-50th Ward) office isn’t being entirely honest—that an organization is being forcefully prohibited by the government from opening an establishment of free association on private property because the government’s hands are tied on much it can steal from them at gunpoint.

Probably why you won’t see the so-called ‘progressives’ rally around this cause. Arguing against the permit regime of opening establishments cuts to the heart of their regulation fetish and cities like Chicago with an overwhelming government apparatus stepping in to forcefully prohibit limited government-revenue-sucking establishments is consistent with their warped nihilism, masqueraded as utilitarianism.

The ‘progressive’ blogger known as “digby” argued the controversy over the Cordoba House wasn’t about property rights, but about “common decency”. And seeing as no government was seriously considering the idea of forcing the Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero to not open, I don’t disagree. I’ll even go far as to say that Islam is an absolutely disgusting, authoritarian religion. I just don’t hate the voodoo-philosophy more than that of the other monotheistic doctrines which dominate the West and adherence to superstition doesn’t negate people’s inalienable property rights.

The root of the controversy was blatant meanness, demagogues exploiting xenophobia and all-around cognitive dissonance that lead to nasty tribalism and outright lies about recent history. digby’s concern is played when this mysticism results in the outright tragic aggression of the reported arson at a mosque in Tennessee, Saturday morning.

To her defense, digby isn’t very educated on geopolitics and because of that, she doesn’t fully understand the danger of the “American exceptionalism” meme. If so, I’d expect her blog to be more substantive. But international law scholar Phyllis Bennis is correct to note the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ nonsense “is not about religion”, but “about war”, as she wrote Friday at The Huffington Post.

This issue in Chicago is little more than a property rights issues with an actually more unjust than the Park51 organization ever even potentially faced in New York City. Park51 is actually free from government prohibition of erecting an establishment for peaceful, free association. The Faizan-e-Madina organization’s freedom is actually being violated by the government.

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