The much-hyped, soon-to-open Breslin restaurant, situated in the 12-story Ace Hotel on Broadway and 29th, is giving members of the Masjid Ar-Rahman mosque across the street some agita. “Five times a day, there’s a hundred cabs on the street–the good news is you can always get a cab,” co-owner Ken Friedman told the Transom the other evening. He said some mosque visitors “object to seeing people drink alcohol.”
After the recent FergusStock, a festival during which famed British chef Fergus Henderson cooked whole pigs for a rapt crowd of New York chefs and foodies, Mr. Friedman said the mosque’s leaders called a meeting with the hotel. “They said, ‘Can you move the bar?'” he said. “And I laughed. And the guy said, ‘Oh, you think that’s funny?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, that is funny, that is really funny, because we’re not going to move the bar just because you discovered we’re serving booze.’ Can you name one restaurant in New York that doesn’t serve booze?”
Mr. Friedman and his partner, Spotted Pig chef April Bloomfield, did agree to nix plans for a dive bar in a townhouse next door, but as for the restaurant, “I said, ‘This is the United States of America and we’ll do whatever the fuck we want.'” He said the mosque had suggested it couldn’t control the behavior of “a few bad eggs”; i.e., “we could get a brick through our window.” Mr. Friedman said he made the police aware of this threat.
If you move to a country that is 98% “kuffar” STFU is all I have to say. As Muslims like to remind us there are 1.5 billion of them, but despite being adherents of the One True Religion countries dominated by Muslims tend to kind of suck-ass. Therefore, they queue up to immigrate to countries where the majority is non-Muslim. But they expect to carry on as usual, as evident by some Muslim cab drivers refusing to pick up those who’ve had alcohol, or people with seeing eye dogs (because Muslims consider dogs unclean, though this is true of Hindus too last I checked).
This dovetails with the issues I pointed to in “On Offense”. Muslims, and for that matter Mormons, many Hindus, etc., would naturally find inebriation with alcohol offensive and disrespectful, especially around a religious center. If a Mongolian beef establishment opened up across from a Hindu temple I think one might wonder as to the sensitivity of this sort of behavior as well. But how many sets of norms can we accommodate before we go get bogged down in norm tracking? In much of India Hindus and Muslims avoid consumption of pork and beef as a form of reciprocal sensitivity* (though I think this is easy in part because so many Hindu elites are vegetarian, period). I understand where food taboos come from, it is taboo to eat dolphin or dog in the United States. But any given society needs to have some semblance of restraint and common norms on boundaries, or we’ll become like those Hasidic Jewish sects where people are vegetarian because they don’t trust anyone to be properly kosher. A whole society of Hasidic Jews is not viable.
Note: Some Europeans find Muslim animal sacrifice and male circumcision offensive. Of course Muslim react naturally with their catchall accusation of Islamophobia, and haven’t had to modify their own practices yet.
* One thing I never understood about this is why Muslims would care that non-Muslims ate pork. Unlike Hindus Muslims don’t venerate the pig.