William McGurn: An Arab for Ground Zero

Roundup: Talking About History

William McGurn is a Vice President at News Corporation who writes speeches for CEO Rupert Murdoch. Previously he served as Chief Speechwriter for President George W. Bush.

Today Ameen Rihani and the Little Syria neighborhood of lower Manhattan have largely been forgotten.

That's a pity. In his day, the Lebanese-born author and activist was a world figure—and the New York neighborhood where he once lived was a vibrant testament to America's immigrant experience. In our day, Rihani's unapologetic embrace of American-style freedom for the Arab people dovetails nicely with President Obama's call for a new, Middle Eastern diplomacy that makes it clear that "America's interests are not hostile to people's hopes."

If so, a statue of this Arab-American in lower Manhattan would be a powerful start.

The statue is the dream of Todd Fine, a Harvard grad who now works to promote Rihani's writings. The site Mr. Fine has in mind would be near Trinity Place and Edgar Street—roughly as close to Ground Zero as the proposed Park 51 Islamic Center that caused such an uproar last year. Whatever the objections to that center, they do not apply to Rihani...

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