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Monumentally Stupid

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Everyone in his or her life makes a dumb decision on the spur of the moment. That is understandable, but standing by a dumb decision in the face of overwhelming criticism is not.

Such is the case with the choice made by the owner and management of the Empire State Building not to honor the late Mother Theresa on her 100th birthday. The Catholic League had asked the building’s owner to honor Mother Theresa by bathing the tower in blue and white, the colors of her religious order. This seemed like a reasonable request.

But owner Anthony Malkin said no. This is the same owner who changed the color of the lights to honor Madonna and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The owner based his denial on the grounds that the famous tower does not change the lighting to honor religious figures.

Give us a break. Although Mother Theresa was a Catholic who deeply loved her church, her life of service went far beyond any religious denomination. She spent her life serving the poor without consideration for their religious beliefs. In doing so, she inspired people of all religious beliefs and no religion at all. For her lifetime of service to the poor, she was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize.

Ironically, Malkin has allowed the building to change its lights to honor Easter and Ramadan.

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. explained the reasoning behind a protest rally held last week near the Empire State Building: “There are people who rightly point out that Mother Teresa would not ask for any recognition at all. But it’s part of this spirit of selflessness that inspires the rest of us to want to honor her example even more. It will be a way for us to share our gratitude for what she did her whole life.” The rally included speakers from a variety of religions.

Because of his refusal to honor this incredible woman, Malkin found few friends on the Council when he attempted to block a new office building tower from being built near the Empire State Building. The owners argued that the new building would change the city’s skyline. Nobody was in a mood to listen.

Updated 6:01 pm, October 10, 2011
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