Past as Prologue, 55 years ago?—Elegant statue of Muhammad “quietly” removed from the roof of the Appellate Division Courthouse on Madison Square, New York City in 1955, when seven feckless appellate judges, “encouraged” by the US State Department, needlessly submitted to Islamic supremacist dictates regarding “Tawsir,” or statuary.
Mindless, craven cultural relativism—sadly pervasive in 2010—has lead NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg to capitulate to Islamic supremacism and support the odious Ground Zero mosque project of the cultural jihadist Imam Faisal Rauf, and his coterie. The rather witless Bloomberg, of course, cynically recasts his moral and intellectual cretinism as championing bedrock American values, notably freedom of religion. However, the ultimately self-destructive Islamic correctness we are witnessing vis a vis the Ground Zero mosque, may be an endemic phenomenon amongst Manhattan elites, dating back to at least 1955.
A res ipsa loquitur example of this tragic mindset when it comes to dealing with The Religion of Peace®, specifically, was published on April 9, 1955 in the New York Times. Responding to demands from the Muslim consulates (via their ambassadors) of Indonesia, Egypt, and Pakistan, as well as “many letters from Mohammedans,” a statue of Muhammad (picture above) carved by Charles Albert Lopez (a Mexican sculptor working in the US for 22 years till his death in 1906), and erected in 1902, was singularly removed from the Madison Square Appellate Courthouse, where it had stood for over 50 years, alongside nine other renowned lawgivers representing other creeds and cultures. The existence of the statue was only drawn to the attention of Muslim diplomats and correspondents when newspapers published an account of required, impending repairs. As a result of the Muslim “intervention,” and with the formal “advice” of The US State Department “Near East Branch,” endorsed by the seven appellate court justices themselves, NYC authorities capitulated and refrained from re-erecting the statue of Muhammad, simply leaving the pedestal vacant.
The full New York Times account from April, 1955 is reproduced below. It is a refreshingly straightforward account unconstrained by contemporary era self-censorship when discussing Islam (including, for example, not capitalizing the word “prophet” as a non-Muslim journalist referring to Islam’s prophet).
Mohammed Quits Pedestal Here On Moslem Plea After 50 Years—Statue Removed From Row of Law-Givers on Madison Square Court Balustrade
By IRA HENRY FREEMAN
A statue of Mohammed that stood for more than fifty years on the roof balustrade of the Appellate Division courthouse on Madison Square has been quietly removed. The action was advised by the State Department after requests by some Islamic governments.
“Graven images” of any human figure have been frowned upon through most of Islam since Mohammed founded the religion in the seventh century. Figure paintings and sculpture are prohibited on public, religious, and political edifices. They are sometimes permitted, however, in private apartments, as exemplified in the Alhambra at Grenada. Pictures or statues of the prophet himself are particularly rare.
The statue of Mohammed was installed with others at the courthouse in 1902. According to Chief Clerk George T. Campbell, who has been employed since the building was begun in 1899, no protests about the statue were received for more than fifty years. “They probably didn’t know he was there, “ Mr. Campbell commented yesterday. “Few people can identify the statues of the ten famous law-givers on the edge of our roof.”
The statues were identified in newspapers, however, in February, 1953, when the Department of Public Works announced a $1, 200,000 project to repair the sculptures, clean the façade, and construct a five-story building as an addition. Erosion and chemical corrosives in the atmosphere had destroyed some features of the marble effigies, and had dangerously weakened their footings.
Public Works Commissioner Frederick H. Zurmuhlen said the heavy, heroic-sized statues would be taken down, cleaned and repaired, and set up again on strengthened pedestals. Through their Ambassadors, the Governments of Indonesia, Egypt, and Pakistan, three of the Islamic countries, then asked the State Department if the statue of Mohammed could not be destroyed, rather than renovated. “We also got many letters from Mohammedans about that time, “ Mr. Campbell recalled, “all asking the court to get rid of the statue. Our seven justices recommended granting the request.”
Meanwhile the State Department sent James Boughton of its Near East branch, and Roger Davies of the Voice of America, to ask Commissioner Zurmuhlen to get rid of the statue. During the last year, the figures of the ten law-givers, in addition to six allegorical statues, were carefully laid down on the roof behind the balustrade.
Workmen of the Monahan-McCann Stone Company of Newark cleaned off the marble with pneumatic chisels, restored broken bits with artificial stone, and reset weakened arms. But Mohammed, about eight feet tall, and weighing more than half a ton, was lowered by block-and-tackle to Twenty-fifth street just east of Madison Avenue. The statue was wrapped in excelsior and trucked to a storehouse of the stone company at 100 Roanoke Avenue, Newark where it has lain on ist back for several months. All the other statues have been re-erected by this time; only Mohammaed’s pedestal, on the eastern half of the balustrade, remains empty. Mr. Zurmuhlen said he did not know what to do with the Mohammed statue, nor what to put in its place, if anything.
The statue of Mohammed was carved by Charles Albert Lopez, a Mexican sculptor who worked in the United States from 1884 until his death in 1906. It shows the prophet as contemporaries had described him, of average height, but broad shouldered, with thick powerful hands. Under his turban, his brows are prominent and frowning. A long, heavy beard flows over his robe. In his left hand, he holds a book, symbolizing the new religion he founded, and in the right a scimitar, connoting the Moslem conquest.
The cost of each of the statues on the balustrade was about $20,000. From Mohammed’s pedestal on the Twenty-fifth street side, stand in order: Lycurgus, Spartan leader of the ninth century B.C. by George Edwin Bissell; Manu, compiler of ancient Hindu law, by Henry Augustus Lukeman; Alfred the Great (849-901), King of West Saxons, by Jonathan Scott Harley; Goddess of Justice, with a male figure representing Power on her right and another symbolizing Study on her left; Solon (638-559 B.C.), Athenian law-maker, by Herbert Adams; Louis IX of France (1215-1270) by John Donoghue; Zoroaster (660-583 B.C.), founder of the Persian religion, by Edward Clark Potter; Justinian (483-565), Byzantine Emperor, by Henry Kirke Bush-Browne. On the corner of the Madison Avenue frontage stands Moses by Couper, and following along to the north, a three-figure symbolical group of Peace by Karl Bitter, and Confucius (550-478 B.C.), by Philip Martiny.
Both faces of the ornate building are still shrouded by scaffolding and renovations are expected to go on for months.
UPDATE (h/t Hillel Stavis)
A 2006 New York Times update of this story:
Mo off his pedestal, from 1955
Images of Muhammad, Gone for Good
By JOHN KIFNER
Published: February 12, 2006
…Perhaps the longest-running — if least noticed — depiction of Muhammad in New York City was an 8-foot-tall statue on the roof of the State Appellate Division courthouse on Madison Square. The building was erected at the turn of the 20th century, back in the days when graft got you some architecture.
Muhammad was one of 10 lawgivers — among them Moses, Confucius, Justinian and Alfred the Great — along with other allegorical figures like Peace, Wisdom, Justice and the four seasons, for a total of 21 statues adorning the building.
His identity came to public light after more than 50 uneventful years when the Department of Public Works announced a $1.2 million project to repair the statues, clean the building and put up a five-story addition.
Ambassadors from Indonesia, Pakistan and Egypt went to the State Department to ask that the statue be destroyed rather then renovated. The justices in the court agreed.
So in 1955, Muhammad, who had a turban, a book, a scimitar and rather Old Testament-looking beard, lost his prominent place atop the courthouse’s southwest corner.
Everybody else was moved one spot to the left, leaving empty the pedestal that once held Justinian. Muhammad was lowered by block and tackle, wrapped in excelsior and trucked off to a stone company in Newark.
In the last reported sighting — in 1983 — the statue was lying on its side in a stand of tall grass somewhere in New Jersey.