Mother Teresa vs. the Empire State Building
For years, enfant terrible Christopher Hitchens has been a rather solitary voice in his refusal to join millions of people in admiring Nobel Peace Laureate Mother Teresa for her work with the poor of Kolkata. Upon her beatification, Mr. Hitchens called her “a fanatic, a fundamentalist and a fraud.” Now he seems to have some company in the Empire State Building’s Anthony Malkin, who has steadfastly refused to light up the building in blue and white on Aug. 26, her 100th birthday if she had still been alive.
Protesters are expected to converge on the building on her birthday at 6:00 p.m. EST to speak against the decision not to light up the building in blue and white, Politics Daily’s Religion Reporter David Gibson said Thursday. Here’s a list of folks who’ll be speaking at the rally.
Mr. Malkin, president of Malkin Holdings, which supervises the building, has said that the iconic skyscraper celebrates Easter, Eid, Hanukkah and Christmas, but refrains from marking religious figures.
“As a privately owned building, ESB has a specific policy against any other lighting for religious figures or requests by religions and religious organizations,” he said, according to an ABC News report in June.
The Catholic activist group, the Catholic League, first started broadcasting the issue in May, when they announced that their request to have the building lit up for Mother Teresa had met with a refusal. Since then the organization has been contacting Catholic and other organizations to rally around the issue.
Many have asked the building’s management to reconsider. New York City Council member Peter Vallone Jr. even brought a bill to get the building to come around.
The New York Daily News said (a little hopefully, we think) that the Mother, who was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu to an Albanian family in Skopje, Macedonia, has struck the Empire State building with a curse in retaliation. The New York Post preferred to describe it as a haunting. Why? Because on the eve of her birthday, the New York City council approved a rival office tower coming up just a few blocks away at 15 Penn Plaza, even after the Empire State Building’s management argued against it. The skyscraper is also apparently battling bedbugs, the Daily News said.
Still, admirers of the “Angel of Mercy,” who came to India when she was just 20, should take heart from the fact that many others will be celebrating her today, the National Catholic Register says. Miami plans to pay tribute with lights, as will Times Square in Manhattan and Borough Hall in Brooklyn. The Empire State Building, meanwhile, will be in red, white and blue to mark Women’s Equality Day.