Wednesday, September 01, 2010

This Is Not Ground Zero

From Park51 Community Center Site & Vicinity, NYC

So.

I live in NYC. I have a blog. Hasn't almost every blogger around here had something to say about the whole "Ground Zero Mosque"/Islamophobia thing? Have I said one thing beyond "right on Mayor Mike"?

I'm occasionally opinionated, what's wrong with me?

Well, quite simply, I've just been too blown away by the bizarreness of people suddenly apparently thinking that it would be right and just for the government to throw the whole separation of church & state thing out the window & take up zoning by religious discrimination. It's so totally against one of the things I was brought up being told makes this country great, I just can't manage a coherent argument against it. Have spouted off a couple times on Facebook but that doesn't really require thinking in the same way. Every time I do try to think of something to say, all I can think of is one of the first TV interviews I saw with one of the people who are trying to create the Park51 community center - the poor guy was still clearly unrecovered from the total blindsiding their project has gotten at that point, and he just kept saying "It's a community center! With a mosque component!" with this horrified look on his face. Somehow I found his ineloquence terribly moving.

And last night I found myself echoing his words over on Facebook - and then carrying on with a little of what I had been thinking myself all along -

"It's a community center with a mosque component, and as far as I can tell it's only causing rifts with the people who are somehow holding an entire religion responsible for the nightmare actions of the lunatic fringe. That's completely & utterly unfair. Muslims were among the victims that day. Muslims were among those who ran to help that day, and Muslims are a part of the beautifully & blessedly recovered fabric of the downtown area. It's a blow to that healing to deny that the Park51 developers shouldt have just as much of a right to weave in this new thread because of their religion. They will have a million beauraucratic hoops to go through if they are to attain their goal anyways - I think they have just as much business trying to make it happen as anyone.

And then Carol Anne followed that up with -

The cultural center must go where it is planned specifically BECAUSE it is close to Ground Zero. It will be a symbol of reconciliation and freedom of religion, and an acknowledgement that the terrorists are NOT the true face of Islam.:

One obscure fact that makes it even more appropriate, in my mind: The building that will be replaced by the cultural center was hit by the landing gear of one of the 9/11 aircraft, and that is why it is vacant and uninhabitable.


God, she's amazing.

Anyways - at that point I decided that I was going to come home tonight & finally put up the photos I'd taken on Friday, on a special trip I had made downtown, just for the purpose. My thinking was - I don't know what to say. But here's what I CAN do -

I can go down there and I can take pictures, and maybe that way I can show people the difference between Ground Zero, and Not Ground Zero. Maybe they would like to have a better look at the neighborhood that they've been hearing so much about.

I came home that night & promptly lost all headway on the project. Chickened out a bit maybe. Felt like it was too big a topic for me...well, whatever. FWIW, though, here we go - allow me to share with you Ground Zero, and the very well-healed, lively neighborhood just to the north

32 comments:

Baydog said...

I wanted to be the first to comment but I chickened out.
Touchy stuff.

michael b said...

You go girl!

bonnie said...

Yeah, it is. I've been thinking, there's something about the effect the media has on debates like the Park51 one that reminds me of the free-surface effect. All the boaters know what that is. For the non-boaters - that's a very dangerous thing that develops when you have even a little uncontained liquid in a boat. The liquid sloshes around following the motion of the boat, the weight shifts exacerbate every roll, stability is compromised or lost & if it keeps on unabated, the end results can be disastrous.

Maybe I'm just adding to the slosh here.

It's just so weird that it's turned into an issue at all. Especially one that reaches beyond NYC. Should just be some local building dispute for the community board to hash out - after all, what self-respecting development doesn't end up having a few people in the neighborhood fighting it tooth & nail? That's just business as usual. Plus it keeps the CB meetings entertaining.

bonnie said...

Thanks, Michael!

BTW, just in case the order was confusing, The long long long comment was in response to Baydog.

Who, btw, has one of the most hysterical videos I've seen since that fantastic US Navy rendition of "I'm On A Boat" (the one with the entire crew getting into the act) over on his site right now. So if this has been too much serious for you, head on over there right away.

bonnie said...

And now girl follows doryman's recommendation & goes. To bed. Good night!

O Docker said...

I think it's a little scary to see how the radical right can grab an issue like this and use it to fan the flames of fear.

With the exposure that perspective gets in the media, it's easy to start thinking that more Americans feel that way than is the case.

I found this video - from ABC Primetime - to be a little comforting, though. A number of typical Americans - the customers in a bakery - who didn't realize they were being filmed, react to a set up situation where a Muslim woman is subjected to very direct intimidation (by another actor).

The reactions vary but may not be what you would expect after endless coverage of Glenn Beck rallies. Long video, but maybe worth a look.

Pandabonium said...

If it WERE ground zero it would make no difference to me.

Islam did not attack the USA. (Dick Cheney and friends did). But even if the official conspiracy theory were true, it would still also be true that "Islam" did not attack the USA - 19 guys with box cutters did (not that I'm saying I believe the official story).

I'd be more concerned if: A) there were a religious building planned that actually would be at "ground zero" (I always think of ground zero as being located in Hiroshima and Nakasaki, but oh, well); and B) If it were a Christian TV Evangelist group that was building it. Now, that would be scary and a travesty - someone making money off a tragedy. But I still would not be in favor of blocking it's construction just because I personally wouldn't like it.

More diversion to keep our minds off the important issues going down.

I think I'll go sailing.

JP said...

Go for it Bonnie and well put Carol Anne.

From outside the US the fact that this is considered controversial is a bit unsettling.

Time indeed to get out on the water to relax :)

Pandabonium said...

Thanks O Docker. Definitely worth one's time to watch.

bonnie said...

I've seen a similar video with black people being harassed by shop managers - it was depressing, the number of people who hardly looked twice. The ones who did stand up made you proud but there was an awful lot of "meh". I'll watch this one when I get home tonight, sounds interesting.

Now...can we just send Rupert Murdoch back to Australia? Here I'm sort of feeling like maybe the whole idiotic flap was receding a bit (sometimes the American short attention span isn't such a bad thing), but I glanced over at the paper the young man to my right was reading on the subway this morning & there it is in blaring 150-point type - GZ IMAM GETS SKETCHY TAX BREAK!

Thank you Mr. Murdoch. Bang that drum. Sell those papers.

#*@!!!

ok. did I mention that Baydog has

bonnie said...

...that Baydog has a really funny video?

Baydog said...

I cried just now. Not because of the injustice, but the courage and conviction of the folks who stood up for that girl in the video. And didn't you want to punch the guy behind the counter anyway?

bonnie said...

Well, that sounds fantastic!

johnnevin said...

First, if you really believe the CIA trained "pilots" of these planes and Osama Bin Laden are the whole story, then I have a nearby bridge to sell you. But, yeah, what happened to the separation of church and state? This is a cultural center, as you correctly point out, and not a mosque. The hate mongering media is responsible for perpetrating yet another distraction to keep everyones attention from what really does matter - like, illegal and endless wars, unpayable debt, lack of medical insurance, jobs, -- shall I go on? I really need to that Irish passport out and get the hell out of here.

pia said...

Proud of you Bonnie. An evangelical church moved here when I did. They have people on the city council.
I can't talk about it as some of them are facebook friends and read my blog sometimes--I have mentioned things but only demonstrating against Westboro--what seems to be innocuous to me
I'm sure you have read this
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/03/nyregion/03poll.html?hp
unfrigging unbelievable to me. The Irish man at the end makes sense
Anyways way to go Bonnie. Proud of you!

paddlingOTAKU said...

Even if I wasn't a former NYer who every friday drank at a bar (O'haras on Cedar st.) significantly closer to ground zero than this Mosque - which isn't a Mosque, it's a community center - I would still find this whole thing either A) ridiculous or 2) insulting.

It's a joke to claim the 'sanctity' of the site, when the community center isn't even on the site of ground zero, But Bars, sex shops, and under ground gambling halls are.

and it is insulting in a country founded on the concept of religious freedom that we are now excluding religions. So this time it's Islam, what's next? Buddhists? Hindu? Sikh?

Finally, the thing most people don't realize - and I blame the mainstream media - is that you have to keep this analogy in mind:

Alqaeda is to Islam as the KKK is to Christianity.

Bonnie, I applaud you for bringing up the topic, and as a former NYer I beg of you, go eat a slice of pizza for me - GOD! I miss NY food!

moonstruck said...

Maybe I am just cynical in my old age ,but you don't need an 11 story building for a Mosque. The Iman is a capitalist who has made his fortune in commercial real estate. Once he has tax free status for the whole building, he can make lots of money running all kinds of non religeous events. Its always about money...

Dennis G

bonnie said...

Thanks all. See, this is why I can start lulling myself into thinking it's all just overblown media hype - because most of the people I know are more or less of the same opinion.

I was very depressed to read that apparently 2/3rds of New Yorkers think that just in this one case, two wrongs actually do make a right. That's the same link as Pia was trying to give btw - yes, Pia, I absolutely saw that. Interesting point at the end - they mentioned that people who had good friends who were Moslems, or had visited a mosque, were less likely to disapprove. I wonder if that's what's up with me - I live in a very diverse neighborhood with a ton of folks from Pakistan & other points in the Middle East, they're fine neighbors, and on top of that one of the people who ranks highest on my list of awesome co-workers was a Muslim & just one of the nicest (and smartest & most competent) people I've ever had the pleasure of working with. Miss working with him. I guess when I think of Islam, those are the people I think of.

Dennis, are you being facetious or was it just that just a really loooong camping trip (or, third possibility, are you only seeing reporting on the "Ground Zero Mosque" up where you are)? BTW that sounded like a fantastic vacation. Anyways, back to your point - you just described EXACTLY what the place is supposed to be. They want to build something along the lines of the 92nd Street Y. Now that's a great place, right? Quoting from a New Yorker magazine article -

Park51, as it is to be called, will have a large Islamic “prayer room,” which presumably qualifies as a mosque. But the rest of the building will be devoted to classrooms, an auditorium, galleries, a restaurant, a memorial to the victims of September 11, 2001, and a swimming pool and gym. Its sponsors envision something like the 92nd Street Y—a Y.M.I.A., you might say, open to all, including persons of the C. and H. persuasions.

For the rest of the article, click here.

PaddlingOTAKU, sorry, no pizza tonight, just finished one onolicious L&L lau lau! But I promise I will dedicate my next slice to you (and I'll try to make sure it's worthy of the dedication)!

bonnie said...

Thanks all. See, this is why I can start lulling myself into thinking it's all just overblown media hype - because most of the people I know are more or less of the same opinion.

I was very depressed to read that apparently 2/3rds of New Yorkers think that just in this one case, two wrongs actually do make a right. That's the same link as Pia was trying to give btw - yes, Pia, I absolutely saw that. Interesting point at the end - they mentioned that people who had good friends who were Moslems, or had visited a mosque, were less likely to disapprove. I wonder if that's what's up with me - I live in a very diverse neighborhood with a ton of folks from Pakistan & other points in the Middle East, they're fine neighbors, and on top of that one of the people who ranks highest on my list of awesome co-workers was a Muslim & just one of the nicest (and smartest & most competent) people I've ever had the pleasure of working with. Miss working with him. I guess when I think of Islam, those are the people I think of.

Dennis, are you being facetious or was it just that just a really loooong camping trip (or, third possibility, are you only seeing reporting on the "Ground Zero Mosque" up where you are)? BTW that sounded like a fantastic vacation. Anyways, back to your point - you just described EXACTLY what the place is supposed to be. They want to build something along the lines of the 92nd Street Y. Now that's a great place, right? Quoting from a New Yorker magazine article -

Park51, as it is to be called, will have a large Islamic “prayer room,” which presumably qualifies as a mosque. But the rest of the building will be devoted to classrooms, an auditorium, galleries, a restaurant, a memorial to the victims of September 11, 2001, and a swimming pool and gym. Its sponsors envision something like the 92nd Street Y—a Y.M.I.A., you might say, open to all, including persons of the C. and H. persuasions.

For the rest of the article, click here.

PaddlingOTAKU, sorry, no pizza tonight, just finished one onolicious L&L lau lau! But I promise I will dedicate my next slice to you (and I'll try to make sure it's worthy of the dedication)!

Don said...

As with last year's special election for NY 23rd congressional district across the lake, the Tea party knows better than the locals what's "truly right," and try to ram their position/candidate down the throats of the locals.

For those who don't follow such things, the district had been Republican for a hundred years, but the Tea's from other states (Alaska for example) decided the Republican candidate wasn't "true R" enough so ran another candidate on the Conservative line with tons of negative ads and the Democrat ended up winning.

bonnie said...

I still don't quite understand why the entire state of Alaska didn't "refudiate" her after she gave them such a fine rendition of
"Take This Job And Shove It".

Carol Anne said...

"Alqaeda is to Islam as the KKK is to Christianity."

Very well said, OTAKU.

Barista Uno said...

The bottom-line is that America must stand by the principles which its founders fought, lived and died for. Bigotry and discrimination are not amongst them. The majestic Statue of Liberty ought to be a reminder of that.

moonstruck said...

"For the good of the community" is a code phrase for "We want you to pay for something we want" Camping was not "Free". Even the rates in the State campgrounds have gone up!!! (those state campsites that are still open) My five dollar senior fishing license is now $28. And a salt water license on top. How about a $50 a year fee for kayack use of "Public" access sites.

I can already hear the swaking and moaning.

Dennis G

Tillerman said...

In the old South they used to burn black churches and lynch black men. Now, in New York they want to stop an Islamic community center from being built and a Muslim taxi driver got stabbed just for being Muslim.

Doesn't sound like "they" have made a whole lot of progress.

bonnie said...

If only "they" wasn't actually "us".

Still can't believe that 2/3rds of New Yorkers think the center should move.

I really thought we were better than that.

paddlingOTAKU said...

Bonnie, I think we are better than that, when we think for ourselves and form our own opinions. Unfortunately fewer and fewer of us do that. We listen to what we are told. Regardless of the outcomes. Until it effects us.

But if we aren't careful, this is what happens:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came...

Tillerman said...

It's sad that a few unscrupulous politicians can stir up hate against a group that's "not like us" in order to further their own selfish interests and cover up the fact that they have no real policies to make life better for the voters. In 2006 and 2008 they targeted gays. This year they are going after Muslims and Mexicans.

I too hoped that we were better than that in 2010, but apparently we are not.

bonnie said...

I had just changed the caption of the park with the park with the chess players yesterday to add in a comment on politicians. Rick Lazio's use of the issue was VILE.

O Docker said...

I disagree, Bonnie. I think it's disgusting that people should play chess that close to ground held sacred by true Americans.

Chess players claim to be playing what may seem like an innocent game. But have you noticed how they keep to themselves? They pair off and remain quiet for hours at a time. What are they really doing hunched over those tables? They're not like the rest of us.

They speak in a language of their own just to confuse us. Just what does 'bishop to queen five' really mean? Is that the way real Americans talk?

Did you know that chess players secretly control eighty per cent of the benches in this country, and that they answer to an international organization that's not based here? They have operatives in places like Russia, Egypt, and, yes, even Iraq. They are organized in clearly defined ranks, presided over by so-called 'Grandmasters'. They convene in 'tournaments', but we know what's really going on behind those closed doors.

While they may dress like real Americans to blend in, chess players are not like the rest of us, Bonnie. They are not to be trusted.

Tillerman said...

Good point O Docker. Not to mention that Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was connected to the 911 hijackers and the kidnapping of Daniel Pearl, was a fine chess-player and won a junior London championship. Clearly chess is a violent game aimed at destroying our way of life. We are at war with chess. It is sacrilege that people should be playing chess on this hallowed ground.

bonnie said...

Wow. And we never noticed it in all the flapping over mosques and book-burnings. How terribly nefarious. Those sneaky, sneaky chess nuts!